Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Commissions; Pleased to be Working, Working to Please

Artists have a love/hate relationship with commissions. Truly, we artists are thrilled to be working and it's lovely to know you'll be paid for your efforts but sometimes things can go wrong in commissions. Here are a few ideas that might help your commission work go smoothly.

• Decide ahead of time the size/ price/ framing/ expected delivery date/ who will do the delivery/ etc. In other words, decide every detail ahead of time and make sure it's all written down. Emails work fine as written back up. The more expensive the piece, the more details you want to write down.

• Be a good observer and a good listener. Look where the piece will be placed, look at the other colors nearby, talk to the client and listen carefully to what they say. Learn to re-state what the client says back to them. It's a great skill to accomplish and helps people feel they've been really heard.

• Don't bite off more than you can chew. Make sure you can do the work you're asked to do & make sure you can fit it into your schedule. Sounds simple but lots of people either procrastinate or don't have good grasp of how long things take. Things always take longer than you think they're going to! That's my motto.

• Figure out the best way your customer likes to communicate. If they don't answer emails, try texting or phoning. People seem to have a preference. Figure out which one is your customer's and use it.

• Say yes. Always find ways to answer yes and be positive. No one likes a negative, complicated answer. If you need to, sandwich what you can't do in-between two sentences telling what you can do!

Above is a 30x40" oil on hardboard of a recent commission. My clients had been on a trip and held dear memories of this little beach bar. They wanted spots of greens and oranges to match their living room and gave me photos of the beach bar and from around the area. I noticed how tickled they were with the handmade furniture and knew they would have a place in the panting. I went to their house armed with tape measure and comers to see exactly where the painting would hang, what kind of light it would have on it, and what frame would match their furniture.

There is nothing more gratifying than delivering a commission to a satisfied customer. Sometimes you even get tears which is really, really cool. The customer of the beach scene sent me an email a week after delivery that said, "We absolutely love it! I see something different each time I look at it and when the lights are out and the moonlight shines in, I feel like I am there at night. Thank you for all the effort (and talent) you put into the picture."

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Talk about Trying New Things

We love to snuggle into a routine where we know what is expected of us, what the time frame is, and when dinner will be served on a regular basis. We love to drive the same old drives because we’ve already figured out the most efficient route. So what happens when we’re in a new place and the food comes at unexpected times and we don’t even know how to get from point A to point B…we’re all shook up! Things that were settled become unstuck and mixed around. And, oh my gosh, we’re forced to look at things in new ways.

It’s hard to step into the new but it’s the way to find different answers and creative ideas. What happens when I do this? Does this new thing work? Let’s try it!

I’m answering an itch to move beyond representational painting. What happens when I mix real and abstract? This is the first painting from this new mix. I pre-painted four abstract paintings in acrylic using four basic composition structures. It’s not too hard painting real and painting abstract; it’s super hard making them work together as one unit. Out of the box, beyond the routine, trying new things! It’s open season in the studio now!

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