Personalized Art: 5 Steps to a Successful Commission

Art created just for someone other than the artist is called commissioned art. When an artist paints a pet or family portrait, it is a commission. I personally have been commissioned to paint and draw subjects ranging from portraits and homes to surreal works of art. Often the commission process seems a little daunting. The truth is, it’s pretty straightforward, and can be accomplished in five easy steps.

1:  Choose Your Artist: 

When choosing an artist, ask yourself if you love their existing art.  It’s likely that your commission will be done in the same style and medium.  If the artist only works abstractly with metal on wood, they probably won’t be a good fit for that hyper realistic family portrait made in oil on canvas that you envision above the fireplace.   

Some artists just do not take commissions. It never hurts to ask an artist for a commissioned work. Even if she or he says no, you will have made her or his day. The artist will find the request flattering and supportive.

2.  Where do you see the commissioned art in your home?

By thinking about placement, you can get an idea on how large the art will need to be.  If you want a painting made for your bathroom, the scale is going to be very different from a piece hanging over the dining room table.  An entryway or landing can probably accommodate a taller and larger work of art, whereas the space above your fireplace works best with a square or wide frame.  Measure the space, and try not to eyeball it.

Bonus Tip: If you’re struggling with choosing a size, cut a few pieces of wrapping paper or cardboard to the sizes that you’re trying to decide between.  Now use painters tape to tape the cutout to the wall.  This gives you a chance to see how the size of the art works in your chosen space before committing to a frame.

3.  Plan ahead

Were you thinking about an anniversary or Christmas present?  Many artists are booked several months in advance.  Find out how far in advance the artist takes commissions and what the typical turn around time is from start to completion.

Bonus Tip # 2: If you want to commission art from a booked artist, see if they offer gift certificates. That way the artist you selected can still create the work of art at a later time, and the gift recipient will gain more creative control over the commission.

Additionally, commissions vary in price due to scale, materials, the artist’s experience, and the artist’s prestige or demand.  Find out early what the artist charges and what their down payment percentage is.  It helps to know if you need to save for that dream work of art.

4.  Read the Commission Agreement

The commission agreement or contract should protect you and the artist. The contract will give you an idea of the commission schedule, create clear expectations, and establish a policy should you want to back out of the contract.  It is standard to have a 50% non-refundable down payment to protect a portion of the artist’s time and cover the cost of materials.   The artist will also retain copyright of the art created.  In turn, the artist is committing to set rates, procedures, and a timeframe.  

Bonus Tip # 3:  Will you be sending photos for the artist to work from?  Try to find high-resolution photos that have great light, preferably outdoor.  Grainy, dark, or yellowed photos are tough to work from, and the clearer they are, the better the end result will be.

Step 5: Communicate Often

The artist should check in periodically during various stages of the work of art, but some don’t. If you aren’t getting updates on the art you purchased, check in. If you see something that is off, try to address the issue before the art develops more. The earlier revisions prevent the project from taking longer than planned, respecting both yours and the artist’s time.

I hope you found these tips helpful! Let me know if there’s information I need to add. If you are interested in working with me, you can click to my gallery here and contact me below or via email at amy@amyfixart.com.

Happy commissioning!

– Amy

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New Gallery Representation!!!

I’m very excited to announce that I am now represented by Artists’ Emporium in Havre de Grace! The art in the gallery is incredible, and I’m thrilled to share the walls with highly talented artists.

I have two works, “Bella,” and “Late Spring in Abingdon,” in the gallery’s care currently. To see the art, you can call the gallery directly at 443-995-7999, or visit during business hours at 220 N Washington St, Havre De Grace, MD 21078.

“Bella” is looking sharp in her new frame. You can see myself and current exhibit at Artists’ Emporium reflected in the glass. It’s a beautiful space with great art!
“Bella” Charcoal on Paper, 20″ x 30″

A New Thanksgiving

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

Our Thanksgiving will be different this year.  There’s no splitting the holiday between my family and the in-laws, who are now several states away.  There’s no overindulgence in turkey and pumpkin pie.  No football.  Not even time with my spouse, who will be working for the holiday.   

With all of these changes, I had to re-evaluate what I do want from this holiday, and what I want to provide for my toddler. Instead of spending all day in the kitchen, my son would prefer playing with me, so we will buy our food pre-prepared.  Instead of watching football or The Macy’s Day Parade, we both would rather get outside and move, so we will go for a hike and picnic.  And instead of turkey comas, I plan to work on one of my many charcoal drawings that are in progress.

The one part of Thanksgiving that we will keep is the family.  In between phone calls and staying up late, we will make sure to tell our loved ones “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Thank you for your support, and have a wonderful holiday!

Sincerely, 

Amy

Tulips for Spring

“Tulips” 18′ x 19″ Charcoal on Paper, 2019

It’s spring. The plants in our yard are looking less like sticks and weeds and are growing new leaves and flower buds. We can finally start identifying what was planted here, and see what thrives in this milder climate.

These tulips were the first flowers I brought into our Maryland home, and I was really interested in the view from above. I chose to continue working in charcoal, reducing the piece to an artwork composed of light and shadow.

New Artwork: Gunpowder Falls State Park

“The Tire Swing,” 18″ x 24″ Charcoal on Paper, 2019

A few weeks ago, while on a winter hike at Gunpowder Falls State Park, I found this tire partially submerged in the river, next to a large fallen tree. I wondered how it ended up in the water. Was it just highway trash, or had it once been a tire swing where precious memories were made?

Against a backdrop of trees, stone, and water, the tire was jarringly out of place. It was litter that inspired thoughts of carbon footprints and plastic islands in the Pacific.

It was also nostalgic. Memories of my childhood spent riverside were dredged up, and I imagined a child’s thrill as she let go of the tire swing for the first time, floating, full of suspense, just before she splashed into the cool water. I watched the current desperately and ceaselessly try to wash the tire away, attempting to sweep someone’s memories from a long gone season down river.

This was my first time drawing running water in charcoal. Capturing the water’s movement and translucency as it passed through the tire was challenging and engaging. I hope you enjoy this artwork!

The original and giclee prints are available upon request.

News and Updates feat. the Pets and Wildlife Collection

I’ve had a baby that’s now a toddler, and my family has relocated to another state. This new home hosts an all-of-the-seasons experience with a wide variety of trees, and winding roads. The abundance of art galleries and museums within an hours drive of my front door is also very nice. As my time has become more of my own again, I’ve been able to devote more to my studio practice. The exciting news is that I’m starting a new collection (the artwork will be available in May)!

“Stephen” Archival Ink on Paper.
Permanent Collection at LaGrange Art Museum.

In addition to starting my new collection, I am finishing up some works in progress and am showing pieces from my Wildlife Collection in galleries and museums. “Stephen,” pictured above, was selected for LaGrange’s Regional Exhibition, and is now housed in LaGrange Art Museum‘s permanent collection.

“Bella,” is currently on exhibit at the Harford Artist’s Gallery. The frame for “Cielo” did not survive the move, and is in the studio waiting to be reframed. Giclee prints and originals are available upon request.

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