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Commission Projects: Talking to an Artist

Communicate budget and time expectations upfront, so the commission process is easier, smoother, and more enjoyable.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Ready-to-use email templates, so you can copy/paste exactly what you’re needing!

October 11, 2022

Remember the last time you raised your hand to ask a question? But before you even raised your hand, you recited your question in your head over and over… You thought through every single word and made mental edits. 

It’s finally your turn, and you word vomit a story before asking your question.

It then feels like 10 years pass between your “?” and the answer because the other person doesn’t know where to start.

Or maybe that just happens to me.

We talked about our creative idea and how it’s hard to let it go, but maybe letting it go can be easier when we’ve metaphorically sent it in a Hummer rather than a 4-door sedan? 

In this article, we’ll talk through 4 different types of emails you can send to an artist, and there are free downloadable email templates with copy+paste sentences that will streamline the process and make it even easier!

In college, I served on the student government and managed the student clubs. I sent a ton of emails to students, club members, professors, organizations… and one time my email was unclear that it straight demolished a relationship. I was yelled at in front of my peers for the word choices, and it forever scarred me from sending emails.

It took years of practice and perseverance to overcome that moment, but it’s forever imprinted in my mind: be clear and concise when emailing a professional (and have someone else look that email over before hitting “SEND”!).

So how do you ask the artist about your idea and if it’s possible? And how do you ask confidently and clearly?

These are the 4 types of emails I’ve received over the years, and I can bet that you might fit into one of these categories:

You have a budget in mind for this project

Budgets are not a bad thing for you or the artist. When I’m given a budget in an initial email, it takes a ton of pressure off because I know how to make us both happy within that dollar amount.

What’s not enjoyable when answering a commission request email… is playing 20 questions about the size and pricing.

Most artists want to answer your email quickly and accurately, and by giving us more information about your maximum price (or artwork dimensions), we can help the process move faster and be more enjoyable. If we’re not able to work within your budget, we might be able to refer you to someone else who can—but that’s not doable unless we know it upfront.

Here’s a sample of how to communicate your budget: 

  • “At this point in time, I have $$$ to invest in a commission piece, and I would like to know what you offer at that price point.”

  • “I understand it may not be entirely doable, but do you have any sizes that fit within my budget of $$$ for custom artwork?”

  • “My budget for an original piece of your art is $$$, and I would like to know if you’re available to create artwork for that amount or if you know someone who is similar in style and technique that might be available for my budget needs.” 

You still have more questions to ask before committing to a project.

Our family is a “double check” family. We’re pretty proud of asking the same question over and over again because we HATE having to turn the car around for a wallet… or sports equipment… or the crock pot meal. 

We ask questions because we want to make sure we’re on the same page and can work together as a team. 

You and an artist are essentially that: a team. A team that will bring your creative idea to life. 

If an artist’s commission page didn’t answer all of your questions, there’s no shame in emailing to ask more! 

Here is how you can write that you need more information for a commission piece:

  • “Could you explain more about [time, process, materials, delivery, etc.] and what you need from me?”

  • “If you’re comfortable with this, is there a time we could chat on the phone or zoom to discuss more details about a custom project?”

  • “On your website, it said [quote], and I wasn’t sure if it meant [this] or [that]. When you’re free, could you please explain the difference?”

You have a tight deadline for the project.

We get it: not all gift-giving celebrations happen on the same day every year like Christmas or an anniversary. 

Your family might not be those Type A planners and don’t realize you need a solid 6–8 weeks to plan a gift for graduation/baptism/dedication/celebration dinner. 

You’re on a tight deadline for a custom piece, you know that the artist might not be able to paint it in time, but you just know that this piece is exactly what your loved one wants to feel celebrated. 

Artists’ commission schedules vary: some might offer spots each quarter and some might have few openings for the whole year. It never hurts to ask!

Here’s what you can email an artist if you’re in a time crunch:

  • “I’d love to give your artwork to a friend, so I’m a little under pressure with delivery time. Would you feel comfortable creating a piece within [timeframe]?”

  • “I didn’t see anything mentioned on your website about how much it would cost to “rush” a project, would you be able to tell me your rates and delivery times?”

  • “I understand your commissions typically take [copy/paste what’s on website], and I wanted to ask if you have availability in your schedule right now to shorten it so that it may be delivered by [date]. For more context, [why the rush?].

You have no budget, no restrictions, nothing, and just want a piece.

Plain and simple: you love the artist, you want their art. It seems like it would be the easiest email to write and communicate, but we, artists, still need it spelled out for us that there’s no budget maximum and no creative restrictions. 

To be completely honest, I second guess these emails because there must be catch—no limitations? At all?

And there usually is… In asking more questions, I find that there’s a maximum price or size. It’s still a win, but it becomes a different experience for me as an artist.

So to have it completely spelled out that there’s total freedom—

Here’s how you can email an artist when you’re open for anything with a commission piece:

  • “I don’t have any budget, size, or subject restrictions. You have total freedom to create a piece!”

  • “I want you to create whatever you want, and I know I’ll be happy with the artwork when I receive it. I have no budget or size restrictions.”

  • “I’m excited to own your artwork, and I trust your vision. Please create whatever you want.”

These simple sentences help communicate clearly to an artist, and I can’t stress enough how helpful this information is at the beginning of the process than midway (or even at the end) of a commission project.

If you’re still feeling paralyzed about drafting an email, look no further: Commission Artwork Email Templates has easy-to-use pre-written emails for all 4 of these categories. 

With these emails, you can confidently email an artist with your creative idea in any season of life. 

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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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