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Commission Art

Are people showing interest in your work and keen on customizing some of it to their personal requirements? If yes, then its high time you seriously consider taking up Commissions. Receiving requests to create commission art is the ultimate compliment for any artist.

But what does commission art mean? It is the act of requesting the creation of a piece, often on behalf of another. Artwork may be commissioned by private individuals, by the government, or businesses. Commissions can very often resemble endorsement or sponsorship as well.

If the thought of getting involved with a paid project is giving you cold feet then this post is just what you need. Here are some tips that will help streamline your commission process and help you build up a reputation as a professional artist:

Set a pricing methodology

There are two common methods for pricing art:

  • By the hour – Number of hours worked x hourly rate.

Your hourly rate depends on your experience and          skill level. You can add the cost of the supplies to this later on.

  • By size – Cost per square inch x no. of square inches in painting.

This method requires a set cost per painted square inch, which is determined by the quality of the supplies used as well as the degree of detailing in your work.

A few extra pointers while pricing your work:

  • When commissioning, a piece in specific dimensions, using specific materials and perhaps even specific subject matter, price by the hour.
  • If you are not particularly comfortable or skilled at drawing/painting the subject at hand, consider lowering your price to keep things fair.
  • If the work is urgent and demands long hours or weekends, consider raising your prices.

2. Time management

As a professional artist, time management and good organizational skills become absolutely imperative. As a general rule, I never set a definitive due date just in case I am unable to finish on time. I always tell my clients that the painting is going to take me at least a couple of days longer than the estimated timeline but make it a point to finish before D-day.

3. Provide information to prospective clients

Share information about your creative process and any terms or conditions connected to how you sell your work. Some important information you should definitely include is:

  • Ask questions and get a clear understanding of what you’re being requested to create. For instance, what art style do they like, what color scheme to use and what area of their house/work place will the piece be adorning.
  • Do you need anything specific from the customer in terms of high-resolution images, etc.?
  • Your mode(s) for accepting payment (bank transfer, card payment, etc.).
  • What percentage/portion of the total cost you will take as advance payment before getting started (this should be non – refundable so that if your clients back out, it pays for your invested time, labor, and art materials.)
  • Whether you undertake shipping (if yes then what will be your shipping terms/costs?)

4. Be prompt in responding

If a prospective client inquires about commissioning a piece, make sure you respond as quickly as possible or you may end up losing the opportunity altogether. Once you have started working on the commission, maintain an open channel of communication throughout in order to keep your client updated about your progress.This will prevent any confusion or misunderstandings.Also, don’t hesitate in turning down prospective clients if you feel that what they’re asking for is against your moral compass or beliefs.

My Commissioning Process

I have had the recent pleasure of successfully finishing a commissioned painting for a new set of clients, a lovely couple. Here’s what I made for them:

Recently commissioned

This project was a challenging venture as not only were the clients my patrons, but also good friends. Sharing the experience of my commissioning process while it’s still fresh in my mind:

  • The concept briefing –

My first meeting with my clients, an impressionable husband and wife duo with a profound interest but limited knowledge in art, was to discuss the subject matter and conceive the entire project. I was commissioned by them to paint a Vietnamese riverscape, taking reference from an image of a similar scene. They showed me a photo of the painting that they wanted me to customize for them and later on shared with me a high-resolution image of the same for reference purposes.

Here are some questions I asked them to understand what they had in mind, along with their answers:

  1. What is it that they want? Do they want an exact replica of the original or a custom-made version? – They wanted more or less the same thing but on a larger scale (a 2ft by 3ft canvas to be exact).
  2. What color scheme would they like? Do they want to retain the same colors as the original or make some changes? – They preferred to stick to the same color palette, only brighter.
  3. What size and surface would they like their painting to be? – As mentioned above, 2ft by 3 ft on a canvas.
  4. What medium would they want me to use? – They left this to my discretion owing to their limited knowledge of art, so I decided to go with oil paints as I felt these would be best for the subject matter in question here.
  • The artistic process –  

The next step was to explain to them about my artistic process. I gave them a rough idea of how I would go about working on the painting, starting from the initial sketch, the painting process and then the final touch up and finishing stage which includes varnishing the final artwork once it was totally dry. I assured them that I would keep sending regular updates in the form of photos on completion of each stage, so that any editing or adjustments could be made as and when required.

  • The framing –

I gave my clients the choice of either taking the canvas unframed or along with a frame. I made it clear to them that in the latter case, the cost of framing would be added to the price of the artwork. Since they were in the same city as me and were picking up the artwork personally, they told me to take care of the framing as well.

  • The costing and terms of payment –

I decided to price this commission by size as not only did it involve increasing the dimensions, but also including the cost of framing. In terms of the payment, I quoted an advance of 1/3 of the total cost of the commission, which would be non-refundable as it would cover the time, labor and materials I would invest into the entire project. Since there wasn’t going to be any shipping involved, I did not include this cost.

