How to Commission an Artwork
You have a wonderful blank wall and you're deeply opposed to mass manufactured art that 34,678 other people have in their homes. You want something that you can connect to. Something that sparks joy every time you see it. Commissioning a piece of art might be the answer! It's not as difficult as you might think.
1. Find an artist This might be the most time consuming part of the project. This can be a deeply personal search. If this artwork is for you, remember that art is subjective and an artist style you might love might not appeal to anyone else. So you find an artist you like, and don't ask for anyone else's opinion (my husband loves when I don't ask for his opinion on art). You can look on Pinterest for artists, or online galleries such as Art Lovers Australia and BlueThumb. Visit bricks and mortar galleries and laneways filled with murals. A lot of muralists also paint canvas works *wink wink*. Check out your friends and families artwork collections and make note of the artists. Look at hashtags on Instagram such as #sunshinecoastartist #art #australianmade. Or ask people on social media if they can recommend a local artist, There is a lot of talent out there, it's just a matter of finding them.
2. Stalk the artist Not all artists take commissions. I suggest having a look on their website or social media. It will normally state if they take commissions. Have a look at their body of work and get a feel for their style. Make sure it fits the commission you are after. For example, if you'd like a painting of your dog and your favourite artist paints landscapes, I don't imagine they will take on your project. That would be like going to the urologist and asking them to check your heart. Yes, both doctors, but very different disciplines. Artists are the same. Collect some screen shots of their previous works that appeal to you. This will give them an idea of what you like about their style. Then reach out. Call. Email. Not both.
3. Request a quote Most artists will not meet or take a brief until they have had their quote approved by the client. I get asked to quote on 3-8 jobs every week. If I took briefs for all of them I'd loose a lot of time and sanity. Most artists quote on commissions based on canvas size. So shoot them an email or a call and let them know: - The size of canvas you would like (let them know if you are flexible on this) - Your budget if you have one - The suburb you need the artwork delivered to - An idea of what you are wanting painted ie. 'An artwork of my son in your style with calming colours' - The deadline. If this is a gift, then you need to make sure the artist has space to fit the project in prior to the deadline. Even if this isn't a gift, I suggest putting a loose deadline on the project. No deadline = a very very long and drawn out project.
4. Proofs If you are happy with the artists quote, then accept it and send them a full brief. Or make a time for them to pop over and take a brief from you. If you are not happy with the artists quote, move on to the next artist. Please do not negotiate. You don't negotiate with your electrician installing your lights. You don't negotiate when you're buying your new gym tights. Just let them know that it is outside of your budget. Moving forward with a quote within your budget - you will likely need to pay a deposit. 50% is normal. The artist will put together a proof before they touch the canvas. They will let you know when you will receive the proof. It will generally take a week or two (for me at least). I send an electronic proof that I have created on the iPad. Some artists may sketch it up or paint a mini version. There might be a bit of back and forth to get the design perfect. If you're not 100% happy, you need to speak up now. If you want the 'hair changed', or the 'blues to be lighter' - say it. I am always shocked when clients come back with a 'approved' straight away. I like to make at least one round of changes on proofs. It's also difficult to make changes to the finished artwork. So proof-time is when changes need to be made.
I create my electronic proofs in ProCreate on the iPad and send a digital file for approval. This makes changes to the design very easy.
5. Painting The artist will then start painting your canvas. This may take a few weeks. Once the canvas is complete they will send you a photo of the finished work for your final approval. I like to break my artworks into background and foreground. I send a photo of the canvas once I'm happy with the background - I get the clients approval. Then I move onto the top layer (figurative layer). Then I send another photo once the top layer is complete for approval.
I like to send photo updates of the artwork as I progress.
6. Posting/Delivery Once you have approved the final photo of the artwork, the remainer of the invoice will be due. Once that is paid the artist will sign, attached d-rings and wire, wrap the work and book a courier to pick up.
Artists will wrap your artwork differently depending on which courier they are using. Some couriers only allow one layer of bubble wrap. Others need the work to be wrapped within an inch of it's life.
7. Receiving the artwork Do not hack into the wrapped artwork with a box cutter (yes, this has happened before). Gently unwrap your new masterpiece. Hang it proudly on your wall, or if you're not confident with hanging the work, there are professional art hangers. If you choose to put a photo of the artwork on social media, remember to tag the artist (and spell their name correctly). Most artists work is via word-of-mouth. And well done you for supporting a local artist!
Commissioning an artwork can make for a wonderful gift. I have one client who is partner in a law firm. Each time she promotes a partner she commissions an artwork for them to hang in their office. I have another client who buys her daughter a new mini-artwork each birthday to build up a small collection of works. Great investment! Commissions can be anything you like - a composition of many different elements. People, passed and present - or even painted to be in the same painting. Pets are a popular subject too. Places such as beaches, houses, holidays. Or simply abstract art that you connect with. Anything that brings you joy and celebrates you!