The Art League of Central’s Tips for Commissioning a Work of Art

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By the Art League of Central

When commissioning an artist to create a specific work of art for you, whether it be a portrait, mural, landscape, sculpture, or any other creative endeavor, it is good to remember the following:

  1. Ask to see examples of similar works the artist has previously created
  2. Ask for references
  3. The artist should present for your approval a draft, sketch, study, or maquette of the work they will create for you.  This should be as close as possible to what the finished piece will look like, with the possible exception of size (as in the case of a mural or sculpture).
  4. Ask for a specific quote on the job, including the cost of all materials.
  5. Get a contract which specifies the dimension of the piece, the materials and subject matter, the approximate amount of time the project will take to complete, and the total cost.  Have both parties sign it.
  6. An artist will often require a “retainer fee” – a portion or percentage of the total cost which they are paid up front.  This often covers the cost of materials.  If for some reason you are not pleased with the finished work, the artist may keep the retainer.  This should all be specified in the contract.
  7. NEVER pay the total amount up front!

No professional artist will be offended if you request these things from them.  In fact, it helps the artist to create a work which will be pleasing to their client and benefit their reputation.

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