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Working With An Artist on Commissions



Working with an artist to have that perfect painting sounds incredible, right? It actually is, but there are some things to think about when you set out to commission an artist to paint you that dreamed painting that will have meaning for you as a collector for a lifetime!



To commission an artist refers to when a client pays an artist to create a custom work of art with specific instructions. Typically, this means that the artist will be making a piece for the client's personal collection based on preset parameters and an artistic vision.


One of the first things to be aware of when commissioning an artist is that each artist has their artistic style of how they paint. Style is basically the manner in which the artist expresses their work. Style is determined by the way the artist uses form, color, and composition, to name just a few. For me, there are certain markings and line work that you will see in my work.


Say for instance, you want portraits of your sweet pets, you would not ask an abstract expressionist like me to paint your commission as I do not paint pet portraits. I paint messy, layered passionate abstracts!! You would seek out someone that paints pet portraits the style you envision your end paintings to look like.


Here are some helpful tips to help you ensure your commissioned painting experience is going to not only give you an incredible painting that you will enjoy for a lifetime, but be an experience that you will enjoy!! The process to me is very important for each collector to love their painting each time they look at their new artwork. If they have a horrible time during the process, they might not even want to look at the painting everyday!!!


So here are a few ideas to PONDER!!


  1. Engage a conversation with the artist you are thinking about using and find out if they even like to do commissions. Many artists hate commissions and this might be reflected in their work product for you. You might want to ask them how many commissions they have painted as working with an artist that has experience in the questions to ask to prepare for a commission is valuable. When I first started commission work, I had to learn that the collector was depending on ME to help THEM with sizing options, color, value and balance choices for specific rooms, etc. To take this for granted that the collector should know these things will result in a rough process!! This takes experience as it really is different from just painting what inspires the artist; creating to inspire the collector is totally different.

  2. Visit the artist's website to see the style of work. You might have picked an artist you like personally but does not actually paint the style you want!! Are you looking for peaceful, Zen, Beach, Minimal, Pop Art? Etc. Does the artist you are look at paint YOUR personal style?

  3. Once you decide on an artist, I recommend my collectors visit my website to pick out styles, color, etc of pieces on my web site they tend to gravitate to. This helps me know if the collector is lending more toward heavy texture or blue tones, or a lot of white space.

  4. Ask if the artist has a "Commission Contract" that you can review. This will help you understand the pricing and expectations up front. This is important for both you and the artist to avoid some uncomfortable situation later. Up front communications will make the entire process so much "funner". It is not unusual for an artist to charge higher prices for commission pieces from their already created pieces. Many times commission pieces take longer and require separate supplies from what they have on hand. Keep this in mind. but do not let this hinder you from commissioning your one of a kind piece created just for you.

  5. It is helpful for the artist to have a "Commission Questionnaire" with preset questions to help guide the commissioned conversation. Many collectors need help in deciding sizes, colors, textures, etc.as they have never asked for a special painting to be created.

  6. It is VERY important to ask how many times the artist will allow the collector to view the "IN PROGRESS" work and allow changes. I have learned that once the client sees the work in progress, something happens as they start to envision their end product. Sometimes they might question the color they initially picked and it is critical to have some wiggle room to work back and forth with the artist and collector to adjust things. The collector might decide they want more texture or a splatter of gold which is easier to add DURING the process than in the end!! But too many adjustments might mean the qualification of what was envisioned was NOT completed during the "Commission Questionnaire" phase.

  7. Once the painting is completed, a discussion of how the painting will be delivered should already be working out.


Commissioning a painting is so much fun but can go sideways so fast. I hope I have provided some thoughts to help you when you have decided to take this step in your art journey.


Please contact me at Cheryl@cherylwilsonart if you are interested in Commissioning me for art!

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