The First Step to Taking Art Commissions

Getting Ready to Take Commissions

So you’ve decided to take on the challenge of commissions. Where to start? How does one begin?

Creative Clarity and Asserting Artistic Values

The first thing you will need to do is show your work. Whether it is on a website or a social media platform, your work will need to look distinctively you. If you do not already have a well-formed body of work and artistic voice, it is very important that you develop one for two reasons:

1. Your art buyer does not necessarily have the vision to imagine all of the various types of artwork you are capable of creating. They will need to see and connect with examples of your work. At the point that your art buyer is ready to commission a piece of your art, they have already connected with your creativity and style. They are requesting a commission because they need to alter or tweak some aspect of what they have already seen.

2. Well-formed artistic values will defend you from taking on commissions that are not aligned with your artist voice and vision. These are important boundaries that you must define for yourself before you take commissions. Taking a commission that is outside of your values can cause creative distress and also leave you with a portfolio full of work you do not wish to create again.

How to Define Your Creative Values

Begin to notice the characteristics of the work you MOST enjoy creating. Are the colors bold or subdued? Layered or flat? Textures or smooth? Large scale or miniatures? Any particular medium? What types of themes do you pursue?

If you are having difficulty figuring out what qualities all of your work has in common, ask your friends and family. Often times, they see things coming out in our work that we do not see ourselves.

The answers to these questions are YOUR artistic values. They are the qualities that make your artwork uniquely you. There are no right or wrong answers.

Going forward, make an attempt to only create work that is true to your artistic values. It is good to experiment with new ideas and materials, but try to ask yourself how each experiment aligns with your artistic values before proceeding.

Keep in mind it is quite possible to create very different objects and still be aligned with your artistic values. As an example, an oil painter that creates contemporary figures on canvas wall panels may also choose to create a series of paintings on old cigar boxes for the holiday season. Although the end result is an entirely different type of object, the work will show well together if they are unified by the artist’s artistic values of bold color palette of smoothly layered renditions of vintage travel scenes.

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