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commissions

Postby beautifulbay » Fri Dec 21, 2007 8:55 am

As an artist, I look forward to doing commissions. Sometimes they come, sometimes they don't. I've been at this point at which I'm ready to raise the standards of my commissions. This was
ought up on another forum and it really got me thinking about it all, because it has been on my mind for a while...and it is helpful to know that other artists struggle with the same issue.
Lately, all of my commissions have been these simple requests of "can you draw my dog?" and they hand me this terrible photo of a dog who I can't tell if it has stripes or just shadows. When this happens, I want to just tell them "nope." But I haven't been doing so for the sake of not wanting to be a snob. However, I'm starting to feel like I'm keeping myself pulled down....and it's time to stop. I have decided that if I want to raise the standards of my art, it has to start with the commissions. And it HAS to be on MY terms, not the client's. So far, they have been happy with their drawings, but I haven't been....because I know it's not what I do.
So I am pulling together new ideas on how to "UP" my commissions so that they reflect ME better. I still worry about looking like the type of person who is only concerned about money and image....that's not me...but there comes a time to let yourself grow. I'm at that time and I guess I need ...I don't know....some encouragement? Someone saying that they had to do the same thing??? I'm at this crossroad and not quite sure how to make the right turn. I've never turned down a commission before, but it seems like I need to start in order to make them the way I want them to be.
The other side to this problem is I live in the middle of the country....where everyone wants to shop at walmart and not worry about quality....know what I mean? How do you push fine art into a Walmart world?
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Postby xxbreezy » Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:08 pm

I am not sure how to get your work into places like WalMart but I, too, have always set my prices low and affordable. Sometimes even giving some pieces away....which never hurts because that way your work is being seen by people you don't know. Since though, I raised my prices to reflect whatever piece I had worked on. Being a NON-ESTABLISHED artist, so to speak, I understand that I may not get exactly what I think my work is worth. But....I could still sell my peices at a price that was worth my time. I have sold quite a few portraits and my prices started at $25 per person. I have since raised my price to $40 for personal sketches and have no problem selling them. I read an article that had a few tips as to how to sell some of your work. One.....visit a store that sells art that you do and see what kinds of traffic flow they have. Two... send someone into a shop and have them ask for work done by you. Then later go in and see if they would be interested in having you put some of your work in there shop. Having heard your name prior to your visit.... they will remember your name and possibly consign your work or buy it outright. Three....never walk in "cold" to a shop. Always call and set up appt. with shop owner/manager. Four....think about printing off some of your work as postcards and sending them to different people and shops. Remeber, people are buying just not a sketch, painting, or whatever. They are paying for your talent to create. That is no different than going to the beauty solon and getting your hair cut, just as an example. Sorry this is so long but I totally understand what you are struggling with. Hope this helps B..... Take Care!!
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Postby beautifulbay » Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:49 pm

eezy, I liked the tips...the one about sending someone into a shop to ask for your work is just too funny! I never would have thought of doing that! It made me laugh, but sure is a good idea.

am not sure how to get your work into places like WalMart


That's not exactly what I was asking...I'm referring to the fact that I live in an area where more people are concerned about a low price than they are with quality...a Walmart world....so to speak. I've seen a lot of quality shops open up in this area just to end up closing and moving away simply because they can't compete. The sad thing is for those of us who DO want to buy quality things, we have to travel far out to find it.....It seems like this is happening everywhere. Because of this, it makes it difficult to turn down a commission that isn't up to your standards...because finding one that is is so difficult to come across. At least around here it is....Does that make sense?
DRAW~ even if no one else understands why~ PAINT~ even if no one believes in you
CREATE~ Lose yourself in your own world ~ Just do it because you love it!
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Postby xxbreezy » Fri Dec 21, 2007 1:54 pm

Yes, unfortunately, the same goes for this area. We can't compete with WalMart thats for sure...lol. Someone who is looking for "art" will travel to get it or buy is online. By commission, I assume you are talking about either what you charge to do a particular piece or what to charge when asking someone to place your piece of art in there shops. I have found that paying a commision for someone to sell for you is at an average of 30% of selling price. Problem with this is where in this persons shop your work will be displayed. If its no where it can be seen easily, it won't sell. If you question what you should charge, to me, is based on each piece individually is worth to you then add 60% (or so I've been told). We all know that our time, although worth it, is sometimes not acknowledged when pricing an item. Until we actually become established and moving our artwork, we sometimes get the short end of the stick in that department. I personally started my own website at freewebs.com. There, I display all my art at and is priced what I feel that piece is worth. But then I think you have checked out my website. Anyway, someone told me that only people interested in art will seek it out and pay whatever the price if it was they want. Whether it be online or traveling wherever to get it. I'm not sure if helping or hindering...lol....but trying to compete with any big store such as WalMart is just not feasable. So, we have to take other routes to get our work out there. Such as art shows, craft shows, or any of the things I mentioned previously. Hope this helps!! Just my take on the subject...lol.
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Postby Erika Takacs » Fri Dec 21, 2007 3:39 pm

