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Old 07-29-2018, 12:22 PM
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Alplily Alplily is offline
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First commission--advice? Tips?

Hi there,

Someone has expressed interest in commissioning several paintings from me. Wyoming landscapes to fit over her couch in her living room. My question is fairly open--can anyone offer advice on developing a commission? Contract? Pricing (do you price the same as your usual work, or do you add a "custom" up-charge?)? Tips and pitfalls to avoid would be most helpful as I navigate this. I want her to be very happy, and I want good portfolio and resume fodder. And, I want to get a fair price.
Thanks!
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Last edited by Alplily : 07-29-2018 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 07-30-2018, 04:19 AM
picassolite picassolite is offline
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

Hi Alplily,

Regarding you question on commission tips ...

I've reviewed your landscape works on Wetcanvas and I see you prefer to paint in oils with a leaning towards impressionism.

From my experience ... commissions can be tricky - as the initial exuberance of the client can wear thin while you are actually in the process of painting. And life circumstances can drastically change between the time they give you a 'green light' and the time it takes for your oil paintings to dry.

That's why I request 50% down... 'non-refundable' upon acceptance of the commission project. That 50% should cover all your expenses with
another $100-200 profit built in. That way - if they 'stiff' you on the balance ... at least you did not take a financial hit.

* Now my personal suggestions - it helps to inquire of the client what their budget is for original work... what have they paid in the past for similar work. Granted they may 'low-ball' you - but at least you have an idea if taking on the commission will be (or not) worth your while.

I suggest collaborating with your potential client on just what it is they want - lots of clouds? mountains? valley floor? evening light? afternoon light? hazy light? early morning dew? country cabins? mountains?
And provide some sketches.

Get a sign-off on your sketches before actually painting.

Pre-determine the number of paintings they want. Measure the length of the couch. Sounds like you may be in for 3 to 4 smaller paintings -
unless the client has a wall with a high ceiling - able to accommodate one or two huge paintings.

Regarding framing and matting - you know... if you buy wrap around canvas - you can dispense with mats and framing. The hanging wires can screw into the wood framing... as most customers will choose their own frames to fit their own decor.

Pricing Guide info-

Virgil Carter - 6-29-18 gave you a good price point guide -
Set your "retail" prices to cover your painting (using a square inch or linear inch approach, for example), then add in the other direct expenses such as mats, backing, frame, etc. at 1.X times cost, with "X" being the commission rate, as a minimum.

As for actual market prices - see http://custom-oil-portraits.com/pricing.html
* you can adapt the pricing structure for your landscapes.

* downloadable contract that you can adapt to your needs. - https://www.artworkbyannarose.com/im...Commission.pdf

* See commission procedure - http://custom-oil-portraits.com/proceedures.html

Additional pricing guidelines - https://theabundantartist.com/pricing/

As for gallery representation - take a look at work by Renato Mucillo and his gallery links - https://renatomuccillo.com/links.html

Now I know your work is not as 'tight' as Mucillo's but that should not stop you from inquiring if the galleries who represent his work ...

may also have clients that could also support the way you paint.

Hope this gives you food for thought,

Picassolite

Last edited by picassolite : 07-30-2018 at 04:28 AM.
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:10 AM
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Alplily Alplily is offline
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

Piccassolite,

Wow, just WOW! Thank you so much for the thoughtful and informative response. I had considered some of this, but not nearly all of it. Thanks for the other leads, as well. You win the internet today. So very grateful!

Alplily
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:29 AM
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

Congrats!

I charge more for commissions than I do for the few paintings I do on my own. So whatever you are getting for your landscapes, I'd add a bit. I would not price based on what someone else gets for their people portraits, but on what your history selling landscapes gets. One person's people portraits are not "the market", you can find lower and much, much higher. It depends on the artist.

I do not use a contract, but I restate everything in an email to make sure there's no misunderstandings.

