You're absolutely correct on all counts.
But one thing you're missing is that I now point to this thread to potential 'clients' as a point of reference to filtering out the tire-kickers. When people contact me, I send them my standard Prices, Process and Policy write-up, and have recently been including a link to this thread. If I hear back from people after they've read through this lamentation, then I know that those people value the custom artwork I'd be creating for them, and it also indicates to me that they'll be easy to work with.
One thing I'd like to clarify is that while I like doing this art for members here, I don't hold this as a primary source of income. I do this on the side, I don't plan on expanding into a full-fledged service, and I don't plan on doing this as a full-time gig (nor could I, with the cost of living in Vancouver). Even though the way I handle things are professional (I'm anal, and I like efficiency), my thread is stickied, and I come from a professional background, I mainly started offering this to people because I was tired of seeing clip-art slathered onto projects that have the potential to be so much more.
Doing custom art for people is something that I thought would be nice to help make their projects look even more awesome. That's how it started...then being able to get spending money for this hobby helps not only feed my obsession but also keeps the wife off my back. I'm not going to get rich of this, that's for damn sure.
But I do get a sense of pride, a boost of morale and motivation from the recognition you guys give me. It's also great to see my art come to life with the projects here.
But I can walk away from this stuff, and probably will when I find it interferes too much with life -- which isn't that far off to tell you the truth. This was one of the reasons I got my artist buddy to help me out. With BitterP taking some of the commissions I can't get to, we've been able to keep this manageable.
As of today, I've got 3 major commissions to finish (2 BYOAC guys, 1 Arcade Otaku bloke), while BitterP is working on 2 big ones as well. There are about 4 people on the wait-list -- one of which I'm really considering because it would be the first time I've been asked to do custom pinball playfield art. That is awesome not only because of the artistic angle, but also for the interaction of gameplay! But I'm hoping that both BitterP and I can finish our current ones by the end of summer, then evaluate what's next.
So yes, this is a Rant thread, as appropriately titled.
But for the record: None of the people that this was directed to has replied to this thread.