BB, how about this. Do the commissions, but when you're finshed invite the people to your studio to ask if they want any changes or for pickup (come up with something). Hang your best works on your walls even the ones you don't want to sell. Have them look around, if they like what they see, they'll remember next time they want to buy a special gift. Hand them a business card or flyer on their way out. Your competition is NOT Walmart. Your customers will be your best advertisers.
I don't like that idea about sending someone into a store inquiring about you, and then you walk in later. The owners are not stupid to make the connection...or they won't remember the name.
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Postby beautifulbay » Fri Dec 21, 2007 6:25 pm

I don't think I'm putting this quite right, lol .... I'm not really saying I'm looking at Walmart as competition....I'm saying that living in an area of people who are used to shopping at Walmart get used to Walmart type standards...and that is the majority here. By commissions, I mean someone who wants a specific portrait done...special orders on the side. I have some stores that take in my work already, and they are not around here....those kind of commissions are fine, as they are already in an art world.....but as far as finding people who want portraits done, or a particular piece created just for them.....that is hard to do around here. I'll get some people who want a pet portrait done and they hand me one terrible photo of their dog, usually shot downward as the dog sits on the floor.....and expect a good portrait from it. By telling them NO, I can't work from that, this is what I offer and the price that comes with it, most people no longer want it, because they just want a quick cheap drawing to throw on their wall......hence, the Walmart metaphor. what I'm saying is that I'm trying to sell fine art in an area that wants Cheap and easy....how in the world do I make GOOD commissions when dealing with that?

Does this make more sense??? I know what I'm saying, but maybe not conveying it properly..... :? : lol
DRAW~ even if no one else understands why~ PAINT~ even if no one believes in you
CREATE~ Lose yourself in your own world ~ Just do it because you love it!
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Postby johnwalkeasy » Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:24 pm

I use to call people and ask for Joe. Then I would call and say my name is Joe, Has thier been any calls for me? Ofcourse that has nothing to do with this. I think perhaps people are aproching you with getting a low price in mind. That,s why folks shop a walmat. What you need to do is is up the price on all your work. When people see your work in shops or shows. And see the kind of prices you put on your work. Then they know from the getgo that your not cheap. So that the kind of people that aproch you to start with. Will be willing to pay good money for good work. If someone is not willing to pay you for what you do. Send them to Walmart. If you think your work is good and you want to make money with it. Put a good high fair price on it. And a higher class of buyers will start to come your way. And that is a fact.
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Postby ehoeveler » Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:32 am

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Last edited by ehoeveler on Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby BAReam » Sat Mar 29, 2008 2:20 pm

Beautifulbay.. forgive me for saying so, but I thinks most of your responses are somewhat off point. Point being that you are responding to an attitude. That attitude being as you say ( as I read it) that the price of quality is out the window, especially when they can get a generic knock-off cheaper. Unfortunately my dear, that appears to be much of the world is these days, frustrating as that might be.
Over the years I accepted and rejected many commissions : personally I'm not keen on them.
When I do commissions I work from these GENERAL criteria:
1) If asked to work from a photo, I work from MY photo whenever possible. This allows me to compose the work and I can make mental notes on details I may want to emphasize/ deemphasize . When you MUST work from their photos that you must be allowed some "creative license" ... after all, if they want a photographic representation... take a photograph. Nuf said.

2) I always give a best estimate price for the work which is (fair) to both parties and require payment (non-refundable) of estimated materials up front. Generally this is fairly nominal.

3) As I absolutely despise working under a deadline I make it a policy to make delivery time open-ended (but reasonable). Some projects will go smoothly, some will not.

4) I always make it understood that when the finished work is delivered the client is allowed to accept or reject the work. If they choose to reject the work (it happens) they simply walk away and I retain the work,or make reasonable alteration(s) to suit. After all, commissions are a collaboration between parties.
Personally I've never had a commission rejected (knock-on-wood).

Of course, this just the way I approach commissions, and it seems to work for me. YOU must make the call here. I've been accused of being a bit "hard-nosed" in saying that when I do commissions, I work WITH the client; not FOR the client. You'll have that ;-)

Lastly (at last) if the cost of the work is the main criteria...., then perhaps they should shop elswhere. Wal-Mart might be good. Hope have been of some help....keep the faith, and keep working. It will come... Bruce
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Postby beautifulbay » Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:24 am

Hi
uce...
I agree with everything you said here...and am actually finding a better place in this since this rant... :D ...
I like how you see it, and handle your commission sales too, as it should be what works for you...you're the artist rendering the piece!

thanks for the advice and support. I appreciate it.
DRAW~ even if no one else understands why~ PAINT~ even if no one believes in you
CREATE~ Lose yourself in your own world ~ Just do it because you love it!
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