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Thursday
Nov032011

Robert Quill - deadbeat artist

This is a public service warning. Since 2007, I've worked with 8 artists on dozens of commissions that amounted to thousands of dollars. I've had a falling out with an artist, and I've had slow turn-around, but I've never had an artist fail to complete a paid commission or stop responding to emails...until now. Many of you are authors seeking book covers or even illustrations. You've heard me recommend artists before. Now I'm un-recommending one.

His name is Robert Quill. Here's what happened: I was at Balticon for the first time in 2011 and loved it! As a memento, I purchased a $119 commission of myself as a pirate from a man who turned out to be...in retrospect...a pirate. :( Rober was an official artist at the convention as far as I could tell. He had a booth outside the dealer’s area. I was planning to use the image as a playful portrait in the "About Me/ Contact" section of the Cowry Catcher's website.

Mr. Quill took all the money up front at the convention via credit card, engaged in a few halfhearted emails back and forth, never finished the commission, and then stopped responding to my requests for update.

Here’s a timeline:

5/31/11 – I paid $119 via credit card at Balticon for an ink illustration of myself as pirate.

6/13/11 – I emailed for status update (and to make sure he had not lost my email address).

6/15/11 – He sent me an email with a link to this sketch http://www.robertquill.com/transfer/AbigailHilton.jpg, asking whether I wanted to make any corrections before he finished the piece.

6/26/11 – I responded verifying that the sketch was a go.

10/9/11 – I wrote to ask for an update; he said he had misplaced the commission and would look into it.

10/18/11 – I wrote asking whether he’d found the missing commission and expressing concerns about his intention to finish it. He never responded.

I would be surprised if I’m the only person he’s done this to. People commissioning artwork at a convention have no way of checking the credentials of artists or comparing reviews from other clients. We take it on faith that an artist with a booth has been at least marginally vetted by the convention organizers. I’m sure they didn’t know he was a thief.

However, as an author who commissions a lot of artwork, I'm trying to make sure that people know. Don't commission this guy. I’m sure I’ll never see my $119 again or the artwork, but I would at least like to make sure he doesn’t get to keep taking advantage of my peers.

If further developments occur (like a refund or the artwork), I'll add an update. Maybe Mr. Quill was struck by lightning and cannot answer his emails. Maybe, but I doubt it.

Update 11/20/11: Right after making the previous post, I emailed the Balticon organizers. There's no reporting system for artists, and I don't want this artist to do the same thing to some other sucker at the convention next year. I have lots of friends who attend that convention. The Balticon organizers were very nice and actually got in touch with the artist's agent. This resulted in the artist offering me a refund. To date, the refund has not arrived (he said that he could not refund my credit card and didn't want to use Paypal). However, we seem to be making progress. I am impressed with the Balticon organizers for their handling of this situation. They care about their attendees.

Update 12/8/11 - Robert refunded my money today via Paypal after I got the Balticon organizers involved. The con organizers truly seemed to care about my predicament, and I am greatful for their help.

If you ever feel the need to comission this guy (or anyone, really), I advise paying half the money up front and half on completion. This is a common practice, and if an artist will not agree to it...find someone else. I don't think Robert intended to rob me when he took my credit card at the convention. However, I do think he needs money on the table as motivation to complete a comission.

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Reader Comments (41)

Ok... That's bad news because I have ordered myself something from him too last Balticon... I received the first part of the order but had no news about the second part for some time now...

November 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLucie Le Blanc

Wow. As some one considering how to come up with cover art this is another good lesson. Thanks!

December 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Quill would never cheat anyone. I have known him for about 25 years. He did have some personal issues earlier this year that caused him to put art commissions on the back burner, and project management is not his strongest skill at the best of times. But he would never intentionally cheat anyone or deliberately ignore a client.

