The 6 Stages of an art commission

Private commissions are one of the best parts of my job as an artist. I love being able to work together with a private collector or company to produce the perfect painting for their space. A private commission involves working collaboratively with the client to create a work of art that they have been dreaming of.

Requests for an art commission can come from anywhere. Most of my art commissions come from word of mouth from past clients, but I’ve also had projects that came from Instagram, through a inquiry on my website’s contact page, or as a reply to my newsletter.

For those who are considering an commission, I’ve put together a guide to let you know what to expect from the process.

Here are the 6 stages I follow when working on a private art commission.

Stage 1: Meet and Greet

Whether it’s virtual or in person over a glass of wine, I always meet with the client before starting a commission to make sure we are the right fit for each other. Sometimes a client will have an exact image in their mind that they want, while others have only a vague idea. We use this time to refine the piece’s subject or image, then move on to colours, size, etc. We also talk about where the painting will be hung because that often impacts the commission details. .

At this stage, the conversation will be half chatting and half me with my sketchbook putting their ideas on paper. Once we’ve decided on a concept and refined the details, it’s onto stage 2.

Stage 2: Contract & Deposit

One of my mentors told me early on to never start working on a commission until I had a contract signed by the client, and that’s a process I’ve followed for years. As the daughter of a lawyer, you know I took this advice to heart!

The client and I will both sign a contract that outlines the ownership rights, painting details, delivery date, etc. At the same time, the client will pay their 50% deposit.

Once that’s taken care of, it’s time to start painting!

Stage 3: The Studio Sketch

A studio sketch is a small version of the painting, usually done in my sketchbook, that happens BEFORE I put paintbrush to canvas.

During this stage, I am basically creating a mini-version of what the finished product might look like. This gives the client an idea of what they can expect for the full-sized version and lets them refine the piece as needed. If the client has any suggestions or things they want changed this is the stage to do it! We can tweak, alter and improve the design until it’s perfect. Sometimes we will make a few changes, other times they are happy with it right away.

Next up I scan the studio sketch and send them the digitized version for final approval and their records.

Stage 4: Painting

This is the stage where I hit the studio and work away at the painting until it’s complete. I use the studio sketch as my guide throughout the whole process. I love the creativity and meditative feel of this stage. Focusing on a painting and seeing it from start to completion is very rewarding.

Stage 5: Delivery

When the final painting is complete, I’ll set a time to deliver the painting to the client. This is also when the client delivers the second payment for their piece. Depending on where they are located, the piece will either be shipped or delivered in person. If the client wants it mounted on their wall then we will do that, although some prefer to do the hanging themselves.

I love delivering a piece and being able to talk about it with the client and give them a peak into the process I used to create the painting. This stage looks different for every client, but I love to plan it around the individual and their own interests.

Stage 6: Follow Up

The commission isn’t over once the painting is delivered. Creating a commission is such a fun, collaborative and rewarding process for me (and hopefully the client too!). Often times I will end up forming a relationship with the client throughout the process. I love to stay in touch with them over time, check in on how the painting is doing and meet up for a tea every or even go skiing together! I am grateful that so many of my past clients have become friends of mine and I love staying in touch with many of them.

There you have it! Those are the 6 stages of my art commission process. Creating a commissioned painting is incredible rewarding, fun and inspiring for me as an artist. I love working together with clients to create their perfect painting!

If you are interested in a commission or have any other questions then please send me a email directly and we can talk about it future. In the meantime, make sure to follow along on Instagram and join my newsletter to keep up on the pieces I’m working on! My past paintings can be seen in my portfolio.