Ever commissioned an artist to paint something for you? Here are some tips :)

I recently commissioned my first piece of art – something I have wanted to do since forever and I’m so excited to see the outcome!

The artist I have chosen to work with is WP van Heerden – the husband of my dear friend Colleen at Midlands House of Healing who is no stranger to my blog / social media feeds :)

WP’s Shattered Views series (exploring the inequalities of SA in subtle mockery) is currently on exhibition at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg  – I went to the opening a few weeks ago, and it was wonderful to immerse myself in some art vibes, something I haven’t done properly, and have missed, since London days! WP’s lesser-known work using a palette knife and thick textured paint style is the vibe I really like and is what he will be working with for my piece.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 9.10.55 AM Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 9.11.29 AMWP-van-heerdenI saw WP last week to talk through my ‘brief’ and he commented on how nice it was that I came so prepared, which got me thinking about similar the vibes between working with a designer and working with an artist are – and the crux of it all is: communication.

I am by no means claiming to be an expert, but here are a few tips:

  1. Pick the right person – choose someone whose work and style resonates with you, someone you gel with and fee comfortable talking to
  2. Provide visual references but relate them back to the artists style – there is no point in trying to make a Picasso produce a Monet, see point 1.
  3. Don’t be too prescriptive – you probably have an idea of what you’d like, but leave some room for interpretation and creativity (eg. I’ve asked WP to produce something that includes flowers/plants, I provided a couple of ideas related to the kind of flora I like, but that’s where I’ve left it)
  4. Sharing an idea of preferred colour palettes can be helpful – I gave WP a page filled with examples of the kinds of colours I liked + a list of colours I don’t like: see point 5.
  5. Don’t be scared to say what you DON’T want – alongside what you do like, this can help an artist to interpret your taste.
  6. Budget – be upfront about what you are willing to pay / what you can afford – in my case, I gave WP a budget and based on his rates, he suggested a canvas size for me which I was more than happy with.
  7. Timing – where possible, have a loose/flexible time frame, or at the very least, give the artist as much notice as possible if you need the work done for a specific occasion (as a gift etc)

Edited to add: discuss payment preferences with your artist but it is good practice to at least pay an agreed deposit upfront.

These are really just the basics – there are some great resources online with some further info (this is quite a good, in depth one) and obviously each artist has his own protocol and way of working so good to chat about all the details upfront and make sure you are both on the same page :)

Look forward to sharing WP’s masterpiece once it’s complete!


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