Q: Hi Sam, I was recently asked if I do commissions and I have no artist friends to ask... I have never done a commission and have no idea how to work with a client on a painting, but I don't want to say no. It's a little different than doing a freelance graphic design job. Do you have any particular process you go through with a client?
A. Hi J, Congratulations! There are many ways to navigate the commission painting process. Each artist has their own method and reasons for doing so, and I would encourage you to do your own research before making a decision that works for you.
That said, I will share the 3 most important things I have learned regarding navigating a successful commission painting deal:
1. Over the years, the most important thing I have learned regarding a successful commission is securing a 50% non-refundable deposit before commencing the work. With that deposit, you can shop for the materials needed to make the commission without having to be out of pocket. The remaining 50%, I collect once the painting has been delivered to the client.
2. Make sure you're on the same page about what the client wants. In order to do this, I usually have the client pick out 3 different paintings from my website that they like. Next, we discuss why they are attracted to those particular pieces: color, texture, theme, feeling, etc. If the painting is going to be made for a particular room, I like to ask for reference photos of the space so that I can take into consideration the colors, finishes and overall feel of the space.
3. Finally, and this is the most unorthodox piece of my process - is that more often than not, I like to create more than just one painting for the client to choose from. Now, I know that this increases the my cost, and it certainly makes more work for me, but I know myself, and this approach gives me a certain level of freedom from pressure in having to "get it right" the first time. Commissions can be tricky: How do you create a work of art that does not look preconceived when so many of the parameters for the work are in fact, preconceived? Making more than one painting gives me the latitude to do this.
I hope this helps. Good luck!
This blog was created to share my belief that the art-making process is a catalyst for transformation and personal empowerment. I am living proof.