Whether you accept commissions for portraits (houses, people, pets), funerary urns, custom jewelry, or garden sculpture, you encounter situations that other artists don’t.
Commissioned artists must meet with patrons, communicate throughout the process, figure out payment schedules, and create documents that outline terms to the clients. All of this on top of making the client happy.
Commissions aren’t for everyone, which means there is plenty of room for artists who enjoy and are good at them. If you are one of those artists, follow these 8 steps to land more of them.
8 Steps for Landing Art Commissions
1. Add a prominent link for commissions on your website.
Include steps for commissioning a piece and testimonials from happy patrons alongside images of the finished work.
2. Provide at least two ways to contact you.
See that your marketing materials, including your website, have both an email address and a phone number. According to Matt Oechsli, the affluent prefer phone to email.
At least one artist has lost an opportunity for a mural commission because she didn’t have a phone number on her site and her email was down. How do I know? Because I was the person looking for an artist to help a neighbor with her project.
3. Understand your pricing structure.
Commissioned artwork should be priced higher than your other work because you are trying to meet someone else’s expectations.
Some artists charge as much as 50% more for commissioned pieces, which is on the high end. This covers the PITA (pain in the ass) factor that often accompanies the commission process. There will be numerous meetings or conversations, along with possible changes that will take you away from your other work.
This brings me to …
4. Develop a questionnaire for potential clients to complete before you meet with them.
Ask for their timeline, ideas, and expectations. This will serve as a way to qualify people – to make sure they are serious and don’t waste your time.
You might also be asked to create something that has nothing to do with your body of work because the innocent person doesn’t know any other artists. That’s when you really have to think about accepting a commission to paint Tom’s cat, Neptune, in a spacesuit on top of a mirror.
(Kidding. You don’t need to think about it at all. The answer is Hell No! unless you’re in the habit of painting feline astronauts on top of mirrors.)
5. Make clients aware of your pricing before you spend any time on the project.
When you respond to the questionnaires that are submitted, give an estimated price range of the project. Be clear that you will know more when you meet and have the details, but get their confirmation that they want to proceed.
6. Schedule a meeting.
If all is a go up to this point, schedule a meeting—even if it’s on a video conference. It’s important that you have this face-to-face meeting so that you can look into one another’s eyes and begin to build trust.
In the meeting you’ll discuss details and get a sense of what this commission means to the client—how they prioritize it in their lives.
Do not feel pressured to provide a firm fee or payment schedule at the meeting. In fact, I strongly suggest you don’t commit to anything at the meeting. Give yourself time to think about it and use the meeting to understand the entire scope of the work.
7. Check in with yourself.
Commissions require that you willingly work collaboratively with another person.
They also demand that you mostly enjoy the process – something most artists don’t think about. This is important because you will procrastinate projects you don’t like and end up resenting patrons (for asking you to do the job) and yourself (for accepting the challenge).
Do you feel good about working with this person? If so, you can proceed.
8. Put it in writing.
After the meeting, write a letter of agreement that spells out all of the details including timeline, deposit, and payment schedule.
Begin with this: “Thank you for meeting with me and for your interest in my work. I am delighted to accept this commission with the following terms, which are based on the discussion we have had to this point.”
In your letter, assure the patron that you can deliver what they’re asking for and that you can meet any deadlines. As the wise business advice goes: Under promise and over deliver. This means if you think you can have it done in 2 months, say it will take 3 months. When the client gets the piece in 2 ½ months, they’ll be thrilled to have it early.
Ask that the patron sign and return the agreement.
Yay! You landed the commission! Now the hard part begins. You must communicate clearly throughout the process and deliver as you promised on time.
What have you learned about doing commissions?
84 thoughts on “A Framework for Accepting Art Commissions”
I LOVE commissions but it is like dating – not everyone will be a perfect match. I like to take notes at the first meeting and then review what I’ve written with the client so we are all on the same thought track.
Excellent, Paula. So important to be on the same page with your clients. I encourage my clients to write down: “Now this is how I understand . . . ” and ask the patron to sign off on it.
Portrait painter Gwenn Seemel makes it very easy for her clients to commission paintings. She puts all the relevant information on this web page: http://www.gwennseemel.com/index.php/your/
I also admire the straightforward language in her commission agreement: http://www.gwennseemel.com/images/blog11/2011ContractsCommissionAgreement.pdf
For the rare occasions when I accept a commission, I use a client agreement form partially based on Seemel’s example.
