I’m already embarrassed about the title I gave this post. But, I’m leaving it up. Dance like no one’s watching, right?
Anyway, this seemed like a good time to answer a question many artists get asked. Do I take commissions for new artwork? Why yes, I do. With the recent wrapping up of some long-term projects, I am looking forward to devoting more time to creating a range of new work. And that does include accepting new commissions. Sometimes people are nervous about asking artists to do custom work, so I thought this would be a good time to say: Hey. Don’t stress. We’re all friends here. If you have an idea you want to talk about, it’s always okay to ask.
I think that some people have a fear of approaching an artist about a custom piece because there’s an archetype of artists being snobby about things like that. Because, you know, their creativity can’t be bounded in. And they’re not a decorator, they’re an artist. They’re not going to make a painting to match your drapes, you should buy drapes to match their painting. You uncultured goof. How very dare you.
I really doubt you would ever actually get that response, but if you did, it’s not your fault. Some people are just jerks, and you can find them anywhere. But most artists, I dare say almost all artists, are glad to be contacted because someone likes their work. Some artists don’t take commissions, or only take them occasionally, and that is okay. Sometimes it’s because they are too busy, or they are really only interested in creating work to their own specifications, or maybe they just don’t see the project fitting within the scope of what they do. Whatever their reason (or with no reason), the response you should reasonably expect for an artist not taking commissions is something along the lines of, “No can do, but thanks for asking.”
I kind of like a little bit of drapes-matching, so to speak. People spend years, their whole lives sometimes, choosing and collecting the things they want to surround themselves with, making spaces that reflect their favorite parts of who they are. So when you commission a piece of artwork, you are asking for something that is made purposely to become an integral part of the world you’ve created. Which feels like a really special thing for an artist to be a part of.
My works are mixed media, sometimes very mixed media. I include things that create texture, like sand, stones, wood, bits of glass, fabric. I also build collaged backgrounds with items like maps, sheet music, and other paper ephemera. I do this in a way that often creates a lot of hidden details that are not apparent at first glance. This use of materials presents a pretty unique opportunity to incorporate meaningful or sentimental things into custom pieces, and I like to offer this to clients if they are interested. Sand from a favorite beach or bark from a fallen tree can become special textural elements, and handwritten notes, wallpaper, or book pages can add subtle details within the piece. (This can often be done with a photocopy so as not to harm the original.)
There are so many possibilities for interesting ways to make artwork that has an important and personal connection. If you ever want to talk about an idea, my door is open. Well, figuratively. I do close my door. Also, Covid. But my email is definitely open.