TIPS FOR COMMISSIONING ARTWORK
At Laasya Art, collaborating on commissioned artworks with clients is one of my favorite aspects of being a gallerist. Each commission is different from the next — some are more challenging than others! What makes each project interesting is that it involves getting to know the clients as individuals and understanding their vision for the piece. No two clients are the same. We are shaped by where we come from, our life experiences and who we are today. This in turn drives what type of art speaks to us.
Before we dive deeper, you may be wondering what is a commission painting, and what does it mean to commission artworks? Simply put, commissioning art is the process of hiring an artist to create an artwork, customized to the client’s taste and requirements for size, color palette and/or subject matter.
Of course, a commissioned artwork is not only a collaboration with the client but also a close collaboration with the artist. In many instances, commissions push boundaries and challenge artists to do something they may not have done before, often creating some of their best works in the process.
Over years of coordinating commissions with clients both within and outside the US, I have a number of tips for clients for how to commission art successfully:
Understand whether or not a commissioned artwork is the right fit for your needs.
Unlike a ready painting where you can see what the final product looks like, commission works involve an element of uncertainty. As a client, you share your overall vision and your aesthetic preferences with the gallerist, but it’s impossible to know what the final painting will look like and you have to be comfortable with that uncertainty. In order to reduce this uncertainty, at Laasya Art we spend a lot of time upfront with the client to understand their requirements better (and with the artist communicating the same) and then provide updates throughout the process to avoid surprises.
Spend time on your own to evaluate which artist speaks to you.
Learn about the artist that you will be commissioning and review their portfolio thoroughly, in order to understand what you love most about their work. What are your likes and dislikes regarding the artist’s past works, colors, themes and other details? An artwork is a long-term investment and the painting will likely be on display in your home for many years — know your preferences so you can confidently make aesthetic decisions and give a clear brief.
Work with a gallerist you trust, who will spend time upfront to get to know you and understand your vision.
Always work with an experienced gallerist who invests the time to understand your vision for the painting and the space. The gallerist must also be able to communicate this vision to the artist. Each successive interaction with the gallerist should only help build the trust between you. If that’s not happening, then it’s best to find someone else to work with.
Work with a gallerist who knows their artists well and can honestly assess if a commission will suit a specific artist’s personality.
In terms of both artists and clients, commissions are not for everybody! It’s important to work with a gallerist who knows their artists well and who can guide you on whether a commission will suit a specific artist. Some artists need full creative freedom and can find commissions ‘constraining,’ so they may not produce their best work in such situations. A gallerist should be upfront about this with you and guide you accordingly.
Once the artist begins work, trust the process and step back.
Commissions achieve the best results when clients operate from a space of faith, trusting in the process and in the final outcome. So once the creative brief is finalized and the artist has begun work on the final painting, it’s best to step back and let them work their magic. Micromanagement at this stage may only interfere with the artist’s intuitive process. As the gallery, it’s our responsibility to oversee the project and ensure that we communicate progress to the client.
I hope these tips on how to commission artworks have been helpful, and if you need further assistance on commissioning artwork online or locally, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 650-770-9088. You can also read more on our guide to commissioning artwork with Laasya Art.
— Sonia Nayyar Patwardhan