It needn’t be daunting asking an artist to undertake a commission, we love to talk about our work and to make something that’s right for you. I’ll talk a bit about the process and hope it helps.

What is a commission?

A commission is when you ask an artist to paint, draw or create something for you.

You might have a definite idea about what you want, or you might want to have more of a conversation about your ideas so that the artist can use to go away and make some sketches. You can then discuss again and refine what it is that you want. This initial process is very helpful if you only have a vague idea to start off with.

The artist can also give you quotes at this point for a range of ideas.

What will the artist need from me?

Apart from the idea for the commission, the ‘brief’, the artist may just need reference photos. Alternatively, they may need to visit you, or a particular location to take photos, or they may need to make sketches before they start.
They may need to paint from life, and this would mean paying for their travel expenses.

I’ve only got a really old photo, it’s a bit blurry, is that ok?

It might be, it might not be, but the artist is going to have to take a lot longer to paint what they can’t see. They may need to take additional photos as research. They may just not be able to create a painting with the same detail level that they would if they had a high resolution photo.
Sometimes it just might not be possible to paint what they can’t see, but that’s why it’s important to provide photos early on so an artist can see what’s possible.

Will it be cheaper if it’s smaller?

Not necessarily.

Painting small is time consuming as it’s more difficult to see and more difficult to position the brush to get the marks right. The same goes for most types of art and media.

What if it’s too expensive?

If you’re not sure what you want, be upfront and let the artist know your budget to see if they can accommodate your price range.  Otherwise ask for ideas for prices of different sizes.

Things that might be included in the cost are:

  • Price of materials (you may need to pay a deposit to cover this cost upfront)
  • Time spent
  • Time and materials spent on preparatory sketches
  • Travel and time taken by the artist to take reference pictures or make sketches
  • Additional time taken researching if reference photos provided aren’t suitable

Remember though that artists take years to become good at what they do. You’re not just paying for the hours someone spends on your piece and the material cost, but also their knowledge and skill. And the emotional effect of a piece of art that’s personal to you is more powerful than you can anticipate.

How long will it take?

Usually artists have a commission list and won’t be ready to start your picture immediately. It gives you time to think more about what you want and gather any photos or reference materials you might need.

Artists will let you know when they start your piece and can give you photo updates of it taking shape ‘behind the scenes’. They will give you an idea of how long it might take. It can be exciting to be included in the process of the making of an object that you will later own.

Practice piece and final piece (above)

If you’re interested in approaching an artist, then go for it. It’s always a really great challenge to try to create something for a customer and really satisfying to create something truly unique and personal.

By the way, despite the title of this article, if you have any other questions, please ask!

And you can contact me about commissions by getting in touch with your idea through my Commissions page.


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