Friday, October 19, 2007

New Commission

I'm embarking on a new commission. As usual, I'm excited and I'm scared. As far as commissions have gone for me, 50% are wonderful and "easy", 50% are agonizing and extremely difficult. By easy, I mean the work flows, ideas come easily and the purchaser is wonderful to work with. By extremely difficult, I may mean many different things: the customer takes control and I am just a machine to produce the desired results, the customer cannot make up their minds what they want, the customer demands a product I feel will not reflect the type of work I do and as a result, I will be forced to produce an inferior product. A recent project was a combination of all bad things. We won't go there. It is the only time that I feel I produced an inferior product. The next time, I will look for warning signs and heed them by saying "NO" to the commission.

However, this looks to be a promising one. I've been given photos and a description of the room where the piece will hang. I've been shown artwork by the customer's favorite artists. We have been through a handful of what I call "color boards" and have come up with these colors above so far. I know there will be at least one more round of photos to the client as I am expecting an order of orangey/gold fabrics.

As far as commissions go, yes, I often panic and want to say no immediately. Yet, aside from one job, I've come away from every commission loving the piece I have made, and realize I have enjoyed the process. I wish I could feel as positive at the beginning of each project. Perhaps it is superstition. If I am overly confident, maybe I will fail.

For almost every commission I have done, I have learned at least one new technique. Often I am forced to learn these new techniques. Sometimes knowing that someone loves my artwork and has sought me out encourages me to try something new. I do run these new ideas past the customer, though.

Right now I'm reading Living the Creative Life by Rice Freeman-Zachary. Most of the artists interviewed for this book prefer NOT to do commissions. It makes me wonder what is wrong with me. I'm usually the negative, no-way, go way and leave me alone, can't do it person. So why would I actually do it?

I like the interaction. Especially when it's done through email -- I can get angry, jump up and down, and heartily insult the customer & they never have to see it or hear it.

I actually get new (and good) ideas from customers.

I find I gain freedom from taking on commissions. A sell is definite and I don't have to explain to anyone why I am not making money. The money from the commission is verification & I can then play and do what I want when I'm done.


Gallery not required

Commissioned pieces are often larger (and more expensive) than those that people buy at smaller galleries, craft shows, ebay, etc. My sales usually are from pieces $30-$250. My commissions run a great deal more than that! And I get a larger canvas on which to play.

I'll keep posting my progress & we'll all see how this turns out.


paula said...

i'm glad you opened up and shared something that isn't very common to read about. I think it is important for artists/clients to talk and read about this because, there are always two sides and when they meet half way its fun!
Interesting to just knowing another artists' process with work.
good luck with it, the colors are Fall and gorgeous.

Martha Marshall said...

Yes, Kim, I love to do commissions, and for most of the same reasons you've outlined here. I used to say I wouldn't do them. But now, with the confidence that comes with experience, I'll take on just about anything. I haven't had a single bad experience with a commission. Just lucky, I know, but so far so good.

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