Yes, I accept commission work, whether or not I'll immediately have time is another issue, but I'll address most of the usual questions here.
Do you take commissions?
Yes, but only for foam latex prosthetics. I don't do silicone, gelatin or latex prosthetics. I don't do latex masks as I just don't have the space or set up. But if you just want a simple foam latex prosthetic, then yes I can probably do that, anything else I don't think I can help you.
The best thing you can do when asking about a commission is to make note of a couple things when asking.
(1) What is your budget? This gives me an idea of what you're expecting and what I should expect from you in terms of your understanding of the process.
(2) What is your deadline? Sometime people's expectation on deadline can be a huge red flag, asking for something to be done in 2 or 3 weeks lets me know you have no idea what you're getting into - which is totally fine, but it does it mean I can't help you.
(3) How much reference material do I have? One blurry, or poorly drawn sketch isn't enough. If it's of an existing design, I'll need at least one well lit front, side and a couple angles would be awesome. I'll outline this down below.
(4) Is it a one-off prosthetic or something needed for long term, repeated applications? This can be complicated for some people to understand, I'll outline it more down below in the pricing section.
So either mention all this when asking, or be prepared to respond with all of this, it's literally the first step in the process and I can't go any further or offer any information without this.
How much does a commission cost?
There is no set cost and I need so much information before I can even give a rough estimate. Every commission has it's own needs and issues that have to be dealt with so the cost from job to job can be dramatically different - and this is decided by me.
I can outline the bare minimum certain commissions might cost - keep in mind, just because you think it's simple, doesn't mean it is, I set the cost based on a number of factors that you probably haven't even thought it or were aware of.
These are based on a single use, stone mould.
Simple Ear prosthetics - start at $150.
The larger and more elaborate the ears, obviously the higher the cost. But for something like the Elf Ears I make it would start at this price.
A Brow prosthetic - starts at $250.
This would be just a simple brow piece, like the Vampire Brow that I make.
Full Face prosthetic - starts at $500.
A full face, either sized generically for male or female, something like the simpler Sylf Demon prosthetic would start at this price range.
Time of year also can dramatically affect prices too. If you're asking for something in between the months of June and early November, the prices double. It's my busiest time of year and I have no free time or workspace. If you're desperate and need something and don't mind paying a lot more, I am willing to accommodate you. The best time for commissions is mid-November to May, so winter and spring.
And there are a myriad other factors that go into deciding costs.
Secondary cost concerns would be your needs of the prosthetic. Do you need just one copy, one time? Is it for a cosplay that you think you'll be doing several times over the course of several years?
One off prosthetics are the cheapest and can be done with a simple stone mould. If you need something that's going to last, go with epoxy, it's way more expensive, but it should technically last forever. I'll outline the pros and cons of the two different type of moulds from my own experience - other people might have differing opinions on this.
Stone moulds are cheaper and quicker to make.
Good for one-off prosthetic needs.
Can sometimes crack or break unexpectedly. They might last for 30 or 40 pieces, they might not hold up after 1.
Can on occassion not turn out very well, depending on the quality of the material it might be a bit brittle and details could crack off, and various other minor issues.
Heavy and cumbersome, I won't store these for more than a year because they just get in the way.
Certain designs can't be done with stone, if it's something that needs a mould in multiple pieces, stone is not the best way to go.
Epoxy moulds last way longer than stone.
Holds detail better than stone after repeated use.
More delicate or intricate moulds can be done in epoxy than stone.
I can store these much easier than stone mould.
Much better for long term needs, if you want to keep using the design - meaning if you want to continually reorder prosthetics of this design, this is the option you want (more on this below).
Can be very expensive and time consuming to make.
You need to have some idea of all of this before I can give an accurate price, the more you can tell me, the easier the process is. Just be aware it's not a cheap, simple or quick thing to make prosthetics.
If you have a deadline, let me know right away.
If you have a budget, let me know right away.
Otherwise, if you can give me a rough idea of your needs in terms of all the above information, that will make the whole process much faster to sort out and give you an idea of the cost.
How long will it take?
Minimum turnaround time would be 2 months on average, depending on the time of year. Mid-November to May I have more time, so 2 months from start to shipping (not including shipping times) is reasonable - on average.
June to early November, it could take months, and months, my schedule is hectic and changing constantly beyond my control so I try not to schedule too much outside of my own work during this time.
This is another factor in pricing. The faster you need it, the more it'll cost.
What's the process?
Fairly simple overall. First we'll go over all the above information if you don't supply it immediately, make any changes to the design to suit your needs or budget even. Once all the initial sorting of details are done, payment and whatnot (there's more info on that below somewhere) until we're both confident we're on the same page and I'm ready to start.