December 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbblackmoor

I also had bad dealing with this artist. At icon last year i Paid for a commission for my wife of $250 that we was eager to take. i also got a link to a first draft in a week and we approved it. After that he has been scarce.
We saw him at NYCC (New York Commic Con) and we was quick to remember our faces and assured us he was on top of it that he recently went through some hard times with his sister and the recent hurricane and would contact us in a week. It has been over a month
I am currently writing him again. I will re-postif anything comes up

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarc C

Thanks for posting this. I was wondering if I was the only one. I had a similar, but even worse experience with him.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKM

Eerily similar to what I experienced with Robert Quill, down to my hopes that he really did want to get my art to me and some kind of circumstances prevented him. I really don't want to believe that he was scamming me. Sorry to hear I'm not the only one who lost money to him. I'll try your tip of going through the convention organizers to get a refund, thanks.

How ironic because I am currently going through the same predicament as you were. I paid upfront, $125 for a sketch of 4 characters in a group. He said he would have it done the next day and I was shocked because i had some very wild specifications for him. Needless to say he didn't get around to it, so he said the day after that... well its been a week now and he hasn't replied to any emails. So I just added him on facebook and maybe I can get through to him there... hopefully.

April 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLocke

Hi, Locke! I did not realize that this comment was awaiting moderation. I apologize. Thank you for taking the time to make a comment, since it gives warning to other people who find my post. I really hope you get it resolved - either by getting your art or your money back. I think FB might be a good way to go.

September 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterAbbie

RT2011 - I totally did not realize I had comment moderation on. Sorry for the delayed posting of your comment, but people still Google to this entry, so I hope it's useful to others. Good luck getting your art or money.

September 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterAbbie

Oy, and now I've dug the rest of your comments out of my moderator bin. Sorry, guys. I didn't realize Squarespace was queuing your comments for moderation. Thank you for all your posts, opinions ,and experiences. I hope they help other people.

September 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterAbbie

So he sent a very rough sketch of what I wanted and all was good except that one character was supposed to be a female. I told him if he could just make the one modification, that would be great, and of course I never heard from him again. Plus the rough sketch had a copyright stamp across it, so there was no utilizing what he had already provided. This all took place about 4 months ago.

September 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLocke

I had a very similar experience at just about the same time, but did get the artwork eventually. I ordered a commission from him at the 2011 Balticon. He sent a sketch in less than a month; there were a few issues, mostly due to lack of clarity on my part as I recall, so I asked for several changes and paid a little more for an additional sketch, to be sure it was right before he finalized it.

After that I didn't hear a thing. I'm sure I sent several emails (which I seem to have tossed, now that it's resolved), and never heard from him. After about three months, I emailed the friend to whom it was to be delivered, and it hadn't been. At about the same time, I found his personal contact info via WHOIS, and left him a voicemail, on the assumption that he might have had a long-running computer problem and never got my emails. No reply.

I finally ran into him in person in the dealer room at another con, probably the 2011 Philcon, and he apologized and produced a satisfactory artwork within a day.

There are a few similar stories on this blog post, plus a response from Quill. There's also one story here, from back in 2009.

I would have to say that at minimum he's really bad about communicating, managing his time, and delivering, which no independent business owner can afford to be - and he certainly can't afford to have three postings like this turning up on the first page when you google his name! I don't have enough evidence to conclude that he was blowing me off intentionally, but I won't do business with him again.

September 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTualha

It's been three months since I paid up front for a full digital piece and tee shirt of one of my characters at the Comikaze Expo. I haven't heard a peep from Mr. Quill, and am thinking of e-mailing him. But after researching and hearing how many people are experiencing the same thing, I'm starting to regret it.
My commission was $270 or something, and a gift from my mother, who had a stroke five years ago. Her caregivers are starting to wonder if I received what my mother has paid for, but no, I haven't. If it was my own money I wouldn't be as concerned, but it is my mother's. I sincerely hope I can reach him and get what I paid for or get a refund.

