Tips for commissioning Art
Recently I received my 3rd call in the past year from someone who had commissioned a painting, was disappointed with the outcome and wanted me to “fix” it. It is very common for patrons to commission a piece of art from an artist and be very disappointed with the end result. It can be extremely frustrating after spending a lot of money, waiting months sometimes, to find out you hate it. On the flip side, I know many artists who are very well received, have fantastic work, but for some reason, the commissioned piece isn’t what the patron had wanted. I believe the true reason for this disconnect is lack of communication, however, most people do not know how to communicate the image they have in mind. Here we go, different ways to show what you want and how you want it, in terms of art.
- Examples, examples, examples. It is imperative to show examples of art you really like. One way I tend to do this is start a pinterest account. Start putting examples of different art that is what you are looking to commission.
Take pictures of art you have in your home. It is important for the artist to see what you have already.
- Location. Where is the art going to hang? Give dimensions, show a picture of the wall color, and show images of adjacent rooms. Environment is very important in art. You don’t want a clown painting in a formal living room, right? This may seem like a no brainer, but you would be surprised how color, lighting, and furniture affect the way a painting or sculpture are represented. Compare it to trying on furniture in the department store, everything seems to look great, but bring it home and pair it with your clothes in your closet and ugh, what happened? Am I right?
- Research. Make sure you like the artists work. Look at what they have produced in the past. Don’t just ask a friend who happens to paint do a portrait of your child you expect to hang in the living room. This is a recipe for disaster. Unless you have seen the artists portfolio, website, or gallery exhibit, steer clear. Don’t look at one painting; look at a whole body of work. You never know if that one painting was a fluke masterpiece, or a professor “touched it up” a bit. If you pay an artist for a piece of work, you must see their previous work, period.
- Vocabulary. When commissioning a piece of art you must learn how to speak artist. Knowing different styles and periods is important in trying to explain what you are looking for. For example, impressionist style would be referring to loose brush strokes, usually lighter colors, recognizable image, but trying to capture an “impression” rather than photo-realism. Classical Style: artist such as Vermeer or titian, the use of transparent layers, common studies such as still life, and portraits. These would be very traditional paintings, usually darker than other styles.