Thursday, April 24, 2008


Picking up on a post on Linda Blonheim Art notes I thought I would share my own feelings about the subject.

Like Linda, commissions always elicit a degree of anxiety in me, the result of the pressure to please the patron. After too many years of painting commissions, this has not changed one bit.

However my approach to pricing is a little different. I don’t charge more for a commission than I would for a comparable painting done on speculation but do take into account who is commissioning the work, and allow myself the same leeway in pricing as in art done on speculation. I value my time and my work, but I also consider the value of acquiring a new patron and new exposure (if that is the case) and consider this in my final pricing.

One thing I do before accepting a commission is to inquire about their budget and advise accordingly. I will agree to color selection in general terms, i.e. warm or cool palette, and in addition make it very clear that the painting will be done in my “style”. Nothing makes less sense to me than someone who knows and likes my work asking me to do something totally foreign to what I do. I ask for a deposit when dealing with institutions, businesses, and/or someone I do not know and have had only one transaction that was less than satisfactory to both parties.

Occasionally I will accept what I call a “soft commission”. When someone sees a painting of mine that they really like, but the size or the price doesn’t fit their need, I will offer to do something very similar in their size or budget without a commitment on their part. as long as it is something generic that I feel I can sell elsewhere.

Obviously each artist must have their own formula and guidelines for pricing commissions. We do what we feel we must do to succeed in reaching our goals.

Delancy Place, Philadelphia. 18x60
This was a recent commission where I set the price a bit lower than what I would ussually charge because I wanted the exposure that would come with one of my paintings in the home of the buyer, an art collector in a major city. As result a second commission was forthcoming.


Peanut said...

That is interesting. Not something I would have ever thought of since I am not an artist. I like the idea of a soft commission but that is because I'm poor and love so much of your stuff :) :)

Jean Levert Hood said...

Bill, I think both you and Linda have excellent observations and policies on this. I've enjoy reading both.

Linda Blondheim said...

Bill, as always, we must do what is a good fit for our own careers. I'm glad your systenm is working successfully for you.

PS. I love the urban landscape and it is finished to a T.