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralex

I also have had issues with this artist, In may of 2012 I commissioned a work from him for 250 dollars for my daughter, the next day we went to approve the sketch, he assured us it would arrive in August. I did tell him this was going to be a birthday present for my daughter, who is 17. Nothing has arrived and no communication from mr, Quill. I would not do business with this man and would warn all not to do business with him. He is not attentive to his business and is either making promises he cannot keep or frankly getting away with fraud and theft.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBk

I as well am dealing with Robert Quill.. I hired him in Aug 2011 at Pennsic paid over 100.00 for my drawing which i would get a e-mail with my proof in a couple months for me to look at and let him know what changes i needed, got it in the end of Oct 2011...I e-mailed him my changes and never heard back from him, after many e-mails to him he responded april 2012 saying he would get on it and send it to me right away.. I never got it or heard from him again...I went back to the Pennsic event in 2012 found him and complained..he said that he would make it up to me by giving me more drawing add ons than i had paid for and gave me a 2week deadline of I would get it 2 weeks after that event..I refreshed him on my changes to the drawing..I also had him give me his personal cell number...not hearing form him again, and no drawing came..then in january 2013 my drawing came. He did a few changes added a back ground but not what i asked for. I'm not happy with it and have been asking for a refund and i will send the work back.. have sent him 3 e-mails and tried the number he gave me which is not a working number..surprise surprise! so i will be taking my drawing back to the event and demand a refund if one has not happened before then, as of today he has not responded to my e-mails once again...2 years of this crap is just bad bad business!

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFEENA

The 'personal problems' delay is clearly a scam Robert has been working for a long long time. In May of 2012 I paid him$219.00 for drawing of a friend when we both encountered him as a vendor at a Star Trek convention in NJ. I will spare you the back-and-forth details but here it is March 2013 and no drawing, no refund.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric Alter

I just wanted to say again that I'm sorry for the trouble all of you have had. I started this thread so that anyone searching for "Robert Quill Scam" could find some info. The thread does, indeed, come up readily on Google. I think that's all we can do - put the information out there for people who are considering this artist.

March 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterAbbie

Yep, same story here. Paid close to $200 dollars at Farpoint 2012 for two sketches (one was a variant of the original I commissioned). After getting the initial proof, I okayed it and now nothing.

I wouldn't be bothered by this as much if he would respond to any of the emails myself or my husband have sent him. I feel he's very disrespectful and that fact he won't communicate with his paid clients is unacceptable.

I want my sketches or my money back and at the very least an email without excuses. Don't take on more work if you're that far behind.

April 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Hi folks,

I realize I'm probably opening myself up to a world of hurt here, so please go easy on me. I'm uniquely aware of both sides of this issue, and I want to do what I can to ease people's concerns.

Robert Quill is my husband and I just wanted to assure everyone that he's not a thief. If you have a commission with him, it will get finished and he will do whatever he can to make sure you love it. Wait times can be lengthy, which is noted as openly as possible in the ordering paperwork. But it will get done.

The communication issue is something we're trying to contend with. I realize that the lack of contact is what upsets people the most. We're attempting to figure out a way for me to start helping to answer his email, so that clients get the answers they need and don't assume the worst, and he doesn't lose valuable work time dealing with email. I'm hoping to use my OC powers for the benefit of our business. Fingers crossed--we're still working out the method.

I realize that all of you have concerns, and I further realize that you don't know me, so my word may not mean much to you. I hope that at least hearing from a member of the Quill household will help a bit. We really are here, we really are working hard, and the life circumstances that occasionally put us behind really aren't just excuses. I was there. We have no way to work around that stuff, so we just work through it as best we can. We're going to keep slogging through and trying to streamline the process as much as we can.

:--)

Rae

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRae

Thanks Rae for that post. It was very informative. Let me do my part to support you and Robert in your efforts. He no longer has to deliver the work I commissioned over one year ago. Just refund my money please. $219.00 on May 5, 2012.

May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric Alter

Rae,
I would respectfully disagree with you, Robert is a thief. Perhaps a charming and well intentioned one, but a thief just as well. He has been running this scam since at least 2011. He goes to conventions, he does his pirate thing, charges up front, sends out a rough sketch and then is never heard from again unless complaints are made. This is now his MO and it bothers me that he was able to do the same crap at RT this year. I wish we had not been so busy, I would have loved to be able to stand at his booth and warn people about what is now his SOP. We were only able to confront him briefly. Honestly, if you guys are that far behind, why go and take more commissions instead of maybe staying home and finishing the ones people paid you for? People like us who bought three paintings from Robert well over a year ago. I don't think he is a bad guy, but you have to see where people would begin to get upset.
That's all,
Take care.

