The Wall – waiting for the commission.

Commissions are always a challenge to artists. When asked to produce a painting for a client a number of questions arise. What if they don’t like it? What if you don’t like it? Do you ask for a deposit? How much “freedom” do you have despite having to abide to the conditions set down by the client? How does one price a commission? What if they want the painting as soon as possible?

Many artists seek and enjoy painting commissions. I don’t openly look for them and if I do get a request for a particular drawing I agree to undertake the task only if I like the work sufficiently enough to exhibit it if the client refuses to buy it upon its completion. I have never had a client refuse to accept a commissioned work, have you? If so, how have you dealt with that?

Commissions have the potential to be very “tight” in respect of how the artist sees things. The client may want something as THEY see it, not the artist. I am of the opinion that if you commission a work, you expect the artist to be themselves. Surely that’s why you want a commission from them in the first place isn’t it?

Employing an artist to paint just for you is quite special and their remuneration should reflect that. It’s not easy to just “stop” what you are doing (and thinking) and paint something that is probably nowhere related to what you have been doing of late.

Artists need to mentally prepare themselves for commissions. This kind of work is a collaboration between artist and client; a journey together.

Tomorrow I will talk about a commission I am about to start.


About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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15 Responses to COMMISSIONS

  1. Frank says:

    Good luck with it. I’d be stressed by the blank wall….

    • artkleko says:

      Thanks Frank. The blank wall doesn’t stress me, just working out what the clients want and what artistic licence I have. Fortunately, we have come to an agreement and I have finished the planning stage. Now to work!

  2. Dors says:

    To my greatest surprise.I had a commission that let to doing 4 more for the same person. I am in Australia and the commissions came from the USA. The lady gave me the artistic licence to do their 2 Schnauzers. WOW was I scared…I thought OK I am going to go for this. and I actually surprised myself as not only going into an unknown venture. I was quite pleased with the results. They were very thrilled with the work I did for them. I then got asked by that same person to do another 3 commissions. They were extremely happy…. I was so thrilled.

    Ok I was then told by several artists who visited my web site… that my prices were too low… double the price and then some….. what does one do in a case like this…. i did that and wow no more commissions. so I ask is there a lesson in this…. I have now reduced my prices to what I feel is reasonable. Ok I may have to wait for another commission or I may never get the chance again. I am thrilled to have accomplished this.


    • artkleko says:

      Thanks Dors for your response. Pricing one’s work is a real issue. Good art deserves respect and this is arrived at by the work gaining a suitable price; a reward for the artist who is doing something special. Never cheapen your price for a commission, you’re work is worth far more!

  3. Interesting post Richard. I think you’re right.. the client has to know what you’re about to commission your work for what you paint, and that to paint something entirely out of one’s field or ‘comfort zone’ would be risky for both artist and client. I have always been lucky that people want my work for what it is and discussions about particular details in the painting have been left to my better judgement. That said I did have to do some work that wasn’t my cup of tea and I felt it showed on canvas. Thankfully they were delighted with their paintings despite how I felt, but I’d never do it again!

    • artkleko says:

      Thanks for your thoughts April. I can understand the way you felt.

    • Dors says:

      Your work is beautiful. What do you say to a client when… what they want is not your cup of tea. LOL. One would not like to offend … It must be hard when asked to do a piece that it so out of the comfort zone.

      We could price our way out of it… 😀

      • artkleko says:

        It depends Dors on how “keen” you are for the commission. Always make it worthwhile even though you may not like the request. Over time you will get to like it, especially the fact that you have a buyer waiting!

  4. Christine says:

    I totally agree – the artist must be allowed to be themselves and its a little weird seeing our wall on a blog!

  5. Dors says:

    This was my first commission and I guess we all have to start somewhere. I had the freedom to do the pet portraits in my own way. I didn’t feel out of my comfort zone with the work it was the fact that it was my first commission.
    It’s pricing that concerns me. I can understand huge prices when an artist gets known and the customer knows what they are getting for those $$$ artists say I am underselling myself. I have put my prices up but have not doubled them and then some.. I will see what happens now.

  6. Dors says:

    This is a very interesting thread Richard. I will be watching for more comments.

    Dors 🙂

  7. artkleko says:

    If anything Dors, an artist should expect a slightly higher than normal price for a commission because it is a “private” work of art.

  8. Dors says:

    I agree it is very special when someone asked you to do a commission. I am starting to learn a little about commissions, It’s very exciting and I suppose all of us artists want to do our best. I am slowly gaining confidence with commissions.
    I understand what you say Richard…. Quote: (If anything Dors, an artist should expect a slightly higher than normal price for a commission because it is a “private” work of art.)
    I am having a hard time working out “MY Worth” if you know what I mean. Do artists in time get comfortable with what their work is worth ?

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