Commissions involve the exchange of money for artwork (this can be physical or digital). Prior to accepting commissions, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. Because someone is paying you, the most important part of this exchange is making sure your client is happy with the final product.
- Know thyself
Know your level of skill and the amount of time you can dedicate to making artwork. The best way to evaluate where you’re at is to make at least 10 pieces of art with the same theme that you plan on offering for purchase (in my case, it is pet portraits). Record the number of hours or days that it takes to complete each piece. Average this number and add an additional 30%. This cushion of time will serve as a buffer for yourself if unplanned delays occur. If there are no delays, your client will be pleased when it’s finished on time (or ahead!) of schedule.
- You can say “no”
There are cases where you should not accept a commission. Either the subject is beyond your skill level, the subject is not related to what you do, or the reference photo quality is poor. While I believe it’s great to tackle new subjects, it may not be appropriate to draw something for the very first time for a client. You should be comfortable with both the subject and the timeline your client expects from you.
- Communication should be a priority
In my experience, I have rarely come across a client who lets me have free reign over what I draw. Expect to exchange at least a dozen emails to finalize details such as the delivery date, art dimensions, any preliminary drawings, approving the final drawing, etc. If this sounds like a lot of work to you, this is part of the process of doing commissions. Communication is extremely important to establish clear expectations.
If you’re not quite comfortable with the idea of emailing random strangers, I would recommend practicing with a friend or family member who can provide you with helpful feedback.
- Create a solid portfolio
Exhibit your skills through photos of your artwork to give your customers an idea of the quality of your work. You can sign up for a free website or post them to social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram. People are more willing to purchase artwork if they can image the finished product that you will make for them.
5. Know your customer base
Know that you will not be able to appeal to everyone with the product you offer. But with enough hard work you can become a specialist in the specific range of subjects and style you create!
Are there any tips I didn’t mention? Feel free to add them in the comments below!