In my career thus far, I can unequivocally say that I know how to deal with engineers. I have also spent a good part of the last few years learning how to deal with business people, and with entrepreneurs - I wouldn't say I'm an expert, but I'm trying to learn how to relate.
Artists are a set of folks I have no clue how to deal with. Graphic arts, UX/UI designers, web developers, fine arts - they have their own language and I don't speak it.
My mother is a photographer, but bless her heart she has been surrounded by engineers for so long, she has an honorary engineer communication degree!
One of the students here at World's Best School has been posting a set of photographs on Facebook to commemorate his time here (he just graduated undergrad). I am not usually particularly affected by photos, particularly of the quality you normally find on Facebook, but these were just stunning. Not only are they technically gorgeous (and thanks Mom for the fact that I can recognize that!), but they actually evoke emotions for me - community, joy, loneliness, pride. Not an easy feat to make an engineer feel emotions, from a piece of art at that... When I leave World's Best School, these photos capture how I want to remember it.
So I wrote him a note, told him how much I appreciated his work, and asked if he'd be willing to sell the set.
He wrote back - and this is where I just don't get artists - and said that yes, he would be willing to send me the high-res versions of the set. And he said yes, his work is copyrighted, and he sells them for a fee, but he doesn't want to set a price for this set because it is very special to him. But a "gift/donation would be much appreciated. Let me know."
So.... you'll give them to me, you don't want to set a price to sell them, but your copyrighted stuff is only available for a fee... so please donate?
I think perhaps nobody has ever offered to buy his photographs (he is an undergrad student in the sciences, after all, this is his hobby). So maybe he's afraid to set a price because he has no idea what a ballpark would be? Hate to either low-ball yourself, or set something outrageously high, right?
Whatever the reasoning, I'll take a stab at a reasonable number for a gift, and I'm just happy I'll be able to have copies to enjoy. I'm already thinking of ways to display them... can't just hang them in frames, come on now, I'm an engineer commemorating her grad school... that calls for building something special!
This is as close as I'll probably ever get to commissioning a piece of artwork.