Many people find commissioning one of a kind artwork for the first time a daunting and confusing prospect. It simply 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 simply 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, in a nutshell:
Pencil is informal. It's like an old photograph from the 50s; a snapshot from your memory. It evokes a recollection, a feeling.
Watercolor is more ethereal, more nostalgic. I find it's more like daydreaming that you're back in that place.
Then conté; not as dreamy as watercolor, not as formal as oil. I think of these as illustrations of life and of the world around us.
And finally oil: the most austere, 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, or only the children? Are pets to be included? 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, at $1-$2.50 per square inch, pencil being the least expensive and time consuming to work with, oil the most, and watercolor and conté somewhere in the middle. I find the square inch method of pricing standardizes and dramatically simplifies the process. If you are commissioning a portrait with a monochromatic background (oil) or a plain white background (pencil, watercolor, conté) I will of course reduce the price of your piece accordingly, and I am open to some negotiation for those who are purchasing multiple works.
If you decide to commission a piece in pencil, watercolor, or pastel, I'd suggest going with a standard frame size; that way you can purchase a premade frame. At the risk of making some enemies, custom framing is tremendously expensive, so by buying premade 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 that better quality photos generally 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.
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 will be more than 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.