Thanks for those resources, Sarah. Gwenn is an excellent example on so many levels.
One of the best ways to impress a client is to finish BEFORE the deadline —
and to stay on budget.
The raves from the client to their friends is the best advertising possible- and it is FREE.
Excellent point. This is over-delivering at it’s finest, Telise.
I love commissioned work and I know artists who hate it. A good challenge pushes us to be better. The end result may not always be what I would choose, but I do my very best to give the client exactly what they want, in my painting style. They always appreciate suggestions, which I give to help them see how the final result may look, either good or bad! I love your suggestion of a “commission” section on the website. Must get to work on that!
Inez: Sounds like you have some happy patrons.
It is very important that you have a clear understanding of what the client want. What they envision for the project and what you envision may not be the same.
Absolutely, Sandra. That’s why the discussion and contract are critical.
I get high blood pressure over commissions because so often I find the customer changes mid-way what they want! They THINK they want what you agree on, but then…. I’ve also had lots of last-minute commissions (“Hey, I need this for next week….”) or customers who want a figure painting (and I’m not a figure painter) and say “I don’t want it to LOOK like them… just a child… then, when their spouse sees it it gets sent back saying “It doesn’t LOOK like them..” So… commissions… a blessing and a curse. And I need to be more clear about them costing more. They are more difficult! Putting it all out there on a page on my blog is a great idea – one I will do asap! Then I can just refer them to that page!
Kelley: You can also charge for any changes to the contract.
The phrase, “That will cost you an arm and a leg” came from art commissions that charged by the body parts. If you wanted more than a face, you paid for it.
I had forgotten that. Thanks for the reminder, Nancy.
First, thank you for including our photo and my painting in your blog post/eblast today. 🙂 It was a great evening
I love commissions. One reason is because I do an extensive interview with the collectors. This not only helps me but it also gets them really engaged.
I also deliver more than they expect. I give them a note card with their image (they use this to show off to others and/or put in their offices.) I also create a small book that shows them the process. They get this as a surprise gift several weeks after the painting has been delivered.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a collector smile with glee and sometimes cry, after seeing their painting completed. I also like knowing that I will be paid for my efforts.(One third is given up front.)
I am sure you delight your patrons, Carol. I’ve seen your books and they’re quite a treat.
and thank you Sarah for the resources!
Great article, Alyson! Love the suggestions from everyone.
Gosh, I don’t put my phone number on my websites, FB or anywhere else. I don’t even put where I live. I have had some real whack jobs approach me and I am not going to put myself out there for more. I have had commissions from people I meet personally and that works for me. If people connect with me via my email, which they do find, I consider them and decide how safe I feel with the connection. I also refer them to my rep in New York. I probably sound paranoid but I know personally that crime does happen.
Kathy, there are ways to offer a phone number without being afraid of contact. I think Google offers something via gmail where you can have a phone number that goes to a voice mail that you can access. I think a phone number is important.
Kathy: You can get a Google phone number that is connected to your own – so you’re not giving out your personal number.
Wonderful advice. I really enjoy commissions because I’m a portrait painter, although I’ve also done commissioned paintings of houses and corporate buildings. I find a commission contract to be very helpful. Before I start a project, I create a contract form that outlines what we’ve agreed to in terms of size, number of people included and date deadlines. I also explain in the contract that the reproduction rights remain with me, and that I may require to show the piece from time to time. Plus I charge an extra fee for each added person in a portrait because in fact that’s an additional portrait. I require 50% of the fee up front, which I’ve found guarantees that deadlines are met. When the client has decided to commission me, we meet and we both sign and date two copies of the contract, one for the client and one for my records. If all of the terms are clear right from the start I find that most projects go smoothly, and are quite fun.
Sounds very professional, Barbara. I’m sure they appreciate that level of care and concern.
Good advice. I ask for a deposit, a deposit lets me know that the client is committed. I break the payments into three segments. First a deposit of 50%, this is non negotiable, then another payment midway through the project and the final payment due on completion. This saves a lot of confusion and stress. A contract is imperative, now to design a commissions page for the website!
