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 

Painting WIP: Jen and Logan


acrylic painting on canvas , 36 x 30 in.

First, I toned my canvas.

I’ve never done that before, but I’m loving working on grey toned paper for drawing, so I thought I would apply it to a painting.

This is totally experimental; I like to bounce back and forth between painting and drawing to see how the same technique will replicate in each medium. It’s always fun – you should try it.

Second, I sketched the painting with black and let dry for a couple of days.

The design is going to replicate a former painting I’ve done, Drew and Rylee (below), so I did a quick sketch. The fine details will be worked out in paint.

Third, I blotted in the rainbow texture.

I also let my four year old son help with this part. He loves to paint, and he got really excited to work on something with Mama.

The finish shouldn’t be too difficult.

I need to get the skin tone in with some gradation, hair color, and after a few days of drying, I’ll add the final outline with black. Last, I’ll add in some gradation for the shoulders and heads.

Drew and Rylee, 30 x 36 in., acrylic on canvas
I remember the Drew and Rylee work being a challenge for two reasons.
  1. People are hard because it has to look like them. There’s a lot of nit-pick things when it comes to duplicating a person’s face if you want it to look real. I love doing them, and the end result is always worth it.
  2. The skin tone over a white primed canvas had to be redone a couple of times. I’m hoping with the grey canvas, maybe I’ll have better luck with the skin tone. I’ll have to see.

I’m hoping I’ll overcome those challenges with this piece. Have a great Thanksgiving and go make some art!

Please feel free to share with family and friends. 
You can also see more from my portfolio through 
the link below. 

Biz Boston's Fine Art Portfolio

5 Top Frustrations While Drawing and Writing

artistic frustrations

Each time I sit down to create, whether writing or drawing or painting or sculpting, I am frustrated at one point. Moving through these artistic frustrations is key to growth as an artist – in their own way. I try to see them as opportunities.

Do you have any artistic frustrations while you create?

I’m frustrated by many, many things.  Each thing could be its own post, but I’m not going to do that to anyone.

Here are my top five artistic frustrations while I create, and how I move forward from them:

1: My Family Interrupts Me

I need to clarify, I love my family more than anything in the world. However, they need to go away while I’m making art. I feel evil for saying that, but they interrupt me all the time. If I was on the moon, they would come and interrupt me. I only ask for an hour a day, and I rarely get an uninterrupted hour.

2: I Run Out of Supplies

I don’t think I need to explain this one, but I have a lot of sticky notes and lists telling me to go and buy supplies. It does lead to some interesting, experimental art because if I don’t have what I was expecting to use, I’ll use something I already have.

3: Worrying About If Anyone Will Like What I’m Making

Especially when I write, this goes through my head like a mind-numbing record. I know I need to be confident and just get my hands dirty. Make mistakes! Sometimes, I get in my own way.

I went further into this dilemma with my article, Why Am I Afraid to Create? It's been a passing struggle these last four months.

4: Getting Food Everywhere

Yeah . . . coffee, toast crumbs, beer and maybe some chocolate smudge on my work every now and then. I’m going to guess you’re thinking, “Why don’t you stop eating while you create?” Answer: Can’t, tried – I have to at least sip on water.

I have to find some way to work smudges into my pieces, not so much when I’m editing writing, but with artwork, it’s essential. I have also drank my mineral spirits on more than one occasion because of this habit.

5: When Time Is Up

I’m in the zone, and the timer goes off. It’s time to move my life out of creation mode and back to something, usually some sort of adulting. I’ve started to slip in ten or twenty minute creation sessions to get more art making in my life. I’ve been a lot less anxious ever since.


If you feel up to sharing, what frustrates you? How do they help you grow? I’m eager to see how many artists out there are going through the same challenges I am.

If you want to read more about artistic frustrations, here are a few links to visit:

9 Ways to Overcome Artistic Frustration

Dealing With Artistic Frustration: When Things Don't Go Your Way

3 Subject Matters I Love to Draw

Previous Article - Why Starving Artists (Like Myself) Make Art

Every painter and writer has a go-to subject matter, and I’m not any different. I’m sure in your own creation process you’ll find the same subject now and again.

Have you ever wondered why you prefer certain subject matter over others?

I can’t tell you your personal reasons, but I know from personal experiences why I love to draw people, imaginative creatures, and bananas.


I’m being serious about the bananas by the way. I love to draw them – in black and white. Even though they’re smooth, they have a unique form. When I take the peel off, they have a beautiful texture and those little stringy pieces. If you let them get old and spotty, there’s a natural contrast to your still life.

Subject Matter I Love to Draw
Banana, graphite, 8 x 10 in.

Imaginative Creatures

As a person who’s addicted to the creation process, I also love to create things that don’t actually exist, especially creatures. I’ve always been drawn to horror novels, not for blood and violence, but the monsters. One day, I hope sooner rather than later, I want to create the next big monster driven horror novel.

