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Author Topic: Custom dolls: creativity vs. customer's expectations  (Read 182 times)

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Offline CaffeinecowgirlTopic starter

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Custom dolls: creativity vs. customer's expectations
« on: August 14, 2017, 11:27:35 PM »
Hi everyone! I'm a lurker that just sporadically comment, feel free to consider me a newbie. :)
I used to collect ponies but now I'm more focused on dolls; I absolutely adore customs and I bought some in the past, but they were always bought as-is, without any involvement, on my part, in the creative process. Yesterday I finally gave in and contacted a customizer to have a Blythe doll made exactly like I dreamed! Now, being a creative myself (just not in this field) there's something that bugs be a bit: to what extent should a customer go in detailing its expectations? Where lies the balance?

You love the customizer's style and some improvisation is always welcomed, but at the same time there's a big amount of money involved and you want everything to be as perfect as possible...

Did it happen to you? What would you do in the same situation? Do you prefer to just discuss the "general concept" of the doll/pony and leave the rest to the customizer's creativity, or are you more into explaining everything in detail?

I'm curious to hear your opinions! :)
« Last Edit: August 17, 2017, 03:08:18 AM by Caffeinecowgirl »
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Offline orangepeachmango

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Re: Custom dolls: creativity vs. customer's expectations
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2017, 12:03:39 AM »
I think in the best case of something like this there are two points to consider. one, the best way to get exactly what you want is to draw it or provide photos or something along those lines so the artist knows what you want. be as specific as possible with as many images as possible. two, at this point, you have to let go of a certain amount of fear that it wont be "perfect" or exactly as you imagined. you are the only person who knows exactly what you are imagining, and honestly the only way you can truly get that is to make it yourself. the artist can't be inside your head, and you should accept that there are some artistic licensing things going on here!
it's very easy to say "well im paying you MONEY you should do it EXACTLY how i want!" but the artist making your doll is not a computer, they are a human being and that black and white thinking just doesnt work for an artisnal piece of work. different story if you're visiting the drive-thru.

i commission and do commissions quite regularly, and over time i have learned to be very very careful about who you choose to commission. love their work for what it is, and let go of this idea that they know what you want or know exactly how to give you what you want. of course you should get something you love, and nobody likes being majorly dissapointed, but would getting a beautiful piece of work that they spent hours on and followed to your letter be disappointing?

if you are really truly set on this certain specific design in your head, draw it out and give your artist that! if you have a kind of vague general idea of what you want, let them do the work! it depends a lot on what YOU are expecting to get. do you know already this doll of your dreams? what she looks like? her hair color, eye color, expression,etc etc ... or are you more interested in giving your artist a "well, i like sprinkles and cake themed dolls, maybe something with that!" and have it be a surprise. communicating with your artist is important! and it's in your best interest to ask for update photos and progress reports! its devastating as an artist to complete a piece of work that took you hours only to hear the commissioner say ah well, can you actually redo the entire face or actually i was imagining this pose instead? why didnt you tell me in the first place!

sorry this got a little rambly, but this is an important subject to me! be kind to your artists and be sure to be specific, we are not mind readers, no matter the art field : )
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Offline Pokeyonekenobie

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Re: Custom dolls: creativity vs. customer's expectations
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2017, 12:28:24 AM »
I have only done two commissioned ponies, both for a friend, who used the pony creator to make the ponies look how she wanted them and then she told me what she wanted for the cutie marks.  When I got to the point of doing the cutie marks I took photos of what I'd done so far and asked if it was what she'd wanted.  I'll be honest, I didn't like the way the cutie marks had turned out which is why I wanted to ask her again if it was really how she wanted them to look.  Fortunately, it didn't look as good as she'd thought it would so we discussed again what she thought she wanted and I tweaked the design.  She loved how I'd changed it to be more like what she wanted them to be, even though it didn't match what she'd originally told me she wanted. 

I have another friend who commissions me to do piggy banks.  She'll tell me "I need a Tardis with the tenth doctor, can you do that?" or "I need something to do with Star Wars" or "The live action Cinderella, the new one" and what I will then do is sketch out on the piggy what I think of and then send her a picture of what I have in mind and she'll approve the design.  Then once I start painting I'll send her update pictures so she knows what's going on with her commissions and I'll ask her "Do you like___" or "Should I change___ " or "I think this would look better if I ___, what are your thoughts?" so that she's in the loop of what I'm doing with her piece.  Then once I get close to the end I'll sometimes text her and say "I'm adding glow in the dark elements to this" and I don't really let her decide if it has it or not because she trusts that I know that it will be awesome when I'm done and she's really excited for the little extras that I add in.  But I never make a major change without running it past her first.

I have yet to create something that neither of us is unhappy with when I work on a commissioned piece.  So I think it's good to let the artist know what you want but also for the artist to respond back and let you know what they're doing because if they feel like something isn't working and change your design without your permission, then you feel like they didn't do the piece you asked them for. 

