Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Art of Commissions

I have very strict rules when doing a commission — which is why I accept so few of them. An innocent commission can easily deteriorate into the artist being used as a tool for the buyer to create the painting they want. That isn't fine art, at least not in the business sense. That's illustration — being paid to create art that illustrates a buyer's concept. I don't do that and it's important to me that any potential buyer understand my perspective before they engage in commissioning a painting from me.

My rules are simple, the buyer has a say in subject matter and size. That's all. I determine everything else. I'm sometimes flexible on time frames (when a painting might be completed) but for the most part, I work on a particular painting when I have a strong concept for one, and that may take time.

This brings me to a situation regarding a painting I recently completed. It illustrates the best in artist/patron relationships...

A collector of mine contacted me and inquired about whether I had any pieces she might be interested in as she was looking to add a painting to her collection. She did have a set of parameters for the painting that, unfortunately, none of my available work met.

I mentioned to her that I did have an idea for a painting I thought she might be interested in (based on our conversation) and said I could start it immediately if she wished. As a collector, and a well-seasoned art lover, she understood that if the buyer is allowed to dictate too much to the artist as to what they want, often the painting produced suffers from it. She felt, as I do, that the best work is produced when the artist can do as he or she sees fit. With her feelings on the matter communicated, she encouraged me to start the piece right away.

She bought the painting. In fact, she purchased it after seeing it only partially complete.

Technically, I suppose this isn't actually a commission. But, the process with this particular collector was just how I like my commissioned work to go; with no particular expectations from either the buyer or myself other than to produce the best work I can.

Here’s the painting titled, "High and Mighty".

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