Sunday, July 31, 2011

On commissioned work...

There is a fear surrounding commission work. Actually there are a number of them. 

I've spoken to folks about their experiences with commissions, (from both the artist side and the buyer side.) Most have tilted towards the positive...but when they go wrong, they really go wrong. I once did a commission for a guy who had been collecting some work and had a specific idea about 2 large canvases representing the nature of man and the nature of God. It took a few months to complete the work, but I was pleased with the results. The problem: the guy went AWOL. No longer returned my calls or the gallery calls. When I finally did reach him, he said "I can't go through with the commission." That was it. Ultimately, (after a few years),  the work sold and I got lucky. But some artists I've talked to haven't been so lucky. Make sure you ask many questions and even put together a basic contract to protect yourself. This applies to both creating and commissioning work.

That said, I've just completed a work for friends that I wanted to share. I know them very well, so working symbols into the painting was a little easier. Matt is a big fan of all things Boston, so I started there. I wanted the work to contain both an overall feel and many intricate little stories that take place when you move closer. I've included the finish piece along with the image of the Green Monster that inspired the piece. 


  1. I had a commission for two paintings, specific for the house of the clients. I went to the house, took measurements, did a prelim sketch with colors etc. and got the approval and 50% downpayment. On completion I had the buyers come by my studio and approve paintings, they paid the remaining sum, I had the pieces photographed, packed up and they took them home. A week later they called and said they did not think the pieces worked, and that I should take them back. It was one of the hardest things I ever did, but I said if they weren't sure they should not have paid in full, and I had no use for custom art, made to suit their house etc. They said it reflected poorly on me as an made me think (for about a second) ....Fortunatly all the other commissions I did turned out very well.

  2. Great artwork on your blog, I love your compositions and colours. I did a few commissions, to - actually copies from old paintings I didn't want to sell, and fortunately the customers were happy with them. But I agree, it's a very delicate topic! I thinkif they pay, you definitely shouldn't take the work back. It's not like a dress which doesn't quite fit...