First comes the sculpting, I'll rough the piece out - VERY rough, it'll look like garbage at first but that's my process. From there I'll whittle it down until I get the basic forms and finally comes the detailing and texturing. I will be in constant contact during this process with pictures to show the work, allowing for you to make any changes (up to a point, if you start getting too fussy I'll let you know and I'll have to move on).
Once the sculpt is done I'll check in one last time to make sure you're 100% happy with it before I make the mould. This is the point of no return, and no refunds. This whole process can take several days to several months, depending on my schedule and the complexity of the design.
Once the mould is all done then it's just a matter of running it foam, once I get the required amount of decent copies of the prosthetic from the mould it'll be shipped out.
There are some little extra bits of info, but it's most important for you to understand that you will be part of the process. If you're not someone who checks their email often, that will slow down the process as I'll often be waiting for a response before continuing.
Sometimes other work will get in the way, sometimes I'll be able to start and finish without interruptions - this all depends on the complexity of the piece as well.
What's the deal on epoxy moulds and ordering more prosthetics?
While that's not exactly a question in itself, I just want to cover the information on needing several copies of a design, either at the time of the commission or whenever needed for as long as you want. There's bits of this scattered throughout this page, but I'll try to address it all right here.
I'll keep this as simple as I can. It will kind of work like you're buying one my regular stock pieces, but only you know about this design. Once the piece is done, I'll evaluate it's cost like I do my own designs and you, the client, only pay 50% of that. So if it's something I would price at $50 were I to sell it my shop (which I won't be, just to clear) you would be paying $25 per copy.
You can order one at a time, several at a time, whatever you want - it doesn't really matter to me - although the size of the piece(s) will make a difference in this. If it's a small pair of ears and you want 20 of them, that's going to be a bit of an issue as I'll only have the one set of moulds, meaning a whole run of foam will have to be done just to run them, and then I have to do this 20 times.
To explain why it's a problem, foam latex is made in specific sized batches, the smallest batch I can successfully make (others may have a different experience than me, but you're dealing with me so we're stuck on this) is enough to make a large full face (something like The Flayer), which means if I'm just whipping up a batch of foam latex just to make a pair of ears, there's a massive amount of waste.
Once or twice, or if I have other orders, not much of an issue - but my original point of larger orders of smaller pieces may take several months as I'll be waiting on other orders so I can process your order without wasting hundreds of dollars of foam latex. I hope that makes sense.
And it should be obvious that if the piece happens to be a full face that pretty much takes up a full batch of foam to make, there's no issues with larger orders - but still, I'll only have the one mould, so it's going to take some time depending on how large of an order. Running a single mould can only be done once very 24 hours really, it's a schedule thing, so I just outline it like that and leave it at that.
There is no minimum size for a reorder, but I might put a limit on the maximum size of a reorder depending on a lot of random things.
There might be more specifics on this that are too situation dependent that I can't outline every single variation on what might happen, so feel free to ask if you don't think this covers what you were thinking, hopefully it's a decent outline though.
And last thing, just like with my regular stock pieces, there's no discounts on large orders of the same design, this is all hand made, not factory made, so the more you want, the more work and the more waste there is - there is nothing made easier in this process by asking for more, just the opposite.
I want something for Halloween...
The question itself is fine, but the issue is often the timing of it.
I know not everyone plans ahead too far for Halloween, but if you're looking for something custom to be done for Halloween, you need to ask by May. June and July are okay, depending on what you're asking for and if you're willing to pay more. August on, it's just WAY too late for that kind of thing - unless you're willing to pay an insane amount of money just for a custom prosthetic for Halloween, I don't recommend even asking after July.
Will you paint the prosthetic for me?
No, that's not what I do. I make foam latex prosthetics, I sell foam latex prosthetics what you're asking is outside of that - that's not a service I offer, nor do most all shops that sell prosthetics, the whole point of them is that you paint them yourself to meet you own needs.
If you come across someone selling pre-painted foam latex prosthetics and you like that idea, stick with them. I've never heard of anyone selling pre-painted foam latex prosthetic recently, so enjoy the unicorn you just found.
Foam Latex vs Latex
Not a question, but a topic that seems to confuse a lot of people.
I work with foam latex, not latex prosthetics. There's a massive difference that it seems isn't obvious to some people. Foam latex is a soft, thick spongy material. Latex is a somewhat stiffer, thinner, more solid material. They apply differently, they wear differently, they take makeup/paint differently - they're different, end of story.
Latex is best for masks, can be pre-painted and is often somewhat cheap, mass produced prosthetics are made of. It can be tinted so pieces have a more accurate skin tone as well, you'll see that with slip on ears all the time. It has it's uses, but I don't work in this area.
