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  • Clare Morgan

Top tips for commissioning a portrait artwork

When we imagine a portrait commission we perhaps think of the renaissance, a way to show wealth and power, grand oil paintings hanging over the fireplace. Fortunately, that isn’t the case, and far from being intimidating, it can be a fun memorable collaboration.

I love that commissioning is now an incredibly accessible way for anyone who loves the idea of being a part of the creative process can get involved and create something unique with an artist whose style they love and create something that they can enjoy forever.

A unique representation of yourself or someone you love, it can capture a moment in time such as a special occasion, birthday, graduation, retirement or engagement the list is endless!

Tips for commissioning an artist

  • Choose an artist whose style you love, look at their portfolio and if you can identify the pieces you are most drawn to let them know so they can bear it in mind when creating your art.

  • All artists have their own style so choose someone who can fulfil your vision. Think about how much artistic licence you are willing for the artist to take, communicate your ideas and discuss with the artist. They will be able to bring their skills and knowledge along to be able to advise.

  • Are they currently accepting commissions? You will likely see this information on their website, if not reach out and ask, there can sometimes be a waiting list if there are a large number of commissions or an artist may need to close their books.

  • Check out the artist’s website for details, what is the style, medium, starting prices?

  • Consider if the artist needs the subject to sit for them, or wishes to take their own photos. Some artists (like me) are happy to work from photos you have taken, bear this in mind when choosing your artist as location may be a factor.

  • If you are supplying reference photos, make sure you provide a few and that they are of good quality. Expect the artist to advise you if they aren’t suitable, the quality of the photos can affect the final artwork and the artist will want to produce something you adore.

  • Expect there to be a contract, it will include the price, terms of payment, approval dates and completion dates. It isn’t something scary, but a way of making sure that expectations are clear and you know what to expect. You will know what all of the terms are before deciding to go ahead. If there isn’t a contract, it would be worthwhile asking for one.

  • Expect to pay a deposit to secure the commission.

  • Know what to expect, are you buying a digital file, Giclee print, work on paper, canvas. What medium is being used to create the work?

  • Most artists will give you the opportunity to make reasonable adjustments to the work prior to receiving the final piece. (this will be detailed in the contract)

  • Expect to hear from the artist during the process, communicate your expectations clearly, and have fun!

  • Consider the copyright, what do you have permission to do with the work. Digital files may come with a release form for personal printing to ensure you are able to get art professionally printed. Expect for there to be additional costs for commercial use.

  • Pick the artists brains! They can advise you about the best ways to look after your art, display it and offer advice for printing and framing.

Commissioning is highly personalised, it’s about communication and a relationship between you and the artist. We often see ourselves in a mirror, but how exciting to be able to see ourselves through the imagination of an artist! It’s something to treasure forever.

Find out more about my commissioning process, prices and how to get good photos.


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