Most artists are more than willing to create a custom piece of artwork. When I receive requests for a commission it’s either to create a similar piece to something that already exists but in a different size or to paint something based on a photo which may hold fond memories. I’ve also had requests to use certain colours in order to fit in with the room interior.
There is a clear risk when commissioning an artwork because if there is any miscommunication you might not get what you’re expecting. At least when you purchased a finished piece you can see exactly what you’re getting.
That’s why it’s really important, when approaching an artist to request a quote for a commission, to have a clear idea of what you want out of the artwork. It’s a balance between what you want versus allowing the artist freedom to create what’s best for the painting.
You also want to take a look at the latest paintings that the artist has released, this is the current style that the artist is working in. Make a note of the mediums used; you don’t want to ask someone who works in oils to provide a watercolour painting, similarly you don’t want to ask a countryside artist to paint a city. They may do a good job – but it’s certainly a bigger risk. Consider what they specialise in now versus what you want.
The first thing to talk about are any specific considerations you have.
1 – Colour
This is usually something that the artist can be very accommodating about; you can either specify colours you want to see – or to take it a step further you could take some photos of the room and the space that the commission will sit in to allow the artist to really visualise the context of the artwork.
2 – Size
Similarly an artist can work in many sizes. Most artists work in standard canvas sizes as purchased from an art shop, some artists will make their own canvases and can bespoke the size. However, again I would take a look at the typical size of work that an artist currently works in. You don’t want an artist who typically works in small sizes to translate their style to a larger piece if they don’t have the confidence to do so.
I typically work in a standard size of 50x50cm in order to generate a collection of artwork which allows a collector to purchase multiple works of the same size; however I have done many small paintings and commissions of up to 100cm. I also prefer the aesthetic layout of a square canvas – but have created many artworks in both landscape and portrait format.
I’d get a tape measure out at this point, I’d even go so far as to use masking tape to mask out the area you want the painting to fill. Stand back and ensure it’s not going to overwhelm the room or get lost in it. Have a good walk around the room and view from different angles.
3 – Subject
Many artists are happy to work from photograph inspiration; if there is a particular location or view which holds fond memories.
4 – Style
Go through the artist’s portfolio and highlight the paintings that you like; this will allow the artist to employee certain techniques for the commission.
I have created several wildlife paintings and feel comfortable painting wildlife or pet commissions. My specialty are landscapes, typically Cornish because that’s where I live, but I haven’t always lived in Cornwall and have painted many other UK landscapes.
5 – Terms
Many artists like to put a contract in place before starting a commission. I prefer to ask for a 50% deposit with the remaining 50% due once the final painting has been approved. I’ll send an email with a photo of the finished piece for approval before posting as well as providing updates during the process.
It’s also important to discuss timelines up-front. Many artists also have a full or part time job so will need to schedule in time to work on your commission
I’ll typically estimate about one month from agreement to provide a digital photo of the finished piece for approval for artworks up to 50x50cm.
With regards to price, a commission will typically be more expensive than an original piece of artwork – this is because of the process and extra time required in order to create something bespoke just for you. However this doesn’t mean it will be unaffordable. I aim to keep my commissioned prices as near to my normal prices as I can. It will often depend on the size and the subject.
It’s easy to think that it’s going to be a long awkward process to commission a painting. However that’s not necessarily the case. Artists are humans as well, it’s important to remember that a success of a commission is equally, if not more, important to them as it is to you. They want it to be a shared process so you can be confident from start to finish.
When you request a quote for a commission on my website you are essentially just sending me an email, which I’ll carefully read through and get in touch. I’m happy to get in touch by phone if that will help.
For me the success of a commission is fundamentally linked to the success of the relationship we’ll develop through the course of the commission. As I said before; artists are human and we’re not mind readers – so it’s really important to express your vision as clearly and in as much detail as possible. Although if you really want your commission to be a success – don’t forget to allow for artistic license!