Finding the right artwork for your home can be challenging, especially when you are looking for certain qualities. Sometimes the imagery will be ideal, but the painting will be too big for your home, or maybe you love the concept but the colours won't work with your home decor. This is where a commissioned piece is the perfect way to play a bigger part in the creation of your artwork to have exactly what you want, and how big a role in the process you have is up to you. Some people may only have a specific size or colour in mind, but want me to do the rest, whereas others may want to have a say in every aspect of the creation. Of course, I will be 100% honest with my opinions, and if I think something won't work I will advise you on the best way to achieve the look that you're aiming for.
So in this blog post, I will go through each stage of the commission process, what you can expect, and tips on how to communicate exactly what you want. Hopefully after reading, you will feel more comfortable and prepared to invest in your own commissioned piece.
To work out what specific things are going to be key in your commissioned art, you need to first go through the 'why'.
Is the commission going to be a gift?
Is it to fill up a particular blank wall?
Is it to create a statement in your home?
Is it to capture a special memory?
For example, the picture above shows the newly built room in my parents house, which has a massive white wall at the end. The room was very empty and needed a statement artwork to fill the space, but none of my pre-existing works were big enough and according to my lovely mum, were "too serious". So in this example, the reason 'why' was too fill up a particular wall and to lighten up the atmosphere of an otherwise soul-less room with something bright, bold, and characterful.
The reasons "Why?" lead us on to "What?". Knowing that we needed to the painting to be BIG, meant I would need to use either 2 or 3 canvases together to make sure the artwork filled the space. This also meant that whatever I painted had to work spanned over all the separate canvases.
It was my Mum's idea in the end to paint the monkeys. She specifically wanted something humorous and happy, and with the 3 large canvases, the idea of the "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" worked super well, as each monkey could have it's own canvas.
So the key points that were put down for this commission were: Size (Large), impact,(Bold, bright, colourful), message (Humour) and subject matter (Monkey's). With all these decisions made, I knew exactly what I needed to do to create the statement artwork that now hangs up in our home to this day.
Taking you through the process step-by-step:
1. Making decisions:
The first step to starting your commission is to decide what you want. If you need to talk this through with me, then we can book a time to discuss your options.
Even if you feel like you need some guidance before having ideas, it's still good to think through what you're looking for before filling in the form or getting in touch. Write down your "Why", and any other specifics that are important to you. The list below is a good place to start:
- Size, colours, texture, subject, message, impact, available wall space, home decor, memories.
Remember that nothing is off limits here. I am confident in my ability to paint a range of different subjects and style's, so if you are unsure, make sure to ask!
Establishing the "Message"
The message of the painting is the way that it is received by those looking at it. I believe every one of my paintings holds a message, which connects with the imagery, colours and all aspects of the painting. It is the "Story behind the artwork" which I write about in many blog posts for lots of my paintings. This is one of the most important features, especially with a commission, as it adds that personal touch which makes it uniquely special to you.
Think about how you want the painting to make you feel. Uplifted? At peace? Inspired? Reminded? Consoled?
Certain messages work best in certain environments too. In a bedroom, you might want something calming, with subtle colours and a dream-like quality. Maybe something romantic like roses. A statement, entrance hall piece might need to be something large, bright and bold that will welcome people into your home. What impact do you want it to have on visitors?
These things are all worth thinking about.
Sticking to a budget:
If you want to know what you can get for a particular price point, it's good to think about
the features that are most important to keep. Things like getting a work done on paper rather than canvas, choosing watercolour over acrylic and reducing the size of the art can help the commission to be much more affordable. If you would like to stick to a budget, make sure to include that in the commission form so that I can discuss what's available for that price.
2. Rough Sketches
Once a decision has been made, with all the specifics agreed on, I will ask for the initial deposit which is used to purchase any materials needed for the commission.
Upon receiving the deposit, I will create a rough sketch with colour to check that I have interpreted your requests correctly. This isn't always required, for example in the case of re-creating something similar to what I've done before, or painting from a reference photo, you already know what to expect. If however, you have gone for something a little more abstract, have left a lot of features for me to decide, or if it would help you visualise the colours better then I will create these sketches beforehand. You have the option to keep these sketches along with your main commission if you would like to.
Example 1: Colour sketches
As you can see in the pictures below, for this commission I used the sketches to give an idea of what different colour options were available and how they looked with this design. In the final piece shown on the right, you can see that we went with the first design, in the turquoise hue.
Example 2: Composition
In this example, I was given a dozen or so photos to choose from, so it was important to show which images I chose, and what I planned on doing with them. Before creating this commission, we discussed the importance of capturing the personality and character of the dogs, which I think is a vital step in all pet commissions. When filling out a form for a pet commission, tell me a bit about their personality, as this will affect the outcome.
3. Creating the final piece:
The next stage is where you have done your bit, and now you leave me to create the artwork. How long this takes is of course down to the size and requirements of the piece, but I can assure you that I get to work straight away. I like to get into the zone when painting, so I don't tend to take progress shots as I work as I find it distracting, however I will send you a photo when I feel it is finished, but still unvarnished. If there is anything that needs changing, this is the last chance you have to make sure it suits your vision. Don't be hesitant to speak up if you feel something is wrong, I won't be offended!
4. Final stages:
If you're happy with the artwork, I will varnish, sign, date and attach hanging wire/frame if needed. As with all my paintings, it will be photographed and there will be the option to have some prints made if you would like(*At the cost of normal prints). For commission work, prints are only sold to you or anyone you give permission to, as part of the advantage and benefit of a commissioned piece is the authenticity and originality. This is your own personal piece!
To collect your work, you can book in to pick it up at my address, or during an exhibition to save added costs.
Alternatively, delivery arrangements will be made with a courier service at your expense. Keep in mind, for large canvases, this can be expensive.
Once you receive your paintings, if you could take some time to leave me a review on Facebook, and maybe share a photo of your painting in place at home that I can share on my social media. This really helps to support my business and I love to know that it has met all your expectations!
Lastly a few key points to add:
- Commissions cost roughly an extra 15% than the price of a similar piece of work.
- I paint more than just what's seen on my website. I have experience painting a whole range of subjects including portraits, urban scenes and abstract work so don't be worried that your idea is too different. I love a good challenge!
- What can I commission? Commissioning work doesn't necessarily mean a huge canvas piece. You can request framed & unframed work, gift cards, canvas, sketchbook, murals etc.
- Commissions can be a lengthy process so make sure to contact me in advance if you need the artwork for a specific date.
- Can I commission more than one piece? Yes! You can choose to commission a whole collection of work for your new home if you're keen to! That would be fun!
I hope this has been a helpful post for anyone wondering about getting a commission done. If you have any other questions you can comment below or send me a private email and I will be happy to get back to you. I am also more than happy to discuss ideas with you in person as this can be easier than trying to write it all down, so if you would be interested in booking a time please send me an email, or pop along to one of my exhibitions and we can take it from there. I look forward to painting your ideas!
Thanks for reading,