Don't custom scam, how to sell a custom

I don’t hang out at this forum as much as I use to. I just don’t have the time anymore and I am on several forums so I have to be smart about not spending hours I don’t have online instead of painting babies. I do catch up when I can. I love this community.

I have a very nice client who has purchased a couple babies from me. She wrote to me yesterday because she is worried she is being scammed by an artists or is just having some bad luck with a purchase. She purchased a custom baby and the photos she received show what is obviously a baby done by an artists who is still learning or who is trying to pass off a doll that is a boo-boo.

There is flesh tone build up in creases and between fingers, there is a big yellow stain on the nose and face, and some of the photos she has received have been seen on other forums. The artist claims that this is what you get for the price (and it is a lower price, nice kit) she isn’t going to fix it, no funds to do that. I advised my client to file a complaint, get her money back and refuse the doll when it arrives.

I am not going to name names or call anyone out. Not my job. I don’t know what the situation is but I have now heard from a couple different people on a couple forums that this person is now known to the community.

Here is the deal, if you are scamming on purpose, not cool, this is an awesome community but it’s small, you may have noticed that word gets around quick. You might make a little money at first but you will have to work harder and harder to trick people. Scammers don’t last long in this community. We are a tight group of artists and we are protective of each other and this art form.

If you are simply a beginner, and it isn’t your intention to take advantage you are just trying to get started here is how it works. We all come into this excited, doing our best, hoping to make some good sales, collect nice babies, make friends, make some awesome babies maybe build a little business. Integrity, honesty, peer feedback, and communication are key to success.

-If you advertise to make a custom baby for someone you should have examples of your work, not a photo of a baby painted by another artists, you need to provide photos of babies YOU have painted. This way the client gets to know your style, where you are as an artist, and what to expect.

-Take a deposit, a fair deposit (30-50%). This protects your time and it gives you the money you may need to buy the kit. Make sure you tell your client up front it is non-refundable. Do not take the full payment, you do not have a finished product. Waiting for the full payment will also keep you motivated to finish the work.

-Get that baby done. Don’t sit on it for months. Make sure you let your client know up front where they are in your cue. If you have 20 customs to paint let them know, don’t leave them hanging it isn’t fair.

-Communicate with your client, let them know where you are in the process, send a quick photo. Clients are excited and waiting.

-Agree to everything in writing. If you plan to do a bare bones-for cheap quickie baby: minimal paint, bald, etc. They need to know what they are getting before hand. Put your promises and limits in writing. Clients will try to get you to make changes, change their mind, etc…you need to protect yourself. I know one artists who stripped a doll twice because the client did not like the skin tone, a lot of money was on the line, and the artist was being taken advantage of. COMMUNICATE before you seal the deal, get it in writing.

-If you make a mistake it is on you, your loss. Lets say a client sends you an expensive kit, you get sharpie on it or stain it, its up to you to replace the kit, at your loss. If it is a kit you purchased you can offer a discount or you will have to get a new kit. Mistakes happen but the client paid for a finished product and has expectations. They expect you to keep your word.

-If you are a new artist and offering inexpensive dolls to build a client base let everyone know. There are always people looking to collect emerging artists. If you have a boo-boo baby state that loud and clear, that baby will follow you forever if you don’t. Go to You Tube, people can be brutal. Remember a happy client tells two people, an unhappy client tells a hundred.

-Some clients are just not going to be happy. They may have overspent, have buyers remorse, have life issues, are not happy people. This is why you get it in writing, do your best, set boundaries up front. Document and save communications. If you are fair and ethical that person will be a blip on the radar and the happy clients will dilute the unhappy client. What you don’t want is a pattern of complaints, that means you need to just your sails and do better.

-Listen to your peers Honest critique means your peers look at your work and let your know where your strengths and weakness are. They help you do better, give you advice, build you up. You have to have a thick skin, it isn’t personal, its progress, and we all have something to learn. When someone critiques you it shouldn’t come from a place of anger, jealousy, or even preference. Here is an example:

“I really like the way you painted the hair, if you add a darker layer, not a lot just a few strands here and there it might give it more depth and look even more realistic”

Pay attention, this is a free education, valuable stuff.

