Welcome to my blog and thanks for reading. I post as often as I can listing upcoming events, interesting projects I am working on and some tips or two on using my favourite material - clay! If there is something you would like me to blog about, please send me a note. Please visit my website for more images of my work and an updated listing of events and happenings - http://www.taralynnefranco.com/

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why I do commissions ...

Commissions ... the four letter word of the art world. Many fear them and many avoid them like the plague as they are believed to be wrought with difficulties. Not only do you have to design something new, but the person commissioning the work needs to be happy with the result. There have been numerous horror stories and urban myths about commissions gone wrong ... where countless hours were spent by the artist in designing and redesigning a piece and then finally making the piece and the person deciding not to purchase it in the end. If the artist did not get a deposit or arrange for a preliminary design fee, they may feel that they wasted their time. This fear prevents many from even considering doing this type of work, but I can tell you that my recent experiences with two commissions were positive ones. This year I decided to apply for and was accepted into the New Art Festival in Ottawa Ontario. This ended up being a great show for me, both in terms of sales and in exposure for my work. I had two visitors to my booth who wanted something a little different than what I had there. The first person wanted to know if I could make a specific type of orchid - the phalaenopsis orchid. I hadn't made one before but we agreed that I would try and this person sent me some photos and I went about making them. This was a challenge, but also a great experience as I would likely have not thought of making this flower had it not been suggested. The second person wanted a piece with spider chrysanthemums for a specific place in their home. They originally selected a style from my portfolio that I had made before which I had already sold, but then contacted me once I returned home, asked if I could make something different. A few simple sketches and a few emails later, I had a design that we were both happy with and I went about making them.
Today, just over a month later, I shipped both individuals their pieces after getting their final approval by sending them a photo of what I had made. So, this ended up being both a rewarding experience and a growth opportunity for me as an artist. So why did this work? I have a few thoughts on this first experience:

1) You need to be comfortable with, and trust the buyer. Use your instincts - do they seem like someone who is going to be good to work with?

2) Do something that is not too distant from what you are already doing. In my case the materials were the same, just the configurations and the flower were different.

3) Start as soon as possible. Don't delay or procrastinate

4) Keep in touch with the person. Email is great for this. Send sketches, photos etc.

5) Only do it if you feel you will also benefit from it. A growth opportunity.

6) Take a deposit - 50% of the estimated cost is a good idea. Let them know that you will ship the piece but they will need to cover the cost. Give them an estimate of what you think it will cost to ship it to your location

7) Make more than one. In my case I made about 5 orchids and this allowed me to have more for her to choose from. I was able to keep the rest and sell them. I made a second set of the spiders so that I could photograph it for my portfolio.

8) Bring your portfolio to shows, especially when there are things that you have made that you either are out of or cannot bring to the show - you never know what someone might order