How to take an art commission

During the course of your art career you will receive requests to produce specific works of art. These will come from people with varying levels of experience in commissioning work. It is your job to ensure the process goes smoothly from the initial request to the completed artwork. Here are some tools I use to make the process as enjoyable and practical as possible:

Meet up

Upon receiving a request, meet your client; nothing is better than a face to face conversation to get the ball rolling.

This was a corporate commission, it took two meetings to decide on the style and size of the painting.


Some may already know what size they are looking for, but others need guidance. If you ask where they intend on displaying the artwork you can gain a better idea of what size would suit the space.


There may or may not be some variations in your technique from painting to painting. You should show them examples of your artwork and ask which style/technique they are looking for.

Be honest

If they ask you for a photo-realist painting and you are an abstract expressionist, be honest with them about your capacity to do the job at hand. Managing their expectations is the most important part of the discussion, and the best way to do this is for them to have a totally clear idea of how you work.

Back and forth

They may ask if they can see progress images. I would recommend not doing this. If they get involved in the creative process mid-way, it can end up changing the direction of the artwork without properly allowing it to reach fruition. You know this field better than them, which is why they came to you, so ask them to have faith in your abilities.

This painting was a private commission from an existing collector. I didn’t have to make any alterations to this painting once it was finished.


Every so often, people will ask for alterations on the finished piece. Ultimately, it is up to you how long you want to continue working on a job after you consider it finished. Offering a free alteration upon request can be a sign of good faith, but beyond that you should recognise the added hours you are putting into the job and charge accordingly.

Don’t go out of pocket

Ask for between 30-50% upfront (I ask for 50%). This is a non-refundable deposit which will cover your materials and time. In some cases you can end up having to wait weeks or sometimes months to get paid, or worse, their circumstances change and they drop the job all together. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to factors beyond your control..


These days it is incredibly rare for me to have any issues whilst working on a commission. It gives me great pleasure to see the delight on people’s faces when revealing a finished artwork.

Hopefully, there are some takeaways here to help you work on future commissions without a hitch. As always, I love a discussion. If you have any tips of your own please share your own experiences in the comments below!

Happy painting x