Tips for commissioning a painting?
November 6, 2007 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Tips for commissioning a painting?

We are considering commissioning a painting of our children from a friend. Aside from nailing down the obvious details of price, size, media, and time, is there anything we should be certain to consider and/or discuss with the artist?
posted by jmstephan to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a close relative who does portraits and such, and it sounds like you've got it covered. A clear discussion about expectations should cover it. My relative doesn't write out legal contracts or anything (except once when she did some work for a university and it came from the university).

And make sure you have a reasonable and clear expectation in terms of when you want the paintings delivered.

Otherwise, don't call them constantly asking for updates or quibbling over the latest digital photo they emailed you.
posted by MasonDixon at 9:11 AM on November 6, 2007

This is not legal advice, but consider who gets to own the copyright in the work (as opposed to just the physical painting), and consider putting this in writing.
posted by Malad at 9:18 AM on November 6, 2007

I'd probably discuss whether s/he can work from photos or will require your children to sit and if so, for how long they'd have to sit. And possibly if you book sitting sessions but your kids are sick/cranky and won't sit, if you have to pay for that missed timeslot in some way.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:19 AM on November 6, 2007

Take a long look at their previous paintings because there are some really crummy painters out there charging a fortune. I would also strongly recommend against having your friend do it - do you really want a portrait or are you getting one just because she does them? If it is the former I would look elsewhere because you need to prepare to be harsh if the results are not as you expected. Either that or have a painting of your children that you don't like hanging in your house for the forseeable.
posted by fire&wings at 9:22 AM on November 6, 2007

Best answer: there are several other issues that are important. for example, digital rights. does the artist have the right to show the piece on their website? get it published in a book? sell t-shirts with the image on them? all interesting questions. and did you know that many commissioned artists retain the right to borrow their art for display in a future show? i didn't.

also, the schedule should be more detailed than "when will it be done". you will want to specify the timeline for interim versions, typically an initial sketch, and a color/composition treatment.

most artists i know have zero interest in legal crap. but nailing down these details of the commission is crucial to avoiding bad blood and hurt feelings later.

i highly recommend this cheap book of contracts for artists. when i commissioned a piece, i got this book and started with the "commissioned artwork" sample (provided as a word doc on the DVD). having a solid template for all the issues was great for resolving everything with the artist. the piece came out great!
posted by bruceo at 9:25 AM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Use a portrait broker. They can help you find an artist who will match your style preferences and your budget.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:27 AM on November 6, 2007

« Older Non-religious marriage classes in Toronto?   |   Getting rid of fungshrooms. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.