How To Commission Art


In today’s post we are going to talk about how to commission art. If you are like most people, learning how to talk to an artist about a potential piece of work isn’t something you learned when growing up. Perhaps you have been interested in getting a quote for a drawing and just don’t know how to go about it. Wonder no more, my friend! These tips will help you confidently dialog with an artist.

Subject matter: Are you looking for a portrait, nature scape, architecture sketch? Let the artist know if you have reference photos, or better yet, attach the photos to the inquiry email! I receive a significant amount of inquiries that are really difficult to quote because I cannot gauge the amount of time the piece will take without seeing the reference photos. Sending photos is the best way to get an accurate quote.

Size of piece: Ask the artist if they work in a specific size. I generally work in 8”x10” and all my packaging and supplies are tailored to that size. I will work in other sizes, but there can be an up charge for special sizes. If you are looking for the drawing to fit a certain frame size or space, make sure to tell the artist up front.

Time frame: Does the artist have availability in their schedule, and how long will the piece take? Depending on their schedule, this could take over a month to complete! Make sure to give yourself plenty of time if this piece needs to be done on a specific date. I usually have a 3-4 week turnaround time for my work.

Billing: What does billing look like? Do you pay all up front, or some up front and some upon receipt of the piece? Billing can vary from artist to artist. I usually bill a 50% non-refundable deposit before I begin the piece, and then the final 50% of the artwork cost (plus shipping) is due upon the client’s receipt of the artwork. I also have contracts that clients sign for commission pieces over a certain dollar amount. Keep in mind that you may have to pay sales tax depending on the state you are in and the state the artist is in.

I hope these tips are helpful if you are interested in commissioning artwork from your favorite artist! If you are still a little wary, I have a template below for you to use when asking for a quote.

Hi __(artist)___,

I am contacting you about potentially commissioning a __(type of artwork the artist does)__! I love your style and am looking for an __(illustration/painting/sculpture)__ of __(subject)___. I have a few photos attached for your reference. Do you normally have a specific size for commission pieces, or do you offer different size options? I would like this for __(date/special event/area you wish to display the piece)___, and was wondering what your normal turnaround time is. Also, what would you charge for this piece, and how does the billing process work?

Excited to hear from you!