So I’m an artist who occasionally creates animation.
Recently I received a message through the website DeviantArt from someone asking if he could commission me to create a short animation for him, with the general premise of - cartoon tiger walks through the jungle, is a jerk to a squirrel in the tree, who then leads the tiger into a quicksand pit for retribution. This was just for personal use, not for any larger project of his. My initial thought was that this guy didn’t know how much such a project would cost him (animation takes a lot of time and effort), so I told him. Even though he was surprised, he was still willing to pay it, saying cheerfully that he was about to start a paid internship and would have enough money pretty soon. That caught me off guard a little, because why would a young twenty-something without a current job want to drop over a grand on a random artist commission? But hey, I reasoned, it’s not my job to tell people how to manage their money. Plus I need all the work I can get.
I got the project started and sent him a couple initial character/concept designs, but then I finally gave the guy’s DeviantArt account a proper look. Browsing through his favorites, it became obvious he had a fetish for characters sinking into mud, quicksand, etc. I asked him about it, and he confirmed. Welp, that explained a few things.
I know there’s been a bit of back-and-forth here on this forum about the morality of fetishes and strange fixations. Technically the guy wasn’t asking me to draw anything overtly sexual, or anything that hasn’t already appeared in hundreds of cartoons and films. Just something that happened to contain an element that he found arousing. If I hadn’t discovered this about him, I would never have known the difference. And yet, even if no one else could tell, it would still have been created specifically to be fetish art.
Ultimately, I decided I wasn’t comfortable continuing, in part due to my own, er, personal experiences with such fetishes. But I was curious as to what other people here thought. What would you have done if you were in my situation? What is my moral responsibility regarding how my artwork is used?