Commissioning Art

For many years I was an avid collector of comic books.  I love the stories, but I especially loved the art.  After many years, the cost of paper books was just too much and took up too much room, so I sold them all away.  Nowadays, I collect art.  Specifically, I love meeting the artists that are out there creating.  I spend most of my time in “artist” alley at the comicons which have as much or more space than the tradition vendors.  I don’t limit myself to just comic creators either.  I love talent in all forms.

I recently had a piece done that has taken almost a year to complete.  I wanted to have a piece done using the Chinese Zodiac creatures for each of my girls.  Originally, it was going to be a tattoo, but the size and complexity changed it to wall art.  I originally approached an artist, who will remain nameless because I have lost their name.  This was the piece he eventually sent me:

After trying to communicate with the artist for a couple of months, I gave up.  Later I took the final sketch he had sent, since I liked it so much, and passed it to a new artist I had met and started following on Facebook.  David Faught is an extremely talented artist with a wide range including the human form, animals and fantasy.  I sent the piece to him and asked if he could ink and color it.  He did more than I ever expected.  He redrew the piece to make it his own and even made adjustments I wanted, specifically the placement of the dog and dragon.  He spent many hours inking and finally giving me two color versions, one digital and one watercolor, mostly because of a miscommunication.  Here are the stages of the piece:

First pencils

Adjustment to switch dragon and dog


Digital Coloring


While I have been doing this for a while, this piece taught me some valuable lessons about expectations and being clear with the artist what you expect.

  1. Be clear about what you want.  Even if you are going this is an “artists choice” be clear what you are hoping for.
  2. Communicate clearly what you want.  The worst that can happen is the artist will tell you no or they cannot do as you ask.
  3. Get the money talk out of the way early.
  4. Be patient.  The creative process is much different than a regular day job.  It requires being in the right frame of mind and having the time to work their magic.  If you want it done right, wait for it.
  5. Keep the communication open.  I like to see a rough then a semi-finished before they are completed.  The rough helps you and the artist get the concept down and the semi-finished gives you a clear picture of what it should look like before it’s completed and any adjustments are still relatively easy to make.
  6.  Money will need to exchange hands. 
Here are some questions you may want to think about to define your project.
  1. What medium does the artist work in? 
  2. What character do you want?
  3. Is it a head shot, torso or full body? 
  4. Will it be pencil only, inked or colored?   If colored, do you want it digital, watercolor, ink, other?
  5. How much will it cost?
  6. About how long will it take?

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