3-9. Planning for Commissions

Budgeting Money for a Commissioned Costume

TLDR; Commissioning a custom-made item is expensive, and asking for discounts is rude. Request a quote, or estimate of the cost of the commission. Plan a little wiggle room for unexpected costs. 

There are two main pricing models for commission work: time and materials and fixed price.

Time and materials is just what it sounds like: the person making the costume will charge an hourly rate for the hours spent working on the costume, as well as for the materials for the costume and any other miscellaneous expenses that are incurred while making the project.

Fixed Price is when the commissioner and the person taking on the commission agree on a price for the entire project, regardless of the number of hours required to complete the costume. The person making the costume usually requests a percentage (e.g. 50%) of the total amount up front so they can purchase materials.

Each costume maker will have their own preference for a pricing model.

Rates and prices will vary from person to person, so the only way to find out how much a commission will cost is to get a quote, or estimate for the cost of the project.  This can be helpful for determining if you can afford the commission.

Before finalizing the agreement, you should ask for a detailed quote with line items for materials, number of hours, and any other expenses.

IMPORTANT

Do NOT ask the person taking the commission for discounts or freebies.

 

Cosplayers that accept commissions want to make money on the projects they take on. They factor in all aspects of making the costume when determining the cost of a project. This will include expenses that you may not think about, like gas for their car if they need to drive to get the materials.

You are commissioning a hand-made, custom, luxury item. If you are unable to afford that service, then consider lower-cost options like pre-made items, found items, or take on the challenging of making the costume yourself.

Timing for a Commissioned Costume

Costumes who take commissions usually have a pipeline, or list of projects that they are working or will be working on. When you request a commission, it may be weeks or months before they can get to your costume.

Many also require 1-2 months of lead time, even if their schedule is open. It takes time to build a costume.

Be clear up front for when you need the costume; rather than give the date that you are hoping to wear the costume (e.g. “At [X]-Con!”), give a date that is 1-2 weeks earlier. This will give you time to practice wearing the costume and to iron out any wrinkles that may have formed in transport.

That said, if the deadline is too close (i.e. “I need this costume in 2 weeks!”), the person will probably refuse to take the commission, regardless of how much you are willing to pay.

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