Updated: Jun 6, 2019
Some artists enjoy commissions and others despise or just plain refuse to do them. I personally enjoy commissions, with one caveat, the client has to allow me to have creative license. This should really be the case when you think about it, after all they chose me as the artist because they must have liked something I created.
I personally love and appreciate the special nature of commissions, as I've come to realize the important bond that people have with specific birds.
"Robins were my grandmother's favourite bird and I'm missing her these days."
"My mother has a special kinship with nuthatches and I want to gift her one as she battle's cancer."
"My dad and I have always loved feeding the chickadees in his backyard."
"My dad was a birdwatcher and it's the anniversary of his death."
"The colour of the goldfinches makes me so incredibly happy."
"Raven was my husband's spirit animal and I want a piece for my room to remind me that he's with me."
Hearing this from so many people it's easy to understand why painting a special piece for someone can be such an honour.
People are particular when it comes to their art and where they spend their money. Commissions often come with very specific instructions on size, colour, details to incorporate, things to match and timelines. This can make commissions a bit daunting. Making sure you are realizing a vision that lives in someone else's head can be challenging. I always get a nervous twitch when I press send on the email with the image of their final piece for their approval.
Not every commission has a fairy tale ending but I've been lucky so far. Some of the ideas from various commissions have even changed my style or given me fresh ideas for my practice. Using sheet music is one example and a multi-coloured raven was another. These ideas pushed me to think outside my box, straying into uncomfortable territory within my creative practice where I was forced to grow but the results were worth it.
I have a very clear process for commissions that I believe sets the client and I up for success:
The client contacts me about a commission and I explain my prices, the timelines I have available and I ask about the general idea of the piece.
We have a call and lay out all the specific details. The client makes requests and I let them know what is possible or what is not possible with how I do my mixed media work.
The client agrees to proceed and pays a 50% deposit on the piece.
I create the piece and send a picture of it for the client to review.
Final payment is made and I ship it or deliver it to the client.
The icing on the cake is when I receive an email from the person saying how much they love their piece and/or they send a picture of it on the wall.
Keeping all these things in mind are important if you're considering a commission. Truly giving an artist creative license - they decide how to put it together and make it their own - is the best way to ensure the end product is authentic and allows the artist's talents to shine through.
Now, speaking of which, I have some commissions to get to.