Most of my income is from portrait commissions, so I’m grateful to have them and enjoy the challenge, but I do wish I had more time for and more sales from personal work! I learned the hard way that a contract is a must, explaining the process, including the style of the piece, the time frame, sizes, full price and what that includes (framing, shipping are extra) plus how many revisions that includes! Once a client had me make changes over the course of a couple of YEARS (after framing and delivery!!) because her husband (who was NOT the client, his wife was) did not like the way he looked (men do NOT see themselves as they truly are. I have found them to be much pickier than women, believe it or not!). Partial payment for a non-refundable deposit are also a must. It covers the photo shoot and first meetings. For multiple people in one portrait I charge 75% for each extra person after the first. Detailed backgrounds or props are extra. All prices are clearly stated on my website so people know beforehand if I’m within their budget or not and I feel more confident stating my fees without guilt.
Thanks for outlining those fees, Daggi.
thanks for this! very timely, and helpful. I just got a commission request last week. I thought as was reading that I should get testimonials for the work I’ve sold even if it’s not commission too…
Your article is just in time for me, because I have just received a commission request and I said yes. It is a neighbor commissioning me to paint a portrait of his wife and daughter as a surprise birthday gift to his wife (her birthday is next April). It’d be my first commission piece.
Shall we still sign contracts? I’m pretty sure your answer would be “yes”. It just feels a bit weird though.
Lucy: The closer someone is to you, the more important it is to have a contract. It could save a friendship.
Agree! I have a draft template in my computer. I promise I’ll sign a contract.
But what if he feels a bit put off by the idea of signing a contract?
I know the feeling exactly. Kiffanie Stahle (web site theartistsjd) (Allison featured in a recent podcast on legal issues) suggests you think of a contract as a courtesy. A way to ensure you and the client are both on the same page. Sounds like a good way to approach it.
It will save your friendship!
I just finished a commission for my cousin. I absolutley had a signed contract and deposit just like any other client. The only problem I’ve ever had was with the very first commission I did. I didn’t have a contract and there were many changes and requests. With the contracts in place and everything spelled out, changes if they happen at all, are minor.
And it will save your family relations!
In addition to all the good suggestions about dealing with the business details of a commission, I have found a very useful technique that helps to ensure the client will be happy with the painting they receive. I am an abstract painter, and my work is very intuitive and pretty varied. When someone asks for a commission, it is often not clear what they are expecting. I ask the client to spend a few minutes on my website to look at the images of existing paintings. I then have them tell me the three paintings they found that they like the best, and the three paintings that they like the least….AND WHY….very important to know why…is it color, composition, energy level, etc.? I have found that this exercise is tremendously helpful in establishing an understanding of what the client is envisioning, and it has helped me to maintain a 100% satisfaction rate with my commission projects over 20+ years.
Karen, I do the same thing and have had the same results. Glad you mentioned it! It’s a great way to get the conversation going also.
Karen: Great idea! Thank you for sharing it.
Karen, I’m an abstract painter too and those are excellent ideas on how to get clients to tell you what they really want. Thanks for the suggestions!
One thing I put in my commission agreement, btw, is that if the client ultimately does not like the piece, they may apply the payment to another already existing piece and I’ll keep the one that I created for them. This concept wouldn’t work well with portraits but I think will work well with abstracts (I haven’t had to use it yet).
I also do little mini’s of what I think they want on canvas board. I do a fast, simple and rough piece just to insure that we’re all on the same page.
That is an excellent idea! Thanks
I do commissioned pet portraits for a living. I find it very important within the body of the proofing e-mail to tell my clients to call me with their design change requests. It is too easy for me to miss something in a quickly jotted off e-mail. If a client knows they are going to have to talk about their needed design changes using a telephone they end up using better more complete language to express their needs. It is however hard to get many people to pick up the phone.
Rebecca: So glad you shared that. I agree that it’s much harder to misunderstand a spoken conversation than to misunderstand email.
Wow Rebecca, checked out your website. You really know how to work it. Fun art of pets that has some edge to it.
Carol, yup good advice. Thank you.
I basically do what everyone else here does for commissions. I charge 1/3 to begin, 1/3 after approval of rough draft, and 1/3 upon hanging the piece.
Last commission I had I did not do that though, as it was new territory for me. The customer, who had commissioned other work and purchased several paintings of mine, had asked me to do a sculpture. I was not sure I could pull off the bronzing of the piece at the time. I wound up doing it in the plasticine and was stuck with the fact that I would have to do a mold for something, but I was just not sure of how to proceed. Also I had made the work too complicated and the mold alone came to $3K. I was glad I had not asked for any $ upfront as I never finished her. I am back to doing what I know, regarding sculpture and that is using high fire clay as my medium.
Kathy: I have heard of many a commission disaster from artists who accept projects out of their realm. Glad you’re back on track.
