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6 Tips for Painting Commissions

6 Tips on Commissions v2

Commissions for Oil Paintings

I am currently working on a commission piece at the moment and have two more in the pipeline. I really enjoy doing commissions for three reasons: Firstly, you’ve “sold” a piece of work before you’ve completed it. Secondly, it’s quite a compliment and boost to the fragile painters’ ego: someone likes your work enough to ask you to paint something especially for them. Finally, it’s a challenge – often you are asked to paint subjects you would not have normally chosen to paint but the results can be very pleasing. Subjects I have painted range from beloved pets (many more dogs than cats), a holiday scene, a family home, a golf course in Australia, a CD cover as well as revisiting subjects that I have painted before which as woodland scenes and Welsh landscapes.

My 6 Tips on Commissions

1. Price – make it clear how much it is likely to cost. I have a page on my website that sets out the sizes and prices. We can negotiate on details such as shipping, packaging (do they want it gift-wrapped, a card with a message included?). Generally, I charge according to how long the work is likely to take and how detailed it is.

2. Deal direct with the collector – I used to do commissions via online galleries but I have found that galleries have interfered with the negotiations too much, and that has discouraged me. Some online galleries even stipulate that if you do a commission through them then the customer retains the copyright to the work. I believe that the artist retains the copyright, whereas the collector has bought for the artwork

3. Turnaround time – make it clear how quickly you can paint the piece (including drying times which can be quite lengthy). It is important not to take on too many projects at the same time. I generally, limit myself to three at any one time.

4. Ideally, secure a deposit before you start working. If nothing else, it helps ensure that the customer is serious about this commission. This gives me peace of mind of knowing that my buyer is serious about commissioning without me being left empty handed.

5. Know your limits. If you are working from a photo, make sure it is of good quality and better still, make sure you have several images of the subject to chose from. The photos need to have been in good light. If the image is not good enough, don’t be afraid to ask for better ones. If none are available, be prepared to turn down the commission. You don’t want to produce a poor quality artwork. No one will be happy with that outcome.

6. Communication – let the customer see the finished painting before it’s dried and communicate about shipping details, when it’s sent, tracking number and check that it’s arrived safely and the customer is satisfied.

© Emma Cownie 2017