Mastering Artwork Commissions: The Art of Collaboration

Commissioning Artwork: Finding the Balance

When commissioning an artwork, it's essential to strike a balance between having a say in the creative process and respecting the artist's vision. Remember that the artist is not an extension of you, and their work is a reflection of their unique style and creativity. In this article, we'll explore the do's and don'ts of commissioning artwork and how you can be involved in the creative process without overstepping your bounds.

What to Expect When Commissioning Artwork

Commissioning an artwork is a collaborative effort between the artist and the collector. To ensure a successful outcome, it's essential to understand the perspectives of both parties.

The Artist's Perspective

For artists, accepting a commission can be a rewarding experience, as it allows them to create something unique for a collector who appreciates their work. However, artists also need the freedom to express their creativity and stay true to their style.

The Collector's Perspective

As a collector, you want to have a piece of art that resonates with you and reflects your tastes. While you may have specific ideas about the artwork, it's essential to trust the artist's expertise and let them create something that aligns with your vision.

Do's and Don'ts of Commissioning Artwork

Commissioning artwork can be a delicate process. Keep these do's and don'ts in mind to ensure a positive experience for both you and the artist.

Respect the Creative Process

  • Be open to the artist's ideas and let them guide the creative process.
  • Avoid dictating every detail or expecting the artist to create something that's outside their style.
  • Don't ask the artist to replicate an existing artwork, especially by another artist.

Communication is Key

Set Clear Expectations

Before starting the commission, discuss the size, medium, and subject matter with the artist. Make sure you both understand the desired outcome and any specific requirements.

Establish Boundaries

Agree on the level of involvement you'll have in the creative process, including updates, feedback, and studio visits. Set boundaries to ensure a respectful working relationship.

Contracts and Agreements

  • Sign a contract that outlines the agreed-upon concept, price, and timeline for completion.
  • Expect to pay a 50% deposit before the artist begins work, with the understanding that the deposit is non-refundable if you don't like the finished piece.

Involvement in the Creative Process

As a collector, you can be involved in the creative process without dictating every detail. Here are some ways to participate without overstepping.

Updates and Check-ins

  • Request occasional updates from the artist to see how the artwork is progressing.
  • Refrain from making surprise studio visits or sending unsolicited suggestions.

Giving Feedback

  • Offer constructive feedback when requested by the artist, while keeping in mind their creative vision.
  • Be open to the artist's ideas and trust their expertise in bringing your vision to life.

When Things Go Wrong

It's not uncommon for disagreements or misunderstandings to arise during the commission process. Here's how to handle these situations gracefully.

Dealing with Disagreements

  • Approach disagreements with an open mind and a willingness to find a solution that benefits both parties.
  • Consider involving a dealer or consultant to mediate any conflicts and keep the project on track.

Learning from Mistakes

  • Acknowledge any missteps and use them as learning experiences to improve future collaborations.
  • Remember that art is a subjective experience, and not every commission will turn out exactly as you envisioned.
Commissioning an artwork is a unique and exciting journey that allows you to collaborate with an artist to create something special. By respecting the creative process, maintaining clear communication, and setting boundaries, you can ensure a positive experience for both you and the artist. Remember that artists are not an extension of your vision, and finding the right balance between your input and their creativity is crucial to a successful outcome.


1. Can I ask the artist to create something in a different style than their usual work?

It's generally best to choose an artist whose style aligns with your vision. Asking an artist to work in a style that's not their own can lead to a less satisfying result for both parties.

2. How much should I expect to pay for a commissioned artwork?

The cost of a commissioned piece varies depending on factors like the artist's reputation, the size and complexity of the artwork, and the materials used. Always discuss the budget and payment terms with the artist before starting the project.

3. Is it possible to get a refund if I'm not happy with the finished artwork?

Typically, the deposit paid at the beginning of the commission process is non-refundable. However, the terms of the agreement should be outlined in the contract you sign with the artist.

4. Can I request changes to the artwork during the creative process?

While it's okay to offer feedback when requested by the artist, making unsolicited changes or dictating every detail can hinder the creative process. Trust the artist to bring your vision to life while staying true to their style.

5. How long does it take to complete a commissioned artwork?

The timeline for completing a commissioned piece varies depending on the artist's schedule, the complexity of the artwork, and the materials used. Be sure to discuss the expected timeline with the artist before starting the project.