5 Fears of commissioning an art piece and how to overcome them

It's been my experience that when I drop the "C" bomb -aka: commission- people start sweating  a little. As if I'm trying to hold them hostage and telling them "Unless you commission a piece, you are going to regret it!"

I think that's because there are primarily 5 fears that people have when they think about the term "commission". Since Halloween just passed, I feel like I need to take away the "scare" factor in this part of the art world. 

Fear #1: It's too expensive

That depends on what you want. Most of the time, people want something in a particular spot, usually over a fireplace or bed- a place with prominence. And the size of this depends- thus the price can fluctuate. However, you have to remember that this is piece of "wall real estate" is going to be seen every day and you are looking for something specific because you want to make sure you really like it. You'll probably have it longer than your car and your current sofa (at least if you're me and you have an 11yr. old Hyundai!). That's valuable. The stuff that you'll see for years to come is worth putting in a little bit more for. 

Fear #2: How does it work? 

Commissions can be such an unknown process and I know I don't like it when I am not sure what's going to happen. The unknown makes me uneasy. Commissioning a piece of art isn't. Most artists have a really simple process that usually looks like this: 

  1. Have a conversation with you about what you want, what art work you've seen that you love, where it is going (your dreams for the ultimate piece of beauty!) You usually give them enough info to give you a proposal on the amount after this conversation. In order to start, most artists ask for a 50% deposit or some sort of fee for materials. 
  2. Do a few sketches or layouts of the beginning of the piece. This makes sure you are both on the same page and you feel confident "they get you". 
  3. Once you approve of the beginning direction, they start moving on the piece and will give you usually at least one update during the process. Many artists will tell you if they give you updates and depending on how big the piece is or the type of piece you might get a lot of updates. 
  4. You see the finished product! There may be a place that you would like to have tweaked a little, and it's fine to ask for a couple of minor adjustments. This is also where you pay the final amount and get to happily hang your piece. 

Fear #3: Doesn't it take a long time?

Usually not! In the day and age where Amazon Prime gets you shipping in 2-days, it might feel like it takes long. But most commission work is completed within two months. If it's a mosaic or an ex-large canvas (6ft x 6ft) it can take up to 6 months...but let's be honest. If you want something that detailed or that big, you're gonna wait. Because it's going to be AMAZING and it'll be worth it. 

Fear #4: What if I don't know what to commission? 

No biggie. All you need to do is a little homework. Look at the artist's work- both past and present. Is there anything that jumps out at you? Is there anything from another artist that you've seen that you really like but you want this artist to put their spin on it? After you look around, find a handful of images (3-5) of the type of piece you like. From there, try to pinpoint specifically what you love: Do you like the colors? Do you like that it makes you feel restful? Or do you like a specific part about it that makes you fall in love? Once you share this with the artist you want to work with, they can take it from there. They will be able to do sketches or some other representation of what they think will use lots of those elements to create your dream piece. But leave room for some creativity...the goal won't be to "copy" those pieces. Instead they would use them as the jumping off point. It will make your piece that much unique and "yours" in the end. 

Fear #5: What if I don't like it? 

Remember, you are the boss! Hopefully you picked the artist you did because you love all their work and you HAVE to have some! That means that if you are talking to them during the process and you felt comfortable with the sketches and mock ups of where the art work is headed- they won't let you down. Artists want you to be THRILLED with their art and most of time if you are feeling good about the beginning steps, you have no need to fear.  At the end, if you genuinely aren't happy with it, talk to the artist (it won't hurt our feelings!). I know that for many (including myself), I would rather you trade in your piece for another one in my portfolio- or give you credit for when you see one- than force you to keep a piece you don't like. 

At the end of the day, you want a piece for a spot and love a certain artist. A commission just allows that certain artist to make you something for your home that you will enjoy. NO FEAR needed! 

What's your biggest fear about commissioning art? Leave a comment below!