How to commission art
Seven key points to consider when commissioning an original painting or artwork
How do you find an artist?
Whether you know the style of art you want, or are starting completely from scratch, an online search is the easiest and quickest way to find inspiration.
As well as doing a general search for the genres, topics and media you’re interested in, there are plenty of excellent sites and galleries out there – Artsy, Artfinder and Saatchi Art, for example – from which to buy art and commission artists, all with a huge array of handily themed and categorised work to browse.
Many artists also have their own websites, so there’s always the option of cutting out the middleman and approaching them directly.
Do all artists accept commissions?
Whether you’re approaching artists via an online marketplace or their own websites, they’ll usually make it clear whether or not they take commissions.
Once you’ve found an artist you like, just email them and ask – they can only say no.
Before contacting an artist, have a budget figure in mind. Artists usually have a standard rate, and this might change depending on brief, materials and timescale.
There’s always room for a little negotiation, but be sensible – if you only have £500 to spend, don’t bother approaching an artist with a commission base price of £1,000.
Is it usual to pay up front?
Arrangements differ from artist to artist, and depend on whether you’re dealing with them directly or commissioning via an online marketplace.
Whichever route you go down, expect to pay a deposit – never usually more than 50 per cent of the agreed total price.
Brief the artist properly
Make sure your brief is clear and relays exactly what it is you want – subject matter, style of artwork, colours, size, media (eg oil, acrylic, or pen and ink sketch) and format (physical artwork or digital print).
And remember to provide any reference materials – photos or similar artwork – and agree on a workable timescale that you’re both happy with.
Should you have a contract?
Emails between yourself and the artist serve as a legal contract, but make sure you confirm the aforementioned nuts and bolts – what you’re commissioning, timescales, final deadline date, shipping (if relevant) and any likely additional costs.
How collaborative can you be?
Once commissioned, good communication is vital. It’s not unreasonable to ask an artist to email regular work-in-progress snaps, so you both know the artwork is heading in the right direction, allowing you to give feedback or direction on revisions.
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Don’t leave all this until the end, as asking an artist to repaint once it’s nearing completion – or even worse, finished – is not the done thing.
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