How to commission custom wall art like a pro

Easily order unique art from local artists to enhance your blank walls.

There are times when you’re searching online art galleries to buy custom wall art but it eludes you. You discover a handful of local artists whose paintings you like but they don’t have anything available that’s “just right” – Maybe it’s a tad too small or too big. Maybe it is in the red color range and you need blues and greens. 

How do you get the artist to make something special for you? How much will it cost? How long will it take? How does the process work?

Here at Embrace Creatives, we’re your expert art matchmakers and will manage a commission project for you, from start to finish so your perfect piece arrives on time and on budget, but let me review the process you can use in case you go it alone. Follow me for information on budgeting, choosing colors and managing timely shipments.

SET YOUR ARTWORK COMMISSION BUDGET

Before you start down the commission path, it’s important to know how much you’re comfortable spending. Commissioned artwork, because it’s made especially for the client, will cost more than a piece already in inventory. Why? Because when an artist creates artwork, there is no one telling them what colors to use, what size to make it and what they’d like to see included. The artist flows with the piece and the only person they have to please is themselves. Just like any creative job, a special commissioned artwork comes with its own special price tag. 

So if the artist’s work is, on average $1500 for the size you need, expect to pay more for a commission. Know that the artist will add shipping and sales tax to the invoice. You can ask for a shipping estimate before you begin.For a commission, expect to pay minimum, ⅓ up front, ⅓ in the middle of the timeframe and the balance before shipping. Some artists will ask for 50% up front. Ask the artist what their commission cancellation policy is in case the project doesn’t come out as planned. Don’t expect to get your deposit back.

- Commission Artwork 2

Dancers 3

20″H X 16″W
Oil, acrylic, charcoal on canvas
$1000
by Hannah Witner
Commissions accepted

- Commission Artwork 3

Nuclei III

29.56″H X 24.125″W
Ink on rice paper
$800
by Marissa Cook
Commissions accepted

- Commission Artwork 4

Disconnected

30″H X 24″W
Oil on canvas
$2800
by Adam Starr
Commissions accepted

- Commission Artwork 5

Gold Meditation 31

14″H X 11″W
Watercolor, Acrylic and Ink on Watercolor Paper
$185
by Rita Patel
Commissions accepted

KNOW THE COLORS THAT WORK WITH YOUR HOME

If the artist already works in color ranges that suit your needs, you’re all set! Reference one or two of their pieces, sharing the colors you like and do not like. 

One Embrace Creatives client requested navy, grey and white and when I asked if the artist can include other colors, the client said, “I don’t care, just NO GOLD – I dislike gold”. And when they said that, I knew to tell the artist to stay away from yellow and tan as well. 

Most artists will not reproduce artwork that’s sold, exactly as it was. They will change it slightly so that it’s similar but not the same. So don’t get your heart set on receiving the same piece you fell for but know you’ll love YOUR special piece when it arrives.

If you have color swatches, tell the artist you’d like to send them for reference. Also, take a photo of the room where the painting will be housed so they can see the decor and space.

Commission your OWN piece of art (with our help)

DETERMINE WHEN YOU WANT THE ARTWORK TO ARRIVE

Artists are busy creating for exhibits and sales so they will fit your commission into their production schedule. Artists on Embrace Creatives will list a lead time for their commissions on the product page. The lead time is the length of time the artist needs to produce the piece. This lead time may or may not include shipping proofs for printed products so ask.

It’s never good to rush an artist and most artists won’t work under tight time constraints so determine when you’d like the artwork to ship and discuss timing with the artist.

- Commission Artwork 6

Compromise is the Key

36″H X 18″W X 18″D
Steel
$395
by Kelly O'Neill
Commissions accepted

- Commission Artwork 7

Magical Things from Quarantine Food In The Cupboard

12″H X 12″W
Watercolor on paper
$1200
by Meridith McNeal
Commissions accepted

- Commission Artwork 8

cut twist paint tuck #5

20″H X 20″W X 3″D
framed repurposed vinyl, metal, acrylic on canvas
$450
by Shelley Heffler
Commissions accepted

DON’T OVER MANAGE THE PROJECT

When you commission artwork with Embrace Creatives we manage the project so you don’t have to stress but if you end up working outside of our art consultant program, here’s a few tips.

Set up check-in dates with the artist in advance. At each check-in date, know what you’ll be receiving; a sketch, color choices, first draft, etc… Remember, you’re not managing every aspect of the design process. You must allow the artist their creativity, that’s what you LIKE about them!

As far as artwork changes, if it’s small the artist may edit freely but if you request a re-do or change your mind on the colors after they’ve gone past a certain point in the project, you will be charged extra for their extra time.

Commissioning artwork is a fun project that can fill you with pride and it’s a wonderful business opportunity for the artist who gets to make something unique just for you. Make sure to follow my advice in this article so the process stays pain-free, respectful and a win-win.

If you’d prefer to let me or my expert advisors handle an Embrace Creatives commission for you, give us a shout.

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Closeup of artwork by Hannah Surace, NC

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This article was written by Andrea Bogart, professional artist, lead art consultant and the founder of Embrace Creatives, matching you with original art to love.

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