Commissioning Artwork - My Top 10 Tips

Commissioning Artwork - My Top 9 Tips

It can be a little daunting to begin an art commission (especially with someone you don't know very well!) so here are my top 10 tips for commissioning artwork to help you decide your approach.

A piece of art should potentially be in view in your house for a lifetime (best case  scenario!) and it is a big investment of time, money, and effort. Having worked with quite a few clients over the years I have a few good pointers to consider if you decide to take the plunge.

1 Research Your Own Preferences Before Commissioning Artwork 

I would very much advise beginning by determining what you kind of art you personally like.

If you aren't quite sure yet then this may require a bit of research, but it's a really important step. Take some time to consider whether you like abstract art, impressionistic styles, Art Deco, Pop Art or more traditional styles of realistic painting. If you have the opportunity to visit an exhibition or a museum that's great, but this process could be as straightforward as looking at online galleries or a quick search on Google images for the style you want to look into.

I personally prefer a looser, abstract style because I feel that painting should distinguish itself from photography which captures a realistic image and is less imaginative, but not everyone feels this way. 

While considering your own preferences in terms of art style, you'll also need to consider what you would like as the subject of your painting. Do you want a portrait, landscape, seascape or something else? Is there a place or an experience you have had which is significant to you? 

Determining your preferences in terms of style and subject is a really important first step in an art commission.

2 Emotional Impact and Resonance

This leads us naturally on to a similar line of thought; you will want to commission a piece of art that will have a positive and powerful effect on your emotions. No-one wants a generic and bland painting that they have no emotional resonance with.

This will obviously vary from person to person as emotional resonance is an intimate thing. It could be childhood memory of a place that is associated with happiness or significance, a holiday spot that you visit to recuperate and reconnect or a place located with a special event such as a proposal.

It could also be a place of pain or trauma which brought about important change and growth in your life in unexpected ways and reminds you of your own resilience and progress in your life's journey.

This will make the painting you commission and collaborate on personal and meaningful. 

3 Keep the Space in Mind

The layout, size and scale of space the art will hang in will be another important consideration for your commissioned artwork. If it's going to be in a small to medium sized room you may not want it to be too large or it might overpower the surroundings instead of complementing them.  

Consider how wide and high your walls are as well as the general space and size of the room. A general rule of thumb is to make sure your painting doesn't cover more than two-thirds of the available wall space.

4 Think about the Lighting in the Room 

The lighting in the room your painting will hang in is going to have a significant impact on the painting itself. 

Ideally you want the room to have plenty of natural sunlight, although if your piece is more moody and tense you may prefer a darker room for it. Either way the lighting is something worth bearing in mind. 

You could also think about artificial lighting that is suitable for artworks, such as directional lighting that can be pointed at angles that best illuminate an artwork. 

5 Colour and Mood

The colour of your art commission should match or compliment the other colour choices in the room in which it hangs. Brighter colours in a room with plenty of natural sunlight are popular choices, but if your piece is more moody and sombre you will still need to consider colour choices as well.

If you aren't sure you could ask the artist who is painting your commission or you could also consider employing the services of an interior designer.  

In general you should use soothing colours for a calm atmosphere (such as blues or greens) or bold, contrasting tones for creating a more vibrant energy in the space.

6 Factor in the Age and History of your Home

My home is a Victorian property and this obviously affects the design and layout of the house. It has high ceilings and bay windows which let in quite a lot of natural light and I need to keep this in mind when choosing artworks for my walls.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean I should choose artworks that are from the Victorian era, there is definitely good reason to at least consider it for the harmony of art and architecture that it could bring. If you are lucky enough to have some period style stained glass in your home, it could be worth choosing a painting that complements it in some way. Equally if your home is near the sea, woods or countryside then it could be worth thinking about coastal art or a landscape that complements the setting and style of your home and its location.

7 Consider the Design of the Room the Artwork will Hang in

Having thought about the style of your home in general, it’s time to consider the specific room the painting is going to end up in. If you are planning to update the interior design do so with due consideration to whether this will match the painting you are commissioning, otherwise ask yourself some questions about the style and layout of the room. Is it minimalistic in design? Is it a relaxed and laid back space ie Boho etc in nature?  Does it have furniture that will complement the painting? Although the style of room can make for a bold contrast to a painting, most people prefer a painting to complement the space it hangs in. I would advise considering these questions before commissioning artwork and committing to the process.

8 Think About Collaborating with a Local Artist

While you may very well be able to find a very talented artist who doesn’t live near you, there are good reasons to work with one who does. 

A local artist will be familiar with where you live, the history of the place and will likely be able to bring a sense of place and authenticity to your art commission. They will be in a better position to understand themes, contexts and even emotions, mood and colours because they are familiar with the environment and locale.

This may not be so important if your painting doesn’t need to tap into these things, but at the very least you will money on postage! It also makes it easier to meet the artist face to face which can very helpful.

9 Make it Personal!

This is a painting of your choice to exist in your home so it stands to reason that it needs to be expressive of you as a person.

This is an opportunity for you to express your tastes, emotions and style even though you aren’t painting it yourself.

By following these simple tips, you can select art for your home that not only complements the space but also creates an environment that is uniquely yours.

If you would like to consider commissioning artwork from me then you can contact me at


Do Artists Own Commissioned Art?

Artists do not own commissioned art as they have sold the painting to you, you have paid for it and you are the owner. I would advise getting some kind of record of the sale e.g. certificate of authenticity or some kind of receipt.

What not to do when Commissioning Art

Don’t wait too long before checking in to see how the work is progressing, usually an artist will be happy to update you as miscommunications aren’t good for either party. Also don’t be afraid  to state clearly what you are looking for so that you don’t end up with a painting that isn’t suitable.

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