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Commissioning an artist to produce a piece of artwork for you can be an exciting process. When you commission an artist you will receive a unique, original artwork and one that’s personal to you. You will have influenced its creation.
Popular subjects for commission work include sculptures or painted portraits of yourself, loved ones or family pets. Many people also choose to have a picture of their family home or childhood home captured on canvas or paper. An artist could even be commissioned to paint your favourite view or animal. You will find artists on Acquire Art that can produce these artworks for you. If you do not have a photograph for the artist to work from, they may instead paint from life. In the case of an outdoor scene this is called plein air. Some artists may be able to create an artwork simply from an idea you give them. They’ll use their own imagination to do the rest. In the case of abstract art you may wish simply for a particular colour scheme to complement your room décor.
Acquire Art offers a unique artwork search function that enables you to search for artists on our website by discipline and location. If you prefer for the artist to work from life, rather than a photograph, you may want to commission a local artist. On Acquire Art you can search for artists based in different UK counties.
You may find it more useful to use our ‘Artwork Search’ to first find similar art to what you have in mind. You can then view the profile pages of the artists who created them and find out if they accept commissions. For example, you may wish to commission a local artist to paint a family pet in oil paints and you have a budget of £200. Our artwork search facility will provide results for all artwork on the site that match this criteria.
Not all artists specify on their profile page whether they accept commissions. It’s worth sending them a message and asking them.
You first need to find an artist whose artwork matches your criteria. You may specifically have to find a local artist if it requires a face to face meeting or you would simply prefer it that way. If you wish for the artist to paint a particular scene in the UK then perhaps search for artists local to that area.
Acquire Art has lots of artists and artwork to browse. Once you’ve found a suitable artist you’ll need to find out if they can do the commission you have in mind. Even if the artist advertises commission work they may still reject your commission if they don’t feel it is suitable for them. However, any artist may be willing to take on a commission even if it is not usual for them to do so. Similarly, you may find an artist whose style of painting you love but the commission you have in mind is a different subject matter to what the artist is used to. It is always worth asking the artist as many artists will be happy to accept the challenge and try something new.
Once you’ve found an artist that will accept your commission you will need to ask for a price and approximate time-scale. Some artists will have a fairly rigid pricing structure, quite often based on the size of the painting. Others, however, will quote a price based on the complexity of the painting and may wish to ask you more questions and, if applicable, see photographs first.
Ask the artist for their terms in writing. Some artists, who undertake commissions regularly will have a written document outlining their terms of sale. They may email this to you or direct you to a page on their website where you can read them. Artists that don’t have a pre-written document should send you the necessary details in writing, either by email or post. Ask the artist to include details about deposits, refunds and collections/deliveries.
The artist will usually require a deposit before they start work on your commission. Deposits are not usually more than 30% of the entire value and are typically non-refundable. Final payment is usually expected on completion of the work, either when you view it in person or the artist sends you a photograph of the finished piece.
If you wish to cancel the commission you’ll need to discuss the options with the artist. If you cancel early on then the artist may consider that the deposit money was enough to cover time and costs so far. However, they may request an extra payment if you cancel too late. If you cancel when the artist has nearly completed the painting they will still likely expect full payment. The artist could seek legal action if you refuse to pay when it is clear there was an agreement and that the work was almost completed.
If you are not happy with the artwork upon completion, you should first discuss with the artist why it is not as you expected. The artist may be able to modify the work to meet your satisfaction. Generally speaking, the artist has done their job if their work accurately reflects their usual artistic style and what was discussed. In this instance you may be expected to pay in full. This is not always a straightforward argument though and each instance will be different. Art can be very subjective and difficult to argue if something is correct or not. Usually a resolution can be found between buyer and artist.
If you are able to collect the work upon completion then there should be no extra costs. If the artwork is to be delivered you need to check certain details. Art can be costly to deliver. This is partly due to the size and the need for careful packaging. Insurance is also required to protect against loss or damage in transit. Find out if delivery is an extra cost or already included in the price the artist gave for the work. Ask the artist how they plan to deliver the work and what happens if the work is lost or arrives damaged.
Upon final payment the artwork is your property. It is therefore reasonable for you to check with the artist how they intend to send it. The artwork should be insured with the courier for the correct value. You should be willing to accept delivery in person and be happy to sign for it. Otherwise, if the artwork is delivered to the wrong address, or received by the wrong person, it may be difficult to prove. Make sure the artwork is sent via a tracked and signed delivery service. You, or someone you know, will need to be in to receive it. If you’re not in, you may receive additional delivery fees.
If you are commissioning a picture, the price you are quoted is unlikely to include a frame unless the artist has specifically told you so. Some artists may provide framing as an extra service but otherwise you will need to speak to a picture framer. Framing can be very costly so this is an extra cost for you to consider when commissioning an artist.
For paintings on stretched-canvas you may wish to consider not framing it at all. You will need to mention this to the artist as it may affect the quotation. An unframed oil or acrylic painting generally looks best on a block canvas (this means it has deeper edges – often about 4cm or more). The artist will need to know your intention before they start the painting. Ask them to choose a stretched canvas that is stapled on the underside rather than the side. This ensures that the staples holding the canvas material in place cannot be seen. You must then let the artist know whether you wish to have them continue the painting round the edges or paint the edges a solid colour. Often they are painted white. Ask the artist if they will apply hanging fixtures or whether this will be left for you to sort out.
If your painting is being delivered to you by courier service, check first how it will be posted. The canvas is often removed from the stretcher (wooden frame that holds the canvas), rolled up and sent in a postal tube. The painting is less likely to be damaged and it much cheaper and effective sending canvas paintings in this way. However, this means you will have to get the canvas re-stretched before it can be hung or framed as well. Ask your local picture framer how much they charge to stretch canvas paintings. This will be another cost to consider. These costs will be determined by the size of the painting. There is no reason why re-stretching a painting should cause any damage if done professionally.
Artists really appreciate hearing this. Let the artist know you’ve received the artwork in good condition and that you’re happy with the result. If you collected the artwork in person, you could send the artist a photo of it in situ.