Foam latex is best for prosthetics, rarely (if ever) availble for sale pre-painted under normal circumstances. Best when handmade (mass produced foam latex can be a bit crappy). It can be tinted, but not accurately from piece to piece, the tints are hard to find in Canada as well - it's just a pain in the ass to tint foam latex accurately, so I have no interest in it.
Can you modify an existing prosthetic?
This doesn't always fall under usual commission conversations, but it's good to note here anyway.
No. It's not a thing, at least not a thing I do, will ever do, or want to do. If you want a slightly longer nose or to remove the brow or whatever of one of my existing prosthetics it'll have to be done from scratch with a whole new sculpt or buy the prosthetic and try it yourself, I can tell you how to do and I probably couldn't do it much better myself even if I wanted to try.
Will it be a perfect fit?
I doubt it. Anyone selling prosthetics is selling what's referred to generically sized prosthetics, meaning it's made from what's hoped to be the more average sized and shaped face possible to fit as many people as well as possible.
If you have a larger or smaller face, or a larger than usual nose, or larger or smaller than normal ears, you might have fitting issues. Some designs can be worked around issues like this, but don't ever expect a 100% perfect fit from a prosthetic you've bought online.
If you're wanting a commission to be a perfect fit, it can be done, but it's all work on your end unfortunately and I can't help you with that unless you live on PEI (and if you have no idea what PEI is, chances are you live nowhere near me or even in the same country).
Custom core moulds (the moulds that represent the face or body part the prosthetic is to be applied to) can be done but at your own time and expense. Using a product from Smooth-On called Body Double, small life casts can be easily done by most amateurs. Ears and noses are the easiest to lifecast without experience, and are the more critical core moulds needed when looking for a better fit.
Custom full face cores could be done, but it requires experience and can't (and shouldn't) be done by yourself and I'd have my own requirements of what would be acceptable.
These silicone moulds can be shipped to me and then I can use them to make proper cores to sculpt on. Sometimes they might have to be remoulded to make them work, so it's a huge expense and I don't really recommend it unless it's important the fit is as perfect as possible.
What do you need for reference material?
This is the most absolute critical part of the whole process. If you can't properly convey what you want, I can't help you. If you can't supply me with enough reference material (pictures, 3D models, whatever), I can't help you. If you want me to copy an existing design, you need to do the legwork to make sure I have an absolutely perfect idea of what I'm supposed to be sculpting from every conceivable angle.
If you're an artist, this should be easy enough. I've worked with artists before and the experience ranges from simple and easy, to non-stop fussing with the tiniest details. So it's best to set your expectations somewhere in the middle, ask questions when you're not sure, and answer with as much detail as possible when asked something.
Otherwise, the more work I have to do with designing and researching, is time you have to pay for - it's just a waste. So be prepared.
Here's exactly what you need to supply me with. A front on image, a good perfect profile image and maybe 2 or 3 images from various other angles - usually this is enough for the average design.
Example, if it's a character makeup from a TV show - pick one season of that, either find images online or do some hi-res screen caps yourself. Front on, in profile and whatever other angles you can get. And the reason I suggest to pick one season is because makeup designs can slightly change from season to season on some shows, so I'm stuck trying to match up two images that actually will never match.
I'm not versed in every possible character that exists, so don't just assume I know what design you're referring to and can instantly recreate it with zero reference.
How do I pay?
For commissions I use Square, sort of like PayPal, but less sketchy. I will send you an invoice, you don't need an account, just a credit card. I don't use any other money sending/transfer method other than Square anymore.
Normally I offer to allow 50/50 payments, half up front before I start and the remaining half once it's sculpted and ready to mould. Once the mould has been made, there are no refunds of that first payment under any circumstances, but I'll make sure you're aware that's happening. I don't mould anything until you've confirmed you're happy with the sculpt and ready to proceed.
Or, you're more than welcome to pay all at once. In case of a full payment and a refund request after the mould has been made, only half will be refunded.
There are variations on all this, but usually people opt for the 50/50 payment and as of writing this I've never had a request for a refund in the 12 years I've been doing it, but it can happen so we'll make sure we're both fine with the terms on this before committing to anything.
Can I reuse this one piece over and over?
No. Foam latex is intended as a one time use product. It's kind of a complicated topic, but expect that per application you'll need a new prosthetic each time - that's how it's intended to work.
Having said that, technically (and if your expectations are low enough), you can reuse prosthetics, but then you have to consider the hygiene issue. Foam latex is an organic spongy material and any appliance around your nose and mouth will be sucking up any moisture, bacteria, and germs that are coming and going, you really don't want to reuse that - do you? And, if left improperly clean, dried, and stored, will grow mold.
Pieces like ears aren't such a big deal, but they can be thin and delicate, so it's not going to look as nice the second time around.
