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June Insight | The difference between personal and commissioned work

June Insight | The difference between personal and commissioned work

Pictured above: a selection of work that I was commissioned to paint from 2020 until now. 

Any artist that has made the jump from drawing just for yourself to drawing for someone else can tell you that the process is very different.

People might have a romantic idea about artists in their head about how they get up whenever, get hit with inspiration and then churn out a masterpiece (though I expect most of you art aficionados will know real life works differently).

When you’re painting for someone else, suddenly, you need to think about what someone else wants out of the drawing you’re making. And hopefully, you’re incorporating contracts and payments into the process as well.

You’ll need to have conversations with your client to figure out what they want you to draw. You need to make sure that you ask the right questions.

You might need to get over the fact that clients like sketch #3 better while you were hoping they would go for #1. You might need to redraw a part you were very happy with because the client wants to go another direction. You might not get as much time for a piece as you would have liked, because there’s a deadline looming. Or, a client commissions you for a line-art piece while you think the piece would really benefit from some color.

These considerations are also why I won’t be doing commissioned oil paintings very soon. As I’m still learning the medium, I can’t guarantee the quality clients are looking for in every painting I make. I might put a few paintings I made for myself up for sale in the future, but that again reaches back into personal work – I make those pieces for myself, and decide afterwards whether it’s fit for sale.

That being said, I do think I made some of my best work because clients requested subjects I would’ve never thought of painting, or kept me on my toes about adding certain details. I love doing client work and I’m happy that I’m able to do both!

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