Friday Tips: How Do You Get a Commission On Your Own?


The easiest way to get a commission is when a client falls in love with one of your works, but it’s already sold.  When this happens, be it painting or sculpture, do you let them go out the door disappointed?  We don’t.  We offer to have the artist execute the piece in a larger size. 

This practice dates back to the Dutch Golden Age.  If you’ll review any of Rembrandt’s better-known paintings, you’ll find that several were executed in three sizes: study, enlargement, and monumental scale.  The same with many of the Impressionists and Cubists.  Hence, the precedent was established long ago.  Of course the pieces are never exactly alike; while they might capture the same mood or feel, there are always minor differences. 

Most of our artists love this practice, as it saves them the trouble of reinventing the wheel on a regular basis.  But a few don’t care for it, which is fine with me.  If you do practice it, please just remember that each enlargement or reduction must be as impassioned as the work that inspired it, radiating its own fire.  

If this approach leads to your first commission, make sure the details are spelled out in a letter of intent that you and the client sign.  This should discuss size, price, delivery date, and the fact that you guarantee the client’s satisfaction.  Making that guarantee is not hokey; it wins their confidence.  You already know you’re going to do good work; the guarantee just qualifies that. 

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