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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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What Kind of Art Sells?

What themes and subjects sell the most in art? Which mediums and genres sell best? What sizes of paintings sell more – smaller or larger ones? These are some important questions that every artist should be asking when he decides to put his work up for sale.

I like to be sure of what will sell in the art market, even though my personal favorites are conceptual paintings which are a mix of realism as well as abstract art. For me, the true meaning behind what I paint takes precedence over the monetary gains I can obtain from it. However, when it comes to the cash inflow, I make sure I brush up my knowledge about the current art trends.

Today’s post is my endeavor to share with you all my own little nuggets regarding what needs to be considered when selling art. This information is based on my personal experiences hence should not be considered as a benchmark for improving sales.

What are the Best-selling Themes and Subjects in Art?

 

If your favorite subject happens to be among the popular ones, you’re in for luck. Keep in mind that you will sell more if you focus on your strengths rather than painting mediocre versions of something that’s not really your cup of tea. Even though one may not be making art solely to sell it, it may end up happening that way. For instance, an artist located in a tourist set up may find himself painting local scenery and landscapes as they will sell easily, thereby helping him pay his bills.  But this doesn’t stop him from painting what he likes to, in his signature style. Here is a list of some popular themes and subjects that do well commercially in the art market:

  1. Local scenes, landscapes and seascapes (modern, impressionistic or semi-abstract) – Landscape painting is the most popular and common subject for art owing to its versatile nature. Not only do people love looking at a picturesque and scenic panorama, but also like to invest in the visual representation of one, so as to keep reliving its spectacular beauty. Moreover a landscape works well in any type of decor or ambience. So what types of landscapes sell best? Many artists like to depict their local scenery in the form of landmarks, historical events or heritage sites that are exclusively characteristic of their area. Seascapes, harbors, and beach scenes all sell particularly well, probably because of their association with holidays, vacations, and relaxation.
  • Abstract paintings –Most people buy art with the aim to match it with their décor. Abstract art fulfils this requirement hence sells well. An abstract painting can simply be interpreted as a colour, texture, or shape, which helps maintain a certain level of uniformity with the home decoration. Besides this, abstraction has a nonrepresentational or symbolic approach, so its interpretation becomes subject to each individual viewer, thus making it easier to sell.
  • Paintings of dogs, cats and wildlife – People love owning paintings of dogs as much as they love their dogs as a painting of a dog invokes feelings of intimacy and affection, while paintings of wildlife suggest untamed, uninhibited nature. Perhaps for these reasons such paintings do well in the art market.
  • Figure studies and nudes – Whether it is abstract or impressionistic portraits or figure studies, people enjoy looking at images of humans. Although the trend is shifting towards attired rather than bare bodies, there will probably always be a market for nudes.

What sells better – Original Art or Prints?

It has been noticed that prints usually sell better than original works, probably because they are less expensive. And of course many prints are sold as decorative items, as they can be mixed and matched with different colour schemes. Limited-edition prints are more popular than open-edition ones as art buyers somehow seem to find the idea of a controlled supply quite appealing. When an artist put a limit on how many prints he or she will make, it attracts buyers as they feel they are killing two birds with one stone – investing in something that is almost original but less expensive than the original, yet “exclusive” and not entirely mass-produced.

What Medium of Art Sells Best?

Ideally, the following 7 mediums of art sell better than others:

  1. Offset-litho prints (original as well as limited-edition).
  2. Giclée prints (original as well as limited-edition).
  3. Oil and acrylic paintings.
  4. Watercolors.
  5. Artists’ original prints (e.g. etchings and engravings).

 

What Size Painting Sells the Best?

 

The general consensus among most artists is that it is commercially more viable to work on smaller canvases than larger ones as the former are generally priced lower than the latter, so not only do they appeal to buyers for monetary reasons, but also because they take up less space and demand less of an aesthetic instinct. Having said that, it is equally important to take into consideration that the earnings from a large number of smaller paintings might be equal to those obtained from a fewer larger paintings. Hence, most commercially successful artists work with a range of sizes to appeal to a wider audience.

Some artists purposefully create a range of small paintings with a common theme or style as they feel it will encourage buyers to pick up the entire series. Another advantage of working on a smaller scale is that the paintings require less storage space and are easier for the artist to accommodate even if they don’t sell right away.

What is your Target Market?

Target market is a very important factor to be considered when selling art. In order to successfully target a particular buying community, artists need to focus on marketing as well to certain extent. Here are some points to consider depending on the type of buyer you are targeting:

  • If you are selling through a gallery, your art needs to cater to the likes and requirements of its patrons. Highly priced works are best suited for galleries and least for museums and private collectors.
  • Private and commercial buyers usually use art as décor for offices etc, whereas interior decorators and designers will have specific artistic requirements.
  • The pricing of your work will depend on the disposable income as well as the budget of the buyer in question.
  • Home décor primarily depends on low priced copies or prints of originals and thus constitutes the largest market for art.
  • Art can be propagated through product development in various formats like, mugs, postcards, calendars, etc., which is a pretty lucrative market in itself.

 

My Experiences with Sales

I have realized that I can generate better sales for my art when it is displayed in a physical space like a gallery rather than an online virtual space.  The reason behind this could be that my viewers get to experience my work at close quarters, hence are able to appreciate it much more for various elements, especially colors and textures. Moreover, they get a better understanding of the medium, technique and the surface I have used to create the artwork. Most of my paintings are texture-laden and this aspect comes through best when viewed in person.  So if you want to emphasize and highlight the USP of your work, an art show or gallery display would be the best option.

I have also realized that keeping myself abreast with the latest art trends goes a long way as it keeps me updated with what is selling currently in the art market, thereby giving me better returns for my work. When it comes to selling my art, I take the practical approach and paint what’s in demand. But that doesn’t stop me from painting what I like so both go hand and hand for me. The trick is to strike equilibrium between both. In conclusion, I would like to say that success in any commercially aimed artistic undertaking can depend on a combination of all these factors. After all, selling art is no less than any business endeavor , so if you want to make money, treat it like one!