How to commission Artwork

Artwork can personalize your creative project; imagine that you wrote your girlfriend some poems and then had them illustrated and made into a book. I know right! She will probably love the gift (And you!). Or you get that bedtime story that your 3 year old son loves illustrated into a book that you can read together at bedtime. Coolest Mum ever! Now, you have this big idea but you don't even know where to start.

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Some of the questions that you might have are; Where do I find an artist? How much will it cost me? How long will it take? What does the artist need from me to understand my idea? What if they create something that I don't like?

Don't panic, here is a short FAQ guide on how to go about commissioning your Artwork. [Disclaimer: this information is just a starting point, each artist will have their own way of working].

Where do I find an artist?

There are a few places where you could find an artist but I would recommend Instagram; it is really easy to contact artists on there and a lot of artists are active on Instagram. It’s a great platform to casually browse the artwork and see if its compatible with what you want.  

Tip: In the Instagram ‘search’ area under ‘people’, search terms like ‘Character Art’ or ‘Custom illustration’ and look for artists who encourage you to contact them or have provided an email. Most likely they will take commissions.

How much will it cost me?

Short answer: Anywhere between $10 - $10,000 (maybe more). It depends on the artist and the project.

Long answer: Different artists work in different mediums resulting in different costs for raw material or software subscriptions. For example, a traditional artist might charge more compared to a digital artist because paints and canvases may cost more. Artists also have different training and experience levels and that could affect the price of the artwork. A very experienced artist may charge in the tens of thousands while a hobbyist may charge under a hundred. Another factor is how much effort or time an artwork takes to complete. Also custom or one of a kind pieces tend to cost more than something that is more generic or reproduced for multiple people to buy.

Tip:  If you have a bigger budget or a special occasion you can invest more on an artwork. If you have a tight deadline you may also consider paying more to someone who you are confident will deliver in time.

On the other hand, if you have a smaller budget or you are casually looking for a piece of art to add to a collection of existing artwork then you can consider supporting a newer interesting artist.

How long will it take?

Again it depends on the artist and their process or style. Generally speaking, digital artists can work as fast as a few days with the help of technology. Where as, say, a painter working with oil paints may take weeks as they wait for layers of paint to dry. How long an artwork takes can also depend on the artists’ style. Generally, the more detailed or specialized the technique is, the more time it will take.

Tip: Some artists will speak about their techniques/ process in their Social media Bio or Blog, here you can get a rough idea of how long a piece may take. But, it is always best to just ask.

What does the artist need from me?

  1. A clear description of your idea; you can include colours, setting, objects, time period, etc.

  2. It helps if you can provide photographs/images for reference. Keep in mind that these images are only to inspire the artist, the artwork at the end will look different from the photos (Copying images exactly can violate copyright laws).

  3. An idea of things you don’t want/ like to appear in the artwork e.g. “Please don’t include the colour pink” or “I want it to have a dark theme but I don’t really like skulls”

    Tip: Feel free to express yourself in any way possible; Poetry, song lyrics, outfits, articles, novels, movies anything that can help you communicate. Artists are good at interpreting inspiration

What if I don't like the final Artwork at the end?

My best answer to this question is that if you are involved in some parts of the process then you are less likely to be disappointed at the end.

  1. Even before commissioning, you can look at the artist’s previous work. It will give you a good an idea of what to expect. Generally it is not the best idea to expect an artist to create something that was made by another artist.

  2. Provide descriptions and inspiration items as mentioned in the previous section.

  3. Some Artist provide Sketches or a Mood board before they begin the artwork giving you a good idea of what to expect. While other artists will prefer to give you updates as they create. Either way the key is communication with the artist. If something is unclear, you can always ask.

  4. If you don’t like something during the process, you can say something then. It is generally better to mention this while that artist can still fix it than waiting until the artwork is done.

Tip: Most artist want you to be happy with your artwork and will answer your questions/ concerns during the sketch/ planning stage of the artwork, until you are happy.