What Are Art Commissions? : 101 Guide to Commissioning Art

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Are you an artist or an art lover? 

Well, you can be either or both because I have a question for you…

What are Art Commissions?

Or, what comes to mind when you think of what are art commissions?

To your surprise, a lot of famous paintings we know of today were commissioned art. 

If you go way back into history, the royals, aristocrats, and all the elite from high society used to commission famous art. 

But what if I told you that now things have changed?

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Now you can commission art while sitting behind your screen in the comfort of your home. Trust me, it’s true! 

And if you are an artist who is in search of opportunities in the art world, you can also start with getting art commissions to work on! 

“Yes, yes, we know all that, but where do we start?”

Family painting from different photos

Well, this is often the main dilemma for every artist and art admirer—where to begin! 

Oh, relax, my friend, that’s why I am here with my article—your own guide to commissioning art.

But before we start, let us address the elephant on the page: what are art commissions?

What Do You Mean By Painting Commissions?

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You might be an artist who wants to start off your artist career or you might be an ardent art lover who wants to get a photo painted!

But really, what are art commissions?

To put in a simple definition, art commissions are a contract between an artist and their customer to get a certain artwork made. 

They are special custom requests made by people to artists who will create what they have in the customer’s vision. 

Please note that art commissions are therefore very different from gallery commissions and are not to be used in the same context. 

There is a lot of creative freedom for people hiring artists for commissioning paintings. 

And as an artist you get to put out your talent there, build credibility, broaden your connections and also earn while doing so!

The trend of commissioning paintings comes from a long time back where people fancied a portrait of themselves. 

It was a sign of class and style, and of course the appreciation of the arts! 

I realized art commissions will always have two perspectives—one of the artist and the other of the customer. 

Through my research I found that there was no data that answered the questions of both perspectives together.

So, I have curated this article from these two different POVs. Why so?

So, that it can cater to my audience which includes both, artists and art lovers and be benefitted.

Suggested read: How Can You Make Money Selling Handmade Paintings? 

Artist POV: How to Get Art Commissions?

Hello artists, let us first address your concerns around what are art commissions. 

Starting up your career with art can be overwhelming, and I am sure there might be a lot of questions floating. 

What you need is a quick guide that will make the process easier for you—so, let’s get started!

Step 1: Plan Out Your Vision Board

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No matter what the area of interest is, anyone starting a small business needs to have a vision board built. 

Having a vision board will give you clarity on your goals, so as to know where to focus on. 

You can do this digitally, but I would recommend doing it the traditional way—get yourself a board and create your vision on it!

This can include where you see yourself as an artist in 5 years, what kind of art you want to focus on, who your target audience is, etc. 

Step 2: Broaden Your Connections

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One of the key components of acquiring art commissions is definitely to broaden your connections. 

The more people you know, the more potential clients you have for yourself. 

With social media thriving in the digital age, you can make full use of it to reach out to your potential target audience. 

That said, don’t shy away from traditional art gatherings, like an exhibition or an art gallery—it will be fruitful.

This will also help you grow your credibility as an artist!

Suggested read: Tips on Art Marketing!

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Step 3: Build a Website or Join a Community

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Like I mentioned above, people need credibility and assurance—they want service from the best that is out there!

Again with a little help of social media you can now create a whole space that is just for your art and paintings. 

Social media apps are now designed to help small businesses, and a huge part of them are artists who are thriving in these spaces. 

So, grab your own space and let the world know of your talent.

This space will also drive potential clients to you, according to your style and talent! 

Step 4: Place a Contract for Art Commissions 

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Being hired for art commissions is not an easy task and needs to be approached with caution and with certain rules in place. 

Creating a contract helps you and your client to keep things professional through the process of commissioning an art. 

It will also protect your rights as an artist, and make sure that you are adequately paid as you were promised, for your efforts and talent. 

Be smart about the clauses outlined in your contract and make sure your client reads through it all carefully.

This is done in order to avoid any misunderstandings or conflict among all the parties involved. 

That said, make sure that you are also able to stick to the clauses and deliver your work on time and with high-quality. 

Customer POV: How to Commission Art?

Now that we know what are art commissions from an artist perspective, let us look at commissioning art from the customer perspective. 

As someone who wants to commission a painting or artwork, I am sure your mind can be brimming with concerns. 

But, no stress my friend, it can be a rather easy and enjoyable process if you follow these few simple steps!

Step 1: Find a Reliable Source

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This is a step that is so vital that if done right, the rest of the process of commissioning a painting will be smooth as ever! 

Choosing a reliable source, could be an artist or company that has enough credibility for their artwork and professionality. 

Look out for social media pages and run some Google searches to confirm this, and you will be able to find some of the best, like PortraitFlip!

You want to know what a reliable website to commission art looks like?

Step 2: Choose the Right Portrait Size and Medium

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Once you know where to get your custom commissioned art from, make sure you communicate your requests well. 

Choosing the right size according to the portrait size chart is important considering where you want the painting to be at. 

After confirming that, you also need to decide what medium you want your painting to be in.

The options are mostly Oil, Watercolor, Acrylic, Charcoal, Pastel, or Color Pencils.

Deciding these two factors together is important because you’ll be able to know which portrait size suits you the best and also the medium chosen! 

Step 3: Clearly Communicate Your Order and Demands

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You are the one commissioning the art here, so you have all the rights to commission custom art as per your ideas. 

But the simple rule is to communicate that to your artist or company. 

You can even make special requests like compiling photos to create a beautiful painting, or even get a memorial painting

Communicating your needs will also bring clarity and reduce the chances of any misunderstandings and even worse, mistakes on your painting commissions!

Step 4: Ask for Framing if Needed 

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Would you believe it if I said a lot of people skip this step?

Yes, this step is as vital as choosing a medium and portrait size. 

Framing a painting will sustain it longer, and some art businesses like PortraitFlip give you the option to add a frame with the painting. 

If a wooden frame is not what you are going for, for aesthetic or mobility reasons you also have two other options. 

You can even look for options such as gallery wrapped or just neatly rolled in an Art Tube. 

But if you want a personal recommendation, then I would suggest that you go with fully framing it.

This will ensure more longevity compared to the other options. 

Suggested read: How to Ship a Painting?

Wrapping Up: Knowing What Art to Commission! 

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Now tell me, if someone asks you “what are art commissions”, won’t you be able to easily explain it to them?

If the above mentioned steps are followed by both artists and clients respectively, then the process can never get complicated. 

I hope I have answered all your queries around painting commissions, but if at all you have more concerns, you can always reach out to us in the comments section. 

Hmm, acn I sense someone wanting to get a painting commission then? 

Well, I am adding an extra step to make it even more easier for you—check it out below!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are art commissions?

Hiring an artist to produce an artwork based on a client’s request is called an art commission.

Q. Why are art commissions so expensive?

The reasons why art commissions are costly include two reasons. Either the artist is successful and well-known or the artwork is unique and one-of-a-kind.

Q. Why are choosing portrait sizes important while commissioning art?

It’s important to choose the right portrait sizes according to where we want the painting to be. For example the painting size needed for a dining hall wall will vary from a painting size for bedside table.

Q. How are art commissions done?

After finding an artist the discussion about ideas, ongoing communication, and the process of creating art are done.

Q. Do artists get paid for commissions?

Yes, the artist gets the payment after the work is completed and delivered to the client.

Q. Who is an art commissioner?

The art commissioner is the person that requests or hires an artist for commissioning the desired art. In simple terms, the client or customer is the art commissioner here. Although the term “art commissioner” is used in a much larger context. It’s when art collectors from galleries often turn to commissioners.

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