When commissioning a custom portrait, it can be difficult to know exactly what to expect. Commissioning family portraits or other artistic works does not follow the same protocol as making a regular purchase. The process of commissioning a custom portrait is emotional, exciting, nerve-wracking, and exhilarating. When commissioning a custom portrait, you are helping to create a precious family heirloom that will last for generations to come.
Custom portraits are priceless, so you want to have a positive experience – from the first inquiry to the final unveiling. It is good practice to understand what to expect from the portrait artist you choose before starting the process. Below is an outline of what you can expect when you hire a professional custom portrait artist.
(Please keep in mind that you should not expect these things from “paintings from photo” websites).
To me, the purpose of a portrait is not to simply copy the shapes and lines of a picture, but instead to capture the essence and energy of the people you love. It is important that you choose a portrait artist who will take the time to talk to you about your project and the people in it. In order to fully capture the expression of the subject, your portrait artist should take the time to understand the story behind the image. She should grasp the reason it holds so much significance, and the feeling and energy it should express. Your portrait artist should dedicate a specific amount of time to truly understanding your vision, and how her artistic style will help to tell that story.
Each and every portrait takes hours of passion and devotion. Because of this, it is important that your portrait artist know you are invested before beginning the work. Every portrait artist will have their own pricing structure, however, most will take a deposit up front and a deposit upon completion and acceptance of the work. If you decide to change your mind, most artists will keep all or a portion of the deposit, depending on how much time has been invested into the piece.
The details of your experience will vary from artist to artist, depending on the artist’s style, availability and process. Regardless of what the details are, you should expect to have them explained to you. Most artists will ask you to sign a contract when you hire him or her to begin a custom portrait. This contract should include basics such as price and size/nature of the work, deposits and fee structure, number of revisions and a timeline for delivery. If you have any other questions or concerns, ask if they can be added to the contract, to avoid any issues in the future.
This one varies hugely from artist to artist. Some artists (including myself) love sharing the artistic process with clients, to help build excitement as well as make any needed corrections early on. Other artists keep the process a secret and only want clients to enjoy the finished product. If you have a strong pull in either direction, ask your artist during the consultation if there will be any updates sent to you throughout the process.
This is a big one. Some artists give a certain number of edits or revisions, while others offer unlimited edits until you are completely satisfied. Some clients are nervous to suggest edits because they are afraid of hurting the artist’s feelings. Please know that artists understand that this is part of the process, and expect revisions upon completion. Remember that this piece of art will last years and generations, so it is more important that you love the work over attempting to protect the artist’s feelings. For me, I would much rather do 100 revisions and know that my client is completely and utterly in love with their work than do no revisions and have a client who is less excited about their painting. Please keep in mind that extra revisions may take a bit of extra time to complete.
At Artist Christina Carmel, we will work together throughout every step of the process to ensure we create a masterpiece you will be truly proud of. If you are looking to commission a family portrait, let’s talk. I would love the opportunity to learn your vision and help you determine if I am the right artist for you.