So you have a client who loves your work and wants to you to create a special new piece, just for them. Exciting! Or maybe a consultant wants to include your work on a fun new hotel project...but they really need a BIG piece, in a whole different color scheme, and they'll need it fast. Great! It sounds like there is a market for commissioning your work. But where to start? I have had so many questions from other artists about taking commission work-how to go about it, price it, what are the expectations, challenges, rewards, etc. Most of my work is commissioned based, meaning I have had lots of opportunities to learn about what makes a commission successful and would love to share a bit of that for my fellow artists.
CONSIDERING COMMISSION WORK:
If you enjoy creating something with a specific customer in mind, would consider working outside your existing range of sizes, colors, etc, and are comfortable opening your art process up to client input and feedback; commission work could be a great part of your portfolio. Not all artists are comfortable working in this way and THAT IS OKAY! Knowing your strengths, limitations, and where you want to focus your energies and work is important .
The main requirement of an artist considering this type of work is that they be great communicators. Clear communication is absolutely key to successful commissions. Let's talk a bit about some of what should be considered for commission work so that you can decide if it is something you are interested in.
ART + DESIGN DIRECTION:
With custom work often comes additional expectations from clients that they have design input or can request specifics on format, size, etc. How much or how little you want to open yourself up to this sort of direction is totally up to you and should be carefully considered at the outset of your project. Establishing a clear policy ahead of time that your client can reference will help educate them about how you work and save you time and hassle down the line. If you are going to take design direction take care to get it all in writing in advance of starting your project. Will you be referencing previous work, color swatches, or including specific materials? Are you open to providing progress shots for feedback? Include any and all of those details with as many reference visuals as possible in the commission agreement.
SKETCHES, MOCKUPS, SAMPLES, COLOR SWATCHES
Depending on the type of client, some commission projects may require additional materials to get the project approved and in motion. This is less common when working with a private collector but is pretty common when working with designers and consulting firms. The scale and budget of the commission will often dictate what type of sample is required.