Hi Alyson! This article is very helpful. I especially liked the part about adding a commissions section to my website and will be working on that soon. I’ve been hesitant to put my personal phone number on my site, as there are many spammers and I’d hate for them to get access to me directly. Any thoughts on this?
Recently an artist I know told me that when he gets a commission he will sometimes paint 2 pieces which will increase his odds that the customer will like one, and perhaps he will end up selling two. I thought it was a cool concept.
Jason: My main thought on this is that while you think you are protecting yourself from spammers, you might be cutting off excellent opportunities from others. In other words, you’re only looking at the negative.
Look into getting a Google phone number if you like. It could be the solution.
You’re right I should focus more on the positive. I will look into getting a google phone number or maybe take the plunge with my direct line. Thanks for your feedback Alyson.
Hi, came across this as about to put a portrait commission bit on my webpage. Writing here as am a bit taken aback about how insistent you are on a phone number – I am partially deaf and virtually never use the phone – in fact, only really have one for 111 calls and can lose it for weeks at a time. Everyone who knows me knows this and contacts me by email or facebook an have not yet had any problems with this. One of the issues, of course, is that I miss hear very easily, so something written is less likely to be misconstrued. The question is, really, should I mention this on my commission section or just be happy to miss potential clients? Face to face (as long as not in a very noisy place) generally not a problem . . .
Jane: Everyone who already knows you is comfortable with email and Facebook. What about the people who don’t know you? Could you get a phone # that messages you via email? Or have the voicemail say that you can’t hear well and prefer email?
You can get a Google phone # for free. It can email you when there is a message.
I just saw on FB where my sister got hacked by some crazed person from another country. He posted her name along with several pics of him with weapons. There are all kinds of people who have “liked” it, that she does not even know. I looked at some of their walls and they seem to belong to some militant group.
With that said? I am confirmed in my mind as ever, I will not post where I live or phone number on any site. Possible “clients” find me.. they do, so I do not need to open myself up to things like the above. My Gmail has been hacked before and so has many of my friends. As I wrote before, crime does happen and I know that personally. I know this is not the subject here, but I am just saying, be wise, be careful. We do not live in the same world we grew up in.
Kathy: You can get a phone number from Google – FREE.
Great blog post and great comments!
I’ve been doing commissioned work for a very long time. I’ve always done realistic portraits and am now also doing large abstract pieces. I really love doing them and have almost ALWAYS had great experiences.
What I’d like to know is how to find the people that commission artwork.
I used to get a lot of commissions through word of mouth because I lived in a small town. People would bump into me and talk to me about commissioning work, (they never called!!) Now that I live in a bigger city, I’m just wondering about the best way to find the people who are interested in commissions.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
(In other news, I was just reading the ‘$100 Startup’ over lunch and came upon your quote in there! Very cool!)
Julie: First, do #1 on the list.
Second, NURTURE your list (email list, social media followers). Everything you do to keep your art in front of people will lead to commissions.
From time to time, mention that you are available for commissioned work. Feature happy patrons with the art they’ve commissioned.
Cool that you are reading Chris’s book. He’s awesome!
I must be very lucky. People have been commissioning me for portraits since 1976 and I can only remember two occasions when the portrait wasn’t gratefully received (sometimes with tears).
From the first rejection I learned to paint babies as they look when their mother is in the room. They can look so much older when she isn’t there, that she doesn’t recognise the portrait.
As I am very disabled, I can’t agree to deadlines but I promise to do my best. Also because of my disability, my terms and conditions are that they don’t pay anything until I have finished a portrait that they are happy with. Then they don’t get the portrait until the cheque has cleared.
This wouldn’t suit most artists but it suits me.
Jennifer: I am glad that you have a system that works for you.
I am now informed.
I have a no-obligation commission contract that asks for a 50% deposit with the balance due upon approval of the final piece. If the buyer doesn’t approve, the deposit may be applied as a credit to an existing painting or service I offer for up to one year. I’ve created a number of successful commissions over the years and been happy to do so.
I now find myself in the middle of a large commission that simply feels dead in the water. The client wants something in a style I’ve outgrown. It’s destined to hang in a place it will likely be seen by other collectors, some of whom own paintings in the old style. Do I produce a repro of my old style knowing it’s “not me” any longer? I’ve been tempted to ditch the project and return the deposit, but I already have considerable time and energy invested meeting with the client over the past 6 months. Plus, the $ involved is not insignificant. Anyone have a thought ….?