Offline CaffeinecowgirlTopic starter

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Re: Custom dolls: creativity vs. customer's expectations
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2017, 12:34:48 AM »
Hey, thanks orangepeachmango and Pokeyonekenobie (I saw your reply after I had originally posted mine, whoops! :D) – I love detailed replies!

I am just curious about how the topic is perceived in the collectors' world: to be honest, the fact I just ordered a doll was a mere trigger! :)

I agree with you that communication is fundamental and if you – customer – have a clear idea in mind then it's your responsibility to explain yourself thoroughly in order to avoid any misunderstanding later! At the same time, I wonder how this impacts the creativity of the artist...
Quick example: I'm a designer and I know that if I accepted a commission then I would love a detailed explanation but up to a certain point. I mean, my style/my creativity shouldn't be sacrificed in order to achieve a result, otherwise I wouldn't be an artist but a mere... technician? (in loss of a better word, no offense intended) At the same time, I'm aware that I'm paid for creating something and I should follow the customer's idea the best I could.

That's why I'm curious about the opinions of the other collectors and artists around. :)

In the same situation, how many fellow collectors want to leave the artist some room, and how many prefer to detail everything beforehand?
And if you're an artist, are you more willing to follow the customer's expectations to the smallest detail, or you prefer to add some "spice" and let your style/creativity filter through? Would you consider these "creative touches" as normal and wanted or something to be discussed beforehand?
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 01:09:58 AM by Caffeinecowgirl »
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Offline orangepeachmango

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Re: Custom dolls: creativity vs. customer's expectations
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2017, 02:23:14 AM »
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Hey, thanks orangepeachmango and Pokeyonekenobie (I saw your reply after I had originally posted mine, whoops! :D) – I love detailed replies!

I am just curious about how the topic is perceived in the collectors' world: to be honest, the fact I just ordered a doll was a mere trigger! :)

I agree with you that communication is fundamental and if you – customer – have a clear idea in mind then it's your responsibility to explain yourself thoroughly in order to avoid any misunderstanding later! At the same time, I wonder how this impacts the creativity of the artist...
Quick example: I'm a designer and I know that if I accepted a commission then I would love a detailed explanation but up to a certain point. I mean, my style/my creativity shouldn't be sacrificed in order to achieve a result, otherwise I wouldn't be an artist but a mere... technician? (in loss of a better word, no offense intended) At the same time, I'm aware that I'm paid for creating something and I should follow the customer's idea the best I could.

That's why I'm curious about the opinions of the other collectors and artists around. :)

In the same situation, how many fellow collectors want to leave the artist some room, and how many prefer to detail everything beforehand?
And if you're an artist, are you more willing to follow the customer's expectations to the smallest detail, or you prefer to add some "spice" and let your style/creativity filter through? Would you consider these "creative touches" as normal and wanted or something to be discussed beforehand?

I prefer having "guided freedom", which is the client gives me a general idea of they want (using the aforementioned example) "i like sprinkle and cake-themed dolls, can you do something like that?" as opposed to "her hair is This Shade of lime green and her skin needs to be Shea Butter Coconut and she needs to be in this specific pose, etc... " it allows me to spin it how i want and make you my best possible product, which is made when i have room to wiggle. however, this is a double-edged sword because it can be easy to say well, you do what you think best! but what i really want is to make the customer happy and they are dodging my questions, giving me too much freedom, making it impossible for me to decide between multiple design choices.

and i feel the same way about getting customs made. unless i am getting a custom (pony lets say) of a fanpony or ponysona, or original character etc, i really actually don't want to see pictures or know anything about it! i want to open the box and see it there brand new waiting after i gave general guidelines to an amazing artist!
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Offline Duenia

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Re: Custom dolls: creativity vs. customer's expectations
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2017, 03:04:54 AM »
For me it would really depend on the project.

But generally I try to find an artist whose artistic style matches my vision. I know I can't perfectly execute something from my own head so I can't expect someone else to do it. But by picking someone with that type of style it's not difficult to be confident that I will be happy with the end product.

As has already been said on your end be as detailed as possible. Then make sure to communicate with the artist and get those WIP pictures. Much easier to fix something earlier than later.

I haven't done any commissions for dolls or ponies. I have done them for art sometimes. I really like it when the person has one or two things that are really specific that they want and then I get some free reign. So say a color palette and theme, or work around this one area I have fleshed out type thing.

Offline CaffeinecowgirlTopic starter

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Re: Custom dolls: creativity vs. customer's expectations
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2017, 12:09:31 PM »
thanks Duenia! I can relate with your comment about stating the things that are specific and then leving free reign. Sounds like a perfect compromise. :)
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Offline Carrehz

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Re: Custom dolls: creativity vs. customer's expectations
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2017, 03:15:44 PM »
This thread is very interesting, I'll be lurking :) I'm in the process of commissioning my first custom doll (custom face-up but still) and this is all stuff I've been thinking about lately ^^
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