Many people find commissioning one of a kind artwork for the first time a daunting and confusing prospect. It doesn't need to be! One of a kind art is an investment that should bring nothing but joy. But where to start? Here's a little advice for first time buyers:
People who have not commissioned much art before often have a hard time deciding in which medium they want their work to be done. There is no wrong choice; I work in different media because I feel different emotional responses to each, and I like that. In making a choice of this nature, the important thing is to try and achieve the sort of emotional response that is important to you in commissioning this particular piece. So, here's my take on each medium I use, in a nutshell:
Pencil is informal. It's like an old photograph; a snapshot from your memory. It's simple, clean, and casual.
Watercolour is more ethereal, more nostalgic.
And oil: the most formal, and definitely the grandest. You can make these as light and playful as you like, but they always seem to hold onto a certain proud importance. It's like these ones know that they're a legacy by which future generations will understand what things were most important to us.
My best advice is to give some serious thought to what sort of piece you imagine in your home. If it's a portrait, should it portray all members of the family? An aged or missed loved one? Just the children? Pets? Where would you like to hang it, and how much surface area would you like it to take up, including the frame? Do you envision it as a formal showpiece in a principal entertaining area in your home, or more as a casual representation of your family for them to enjoy? Is there a medium that you are particularly drawn to? And, unfortunately, the true realist's question; what price point are you comfortable with?
I price my work according to medium, as there is a significant difference in time and material expenses between, say, pencil and oil. As a very rough guide, you might anticipate paying $1.50 per square inch for a pencil drawing, and $3 per square inch for oil; there are of course lots of variables, such as number of subjects and complexity of backgrounds, but as a consumer I like to have at least a vague idea of what costs might be involved before I start making inquiries, so that's what I aim to establish for you. I am of course open to some negotiation for those who are purchasing multiple works.
If you decide to commission a piece in pencil or watercolour, I'd suggest going with a standard frame size; that way you can purchase a pre-made frame. At the risk of making some enemies, custom framing is tremendously expensive, so by buying pre-made you can save a bit on framing and on shipping. I am able to cut custom matting and ship this with your picture. If your image will be displayed on a wall that receives a lot of natural light, however, it may well be worth the expense of having your local framing shop cut you a piece of UV resistant gallery glass to size to prevent sun damage to the image from occurring over time.
When creating custom portraits, I generally work from photographs. The good news is that you don't have to be restricted to one photo that you like. It can be very difficult getting a photograph that you are pleased with of all children or all members of the family at once, and it's a real advantage of custom portraiture that you can combine any number of elements from any number of photos into an image that really represents everyone well. It should be noted, though, that better quality photos yield better results. Try and find photos that not only capture the personality of the subject, but that are also clear, well lit, of decent resolution, and where important features are not obscured by clothing, shadow, furniture, etc. The better the resources you provide me, the more likely it will be that I'm able to meet your expectations; I will not take on a commission unless I have the resources to do it adequately.
The decision to purchase custom artwork is a big one. Not only does artwork beautify your home, it also expresses your personality to all those who enter. Your art should be a purchase that you will enjoy and be pleased to share for many, many years. As such, your input is an important part of the process: there are several steps involved in the creation of a custom piece of art. When you first contact me, we will discuss the nature of the piece that you would like to have done. I will issue a formal quote and a projected timeline at that time. Once you have agreed to proceed, a deposit of 50% of the total price is due prior to commencement of work. I will keep you updated with photos as work progresses; I am not happy unless you are happy, so work is only delivered or shipped after I have received written approval from you in response to a photograph of the completed piece. Once you have given approval and payed the remaining balance, I will arrange either delivery or trackable shipping.
I'm always happy to answer any further questions that you might have, and provide any guidance that I can; please don't hesitate to contact me to inquire further.