We all make mistakes, errors in judgement, get a little excited…it is easy to apologize, make amends, start again. We get it. You would be surprised how awesome and forgiving people can be.


Very well said.


Listen to your peers Honest critique means your peers look at your work and let your know where your strengths and weakness are. They help you do better, give you advice, build you up. You have to have a thick skin, it isn’t personal, its progress, and we all have something to learn. When someone critiques you it shouldn’t come from a place of anger, jealousy, or even preference. Here is an example:

“I really like the way you painted the hair, if you add a darker layer, not a lot just a few strands here and there it might give it more depth and look even more realistic”

This!!! Critique is THE way you grow as an artist. After pouring so much of yourself into your artwork, it can be easy to take criticism as a personal attack. But it’s not.

Lately I’ve been afraid to post critique for fear of stepping on toes, and I haven’t seen much of it from anyone else either. It’s unfortunate because without it, there’s no improvement.


I agree with all of the above!

I too am guilty of not critiquing… :confused: Last time I did I offended people without meaning to. So I refrain.

But New artists PLEASE ask for advice. Do not think you know what you are doing and need no guidance… we ALL do, we are all still learning new things with each baby. If you do not want to share WIP pics with everyone try personal message.
If you sell badly painted dolls (even if cheap) if hurts ALL of us.


I totally agree!!! Personally, I LOVE critiques!!! How else can we grow if we don’t know?? You’d be surprised how much your fellow artists are rooting for you!! I have been amazed by the incredible and genuine women and men that make up the reborn community :heartpulse: It’s a beautiful, tightnit community and we look out for one another. If you receive a suggestion from a fellow artist take it as a compliment that they took the time to lend a helping hand :blush: there are some amazingly talented artists here!! If Michael Jordan critiqued you on your layup would you get mad, upset, or feel honored that he took the time to care? :blush:


Great advice! I have read of so many very experienced artists suffering through the stress of customs to the point that it took the fun out of painting. I cannot even imagine a new artist taking that on and I have seen many stress out, damage their reputations, and then give up. That is always sad to me and it is lovely that Gabriell is trying to help this artist so that he or she advances and develops.


You hit the nail on the head!
I so feel for your client as I have recently been taken advantage of…promises of when baby was to be done, received baby in far less than satisfactory condition and artist not willing to step up to the plate and make things right…we need to make our voices heard.
Come on people, karma sucks, so when it’s your turn don’t want to hear you whining!!!


It takes a while to build a good reputation. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day ~ neither are reborners. Don’t expect to jump in on Day 1 and start doing customs. If you think this is a get rich quick business, you are sadly mistaken. Reborning can’t be learned in a day, a week, or even a year. In fact, even after reborning for a decade or longer there is STILL something to be learned every day because it changes and evolves and grows all the time.

Take the time you need to learn your craft, share pics of your work, get a feel for the art and the people here, take the advice of the people who have gone before you. Most of all, have some pride in yourself and in your work. Take the time to study other reborns and their artists. Ask questions, follow tutorials, dig in and do this thing if it’s truly what you want to do but you have to know up front that there are only a handful of reborn artists in the world who can actually say they make a living from reborning alone, and those are the high end artists whose babies bring in the big bucks.

Most of us here are very willing to help, to answer questions when asked, but we don’t tolerate liars or scammers. Honesty goes a long way. You clearly do NOT want to be known as a scammer, liar, or deal breaker in this community.


Very well said Karen :kissing_heart: …sure hope they’re listening!


