In April’s studio newsletter I talked about the fact that I had recently finished some commissions. Selling a piece of your art is always such a buzz. But commissions are very different from selling something you have already created. There is an element of risk that kicks in when you know you are creating art for a specific buyer. Will they love it? Can you translate what’s in your head onto canvas? How will the collaborative bit of the process go?
I’ve been lucky to have had a few commissions over the past 12 months. And the only thing I can say is that every single one of them has been completely different. Just like the buyers!
My First Commissions
The first commission I did was terrifying. My buyer didn’t really have an idea of what they wanted beyond the size, colours and general feel. In reality it should have felt very liberating but I think as with any ‘first’ fear and self doubt kicks in. In the end the painting was a success and the buyer loved it!
My second went so much smoother. It was one of my harbour paintings and my buyer (who also happened to be my cousin) just wanted a painting similar to others I’d completed but incorporating numbers and colours that meant something to them.
Both of my latest commissions have been more representational. One is sitting in my living room waiting to be delivered next week. The other came about when the buyer spotted a painting I posted on Instagram that I had created for my new kitchen – innovatively titled ‘Blue Kitchen’. It was a still life of various kitchen paraphobia and out of the blue I received a message on Facebook asking if it was for sale.
After messaging back and forwards we agreed that the painting wasn’t right for them. ‘Blue Kitchen’ is a 60 x 60cm and they were looking for a smaller painting as they had a clear idea of where it would be hung. We agreed that I’d produce a 30 x 30cm and the process started! With more representational work I like to have a bit more of a plan so stage one was agreeing composition. I love this part of the process as you can really get the buyer involved.
After a few months of painting and sharing various work in progress photos the piece was finished.
Here’s a close up photo. I use the VOUN app to get an idea of what they’ll look like framed, although the frames I use are better than the options on the app. I just don’t have much wall space in the house where the daylight is good.
Shipping Your Art
The next challenge was packing and arranging delivery.
No matter how many times I do this I always have a few stressful days until I get the email from my buyer letting me know that it has arrived safely. I don’t know why as I’ve never had any problems but you still get those nerves. I’ve watched so many videos from other artists on how to package your art. My approach is to over pack with layers of cardboard, tissue and filler.
In my day job I’m responsible for our sustainability initiative so I have a sense of guilt in terms of environmental impact. Because of this I always reuse packaging materials. The downside of this approach is that my studio is littered with Amazon boxes and various packing materials.
But by far the best part of completing a commission is when your buyer loves the piece! The joy you get when you open that email or DM and see the words ‘I love it!’
Warm, Fuzzy Feeling
This month was lovely as I received this photo from the buyer of my painting ‘Anyone for Sugar?’ Who is also a fellow artist
I love seeing my work in people’s homes. It’s such an honour to know that someone likes what you have created enough to put in their home. No matter how many painting you sell I don’t think you ever get bored of this.
Art Competition and Dealing with Disappointment
But April wasn’t all positive – I received two rejections from the RA Summer Exhibition. Something I was used to receiving each year but having been successful last year there was a glimmer of hope.
Sadly it was not to be this year and whilst I’m disappointed I think I’m not thick skinned enough not to take it personally. There is such a buzz about the Summer Exhibition. I love seeing the work of other artists who have made it through the first round on Instagram.
If you’re not following the hastag on IG its worth checking out the feed – #rasummerexhibition. You get such an amazing variety of work – it’s so inspiring!
If you are one of the lucky ones to get through the digital judging round – good luck! The whole submission process is very special and if you’re lucky enough to make it all the way Varnishing day is just magical.
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