Artist Cary Wyninger - Commission Work vs. Personal Work

March 09, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Do Artists Dread Doing Commission Work?"

A question I hear frequently...'What do you like doing better; the pet portraits or your own personal work?'

It is a good inquiry.  I hear other artist's tone change when they talk about commission work and the challenges they can present.  You're having to in a sense, guess what the client thinks is good art, guess what it is they're looking for, work from photos that might be less than ideal.  But I honestly think that if they've seen your work and you ask good questions, it doesn't have to be that challenging. 

I think doing both types of work offers greatness!  When I get a commission order I am instantly excited for what is to come...I get to create!  ESPECIALLY when I get to do a pet portrait, because if you don't know me already I am in LOVE with animals.  Win win for me!  I get to paint AND stare at someone's adorable and loved soul companion. 

Some things you do need to work out with the client to make a portrait they're happy with (because that's the goal...it's to do something artistically that is yours but it's mainly to create something they're happy with):

1.  What size and price range are they looking at?

2.  What color(s) are they interested in the background? (If they say they don't know, I ask if they know where they're going to hang it to get ideas of what will look nice in that spot.  I also like to recommend a few colors that will complement they're fur and/or eye color.)

3.  Having a main photo to work from is great, but getting multiple photos of their pet is ideal as well as getting a little information about their personality.  It's really great to find a pose/color etc. that reflects the pet's personality.

4.  Finalize the details such as when do they need it finished, the size they need, main pose/photo to work from, any specific colors for background, when payment is due, and what you offer if they're not happy with the finished product.

5.  I typically send a picture of the work in it's almost finished state...asking for the client's input and if there are any adjustments they'd like to see.

My own personal work is different in that it is a much more freeing process...I choose the subject matter, I choose the canvas size, I choose the color palette...and I do what I want as I work!  There's the inner critic that gets in the way from time to time, but I'm getting past that.  I'm coming to terms with being okay putting myself out there in such a vulnerable way.  It's okay if my art doesn't groove with everyone :-) 

So while commission work doesn't always allow the artist to have complete artistic freedom to do as they wish, you are still trying to make the piece artistic in your own way/style.  I also look at it as the ability to get paid to practice and fine tune my skills.  On top of that, it gives me an opportunity for give a client a sweet memory of their pet if they've lost them...which is a majority of the ones I've done. 

In the end, I feel both types of work offer something positive and that's what I love to focus on.  I truly enjoy working on personal pieces, but I also truly enjoy taking on commission work as well.

Happy painting!

~Cary Wyninger

Art N' Soul

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"Otis" 11x14 Pastel on paper


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