How to Commission Art

I am one of those rare people privileged to have been raised with the belief that I can do anything. And not because I come from money (I don’t) or because my parents have always encouraged in me the idea that I’m a special, special snowflake.

It’s because I come from a family of entrepreneurs, of artists, and of people who don’t hesitate to do things for themselves. Which is why, when I need something that I can’t do myself, I know exactly who to go to.

I’m a writer, but I’m not the only writer in my family. My grandmother’s book, Have I Ever Told You How Much I Hate People?, inspired me from a young age to pursue my love of writing. My grandpa, uncles, and now cousins run my family’s construction business. My cousin-in-law is a genius when it comes to refurbishing old furniture and transforming boring pieces and lifeless spaces. And, of course, I have a cousin and a sister with art degrees focused on completely opposite mediums.

So, when I decided I wanted to commission a header for my blog, I asked myself three questions:

  1. What do I want it to look like?
  2. Who do I think is right for the job?
  3. How much am I willing to spend?

From the start, I knew that I wanted antlers framing in a calligraphy font. I knew that my cousin, who is a professional painter, has an artistic style that would lend itself beautifully to the concept I had in mind. And I knew that I wanted something small, so that it could remain affordable.

And, because I have followed her professional website and her art pages on social media in addition to being related to her, I knew multiple ways to contact her: Professional email, social media comments/messages, and via phone. So I did.

To break it down, the first step is pretty much the hardest one on your end:

QUERY THE ARTIST

  1. Contact them and ask if they’re willing to do commissions.
  2. If they say yes, let them know what you’re looking for: Price range, approximate size, what exactly you’re looking for, and why you’re commissioning it (blog header, advertisement for your company, book cover, wall hanging, gift, etc.)
  3. Discuss the things you absolutely do not want and the ideas you are open to.
  4. Be completely honest. They can’t read your mind and it does no one any good if you’re not happy with the end product.
  5. Stay in communication.

Fortunately for me, even if she wasn’t family, my cousin is a consummate professional. Not only was she prompt in responding to all of my questions and asking questions of her own, but she also kept me in the loop every step of the way and was careful to get my feedback often to make sure we remained on the same page.

It’s not always that easy, of course. Some artists will be egotistical, some will be extremely expensive, some are very busy, and others are rather scattered. But, like all of us, artists are individuals and we have to know that every artist experience will be different.

Support artists whose work you love. Follow them on social media. Visit their websites. Give them feedback on posts about their works in progress. Build relationships with the creators you love. And then, when you’re ready for a piece of your own, you’ll know exactly who to turn to.

This piece, entitled Unquiet for its vibrant depiction of death and decay, is one of my favorite paintings and possessed all of the elements and artistic flair that I was looking for in the artwork I commissioned.

Unquiet by Amanda Mulvaney

An artist’s work needs to speak to you – to your vision, to your soul, to your audience – if it’s going to be meaningful to you, if it’s going to be effective. Go through their portfolios, study their work, fall in love or decide that their style is just not for you.

To commission an art piece, just find an artist that you love & ask.

For more information about the artist mentioned in this post, please visit her website or follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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