Biz Boston Art Writing
The Shaman – Peter, graphite, 9 x 12 in.

I’ve realized within the last year, I’ve given myself a lifelong task. I’m up against the works of Mary Shelley, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Bram Stoker, and dozens more. Any creature, not all monsters, I write into stories – or just make up in my head – I draw into existence. Then, they’re here and part of my reality.


Now, drawing people is the most frustrating experience I’ve ever undergone. I’m rarely satisfied with what I create. My inner-critic is the loudest while I draw portraits and figures, and most of these works are sketches.

Subject Matter I love to draw
Self-Portrait, charcoal, 48 x 52 in.

When I look at people, I can’t help it. I want to draw their eyes, hands, feet, arms, their posture, and how they’re mingling together. It’s an impulse I’ve rarely been able to overcome. Why? Because they’re crazy interesting, and honestly, I feel a little less crazy drawing people than just staring at them. 

Subject Matter Is An Important Way For Any Artist To Communicate

These subject choices say a lot about me and what everyday life is like in my head. I’m attracted to textures, contrast, unique forms, the rare and the crazy things about people.

Take some time to think about why you like certain subject matters? Or go through your works and find your three favorites? Or go and find something that you just can’t pry your eyes away from?

Remember, they will say so much about you as an artist, art – in any medium – is a communication process, and the subject matter you choose will say something to the world about you.

If you enjoyed this post please share it with your friends and check out more reading about drawing below. Have a wonderful evening and make some art!

Check Out These Blogs for More About Drawing:

Artist Daily


Why Am I Afraid to Make Art?

make art

Lately, every time I look at my writings or art, I feel deflated.  I tell myself over and over again – how are you ever going to do this? Will it matter?  I haven’t felt this scared to create ever in my life. How can I make art while feeling like this?

How do I overcome this fear? What on Earth am I scared of to begin with?

Have you ever watched a child draw or paint? I have the privilege of being an elementary art teacher who witnesses how fearless children are when they create.

When they’re done, they hold up their art and ask, “Where are you going to hang this in the school?”

I ask myself, “Was I ever this fearless about creating art? Did I ever share my art without the overwhelming, gut-wrenching question ‘but what will people think?’”

Young artists create, and if a person looks at their art and says, “Well done,” they say thank you and move on to create more art. They don’t wait around for more approval or criticism. They just create.

Before this past month, I created art and turned to my inner critic voice as a guide. Now, the voice is so overpowering and annoying, I want to snuff the voice out entirely.  

I believe it’s because I use to think my work was fabulous, and now, after master art classes and writing classes, none of it seems that great. I’m afraid of eventually hating what I create.

There are so many critiques and techniques going through my head from what I’ve learned, they’re muting my creative voice.

How do I use my knowledge to make art without my inner critic’s voice getting louder and overbearing?

I’ve decided the fear will always exist, and the knowledge I’ve learned over years of study is invaluable, and my inner critic is kind of a witch. I just need to remind myself WHY I create.  

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.” – Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art

I create because without painting, drawing and writing I would feel like an hollow shell. Creating art is how I breath, and I can’t allow criticism to leave me gasping for more air.

If you’re scared like I am, then tell that loud, obnoxious inner voice to shut it and create something with me. Let’s make the world an interesting place because of our failures and mistakes.

Find out more about my art or check out my portfolio:

About Page

Art Portfolio


Why Do Starving Artists Make Art?

make art
Biz Boston - About

Why do artists make art?

My students ask me questions like this every school year. I’ve learned they’re asking me, “Why do we bother creating art?”. I don’t know why many people create, but I do know why I paint, write and draw.

Last week, I made some Celtic spirals with watercolor and ink – why? Because I watched The Book of Kells and felt inspired. Yesterday, I started an abstract portrait – why? Because of a conversation I had with a colleague about personalities.

But Why Do I Feel Compelled to Make Art?

Some voice tells me, “CREATE!”, and I listen because I know what it feels like to not listen to that voice. It leaves me empty, frazzled, anxious and – at times – desperate. People crave many things in this world – I crave how I feel while I make art.

“I tell stories because I feel compelled to – I feel like I have to.” – Oliver Jeffers, illustrated of The Day the Crayons Quit

Like any junky, I want to dive more into that impulse and share my experiences. I want to have conversations about that thirst to create– or gnawing greed of a creative soul – I have every day and share my artistic struggles, frustrations, and victories living with this invisible push.

I’m pretty sure, after thirty years of living with myself, I will make art for the rest of my life. I will paint. I will draw. I will create worlds. I will think of stories. I will write stories. I will write conversations that never took place. Then, I’ll create some more.

I don’t know why you create, or if you feel the need. If you’ve never made something out a pile of other things, then, I dare you to create. Find whatever mediums you have available, even if it’s just your keyboard, and create today.

Want to join the conversation and tag along with 
some creative projects? Visit my About Page to 
read more about me and why I’m sharing my artistic 
journey with you.