  • Estimated time for completion –

As mentioned earlier, when it comes to the timeline, I always give an estimate of a day or two extra from the anticipated time of completion so as to take care of any eventualities. I this case, I had to include not just this, but also the drying time (being an oil painting), varnishing (and drying thereafter) as well as framing time.  

Please Note – Unlike in my case, if you are not well-acquainted with the clients or haven’t worked with them before, I would advise you to put down all of the above points in writing and sign a contract so that there are no misunderstandings later on. If you do decide to go ahead with a formal contract, don’t forget to mention that you as the artist will retain the copyright to all works commissioned by you, including all reproduction rights and no artwork may be reproduced or altered without your written consent.

I hope you found this post helpful and wish you loads of luck in all your artistic endeavors! Do leave me a comment below if you have inputs  or wish to share your own experiences with commissions. Would love to hear about it!

My Exhibits

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Howdy art lovers! In my last post, I had delved into the nitty gritties of showcasing art, specifically at exhibitions and art shows. It gives me great pleasure to share with you all today my very own and personal experiences related to the art exhibits that I have had the good fortune of being part of.

Even though they were small community exhibits organized within our fraternity, for me they were nothing less than any renowned art show set up by reputed galleries or curators, for the learning associated with these helped me grow as an artist. Moreover, they provided me with the much-needed exposure as well as recognition, not just within my fraternity but beyond!

So, without further ado, let’s plunge right into it!

As I mentioned earlier, two of the exhibits were local community shows, where some of the many talented artists of the fraternity I belong to got together and put up their work on display. Both proved to be great morale boosters for me as not only did I manage to sell some of my work, but also got some custom orders! Here are a few snippets from these exhibits:

The next opportunity that I have had the distinct honor of being a part of is an Online Solo Art Exhibit organized by Google Books Art and Culture, wherein my artwork was approved for global publishing as a Solo Online Exhibit on the prestigious Google Books.

Artist’s Art & Photography solo online Exhibits are published globally on Google Books for lifelong and can be downloaded by Google’s billions of readers for free access on Google Play Books, Google Books Library and Google Android Play Store across the globe in 149 countries. Art Exhibit Google Book is strictly online and no print or hard copy (pdf) is allowed due to copyright protection.

As an artist, publishing my art on the Google Books, Arts & Culture platform carries a great deal of professional weightage and mileage as it helps me share and promote it not just directly to art connoisseurs, collectors, art galleries, museums and prospective art buyers but also onto social media.

Since Google is the world’s largest search engine, publishing my art exhibit on Google’s various platforms, especially Books, has a distinct advantage as my work is indexed by Google itself, which helps in SEO (search engine optimization) and gives me a mileage in getting higher ranks in online search results and better discoverability on social media, thus connecting me with genuine art lovers across the globe and reach out to prospective buyers and art galleries.

One worry I always have when sharing my artwork on online social media platforms or online sites/galleries is that there is no copyright protection and my art can be downloaded or shared illegally. However, Google Books offers all Artists protection under their own copyrights and the book is globally DRM protected for illegal sharing and downloading.

Another advantage is that my artwork is archived in the Google Books Library and helps reach billions of Google’s readers & subscribers across the globe in 149 countries thus connecting me with a global audience! Here are the links to my very own ebook art exhibit with google books:

https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=fHEUEAAAQBAJ

Do go through them and don’t forget to leave your reviews and star ratings to help my work reach more audiences!

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Exhibiting Your Art

Have you been creating a lot of art lately? Well how about showing it to the world now! One of the best ways to do so is by showcasing your work in art exhibitions as these are the stepping stones of every artist’s career growth. Whether professional or amateur, every artist should take part in art exhibitions. Not only are they a great platform to showcase your work and reach out to potential buyers, but also a means of getting recognition among like-minded artists, peers, patrons and industry experts, thus making some valuable new acquaintances.

However, many people are apprehensive about entering art exhibitions usually due to lack of confidence. But let me assure you, there are exhibitions for all skill levels.

If you are just starting out as an artist you may not want to enter the large scale national portrait exhibitions, but there is no reason you should not enter your local exhibitions which cater to budding and emerging artists like you!

Getting selected by an art gallery means a lot of work needs to be done before you can proudly flaunt your art. This article will hopefully not just inspire you to enter art exhibitions but also help you understand what exactly is involved. So let’s get right into it!

Why should you enter art exhibitions?

  • If you are interested in selling your art, this is how you expose it to people who are interested in buying art and have a sizable budget.
  • You get to meet other artists and art patrons. Some of the artists you meet may become your inspiration in future.
  • You are forced to put your best foot forward with your work. If you are finding yourself producing mediocre work, then signing up to art exhibitions may motivate you to put in your best.
  • You will stop procrastinating in order to meet exhibition deadlines.
  • The chance to win awards can really boost your art career.

What are your options for exhibiting?

