In the art world, a commission is simply a custom artwork ordered by a client from an artist. Artists either love doing them or hate doing them, but I for one, quite enjoy commissions. I wouldn’t want to work this way exclusively, but a commissioned work definitely has some benefits. Usually, commissions happen because a client falls in love with my work, and who wouldn’t like that kind of attention. It is also a guaranteed sale, with partial payment up front- a good deal for artists who are used to covering all material and associated costs of an artwork until a buyer is found. Lastly, commissions sometimes give an artist the opportunity to do something that they couldn't normally do, like work on a very large scale, or in another material.
I have a few simple rules for accepting commissions, which are as follows. 1) The client must love and understand my work and subject matter. I don’t do people, I don't do landmarks, I won’t paint your dog; I only paint trees and forests. A client must understand this and therefore know what they can expect from me. I really want to create the best work I can for a commission, but before I can truly do that I have to be passionate about what I am creating. Which is the main reason I stick to a subject matter that I know and love. 2) The client must be able to tell me what they want, or don’t want, so that we can work together to find a suitable image for their painting. Often, I ask a client to peruse my website and tell me which pieces they like and why. We talk about colors, we talk about the feel of the work, we talk about content - the amount of trees/sky/land, etc. At this point we can either work from a new photograph I’ve taken or base the work on a painting that I have formerly completed. I prefer the first option, but I sometimes do the second option. 3) Lastly, the client must choose a size and scale that fits their budget, and agree to a timeframe for completion. Commissions often incur an additional charge over and above the artist's regular pricing, and usually take longer to complete than a typical painting. I always commit extra time to make my commissions very special, so there is definite value there.
|Colorful One #2, 2009. |
Acrylic on paper, 40 x 24 inches
Collection of the Ritz Carlton Highlands
Hotel in Lake Tahoe, California.
Most of the time, my clients are easy-going, and these are the best kind of clients for me. Often they are working in conjunction with a designer, art consultant or gallery - a person that can filter and analyze the necessary details and then present me with a proposal for the project which, I can accept, alter or deny. This makes my job fairly simple; for all I have to do is understand and paint what they are asking for, as long as they are in alignment with the above rules. Sometimes, I have the pleasure of working with a client directly. Usually this is because it is a friend or I have a special connection with that person. This is the case with Jaimie and Alec. In Part 2 of this series, The Skinny on Commissioned ArtWork: My Ideal Client, I will discuss Jaimie and Alec's commission and let you know why I loved working with them.