Baby showers, weddings, and graduations… oh, my! Luckily, this beautiful life is chock full of reasons to celebrate - and commission custom artwork to go along with it. Whether its a portrait of you as a child for your parents’ 40-year wedding anniversary or a portrait of your son’s favorite grandmother to hang in his first house, we could all conjure up a million and one reasons why a custom painting is an impactful, lasting, and thoughtful gift for yourself or your loved ones.
If we all love the idea of a custom painting - whats stopped us from commissioning one? For many of us, the problem lies in how and where to start. That’s why I’ve compiled this helpful guide to get you started on commissioning a custom work of art.
Quick Guide to Commissioning an Artist
Step 1: Choosing Your Inspiration
Depending on the type of commission you envision, your inspiration will either come from you or you may just be inspired by the artist him or herself. It is important to start with a basic idea of what you are interested in hanging on your walls. When commissioning an abstract artist it may be shapes or colors that inspire you and when commissioning a portrait artist your inspiration will most likely be a photo.
Step 2: Choosing Your Artist
When choosing an artist to commission, you want to be sure you like the work the artist is offering. If you have an artist in mind, spend some time on his or her social media page or website to get a feel for the type of work they create. Do the subjects they choose align with what you are seeking? Do you like their brushstrokes and color choices? If you have no idea where to start, this is ok too. Start by searching around on Pinterest or Google Images - using keywords “custom” or “commission” and your inspiration. For example, you could Google Image “custom colorful pet portraits”, do some clicking and see where you end up.
Once you’ve found some work you like, it is also important to determine if you think you would enjoy working with that artist. Commissioning a custom painting is a rather intimate process, so its important to work with someone you will get along with. Reach out to him or her to see what type of response you get. Do they have a phone number or a way to contact them directly? Finding an artist who will invest time into understanding your project will make a big impact on the final result.
Step 3: Getting Realistic About Budget
Once you’ve found your artist, you should have a good understanding of what price point your work will be in. In general, quality artwork is an investment. Art supplies are costly, and artists pour their energy, time and soul into your work. When completing a custom work, artists are dedicating time to you, not other artwork that they could potentially sell multiple prints of. It is important to have an understanding of your budget and what you want to spend on a custom painting. Make sure you feel really comfortable with the price and that you can definitely afford it. Your artist wants you to be absolutely ecstatic about your commissioned painting, and not that you stretched your budget too far or wish you had spent the money elsewhere.
Step 4: Contacting Your Artist and Getting the Details
If you think you’ve found the perfect artist to complete your work, congratulations! Now it is time to get the process started. The initial start-up procedure will look slightly different from artist to artist, however, there are certain details that should be worked out before any commitments are made. Make sure you have answers to these questions before making a deposit or payment:
Subject and Size. The size of the painting and what the painting will actually be of is obviously paramount. This should be determined first, as it will be the driving factor on most of these other aspects.
Price. Once the size and subject of the work has been agreed upon, it is important that both you and the artist are in agreement on the exact price of the project. This way there is no confusion later on.
Payment Details. How does the artist expect to be paid? Does she take a 25, 50 or 100% deposit up-front? Is this deposit refundable? Does he take payments through his website, PayPal or Venmo? Will you be taxed?
Shipping and Delivery. Artwork can be very pricey to ship. It is important to know an estimate on what the shipping costs will be and who will be responsible for paying for them.
Timeline. How long will your painting take to be completed? Will the artist start the work right away or does she have a waiting list? When can you expect your painting to arrive at your door?