Tips for Commissioning a Piece of Art
For centuries, people have been commissioning artists to create a piece that has special meaning for them, something to hang in their house, or a piece that communicates a message that the owner wants to express.
If you are one of these people, and you want a portrait or a piece of London canvas art, there are a few things you need to remember when commissioning a work of art.
The first thing you need to do is, have a concise list of what you want the piece to look like and include; do you like art deco, or do you want something more classic? Unless the artist, and you, are ok with the artist using their imagination, it is on you to have the idea.
You can be as specific or as vague as you want, but the artist will need some direction when it comes to the style, elements, colour palette, etc.
It doesn’t matter how much you love an artist or even how much you are willing to pay; some artists won’t accept your commission. This could be due to several reasons, such as a tight timeframe, the artist not feeling like they could do the work justice, or any other reasons.
What you need to remember is to not fight them on it. If they don’t think they can do it, ask if they may know someone who can or if it would be better to contact them later in the month or year.
Regarding the price, it is typically frowned upon to haggle. You are asking them to spend their time and use their immense skill and talent to create a piece for you; through years of working and mastering their craft, they know how valuable said time and skill is worth.
You must also know that you need to accept the price, and you can also get a quote for the work if you have enough details of what you want the piece to look like and include. Lastly, art is also more expensive than you may think, even if the piece is small or not as “detailed” as other work.
Once an artist gets a week or two into creating your piece, you are going to struggle to get them to change anything; and if you do, there is a very good chance the price is going to go up, or you will need to pay for a new commission completely.
This is why it is essential to know exactly what you want, what style and paint the artist must use, the size of the work etc., before a pencil or paintbrush even touches the canvas.
While many artists are highly talented and skilled, you need to accept that there may be some elements or styles that they aren’t masters of; maybe they can make incredible backdrops but struggle with faces, or they’re brilliant with people and not with animals.
While this may be more common with younger, less experienced artists, do your due diligence and find out if there are any aspects they aren’t completely confident with, and adjust them.
Another thing you need to be prepared for is the timeframe or the price to change. Artists can give you rough ideas for when they can finish a piece, but they are still humans with lives, and you never know what could happen that might slow them down.
The price can also change if they discover that your piece needs a specialised tool or expensive paint they didn’t have. While some may not charge you for this, others may.
It is essential to stay in contact with the artist while they are working on your piece. It would be best if you weren’t asking for updates every hour on the hour, but a weekly update to find out the progress or any problems helps keep the process running smoothly.
This also ensures that there are no surprises when reveal day comes, as you would already be aware of and signed off on any changes or alterations.
As mentioned, most artists who take commissions are incredibly talented and skilled, but they aren’t miracle workers. You must know that there are potentially things that aren’t possible, or at least not possible, within the parameters you provide; not everyone can do a Sistine Chapel or Jackson Pollock.
While artists can do and create a lot, it is essential to remember that there are limitations and that not everything you can imagine is possible.
Finally, you need to always be patient. There is a reason great tattoos take 20 or 30 hours or why growing the perfect garden may take a few years; awe-inspiring art takes much more time than you may think.
Even if you get given a timeline, it is still important to wait until the artist is fully satisfied with the work. This also means that you can’t rush the artist if you decide that you want the piece earlier than the agreed-upon finishing time.