May 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGordon Andrews

Hello everyone,

I do apologize to you all. I have two tiers of delivery schedules, VIP which is done in a matter of weeks, and Standard which is substantially discounted, but doesn't offer any guarantee on time of delivery. I *believe* everyone on this blog chose the second option. However, I understand your frustration and on review, many of you certainly have valid complaints.

I have answered most of these concerns directly by email and FB to the satisfaction of the client involved. However, for some of you, I'm not sure based on your profile name which commission belongs to you. Please read on for individual details...


Lucie LeBlanc - I'm so glad you have received your print order and your deluxe color illustration. I'm particularly happy you're so pleased with it and I do hope you'll order again.

Steven - Your post was from quite some time ago, but fyi… all my publishing related work is typically associated with a deadline. It's a bit pricier, but there are guarantees on date of delivery.

Bblackmoor - Thanks!!! :)

Marc C: If you're the Marc C I think you are… and I'm only 90% sure of that…your piece was definitely mailed out. If you haven't received it, email me at robert@robertquill.com and please mention the name "Marc C" in the subject or body of the email. If you've received, fantastic.

KM - So sorry to hear that. Obviously I'm not sure who are based on this login name, but if your commission is still not resolved to your satisfaction, please feel free to email me at robert@robertquill.com, mention this blog post and I'l take care of it. If your experience is as negative as you say, I'm sure I can provide you with a refund or some other measure of compensation at your discretion.

RT2011 attendee Los Angeles - obviously I don't know who you are, but I believe I've resolved any concerns brought to the attention of the RT organizers. If your issue is still outstanding, email me at robert@robertquill.com and mention this blog.

Locke: I'm delighted we were able to resolve things and that you received your illustration and are very happy with it. Thanks for the biz, and do let me know if there's anything else I can do for you.

Tualha: I know you would have preferred to get your drawing a bit faster, and I'm sorry I couldn't do that without short-changing other clients. Still, I'm glad you got it and that it's to your liking.

Alex: If I have correctly identified you, its true your illustration has not yet risen to the top of the queue after you approved it on-site at Comikaze, but I don't have any record of emails from the address put on your worksheet. It's always possible my email software could be spamming you or something. If you have a particular deadline concern, please email me from that address and reference this blog, I'll keep an eye out for it and see what I can do.

Bk: Sorry to hear about your experience. Obviously, I'm not sure which commission belongs to this login name. Please email me at robert@robertquill.com and mention this blog and I'll take care of it.

Feena: You absolutely received bad service. I misfiled your commission twice. I've emailed and offered you complete reparations. Please reply when you're ready and let me know how I can make it up to you. I sincerely apologize.

Eric Alter: Eric, I've sent you an email regarding your commission that, among other things, outlines a few options we can take to resolve your commission. Look it over and let me know which you'd prefer.

Katie: I'm not 100% sure who you are, but I'm 90% sure you've received the work and are satisfied. By all means, email me if I've got the wrong Katie and your commission is still unresolved, and I'll get back to you right away.

Gordon Andrews - Gordon, I appreciate that you aren't interested in the free upgrade that I offered you. Per the instructions of your last email I've completed yours and your wife's illustrations. They are currently being printed and should ship out to you by the end of the week. Please let me know if you're mailing address has changed.

I think that's everyone. Back to drawing.

While I would understand if you don't... should any of you care to order from me again, you might want to consider the VIP schedule if you have a particular date you need the work by.

Please know that I have taken steps to reduce wait times and to improve my attentiveness to email correspondence. It's just been a very, very busy year for commissioned works.

Sincerely,


- Robert Quill

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Quill

Robert as per my direct response to you I will take the option where you give me a full refund.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric Alter

Robert did send the artwork I did order. I must say it is beautiful and we are happy with the piece. I received it today and my daughter is very happy.

July 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBk

Hey Robert,
It's early July and we have yet to receive our artwork. Maybe got lost in the mail, if you could give us a tracking number that would be great.
Take care,
Gordon

July 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGordon Andrews

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