Our Top Ten Rules When Commissioning Art

Since Art History began, commissioning has been a fundamental element in the creation of masterpieces and the establishment and maintenance of great artistic careers.

From Michelangelo to Lucien Freud, artists’ best recognised works are often works that were created alongside financial backers or commissioners.

We are asked by clients regularly if an artist minds being commissioned and if it is appropriate even to consider putting such a request to an artist whose work is admired. The fear seems to be that it may be seen as trying to direct the artists’ creativity.

A recent commission by Alex Arnell

Our response is always no! Artists need patrons and patrons often come in the guise of commissioners. Commissioning  art is how artists have traditionally funded their careers and often allows them to explore ideas and processes they would not be able to do without the guidance and backing of a commissioner.

Of course, some artists do not complete commissions but,  most relish the opportunity and far from considering these as diversions from their daily practise, view it as an important element  informing their direction as well as providing financial security  that allows them to continue producing art.

Often people assume that you can only commisison portraits, but virtually all artists' can create personalised picees for clients including landscapes, animal and abstracts.

A recent commission by Abigail Box

I know that for me, commisisong a piece of art provides me with something that has that extra special element to enjoy each time I look at and admire it.

This eco-system results in not only successful artists careers but your commission gaining in value as the artist develops.

The DegeeArt Ten Rules of Commissioning:

  1. Be honest and open with the artist about what you want and importantly what you do not want.
  2. Look through their body of work and identify in writing what you admire and hope to see in your commission.
  3. Agree in writing the size the piece will be, materials that will be used and of course the budget before the commission is begun.
  4. You are paying for the commission and the artist is dedicating their time to the creation of a piece specifically for you. Pay in two instalments, the first will allow the artist to purchase materials and cover other costs and the second and final payment ensures you receive a piece you will love.
  5. Ensure that you can view the work whilst it is in progress and pre agree these time slots – we recommend viewing the work at the early preparatory stage and then again at the half way point. Talk to the artist or gallery during the process so that you know how the work is progressing
  6. Understand what is the ‘point of no return’ within the piece so that you do not request changes
  7. Understand that whilst the artist must listen to your requirements,  that allowing them to input and bring elements of what is important about their work is fundamental for a successful commission.
  8. Aim to create a piece with the artist that will form a part of their greater body of work.  Attempts to force an artist to create something that is not their style will only end in disappointment.
  9. Remember this is art and that the image you have in your head may not be what you end up with but follow the above and you will be more than pleased with the finished piece!
  10. Finally, always ask for the piece to be personalised/ dedicated to you or the intended owner. This can be done on the actual piece, or on the Certificate of Authenticity. This adds provenance and in years to come will prove the role you played in the artist’s career development.

A recent client comission experience:

What the Client said:
‘I would like a painting which captures the fleeting nature of life.  A scene at the airport would depict this perfectly. Especially with the flux of people, it portrays the loneliness which breeds in a large unfamiliar, transient crowd. At the same time, there is calm/peace/hope in the airport because everyone has a next destination to look forward to. This painting ought to narrate the metaphor of positive changes that is in stored and the journey to discover better/greater things in life.’

From browsing DegreeArt’s website to the moment the painting was hung on the wall today, It has been a novel and amazing journey. Sometimes it is not about the visual aspect of the art, but the people and story behind it.

I told you I don’t know much about art,

But I DO know what I like and I am looking at it now. Read more from NickThat

What the Artist said:
'The scene perfectly fits in with my usual nocturnal urban scenes and adds another element with the sense of emptiness coupled with the architectural linear lines. The sky outside the large window on the left is quite impressionistic to enhance the feel of a more hazy and distant light. The human figures are also quite ambiguous to allow viewer to conjure up their own story of ‘who they are, why they are there, where they are going to etc ‘. There are very few figures to underline the sense of a non-place and transitional space. I have tried to heighten the feel of a modern yet romantic scene, a world completely saturated with neon light, whilst still remaining beautiful, romantic and transient.’ View Andrea Tyrimos' profile