The Hairdresser by Meg Lyman

8×10 colored pencil commission – SOLD

Commissions. The double-edged sword. They are often an essential part an artist’s living, but they can be so draining creatively. When someone wants me to do custom artwork for them, I am thrilled and terrified at the same time.

I am beginning to set myself up with a style – the more work I do for myself, the larger my portfolio, and the more likely I am to get commissions that I will like. However, there are always commissions that just suck it out of me. If I accept a commission about which I am less than enthusiastic, can I use it to practice a new technique or style? I’m at risk of providing the customer with a product unlike any of my others… and they hired me after seeing my existing work. If an experiment goes wrong, I’ll have to start over.

Luckily, this hairdressing cephalopod commission was right up my alley.

For the artists out there, where do you draw the line when accepting commissions? Do they have to interest you, or do they simply have to pay the bills? For the potential commissioners out there, how much leeway would you give your artist in terms of style?

3 thoughts on “Commissions”

  1. Hey Meg,
    I guess it depends on your goal.
    -You could do only what interests you which will probably effect the bill paying dynamic, but I think unless they say “Just go wild, do a new style if you want.” I would stick with the style that got you the commission at least at first with a new customer. If it’s someone who knows your work you can always ask if they would mind a little experimentation. Kinda like dating:)
    Just my two cents.

  2. I wouldn’t recommend a change of style for commission work. BUT!!! You could start making a portfolio of “styles” to show clients. Work with what they like (it’s their money) and still leave some room for play. Experiments that turn out awesome can always be added to the portfolio.

    The very best advertising is word-of-mouth. It’s also the very worst if the client has an unhappy experience.

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