The following are the various options available to put your art on display:

  • Solo shows – Whether physical or online, putting on a solo show will give you full control over everything. On the flipside, it will cost you that much more. One alternative to this is to have a show in collaboration with other artists. In case you decide to go in for a solo show, ensure you have enough work to display, not just in terms of quantities, but also a well-curated range.
  • Commercial gallery – Working with galleries can be a daunting task but the advantages include publicity, help with installation costs, and potential future exhibitions. Galleries often present open calls for exhibitions or representation. While these are great opportunities to get your work seen, they can also turn out to be costly so it’s best to avoid applying to every single opportunity, especially if it involves a submission fee. So take only those openings into serious consideration that are relevant to you. Group shows, craft fairs etc. Another way to give exposure to your art is to participate in craft fairs or group shows.
  • Group shows – These can be a great option if you feel you only have a small selection of works to exhibit. The other benefit is that you’ll be able to divide tasks among a group of people so that there are fewer burdens on one individual.  Being part of a group can also widen your network. However, a downside of group shows can be disagreements, especially on the decision making level, if the participants don’t see eye to eye or don’t share similar artistic interests. So make sure you work with like-minded artists whose work can be linked to yours. When it comes to a group exhibit, uniformity is the key.

How much will it cost?

Whether putting up a solo or a group show, it’s a good idea to work out a budget plan. The following aspects need to be taken into consideration:

  • Hiring of exhibit space.
  • Entertaining costs (drinks, eats, etc.)
  • Advertising.
  • Transportation costs.
  • Marketing (posters, flyers, website, etc.)
  • Installation costs.
  • Printing (CVs, press releases, artist statements, business cards, etc.)

Some of these costs can be taken care of if you can manage to get your show sponsored by local companies, etc.

How do you advertise your show?

Spreading the word about your upcoming show is as important as the show itself. Here are a few ways to advertise your exhibition:

  • Social media forums like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or even your own blog are a great way to get the word out.
  • Try and get your event listed on popular art events sites.
  • Send “save the date” emails to your mailing list well before the exhibition and then another reminder mail a couple of days before the event.
  • Flyers and posters are a great advertising tool in local area locations like cafes, community centers, etc.
  • Last but not the least, word of mouth. Nothing better than coming straight from the horse’s mouth!

What is the standard procedure to enter an art exhibition?

  • There will be a call to entry providing the set of requirements for the exhibition and the deadlines.
  • You will be asked to submit your most recent artworks, (usually, ones that have been completed within a year of the exhibition).
  • The finalists will be announced on a preset date.
  • If selected as a finalist, you will need to prepare your artworks for the exhibition and deliver them to the exhibition within the provided time frame.
  • There will be an opening night which you can choose to attend. Although you are not required to attend the exhibition in person, but it is recommended you do so.
  • Any sales of your artworks will be handled by the exhibition and you will receive your sale proceeds (minus a commission taken by the organizer).
  • If your artworks do not sell, then you will need to collect them at a certain time and place.

Preparing Your Art for the Exhibition

Selecting an art gallery and confirming an art exhibit is only the first step of a much longer process. Although there are a lot of things that the art gallery handles for you, your personal involvement is of utmost importance as you know your art the best, hence you need to be a part of every decision that is being made about it. Here’s what all you need to look at:

  • Select pieces that are consistent in either concept or themeand bring out your signature style and ideas the best.
  • Click high quality images of these for promotional purposes like catalogues, prints, etc.
  • Pay special attention to giving final touch ups if required by any of your artworks before displaying as well as the framing if the gallery demands so.
  • Another important aspect is the Certificate of Authenticity, which is required for sales.
  • If you are not framing your artworks, you will need to consider how you will display them. In case of stretched canvases, a common practice is to extend the painting over the edges to give it a feeling of continuity. Or you could just paint the edges a flat white or black.
  • Decide how you want your artworks to be hanged.
  • Varnish your artworks if you feel the need, although this is not a mandatory requirement.

Transportation

Ensure your pieces are packed securely to prevent damage during transportation. Dispatch them well in time so that in case of any damage, the gallery will have enough time to repair them.

Preparing your Personal Information

You will need to provide the following details along with your artworks:

  • Personal details.
  • Artist statement and artist profile/CV.
  • Prices of the artworks.
  • Names, medium and dimensions of the artworks.

Your artist statement and artist CV will need to be sent to the gallery for publishing in their catalogues or to be displayed along with your works. Update your CV with all your latest accomplishments. Make sure that your artist statement goes well with the selected works.

Being part of an art exhibition is not just about selling art. It is also a great opportunity to see your work through the eyes of your viewers. However, art is very subjective so be prepared to receive all sorts of opinions, some positive and others negative. The trick is to take the criticism positively and learn from it. This will help you evolve and grow as an artist. Your artistic talent does not need the validation of sales.

I hope this post provides you a better insight into what is involved in entering art exhibitions and inspires you to do so yourself. Please feel free to share any thoughts or tips of your own in the comment section below.