Maybe you’re wondering what to get your partner to celebrate becoming an old boring couple. Why not gift a commissioned piece, something to hang beside photos of places you went when you were both more exciting!
Below I explain how art commissions work and the basic steps to getting one yourself.
WHAT IS A COMMISSION
Firstly, what a commission is not. “I really like dugongs wearing Lycra, can you draw one, if i decide I like it I’ll buy it from you.” Artists aren’t auditioning on an X-Factor panel. An artist might indulge your dugong fantasy if you intend to commit to paying them for their time.
A commission is a formal request to engage an artist to create an artwork.
You can request a commission for anything. You may be looking to celebrate an, event, place or person. Maybe you are looking to refurbish your apartment or decorate a bland wall. Maybe you need something with precise measurements to cover the spot on the wall at work where you perpetually bang your head in frustration. Covering the stain of despair is my specialty! Or perhaps you just want a picture of yourself slouched on a leather sofa wearing your favourite pyjamas.
The options are endless with commissioned art!
(‘Contagious yawn’ - click here to view the full image and other animal drawings by Candace Slager)
REASONS TO GET COMMISSIONED ARTWORK
You get exactly what you want!
Have you ever browsed online galleries, homewares shops or the dreaded Amazon looking for just the right thing, only to grind your teeth in frustration when you fail to find it.
Commissioning means you can have an artwork tailored to you and your tastes, any subject, colour scheme and size.
Specially crafted artwork is especially useful when looking for a gift for someone special. If you already know what they love it can be very easy to commission a piece. Perhaps you need to please someone who is difficult to buy for. Maybe they have awkward taste or you feel they already “have everything”. Unique art is something they won’t already own and are unlikely to throw in the bin when your back is turned. Make a piece as simple or as quirky as you like!
(‘I want to speak to the manager’ - click here to view the full image and other colour pencil drawings by Candace Slager)
It can hold more meaning.
Personalised artwork can add a depth of meaning that you don’t always get with generic art. Bespoke pieces also give you unique bragging rights. Snap your suspenders as you tell your friends, “Did you know this is a Candace Slager original?”
Well, even if you decide to go with another artist, you can say you have original art created by a real artist, not just a mass-produced print from a factory.
Art is an investment, even one-of-a-kind art can be passed on to future generations, and possibly increase in value over time.
(You may be interested in reading the moving story behind Steve’s commission here. It includes a short video of the above piece coming together)
HOW TO ARRANGE COMMISSIONED ART
It is common to assume this sort of process is complicated and out of reach. This isn’t really the case. The following outlines the basic process involved in a commission.
Step 1 - Decide what to commission
Get together an idea of what you would like created - the subject and style. If you are not sure of a style or a medium (e.g. drawing, painting, watercolour) browse the internet, books, magazines etc for ideas.
Preferences will vary from artist to artist, but as a realism artist, I like to work from reference photos rather than imagination. If you would like a drawing of friends or family, for example, it is best to gather very clear photos to ensure the best results.
It is good to set a budget and timeframe as this will make it easier to find a suitable artist.
If you are not sure exactly what you want, reach out to your preferred artist to discuss your thoughts. Most artists are happy to provide some initial guidance to potential customers. If a project requires a long design process, this may need to become part of a more formal process so that the artist is adequately paid for their time (see step 3).
Note, artists may not be able to create artwork from certain sources. For example, I will not copy other people’s work and only use/refer to photos considered “royalty free”, meaning they are free of copyright, don’t infringe on trademarks or other rights, and can be used in a commercial manner. If they are photos you have taken, even better! Basically, don’t steal stuff.
Step 2 - Decide who to commission
Once you have your subject in mind it’s time to decide who you will commission.
Do you have an artist in mind that suits your preferred style? Never be afraid to ask. Reach out to your favourite artist and ask if they are taking commissions! If you would like to commission me, that’s great news! Contact me to get started.
(‘Do you have change for a denarius?’. Click here to view the full image and other people drawings by Candace Slager)
What if you don’t know any artists, or what if you can’t find an artist that suits your style or subject?
There are so many places to buy art now. Online galleries are a great place to start. They usually have a team of people to help guide you in finding a suitable artist on their books. Most artists network with a plethora of other artists, so even if their work is not to your taste, they may be able to recommend someone whose is.
What if the artist says no?
As someone who fawns over a cat that would rather play with its own litter than cuddle me, all I can say is try not to feel rejected or offended.
An artist may say no to your commission for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a timing issue. The artist may be busy with other projects. Your request may not fit in with that artist’s style, or they may not take commissions. If that’s the case, try asking for a recommendation for another artist or, if your request is not time sensitive, see whether the artist is available at another time.
It is important to have an open conversation about what you require. Feel free to ask questions. It is better to be up front about what you want rather than be disappointed with the end result.
(‘Still remains - Ancient ruins of Ephesus’ - click here to view the full image and other landscape & place style drawings by Candace Slager)
Step 3 - The formal stuff
Generally an artist and buyer will enter a contract for a commission. The contract will stipulate the details of the commission and may include details such as materials to be used, size and other particulars, timeframe.
It is also common practice for a partial deposit be made before the artist commences work, with the remainder being paid upon your acceptance and prior to shipping.
(‘Grandpa Slager’ - click here to view the full image and other portrait drawings by Candace Slager)
I welcome commissions for a variety of subjects, specialising in detailed drawings using graphite and colour pencil. Check out my portfolio to get a feel for my work.
Prices generally follow those set out for similar works within my portfolio, but I can tailor my style to work with a variety of budgets.
Drawings sizes range from A4 to approx A0 size (21 x 29.7cm up to 64.8 x 101.6cm) with my most popular pieces sized around 50 x 70cm.
Feel free to get in contact to have a no-commitment discussion about your commission project.
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