Ellie: I will let others here speak, but it sounds like it got too far too fast.
How would it feel to finish it?
How would it feel to return the money and be free of it?
Thanks, Alyson. I’ve been giving it some thought since writing this comment and, now, reading your reply. I really don’t want to free of it; but I do want it to be meaningful to me and not just about fulfilling a contract. It would feel good to finish it, but I think what the painting needs is for me to go back into it with some of my more current moves and bring new life to the old style and subject matter. As always, I’m grateful for your helpful insight.
Ellie: I hope you find a way to make it work for you.
Great article Alyson! I have been doing house portrait commissions for a few years now because they fall into my genre of painting buildings in the landscape. Working with clients can be a challenge at times because it is essentially their vision I am painting, but, I have been allowed to practice my artistic license in most cases. Meeting people and figuring out how I can create something special that will resonate with them is especially gratifying.
Lisa: I would suggest that bringing yourself (what you call your artistic license) to a project would be a MUST in any agreement. Otherwise, why bother?
Great piece, Alyson. Most of my commissions are for businesses vs. individuals, but the challenges are similar. I recently finished a commission redesigning a company’s packaging. A couple of things I learned in the process: find out how many people will be weighing in on the process or giving final approval (the more people, the higher my fee), and define the terms (in writing) of a minor revision vs. a conceptual change. This particular job involved pleasing 3 people – the founder and 2 investors, and morphed midway through into a whole new package design. I know, it sounds nightmarish, but these were really nice people and happy to adjust my compensation to accommodate the change. My lesson, for the next contract, is to define what constitutes a revision and what constitutes a major change (I’m open to suggestions!), and, include the fact that a major change will involve a renegotiation of the fee. I’m interested to know if anyone has effective language in their contract for handling this type of thing.
Joan: That does sound awful!
I might also suggest (and this may be part of what happened) that you deal with ONLY 1 PERSON. They have to come to a consensus before communicating with you.
What you’re referring to is a “change fee” and I see them in graphic designer and Web designer contracts. I’ll bet you can Google something about those.
I have a love-hate relationship with commissions. I’ll work with clients who have seen my work in friends’ homes, in an office or on my website but when they approach me for a painting because they saw ‘something like it’ in a gallery that handles my work it sends up a red flag. Usually what they are after is a cheaper version of what is hanging on the gallery wall.
Your points are well taken and I have followed most of them over the course of my 20+ year career. And, you’re right, it does take time away from other work in one’s studio. Usually I joyfully accept commissions from corporate clients because the time spent is justly rewarded both monetarily and knowing it is being viewed daily in the public domain. I would tell other artists thinking about doing commission work to be very sure you want to take time away from your studio to make one client happy.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Brad.
This is so timely for me. I am drafting a commission page for my website and just beginning a commission for a friend. I really appreciate the guidelines and the experience in the comments (I’ll be checking out your websites). Thanks for sharing.
Good to hear, Elizabeth.
A very excellent article in every aspect! Short, to the point and very accurate.
What are your thoughts regarding marketing your work via the Internet as opposed to a Gallery? No I do not mean by using my website but by using an ‘art service provider’ in lieu of. Thank you.
Jerome: How much time do you have?
As a company who hires hundreds of commissions, I absolutely agree with steps Allison, but would like to add: Put ALL of your contact info on website – address, phone, email, etc. I often need to know what state you live in, at the least. Create professional contracts that are standardized and know your state’s art laws. You should know that if the client rejects the commission you are owed the 50% down. Do not refund full amount. You should also clearly address the process for milestones: thumbnails, revision of final thumbnail, after that, make it clear that it is the artist’s vision and craft from there – assign due dates for each step. Make it clear to client that they are purchasing the painting, not the image and under no circumstances should it be reproduced (unless otherwise agreed). Create professional invoices using Microsoft standard templates. Include project name, full address of client, full description including size and price of work, and (I can’t tell me how many times this is not included) your complete remit to address so we know where to send the check!
Awesome! Thank you for sharing this, Janelle.
I had done many commissions over the years and they are always a challenge that I love mainly because I get energized by the interactions with people and animals. I have taken the approach of producing 3 pieces and the clients gets to pick what they feel is the best one. I have been amazed at how the other 2 pieces have always sold, I have never been stuck with a piece. I do however state that I do “commissions with conditions”. If the project doesn’t excite me I don’t do it. I use a contract with a down payment and always work hard to deliver when required. If someone needs a really hard quick deadline I walk away. Commissions resolve the problem of what will I paint next.
