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Want to Accept an Art Commission? Answer These 7 Questions First

January, 2017

Answer These 7 Questions if You Want to Accept an Art Commission

So, you saw an order on Drawberry and decided to place a bid to start working on it... 

And if your portfolio is full of great works, odds are high that you’ll be selected by the customer. 

If you are new to the service, how do you know which orders you should place a bid on?

It’s always flattering when you’re approached by someone who wants to receive a custom piece of art done by you. And we have to admit that most commissions are worth accepting and go smoothly.  

But there is a horror story that comes up now and then about a potentially smooth commission going sour for both the artist and the customer.

To get a clear understanding of whether a certain commission is a viable business option for you, try to answer the following questions...

Can I actually get this done?

Don’t take an opportunity just because it’s an opportunity to make some money. Make sure you have the right skillset and materials for the project or you’ll disappoint your customer and yourself. 

Sometimes customers don’t know restrictions of certain materials or can’t even tell the difference between various media - it’s up to you to steer them in the right direction, so that you could come to a mutual understanding. 

Will I meet the deadline?

Unless you’re painting a replica of your own piece, completing commissions usually takes longer than putting your own ideas onto canvas.

Set a realistic timeframe - it’s always better to get everything done a little earlier than to work under stress and eventually fail at quality. 

Am I a team player?

You might think that you’re the only one completing this project, but in reality your customer is as much of a player in this game as you are. 

And the successful delivery of a commission is always a team effort. 

Can you take criticism without becoming too emotional? Can you get in touch with your customer even when you don’t want to? How do you think you would react when pushed in the direction you didn’t want to go? 

Now for the questions that you need to ask the other party... 


Can they put down a deposit?

You don’t want to put a lot of effort into creating a custom piece of art and not get paid, right? 

Ask the customer for a prepayment or a partial deposit. Drawberry already includes the requirement of a deposit to be paid by a customer when submitting an order.

If you don’t know how big of a deposit you should ask for, don’t worry: just try to calculate the final price of the painting and ask the customer for about 20-30% of that amount as a down payment. 

This way you’ll protect yourself and make sure your customer is solvent. 

Shouldn’t they see my previous works?

Make sure they know what you’re capable of as a painter - show them your portfolio. 

But make it clear that every painting is unique and, unless it’s a digital copy, your customer won’t receive a piece ‘just like this one’. Even a good replica is usually not an exact copy of the original painting. 

Clarifying ahead of time what you can and can’t do will eliminate any false expectations. 

And before showing your portfolio to anybody, make sure you didn’t make these 5 mistakes most artists make

To what extent will they be involved in the process?

Do you think your customer’s questions might at some point start to annoy you? Establish some baseline on how often you’ll be updating them on the progress beforehand. 

Make sure you’re open to feedback - it’s much easier to correct some sketches than to eventually redo the whole painting just because you failed to listen to your customer’s requests.

How would they like to keep in touch?

Is messaging or emailing good enough for your customer or do they need a skype video chat and a 30-minute conversation? 

Maybe the customer is local and will want to be able to come by your place to see the work in person?

It’s crucial to decide how you’ll be communicating throughout the process before you start working on the commission. 

Once you’ve got the above questions answered, you will clearly see if the commission you were considering is going to work for you. If it is, then don’t put off grabbing your chance to make some money any longer!

  • Maisyn - 02/22/17 19:20
    That really catprues the spirit of it. Thanks for posting.
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