10 Steps to Ensure a Quality Commission
If you are thinking about a commission for your home or office, the idea of paying an artist to crawl inside your head and produce something that you love is probably a bit scary. The following is a brief outline of the commission process to put your mind at ease.
The following are 10 steps to ensure a quality commission can be executed to your liking.
Step 1: Approach more than one artist for the commission and ensure you have viewed their existing portfolio to confirm their style is a great match for your taste. That is, don’t hire someone who does abstract art to paint a traditional landscape. It won’t be fun for either of you.
Step 2: Ask the artist if they follow a process. If there is no set criteria or Commission Contract, be wary of a disorganized or possibly disappointing experience. You are spending good money and deserve to be informed during the different stages of the painting and how decisions are made.
Step 3: Be honest. Transparency is key to a great commission. This is potentially a long-term relationship where communication and trust are key. If an artist has set boundaries or rules for each stage of the commission, this is likely based on experience to ensure the outcome is successful for you as the customer. For example, if the artist informs you that changes in the composition can no longer be made after the sketch is approved, this is because it interferes with the painting process and balance of the piece.
Step 4: If photos are not provided, ensure you allow time for the artist to do research. This might involve a drive, plein air studies, or time to obtain permission from a photographer to use their images. The more prepared you are, the higher quality the commission.
Step 5: If the commission is a gift, it is better to involve the recipient than to surprise them. You can ask the artist for a special gift certificate so that the recipient can be involved in the process as it quite engaging and fun to be a part of the creation.
Step 6: Commissions are about paying for a specialized service – not about getting as much as you can from the artist. If you continually ask for extras, the painting will become a conglomerate of ideas and will not have the flow of a carefully planned composition. Be respectful to follow the criteria in the contract and ensure you are providing space for the artist to be clear about restrictions in the process.
Step 7: You might be asked some questions that you don’t know the answer to, such as type of varnish – gloss or matte. You should not hesitate to inform the artist if you don’t have a preference. Don’t stress, they will help you choose the most appropriate option.
Step 8: If the painting will be framed, and you want the artist to frame it, they likely have great connections and great taste to offer that service. Framing is expensive and the timing of the framing is out of the artist's control. If you ask for this extra service, it must be discussed up front so a delivery date that (includes the timing of the framing service) can be agreed upon.
Step 9: Confirm exactly what you are getting with the commission, e.g., do you get to keep the original sketch or study? Is the painting process filmed or photographed at different stages? Does the painting come with an authenticity certificate? Is it a one of a kind, or will it be used to make prints for other products? Does the artist deliver and hang the art in for you?
Step 10: If you are overjoyed with the commission, please share it with your network. Art is a career and the best way for artists to thrive is by word of mouth from their collectors. Share photos of your commission on social media and tag the artist. It is very rewarding to be part of the success of small business owners.