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Photo via Threthny on Flickr. Attribution link at bottom of article.
Photo via Threthny on Flickr. Attribution link at bottom of article.

In recent years, commissioned art has made a comeback in a major way due in large part to the internet. No longer are collectors and art enthusiasts limited by their access to only local artists, but collaboration across the country and even around the world happens frequently. But while communication and idea sharing has never been easier, there are still certain considerations any commissioner should take into account when taking on a commissioned art project.
Is the Artist Willing?
It may seem a simple thing to question, but determining whether or not your desired artist takes on commissioned work is an important step. Each artist will have their own approach to commissioned pieces, if they undertake those types of projects at all.
Can You Afford the Piece?
Again, planning a budget seems like a no brainer, but the more well known an artist is the more likely it is that even small projects will command a large price tag. If the piece you want to commission is in a certain style or medium you may be better off working with a lesser known artist who creates work in a similar style. Which brings us to our next consideration…
Does the Artist’s Style Fit Your Commission Idea?
It’s rare to find an artist that spreads their talent across multiple styles or mediums, so while you may have a favorite artist it’s important to consider whether their style or expertise is a good fit for your idea. For example, it may not be the best idea to take a commission for a large watercolor mural to an artists who specializes in stone sculpture, or an impressionist reproduction concept to an artists who only creates ink and pencil sketches.
Be Courteous
When first reaching out to artists realize that you may not be their number one priority. You may be a long time fan of their work, or even have communicated previously, but when commissioning work you now fall into a different category. If your project is time sensitive, be sure to allow adequate lead time to accommodate ideation, discussion of budget, work-in-progress updates and shipping/final delivery. Most importantly, realize that the artist is now taking time to build you into their schedule and likely has other personal or commissioned works in various stages of completion.
Artists may have various requirements when it comes payment. For a simple and easy way to accommodate deposits, progress payments and clearing final balances, consider an online escrow company. Because the total commission price is deposited upfront, the artist can rest easy knowing that they won’t have difficulty in collecting payment. Buyers can also rest easy knowing that they don’t have to write a check for the entire project from the start. Online escrow companies like PaySAFE can also easily accommodate multiple payments. This can be very beneficial for commissioned projects that have long timelines and may require payments throughout the process.
While commissioned projects often have deeply personal ties, planning and knowing your own budgetary limitations can help alleviate many common bumps in the road. See some of our other posts on purchasing collectables and fine art.
Photo via Flickr.

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