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Commission Projects: Set a Solid Foundation

The more detail and information given to an artist, the more likely you’ll receive a custom piece of art that’s looks like 90% what you were already imagining.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Art Commission Guide with questions and prompts for your next commission piece.

September 30, 2022

Remember the last time you got a bad haircut? You spent HOURS on Pinterest, you used the AR filters to find your face shape, you brought those saved posts to your stylist. It’s washed, cut, colored, and your chair is spinning around to the mirror… and then you cried. Or if you’re like me, you wanted to throw a chair because you know there’s no going back!  

I thought using keywords like “Light blonde” and “Balayage” were doing the trick, but it actually miscommunicated what I wanted because I didn’t even know what I wanted

Don’t worry: this hairstyle didn’t last long.

The same can happen with custom artwork, too.

Here’s my “unpopular” take on commission projects: the client has 80% of the responsibility, and the artist has 20%

Commission projects require a lot of communication! The free Custom Artwork Guide has prompts, questions, and more to help synthesize your thoughts; so an artist can understand what you actually want hanging in your home vs. what they think you want hanging in your home.

Before we hit “Submit” on our invoice payment and hope for the best, let’s talk about the uneasiness of custom artwork and how we can tamper those fears:

Commission projects are scary because we let go of our idea

Have you ever read the book What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada (Listen to the book on Youtube) This story documents the journey between a child and his idea—how the idea grows, gets bigger, and meets other people:

I showed it to other people even though I was afraid of what they would say. I was afraid that if people saw it, they would laugh at it. I was afraid they would think it was silly. 

And many of them did. They said it was no good. They said it was too weird. They said it was a waste of time and that it would never become anything.

— What Do You Do With an Idea?

I know—that hit me in the stomach, too.

And that’s how you feel about your artistic idea, isn’t it?

When you hand your memory, emotion, or thought to an artist, so he or she can make it 3-D… you get a little stressed because you want that memory to be beautiful, that emotion to be understood, and that thought to be accepted.

Please trust me when I say this—every artist wants the best for your creative idea. We want to deliver the best piece of art to you, so that it becomes a family heirloom and inspires everyone that sees it. 

This client sent me a throw pillow to color match what she wanted in her piece!


Your idea is important, and we artists want to help you share it with the world. Here are a few ways we can ease those scaries about our commission piece:

Know the Artist and Their Past Custom Projects

This doesn’t mean that the artist needs to be our next door neighbor or a person we text daily… We simply need to look at their portfolio, website, and social media. 

We can get a good idea of what our piece will look like by seeing their past work. 

For example, I’m not going to go to Maggie B. French for a custom dog portrait… That’s not her style or subject matter. If I emailed her asking for a portrait of Sparty (our mini goldendoodle), I’m essentially asking a dentist if they can perform heart surgery.

When I want a portrait of my dogs, I’m going to Custom Pet Portraits by Helen.

And when I want a big, bold, colorful landscape, I’ll go to Maggie B. French

The tools are similar… but the approach, subject, and style are different. 

Commissions, by definition, are work that is done on behalf of a specific client. Therefore technically speaking one isn’t selling the commission, one is accepting commissions to create specific works of art.


That specific work of art is specific to that artist and his or her craftsmanship. Before asking an artist to create our heirloom piece, we need to do our research if it’s something that matches what they already love to do.

5-Star Custom Paintings Start with 5-Star Communication.

In the Custom Artwork Guide, all the questions the artist is wondering are ready for you to answer. The guide can help you narrow your focus, color palette, and text, so when you send that email it’s not a “Hope you can make sense of my brain dump, let me know your pricing!” 

Let’s take the color palette for example:

A client has a certain aesthetic for her home, and everything is in “blush pink, purple, navy blue, yellow ochre,” but what happens when you google “blush pink”? 

That’s a lot of pink for an artist to interpret. 

If you’re fine with any of these colors, send them all to your artist! But if you just wanted one type of “blush pink” to match your throw pillow and area rug, send only that one “blush pink” image. 

She emailed me links of artwork in my portfolio and stated that was the shade of pink she wanted. 

It was so easy for me to color match because I had references, and she was thrilled that this custom piece already matched her home decor. Win-win.

Write All the Words for the Custom Piece

If you’re anything like me… every idea, task, thought, to-do, need, calendar date, reminder, you get the idea, needs to be written out.

In our endlessly distracted, overcommitted, overstretched world, writing down your dreams and what’s most important to you forces you to be clear and specific about what you want.

— CNBC: Self-made millionaire: The simple strategy that helped increase my odds of success by 42%

I’ve totally felt the “This person knows more, is mega talented, and what I’m thinking sounds silly… especially if I don’t use the right words” paralysis when it comes to a commission project.

It sucks.

The Custom Artwork Guide was created to help alleviate some of the stress by guiding you through some of the most important information an artist needs to know before agreeing to a commission project. 

You and your artist can enter an agreement with confidence knowing that both parties are trying to protect your idea. 

Download the free Custom Artwork Guide here. 

80% of the Commission Project is Now Done! 

Custom projects are still stressful… But we’ve alleviated some of the stress by understanding an artist’s style, knowing what to communicate with an artist, and downloading a guide that can help us write it all down. 

Once you’ve got your ideas and details written it, it’s time for the exciting part: sending that email to an artist!

Next week, we’ll discuss how to talk to an artist with FREE email swipe files for you to copy and paste. Join the list to get notified when the next read is posted!

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The free Custom Artwork Guide has prompts, questions, and more to help synthesize your thoughts; so an artist can understand what you actually want hanging in your home vs. what they think you want hanging in your home.

download now

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These 10 pieces gently remind us to trust in His ruling over our lives and help us praise Him for His goodness and provision.

Shop now

Hurry! Limited stock available

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