Why Is Commision Work Overwhelming for Me?

Have you ever sat down to a commission piece and felt less than thrilled? Receiving the commission was wonderful, and you leapt for joy; however, now that you’re working, you’d rather work on something else?

I always feel accomplished when I complete any piece; however, I feel less compelled to work on commission work. I’ve been wondering – why?

Commission work is not as exciting for me as my own conceptual work. I don’t have the same feelings put into the work, and I don’t go to bed thinking about the work, dream about it, and wait through hours of my day job to get back to it. I love finishing every piece I make; however, finishing a commission piece feels like checking off a box, instead of having a conversation. Anyone else feel this way when completing commission work?

1: The Work Is Not My Concept

Anyone out there able to explain their thoughts visually? Mine are all patterns, contrast and colors. I clearly see these chaos; it makes sense to me, but probably not to you. I’m not expecting someone to read my thoughts, or understand them when I say them out loud. That’s why I create art I can edit until the vision is just like it is in my head.

When it comes to commissions, I have the client’s words instead of a visual pictures in my head. But that’s why they’re asking me, right? Right, they’re asking me because I can take an spoken idea and recreate their visual image.

Do you think that sounds difficult?

It absolutely is, every time because it’s not my idea; it’s someone else’s idea. What can I do to get over this hill? I can ask questions – a lot of questions – more than seems necessary. I don’t want to spend hours finishing a piece just to find out they wanted something completely different.

2: It’s My Style

There is a little light at the end of the tunnel. I still get to use my style when I take a commission. Usually, that’s why someone asks or hires and artist to paint, draw or sculpt something for them. They’ve seen other works by the artist, and they liked what they saw.

But What if they don’t want my style?

Then, I believe – tell them “NO.” I explain it more in reason five. Every artist has a sort of “penmanship” to their work. It’s as difficult for me to change my style of painting as it is to write in someone else’s handwriting. For me – this completely removes the joy of painting.

3: The Client Gets The Final Edit

Normally, I get to decide when a piece is done. Not with a client and a commissioned work. The client decides – they have the final “say so.” Always. If you’re not comfortable with that, then don’t accept commission work. If you do, and you debate what the end product should look and feel like with the client, you could possibly damage your art career.

This is probably the most difficult challenge for me. I overcome this by working on one of my own pieces at the same time. My creative juices are still flowing, but I can do the more stringent work of a commission little by little.

4: The Work Will Probably Not Be Part Of My Portfolio

If the work doesn’t correspond with my concept, then, it’s not going in my portfolio. I’m a full time teacher, so I cherish my work time. However, I want people to enjoy and buy my art. That sometimes means working on pieces that aren’t portfolio work.

As I said before, it helps to work on a conceptual piece and a commission piece at the same time.

5: I Don’t Want to Recreate Someone Else’s Aesthetic

I once had a lady ask me to draw her a horse monogram. She gave me several images she liked, plus images of her horses. I drew three different monograms incorporating my style with the blend of references she gave me. She declined all three.

I asked what was wrong?

She replied, “That’s not the style I was looking for.”

I didn’t say anything because she had the right to decline all three images. However, now I always ask them. “Have you seen my work? Are you okay with this style?”

If they say “yes,” then, we can get started.

If they say “no” or “well, how about more like so-and-so’s style,” then, I decline the commission, as politely as possible. Some artists believe in staying flexible with style; I do not.

When you’re offered a commissioned piece, you should do your best to take it, and finish it in a timely manner. However, keep in mind a few things before you accept the commission. The “NO” now could save you versus negative back and forth between a client.

What about being nervous when completing a commission?

Stick to your own style and make a client aware before you begin the work, then, you won’t have to be nervous. That’s why I believe incorporating my own style is important. Most of my art is created for my own chaotic reasons.

Read my previous article about why I create to begin with.

I would still rather work on my own concept, but the look on someone’s face when I give them their vision – it’s worth every hour spent.

If you’re offered a commissioned piece, you should do your best to take it, and finish it in a timely manner. However, keep in mind a few things before you accept the commission. The “NO” now could save you versus negative back and forth between a client.

To hire Biz Boston for a commission, 
please contact me by email: bizbostonart@gmail.com
Want to read more about commission work, 
here are some links: 

The Newbie’s Guide to Commissioning Artwork

So You Want To Do Commissions 

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