I get full price upfront, but make exceptions, will accept 50% down, 50% upon completion, perhaps 5% want this. I've never had an issue or taken "a hit".

Is your customer providing photos for you or does she/he expect you to find copyright free photos to work from? I'd add a bit for that extra work, too.

Enjoy! I'm working on a landscape now for a customer, and am enjoying it very much!
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:45 AM
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Alplily Alplily is offline
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

Thanks, Robin! Congrats on YOUR commission.

She has provided a few of her own photos of the types of landscapes she is interested in, which is helpful. Also, she has referenced a number of MY photos of the area in which she lives, so that helps. I am a bit concerned that she also sent photos of the colors of her sofa (haha!).

No worries, I will not base my pricing on anyone's work by my own.

I hope that once this moves forward (fingers crossed) that it will be fun for both of us. I have to start somewhere with this learning process. I have done graphic design work for nonprofits here and there, so that has provided some helpful experience in terms of getting funds up front, etc.

Thanks so much.
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Old 07-30-2018, 12:28 PM
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RobinZ RobinZ is offline
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

Oh, great! Nothing wrong with incorporating a sofa color, if it turns into "green" for you!

At least that's the way I look at it, and I do this for a living...but I am not a great or innovative artist, so no worries that I am compromising my vision or anything.
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:51 PM
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

One of the greatest of the challenges in accepting commissions is a mis-match in goals, design and composition, and artistic approach for the commission.

Because of that, a related challenge is being asked to re-do the in-progress or finished painting, because the client wants something else.

And related to these challenges, is the common problem of getting paid.

Your written agreement, and provision for retainer fee, should address all three of these issues.

Sling paint,
Virgil
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:57 PM
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Katie Black Katie Black is offline
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

Congrats on the commision and I think you have some good advice. I would only add a couple of things.

If you allow a customer too much leeway, they can make you exhausted before you even start which is why I would not suggest submitting sketches as I dont think you need to do that. She likes some of your photos and that should be enough moving forward. In any case, allowing a customer to become too involved in your process is often a recipe for disaster.

I would try to visit her at home and take some close up photos of the sofa, rug, cushions. What I found worked for me was to focus entirely on the painting and then and only then would I add a couple of colours that the client requested.

A good idea is to also look at the spaces she has set aside for your artwork. It is often surprising to me how wrong people get the size of the canvass that they need, and there is nothing worse than a tiny canvas in a large area and vice versa.
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Old 07-30-2018, 04:53 PM
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

GREAT advice, Katie.

I have been pleasantly surprised to find out the clients expect me to know better than them.

I only do sketches when I'm combining photos of more than one pet and need to make sure my sizes relative to each other are okay and they are the MOST sketchiest of sketches, since I basically do my drawing directly on the canvas. I'd have to charge extra for full sketches for every painting...and then I'd be afraid of being cornered when I am mid stream and realize something just needs to be changed up a bit.
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Old 07-30-2018, 05:08 PM
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

Thanks all... what a helpful thread!

The size thing also worries me. I asked her to cut pieces of kraft paper and tape them up to test various sizes on her wall. And yes, the possibility of "design creep" is also something to be aware of. I think I WILL probably provide some sort of sketches for her unless she tells me to just go from her and my photos.

Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and experience with me!
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Old 07-30-2018, 07:37 PM
picassolite picassolite is offline
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

Hi Alplily,

Yes, I love Wetcanvas for the same reasons you do - if you ask - artists will extend themselves - because we all wish each other success.

RobinZ has some salient points - if you are doing pet portraits. I do them on occasion - and they are a very different type of commission.

If you get the likeness, personality and 'life' in the eyes ... they practically sell themselves without the required paperwork... because of the special bond the pet has over it's owner. (Actually a case can be made as to who really owns whom... but that's another story.)

Katie also makes some great points - give the client too much leeway - especially if they can't make up their mind - you are in for a roller-coaster ride.

