Artists seeking ways to generate money while waiting for their original paintings to sell often offer commission sales. Commission sales can be a great way to pay the bills while doing what you love.
Artist commissions are works an artist creates specifically for another person based on a private commission agreement between both parties.
Commissioned works are often very personal things. Many people who commission pieces want them for their homes, and they become an heirloom that gets passed down through generations.
Commissions often take more time than original works, so you want to know your prices before offering them to clients. If you find yourself consistently with more commissions than you can handle, you might burn out, or the quality of your work will suffer because you are rushing the jobs. Research how much pencil drawings sell to get an idea of how much you can charge.
The key to offering commission work is to price your work correctly so you earn a decent hourly wage, and you only accept the number of commissions you can handle at any given time.
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How Much To Charge For Commission Sales
If you don’t have your prices documented, set commission prices for each before you accept the job.
The best way to price commissioner art is to decide on an hourly wage you would like to make and multiply that by the number of hours it will take to complete the project plus the cost of materials.
For example, if you want to make $20 per hour, and the project takes 10 hours to complete, that would be $200, plus the cost of supplies.
Commissioners expect artists to use high-quality materials because they are paying more for them, so you will need to account for your supplies in your price. So if the materials cost $30 to complete the project, the total cost for the example above would be $230.
The hourly rates an artist charge for commissions is determined by how well-known the artist is and their skill level. For example, an artist who has been selling their art worldwide for over 20 years will be able to charge more for their commission than a local artist who is just starting to offer commissioners art.
The other factor for pricing commission is the subject matter you are painting. For example, portrait painters often charge more than an artist who paints pet portraits. A good start is by researching what other artists charge for commissioned work. This will give you a good starting point for pricing your art commissions.
Details Of The Commission
Before accepting a commission job, ensure you have all the details covered with you and the commissioner.
- The subject and size of the painting.
- If it’s a portrait, decide if you will paint from a reference photo or life.
- How long the project will take to complete.
- Establish the payment schedule and how much you need in advance to get started. Many artists ask for 30% upfront to cover supplies for the project.
- What happens if the commissioner has a change of heart and decides they no longer want the art?
- Have them sign a contract in which they understand that once they receive their commission artwork, all rights revert to you, and the work cannot be reproduced without your permission.
- Shipping options.
Include any additional information relating to the work of art you will be creating.
Do No Accept Verbal Agreements
Commissioners that want a unique painting may be very persuasive and try to convince you to do the project before agreeing on a price and going over all of the details relating to the process of the project.
Do not agree until everything is in writing and they have agreed to your terms. You can refer them to the written contract if they change their minds later.
Always protect yourself by having everything detailed in writing before starting the project.
Commissions will take time, and you shouldn’t be rushed into accepting them if they are unsuitable.
If a commissioner tries to rush you into giving your answer, turn them down or request that they agree to your terms with a contract before proceeding further. It is essential to be upfront at every step because each commission project reflects your brand.
High-Quality Reference Images
If you are using reference photos for your commissioned sales, make sure that you view the images before accepting the job. Often, people will provide you with an image that they like, but the quality of the photo is poor, and you need to be able to find the right pose, proportion, and lighting to create quality artwork. If that is not possible, let them know you won’t do the job with their reference.
They should provide you with at least 3-5 of their favorite reference photos for your consideration. They should be high-resolution, clear images so that you can see the details of the subject.
Don’t accept blurry or unclear photos because it will be impossible to create a perfect piece without a quality reference image to work from.
Visual updates will allow the client to see how the project is progressing.
Progress photos should have visible changes rather than just the same image with no edits.
For example, if you are working on a face painting, take a before photo with the reference photo you are using and send it to your commissioners. Then after adding detail to the eyes, nose, and mouth, take a new progress photo allowing them to see the difference between the two photos.
In the written contract, add how many progress updates you will provide and if you will email them the images or post them on social media.
The progress photos will allow the customer to adjust if they are not happy with something about the painting. The feedback you receive will allow you to change the painting if needed.
When you have finished the art piece, email the customer a photo of the final piece to see the quality of the painting before sending it.
If they are happy with the art, let them know that you will ship their painting when you receive the remaining balance of the commission fee.
If they are not happy with the art, you can revise and alter it as needed before sending it to them. Have them pay the remaining balance of your fee and ship/deliver the painting when done.
How To Get New Commission Work
Advertising your artwork and prices on your website, social media platforms, and art directories will help you gain new commissions.
Focusing on the benefits to the commissioner, such as getting a high-quality painting for a competitive price, will help them understand why they should purchase from you.
The more time and effort it takes to create the commission, the more you should charge for it. However, more people will buy from you if you provide high-quality paintings at an affordable price. Try finding a happy medium between the two for your price range.
Final Thoughts On artist commissions
If you enjoy creating art for other people, you can become very successful by focusing on how you can help them. Understanding their needs and desires will help you to provide the best work possible. Always protect your interests throughout the process while effectively communicating with your clients.
The art world has changed thanks to the internet. It is now possible for people to order commissions with personal meaning from artists worldwide.