Bonnie: I’m so happy to hear that this is an avenue that has worked for you. Sounds like win-win-win (3 pieces!).
I have learned that contracts are so important and relieve so much stress when you are working on a custom order. I tell my clients up front that it’s a requirement to read and sign the contract when/if they decide to work with me. I usually do an initial free in-person consultation, first to see if we make a good fit and the custom work is something I feel confident I can do. Things go much better that way and I don’t end up promising
more than I can deliver. Communication is vital in such an endeavor! One thing I always include in my contract is that I do not copy other artist’s works, not book covers, or anything else, because that is a copyright violation, and also it doesn’t represent the artist I am, nor the work I do. I suggest that people who want another artist’s work buy their prints from their website or original work from the artist. I would never want to steal another artists’ thunder because I know how much blood, sweat, and tears goes into such work.
Jodie: Thank you for sharing that experience. It’s interesting you put that language in a contract because that is usually discussed before a contract – before the arrangement is agreed upon.
I’m very new to making custom art, so I am still learning about all the things to talk about beforehand….Previously art has been a hobby, but I am trying to take it to a more professional level. I had never had the experience of someone asking me to copy another artist’s book cover until recently and I decided to make it part of the contract that I don’t copy anyone’s art for custom work. Usually, people just say, can you paint my dog, cat or child from this photo, r some variation of that…Hope that helps to explain.
I have a prospective client who “loves” a particular artwork and would like to use it in children’s books. First, she wants to change the colour of my amusing emu then when I said I would retain copyright of my paintings she asked if she could copyright the colour scheme. And no I have no contract yet but would present one if further requests were made. However, since mentioning copyright she seems to have gone cool on the idea.
Pauline: It would be great if the two of you could work it out. So many children’s books have author + illustrator collaborations.
Great post! I normally do paintings as gifts for friends and family, and I often am told I should start doing commissioned works, but I never really know where to start. I’ve recently just started up a blog of my own, so hopefully through its development I will be able to branch out into commissioned work.
Good luck, Katherine.
I’ve learned over the years to listen and take notes right away. I ask a lot of questions too.
I really enjoy creating nature and landscape commissions. Although I have done many more portrait commissions, I selectively do less of those nowadays, unless there’s a lot of artistic license. Thank you kindly for the feature of my art “Envisage”.
I paint natural imagery and after years of working on commissions for private patrons, I had all but given up having had some pretty awful experiences. Most of said experiences have come from patrons wanting me to make changes to the agreed upon ideas which can add hours of work or to include imagery not in the original photos (dogs, sheep, even the sun setting in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean . . . think about it . . . ) to the painting. I have always included a contract, and receive 50% deposit, but several suggestions such as limiting how many of MY photos may be used, sending out the questionnaire and having potential clients visit my web site to review work they are attracted to (thank you Karen Scharer) address many of the issues I have experienced.
One thing I have learned is for most of the people who solicit me to paint a commission, it is their first time commissioning an artist and they really do need and appreciate the guidance. To add to the list of suggestions, I have a minimum price requirement for commissions. This ensures only serious inquires.
Meg: Thank you for sharing that experience. I hope your future commissions go smoothly.
This is all very interesting to me. And I searched on “commissions” because I am in the middle of one now for a lovely client…and it’s not going as I would like. I am at the point I always get to on a commission where I think I should just admit that I can’t do it. And then it happens. Things come together quickly and it’s done. I just have to remember that this moment is part of the process.
I have a love/hate relationship with commissions. They take me away from work I want to be doing for myself, but the $$ is great. Also – after 30+ years in the business world, I feel so privileged to be able to do what I’ve always wanted to do – create. So I do not have a contract, I do not charge 50% up front, and if the client likes it then they pay the agreed upon price. Timelines are mine to set. Anything else feels like I am back at work, dealing with contracts and other people’s money. yuck.
I realize I am in a minority here on the handling of commissions, but have had amazing (to me) success. The thing I struggle with is having too much information: colors of rooms, furniture, lighting, etc. TMI!! I paint non-representationally and my style is evolving; so my work that clients have seen elsewhere is not what I do now. And I am very clear about that. I ask them what it is about a certain work that appeals to them…color? composition? Once I have this info, I know how I did that and can work it in, but am very firm in managing expectations.
Great blog post – great information to see how other artists approach commissions.