However - I have to give Virgil Carter his profs - I have found - in general - it is best to have everything covered within your paperwork.
In today's economy - your client may be 'flush' with cash today ... but 90 days from now ... flood, fire, tornado or job loss - could up-end everything.

That's why they call it ... 'acts of God.'

Now your comment ... "She has provided a few of her own photos of the types of landscapes she is interested in..." is key.

When I suggest sketches ... I don't mean full blown color advertising type sketches ... as simple pen and ink sketches will do.

Just to clarify the composition and use of lights and darks ... And I would present 3 monochromatic sketches - # 1 'overly dark' - that you suspect the client really won't like, #2 'a very simplistic rendering' that you suspect the client won't like, and #3 (the shoe-horn) - the one you suspect the client will love. That way the client feels invested ahead of time and believes it was their decision.

* As a word of encouragement - had an opportunity to view some of Edward Wesson's work - http://www.artnet.com/artists/edward-wesson/

- and realized your style isn't really that far from his... (and he was an extremely successful artist of landscapes and seascapes) -

see yours - * Evening Rain - Mt. Meeker - 9-5-16 // * After the Hail - North Estes Park Co - 8-20-16 // * Rocky Mountain National Park from WY
- 6-18-16//

And I noticed the following - yes, most of his work was in maritime paintings... but his composition style is close to yours - spare, lots of light and very definitive focused shapes.

Don't know how I missed Katie's point from my suggestions - incorporating existing colors from the surrounding decor. But Katie saved the day on that one. Kudos.

Ah... also mention that your paintings will be signed and dated on the backside.

Here's why ... you may at some point in the future - 'convert' this buyer into a collector of your future work.

Whew - now I'm ready for a nap.

Best regards,

Picassolite
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Old 07-30-2018, 10:51 PM
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

I give a 6 week time line for commissions. I charge 25% deposit. I allow 3 minor revisions for the set price. Changes after that begin to cost, per revision. If not picked up or paid for at completion, I add a 5% storage fee per month until paid in full. I take meticulous notes during the initial consultation about their desires, subject, palette colors, level of refinement,etc. . Those are sent to the client before the commissions are begun. I send them a mock up before the painting, (acrylic on paper) which helps to avoid changes later and assure that we are in sinc for the painting. Spelling out all requirements from painter and client will save time and avoid problems later in the process.

I use the same process when I work with art consultants for their projects.

Last edited by blondheim12 : 07-30-2018 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:07 PM
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RobinZ RobinZ is offline
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

RobinZ has some salient points - if you are doing pet portraits. I do them on occasion - and they are a very different type of commission.

If you get the likeness, personality and 'life' in the eyes ... they practically sell themselves without the required paperwork... because of the special bond the pet has over it's owner.

---

Really? I don't handle my other commissions any differently than my pet portraits. I'm surprised you don't use any paperwork for yours, since you advocate it.

I'd love to see yours, what is your site?
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Old 07-31-2018, 04:22 AM
picassolite picassolite is offline
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

From RobinZ - " I'm surprised you don't use any paperwork for yours, since you advocate it."

Taking words out of context ... leads to passing on blind curves at 90 mph.

At this time - my goal is to keep the focus on helpful suggestions for Alplily.

Over 30 years ago - when starting out - I did get 'stiffed' on a portrait done over a handshake.

Today - I do not use a cookie cutter approach - one size fits all ... I may not

use paperwork if I already have a relationship with the client.

On the other hand - if it is a totally new client ... then yes ... I will use paperwork ... because you just never know.

For now - that is all I have to say on the subject.

As for my site - that would deflect the commentary away from Alplily ... so

I'll save that for another time.

Best regards,

Picassolite

Last edited by picassolite : 07-31-2018 at 04:25 AM.
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Old 07-31-2018, 02:34 PM
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Re: First commission--advice? Tips?

Please send me a message, then, I love seeing other people's work!
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