Agreed and well said to all​:slightly_smiling_face::slightly_smiling_face::blush:


Im seeing more and more “artists” offering customs that really shouldnt be. Their work is mediocre at best and they should really practice a LOT more before accepting custom orders. That being said, I always tell buyers they need to ask for clear, close up pictures of pastwork before choosing an artist. There are sooooo many artists out there and some are just better than others. Also, if an artist isnt charging much more than kit cost, its probably too good to be true.
I recently saw a custom baby that looked like it had been done by a child or at the very least a beginner with the same boo boos you mentioned… yellow marks on the face and paint pooling in creases! Made me cringe for the buyer :-/ The artist didnt ask for critiques and since I dont like to hurt feelings I just didnt comment…


Thanks for this advice. I am a new artist and though I won’t be doing customs I would like to sell some of my first babies but I know that there are parts of them that aren’t the best such as nails and creases. I’m glad you mentioned to list that I we are new artists. I would never want anyone to be disappointed with a baby. Would it be good to list the babies as boo boos or just put in the discription that I am a new artists and post really clear photos of them so they can see the parts that aren’t perfect


True but Karen this new trend is bringing out the crazies.I sold my dollon ebay to a lady that bidded on the doll.I declined her bid.because she asked me was it a boo boo baby…any discolorations…missing hair etc.I really didnt want to sell to her because i had a bad feeling.So i contact her back letting her know the price was based on it being my first dark toddler.She then purchased the doll.Claimed she loved the doll.Two days later she want a refund.Claiming the hands dont match.that the doll has a belly plate.She cant move the doll head from left to right…The doll head only go up and down.I offered to refund.You cant sell the doll to cheap.People want a 800 dollar doll for 173…dollars. sorry had to vent karenl


Great advice from everyone! Even if you tell people you’ve been making reborns for years, it’s easy to see in a photo if that’s true. Or at least it’s easy to tell if you have the talent the process requires. It’s sad to realize there are people who are so trusting that they will buy any work of art without seeing the finished product. These people should be smarter about how they spend their money, but they still don’t deserve to be taken advantage of.
The reborn community is a tight-knit group and yet we welcome new artists all the time. We love to share our love of this art form and help others grow their talents, but we don’t tolerate people who, by being deceitful, make everyone who creates reborns look bad. This isn’t a get rich quick process and it never will be. There are a few bad apples in every bunch, and we are pretty astute about figuring out which ones are which!


Great post, Gabriell! I agree with all the comments!

I remember one night when I posted about my Aubrey’s eyebrows and @Pia took the time to offer valuable critique and guidance. It was exciting and humbling at the same time but I think about it every time I do brows now. If you ask for critique, be open to consider what you receive. And, once again, thank you, Pia!! :heartpulse:


As long as you are perfectly honest with the people who are interested in buying your work you should be able to sell it whether you are a beginner or not. If there are blotches or flaws make sure they are visible in clear closeup photos and don’t try to hide them ever. There are buyers who won’t care about some things, but if someone is expecting the perfection that comes from years of producing beautiful quality reborns and gets the work of a rank beginner instead the buyer will not be happy. You need to grow your talents and your reputation at the same time and it takes time for both of them to flourish!


Exactly! An additional “plus” is that the entire forum benefited from that.


In order to be be honest with yourself as an artist you need to be open to critique. How else do we know if we are doing things right or getting better if we are not open to it?

Is there a link to the eyebrow information from Pia? I’d like to read it as I still struggle with eyebrows after almost four years.


I think there are a lot of people who discover reborns and think there is a gold mine to be made from selling these dolls for “big bucks”. I don’t think they realize the true talent it takes to create these babies and to do it really well. I wonder if some of them have even purchased one themselves from a good artiss or if they just look at them online and say, “I could do that”. Well, some of them can make beautiful babies and some cannot.

If you expect to make 5 babies and call yourself a reborn artist, you’re kidding yourself. That may seem harsh, but there are so many levels of realism that must be mastered, you simply cannot condense it into one attempt using one tutorial and have an amazing baby worth selling.

If you are not up to asking for criticism, you should at least examine the work of really good artists and compare it to your own to see where you need to improve. And then be brutally honest with yourself. A lot of people show their work, but don’t ask for critiques. Because everyone here is nice and supportive, they will only give positive feedback and praise. If you want to have an opinion on your work, ASK FOR IT. Don’t just post some photos and think all the kudos means you are an expert already.

Sadly, I think the scammers and the “in it for the money” people don’t want feedback. They just want to go through the motions of putting together a doll that they label as a reborn and sell it to someone. It takes way too much time to get really good and costs way too much money while you are perfecting your craft for the people who are in it for the money.


I agree with all of this. Very well said!