Journal Entry: Tue Oct 9, 2012, 4:40 PM
Something that has been going around in my head for the past week as I've watched a ton of new makers jumping out of the woodworks, eager to take on commissions. Making suits is great and can be a great hobby, but for those that are wanting to continue making them beyond the Hobby mark, ask yourself these questions...
1. Do I have the time to dedicate to this?
On average I will work 12-16 hour 'shift' days making suits, 6 days a week. I will take a day or two off to loosen up and relax, but perhaps ever 2 weeks or so. To keep up with the demand and the work load it takes a ton of my time, often sacrificing fun events such as the movies or a bon fire.
2. Do you have the space?
I started working off of my bed, then out of the spare bedroom. Small projects don't take up space, but larger ones certainly do. Do you have the space needed for furs, tools, cutting, sewing, and other things of the sort?
3. Do you have the dedication?
Fursuit making can not only be rewarding, but it can also be very heartbreaking. Criticism, fursuit trolls, folks unfamiliar with suits, and even the average person might break you down before building you up. Constructive criticism will hurt at times but don't turn on the person as if they were attacking you. Learn from another and learn from your own mistakes as they WILL happen. Most of the time people are there to help, not hurt.
4. Do you have the patience/emotional control?
Many times things won't go as planned, things will break, things will spill, get cut wrong, get sewn backwards, tear, get stained, turn out too small/large, etc. Fursuits will break you down to your very bare nerves and work on you till you bleed and cry. One suit may work perfectly, the next, fight you all of the way. If you fail once, DON'T give up. If you must, take a breather. Step outside, go for a walk, come back to it later. Everything will work out. If you have to remake something, just take from what you did wrong last time and learn from it.
5. Why are you making suits?
What is it that is getting you into suits? Is it because its becoming a popular thing? Are you wanting to be popular? Do you want to make people smile? Make peoples dreams come true?
A lot of things I've seen lately have taken off due to popularity such as LED's, Resin bases, and other features. Suiting can be very fun and it can be very hard work. The most rewarding thing for me is the smile, the squeal, the physical appearance of pure joy that makes what I do worth it.
6. Do you have the financial stability/ability to keep track of funds and receipts?
When it comes to making, a maker can easily drop $500 in materials alone in a single sitting. When it comes to taxes, you have to be able to prove every cent of that income and gross/net. Are you willing to charge more in order to cover materials/taxes?
7. How are you with peer pressure?
Sooo many times you will be asked to lower your costs, scolded for having your prices at where they are, and many other things. People will try to persuade you to overlook your TOS or to drop your prices for them. You cannot give in, no matter what sob story or angry words they may have.
8. How are your people skills?
You can't and won't please everyone. There will always be someone that will find something wrong and may not always handle it maturely. While they may throw mud, it is your responsibility to keep your composure and try to resolve the problem in an honest and calm manner. There may have been trouble at the post office, customs holding up a suit for a deadline, miscommunication, or other troubles. Just be prepared as you may encounter someone that will not communicate well.
9. Are you good at setting rules and keeping them?
Starting with your TOS or Terms of Service. This is your guide book, your rules, your "This is how to commission me and what I will/will not tolerate" list. It will help keep you safe and your backside from being severely grilled, if written well and followed each time.
There's not just a TOS though as work rules. When do you get up and start work? When do you make materials runs? Shipping runs? Can you set a schedule for yourself and follow it?
10.Is your environment safe for making?
Do you have someone in your household that smokes? Drinks? Do you own pets? These are all things you MUST alert commissioners prior to entering your queue. Someone may be severely allergic to something/someone you have at your home and will not know otherwise until you tell them or until they receive the product.
11. Are you willing to take the extra steps for your own health?
Resin casting, cutting, painting, PVC cutting, spray glue, spray gloss, etc. all require a well ventilated room and possibly even a respirator. Latex free gloves that are chemical resistant are also required for many of these as they all contain harmful chemicals that will cause severe health issues!
There are also more than just chemicals. Sleep and illness is another thing to keep in mind. Your body needs a certain amount of sleep. If you are pushing yourself to the point your judgement is being impaired and you are having difficulty focusing, you won't be able to dedicate your best to the suit. If you are past your limits, go take a break.
12. Are you willing to learn new things/improve upon the old?
One state of mind to always bare in mind is you don't know everything and you will never know everything. There's always room for improvement and ways to learn new things. Don't be afraid to do some research into your current topic or perhaps into a new one. Don't just study what other makers are doing (such as in anatomy, etc.) take the time and see WHY they are doing it. Study nature photo's and documents. Learn how things function and move. Learn why there's a certain number of things or why something is shaped the way it is. There is always a reason and function for everything in this world. Don't be afraid to find out why.
13.Do you expect to make a lot of money?
One urban myth about suit makers is that a lot of money is made. While makers may charge several thousand dollars for a suit, the maker themselves may only earn $200 off of a $2000 suit. Materials cost hundreds of dollars, shipping, taxes, unexpected expenditures (such as damaged or missing materials, etc.) and the time it takes spread out has the maker receiving minimum wage if not less. If the makers is using the suit business to pay for their living (rent, feed, bills, etc.) then they receive even less.
Fursuit making takes many long hours of work and you will get burned, cut, pricked by needles, and other sorts of injuries, of which no aiding benefits will be received from the business as well. So do makers make a lot of money? No, no we don't.
14. Are you willing/able to register your business?
More so, are you able to open a business account or bank account to secure your payments? To register a business you must be 18 or older to do so. Registering a business will give you a tax ID number, of which you use when filling out forms for taxes, of which you are required to pay with ANY income.
15. Are you able to accept all forms of payment?
To go hand in hand with 14, are you in a position to accept, payments such as check, cash, money orders, Credit Card, or PayPal? Checks and money orders can be cashed at a bank and while that is convenient for some, most of the world prefer and are only able to do online payments as thy are faster, more secure, easier to keep track of, and it means a credit card can be used. Payments through PayPal are the most convenient for nearly most of society that use a card as you can use your bank OR a credit card to pay.
To have a paypal option gives security to the client or customer and can be one of your greatest tools if all of Paypals rules are followed. One of those rules states specifically the requirement to being 18 or older to be an active and legal account. To be a minor and using someone elses account is extremely illegal so if you do happen to be underage and wanting to take on commissions, be prepared to work with people in different forms of payment or wait until you are of legal age.
16. Are you willing to do the research?
To make suits requires research, studying, and many hours of practice. There are countless tutorials out there that an guide as well as the greatest tool, GOOGLE. If you have a question, do a google search and see what you come up with. YouTube also has tutorials that can be found.
Experiment, try new things, and dig your heels in. Fursuit making is sort of like life. While there are things out there that can help, people will NOT walk along side you and hold your hand the entire way.
I think that's it for now, but I may add more to this list later. If anyone else has questions they think would be good ones to add, let me know!
Listening to: Pandora