Some horns that don't have a thin blending edge are actually reasonably reusable if you're careful and understand what you're doing. There's no thin blending edge to consider and presumably it's not covering your nose or mouth so there's probably not as much of a hygiene issue there.
And it comes down to the look of it. Removing any prosthetic, no matter how careful you are, will probably ruin the edges. They can rip, curl up, get twisted out of shape and unless you're a really skilled makeup pro you're not going to make it work - and if you were a pro, you'd probably know better than to try anyway.
So consider this too when asking for a commission. If you just want a one time use piece and you're happy to pay a bit for that, than you're all set and have nothing to worry about.
If you're trying to stretch a makeup budget by planning to reuse prosthetics, you might want to reconsider, this is a bad makeup practice - while I appreciate not everyone is rich and can afford a whole array of prosthetics, that's the nature of the industry and it's not a good corner to try to cut. It can lead to bad makeup practices. I've encountered this too many times and it's disappointing to hear about.
If you need to cut costs, ask about rejects - not really a commission thing, but it's a good option and good to know about anyway.
What can I use the prosthetic for?
This isn't really a question I often get, but more of an example of what reasons people might request a commission that I'd be open to.
Single use mould for personal use. Could be for a cosplay you're just doing once, for a Halloween costume, or maybe for a short film that you'd only need a couple pieces for. Even a short run play, I've done a couple custom pieces for a play that only had 3 shows.
Multiple use mould for personal use or work. Same as above, for cosplay (maybe one you plan on doing a lot), or for a Halloween costume (maybe there's a group of you that all want to look like the same creature). Short or feature length films, or TV shows that will need multiple copies of something simple for background or even leads. Could be for a long run play as well. Or maybe you do makeup demos at conventions or teach makeup at a school and want something specific, or just custom.
Reselling. I have spoken with people before about this, it's never actually happened, but I'm more than happy if you want to add a custom prosthetic to your own shop - just con't claim you made it yourself, that's kinda sleazy. Otherwise, if you run a shop and sell prosthetics, but don't make your own and want something custom - we can arrange something. If you sell makeup and want to sell a piece of your own design, that's doable too. Or if you're part of a LARP group and want some custom ears that your members can buy that's exclusive to you.
Drag shows. Any performance type thing really, I have sold pieces to drag performers over the last couple years, some featured on TV shows. I think I've seen some that were used in a burlesque show as well even. If you've a character you want to create for any kind of live performance and need a custom piece, that's totally doable.
And there's probably other random things people want prosthetics for, I doesn't really matter too much to me what you plan to do with them, maybe just don't rob banks or commit crimes in my prosthetics.
Why does it cost so much?
This is a valid question, but also a frustrating one to deal with. Again it's a budget thing, I know not everyone is rich and can't afford all this crap, but the process takes a long time and that time is mine and I deserve to be paid for it.
I had a customer once assume that because the ears I was selling cost $25 CAD (at that time) that a commission should only cost that was well. They then expressed that I was being misleading somehow - this is an issue with their not understanding anything about the process, and that's okay, but it's not okay to make accusations about my honesty. That'll just get you told off and blocked most likely.
So, in case you're someone who agrees with the individual in the above mentioned incident, here's why commissions cost what they do.
"Off the shelf" pieces, ones that have already been designed, sculpted and moulded have been done with an investment of my time, with the hopes after selling several I'll have recouped my investment and then it's just the expense of making a copy in foam latex.
A commission piece requires the process from scratch, mouds have to be made, sculpting has to be done - all of this has real world costs that need to be covered, and you will be the one covering those costs. The materials can be expensive, I'm not interested in donating those. My time is valuable, regardless of what you might think, and that needs to be compensated for as well. So that's what you're paying for, my time in doing all this work, which can be several hours, to dozens of hours. I don't work for free, I don't do free work for exposure (and nor should any artist ever be asked to compromise themself like that), I do this so I can earn a living - this is my job and 99% of the time I fucking love it, don't be in that 1%, please.
I am willing to work within a budget, but only so much. There are minimum requirements for every job and those have to be compensated for.
If you want a hard cost? $20 CAD an hour, between mid-November to May. Between the months of June and early- November, it's $40 CAD an hour, subject to change depending on just how busy I already am, but that's the minimum rate during that time period.
Is that is?
That's more or less it. From time to time unusual questions or request arise, but for the most part this covers all the information that the average person needs to know about before asking about a commission.
Consider all this of this before asking for a commission, it might not be right for you, and I can tell when it's not. I talk people out of commissions as often as I accept commissions, when I get the sense they're in over their heads and might not fully understand what they want I suggest something else if possible. I'd rather lose a potential commission, than take someone's money not caring if they're happy with the final product or not.
And I might be adjusting all this information over time, so it's not meant to be set in stone.