Beginners Guide to Commissioning Artwork
Nearly everyone knows an artist or two, and has at least considered asking them to paint or draw something to hang on the walls of their home. Asking an artist to create work for you can be a little tricky and intimidating—especially for people who aren’t that familiar with art or the labor involved in producing it.
First and foremost, it’s good to keep in mind that artists are trained professionals, though we often mistake them for hobbyists. Even artists without formal education devote hours upon hours to practicing and honing their talents. Just like an electrician, a mechanic, or a doctor, an artist possesses a carefully practiced skill set that not everyone has. This makes their work valuable. Many new art collectors make the mistake of forgetting this and are caught off guard when their request for art is taken seriously, and met with a response about money and costs.
All artists price their art differently, and there’s no real formula for pricing artwork. There are however, a few general rules of thumb. Obviously, larger works of art are typically priced higher, and more expensive media like oil paints and canvas will result in more expensive artwork than drawings produced with graphite and paper. As result, colored works of art are often more expensive than black and white works. One of the biggest factors that influence an artist’s price however, is the demand for their work. An artist who receives many requests for art may charge more than artist who receives fewer. This is why art from a younger newer artist is often inexpensive compared to an artist with a familiar name. If you’re trying to avoid particularly costly art, consider a small work from an artist who doesn’t already have a lot on his or her plate.
When commissioning work from an artist, it’s also important that you’re familiar with their work and style. Many people make the assumption that an artist can make more or less any kind of art they imagine simply because they are an artist, but most artists have a specialty. An abstract expressionist probably does know how to produce other forms of artwork, but if you’re looking for a hyper-realistic painting of a still life, you might consider other artists first. They’ll be able to produce something you’re happy with more quickly and possibly of higher quality for less money. It’s best to request artwork from an artist because you like the work they’ve already produced.
Speaking of already-produced work, most artists are usually willing to sell the work they’ve already finished and shown. If you like an artist and want their work, you should always feel able to ask them for work that you’ve already seen before. This is often cheaper than commissioning new work, and will obviously ensure that you’ve seen the finished artwork before putting any money towards it—as most artists will expect a down payment of some kind when accepting a new commission from a client.
In spite of all of this, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to put new artwork on your walls is to create it yourself. If you’ve never painted before, or are just a little rusty, our classes are a great place to create some work of your own. You’ll get guidance from local artists, and even have a great opportunity to create a customized painting with their assistance.
- The Artist's Insight - A monthly blog special by Eric Maille -
I’ve been painting my entire life, but I think you’ll agree with me that being a painter doesn’t make you an artist. An artist must be willing to explore the fascinating world that exists behind paintings- a rich history of unique talents, creative imaginations, innovative techniques, and thoughtful self-expression.
I’ve spent a long time developing that insight and learning from the insight of others, and it's helped me to become a professional painter and illustrator living and working in Norman Oklahoma, and an instructor at Pinot’s Palette Bricktown. Now, once a month, I’ll be providing tips, tricks, and stories from a polished perspective, and an artist’s insight, so that even the casual painter, can become an art-lover and artist themselves!
Sincerely yours, Eric Maille