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Creating Commissioned Work as an Artist

Creating Commissioned Work as an Artist

Valerie Atkisson / ArtBistro

Jared Gillette is a painter and ArtBistro member who regularly does commissions. He graduated with an MFA from The School of Visual Arts in New York City and regularly shows his work in galleries. He mostly paints portraits and about 25% of his sales are commissioned works. Since portraits can be particularly tricky (the client may not like your rendition of a particular person or place) and making the client happy is of utmost importance, Jared does the following:

“When I am approached for a commission the first thing I do is ask where they saw my work. If it was in a gallery, I ask them to contact the gallery and arrange the commission through them. The gallery knows my guidelines and prices of my work so if the client goes through them it takes less of my time. Some clients want to come directly to me for a discount. But generally that is not a good practice for me, as I want galleries to also make money from my work and have an incentive to work with me further.


Photo credit: Jared Gillet, Oil on Canvas

For clients that do not come through a gallery, discussing what the commission will entail is more involved. I write everything down that is discussed and then email them the summary of the discussion for their approval. This serves as our agreement. I don’t start on a project until I have a signed document and the fifty percent down payment I require. Only after I receive this do I start the work and if the client backs out, at least I have the down payment to pay for supplies.”

Most of Jared’s commission work is reached via word of mouth and galleries. Before he started working with galleries all of his commission work came via word of mouth.

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