I would like to start commissions, what is involved? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-27-2011, 05:03 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: NSW, Australia
Posts: 8,167
• Horses: 3
I would like to start commissions, what is involved?

I would like to start commissions. But I am not sure if I am allowed just yet.....I haven't asked. I just want to get some info on them. I have wanted to do them for a while now, I think that I am good enough (you be the judge). I was just wondering what was involved in doing commissions? I know that they send you a reference picture and you draw it but I was wondering, how do you pay for it? Would you buy one of my drawings?
Here are a few of my recent artworks. Sorry for the bad quality in the photos....
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-27-2011, 07:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2011
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I really like the third one down and the one with the three horse heads.
See my advice in "What do you like in commissions for you?"
Based on those thoughts, I would recommend developing a website or adding an artwork page to your facebook account for advertising purposes. Entering art contests (your county fair is a good place to start) and looking for any kind of art groups or organizations that you may be eligible for (IDK if your age will be a factor in this area). This advice also depends on what you want to charge, but to get higher fees I feel that its pretty essential to meet some of the above criteria.

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post #3 of 9 Old 01-27-2011, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 8,175
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I work part time now as a pet commission artist.
My first word of advice - don't expect to make a fortune.
Second piece of advice - don't expect to just put and ad up and get business immediately.
Third piece of advice - don't give up hope when you have no commissions coming in.

I've been offering commissions since I was 15 or 16. Honestly I can't believe that some people did use me as an artist when I was at that stage... although I was charging rock bottom prices!!
Only in the last 12 months have I started to really push up some of my prices and I have also now got a pretty steady stream of work coming in with currently pretty minimal advertising required, I am receiving a lot of work through word of mouth.

I have set up a registered website, I have business cards, flyers etc. and advertise quite frequently in horse and dog magazines.
You have to work hard to even get one client, it is the first year or so that is hard and off putting, but once you start to develop a client base, word of mouth spreads and you'll get more consistent work.

How I go about doing a commission, well yes you're right, the client sends you a photograph of the subject, and you draw it to the best of your ability.
I try to take work in progress photo's for my clients and send them the photo's as I'm going so they can see their portrait being 'constructed'.
I ask for a 50% deposit before I commence drawing, to cover materials and time should my client pull out after I start to piece.

Once finished, I take a photo and watermark it, send it to the client for approval, once approved I will sign it, take a proper photograph to put on my website, package the drawing and send it.
I package with my business card attached.

As for your drawing quality, at this stage I would be really working on getting your tones and shading/fur quality better. You are good, but not quite at the level of offering commissions unless it was just for friends/family at this stage.
I would like to see a greater variety of tones in your work, so parts of the eyes and nostrils being a true black, and using all tonal values through to white in some areas.
This will make your drawings stand out and become more lifelike. I would also like to see a little more realism in the fur detail - some artists will draw the fur in graphite by simply shading and toning. Personally I'm a fan of the 'long road', drawing in each hair using a small flick of a very sharp pencil, to draw in each hair, then gradually layer the piece until it starts to look like it is coming to life.
I really think you should focus on improving these couple of aspects before thinking about offering public commissions - you are a talented potential artist and I would not like to see you put off if you offer commissions and don't receive much work - as your work is brilliant for your level, just not quite at commission standard as yet - but will be very soon if you keep practicing!!
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-27-2011, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: NSW, Australia
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Ok thank heaps Kayty I learnt alot. So you think I should holf off for a while? The RaceHorse one is the one that I did yesterday. I will keep your advice in mind and I may go to pony club and ask if anyone would like one. I think that at first I would only charge $5 and just see how they go. I already have a few people at PC wanting one. So I will see how I go and keep all your advice in mind Thank you very much.

Do you have any tips on improving the areas that you said?

Cross Country- The act of hurling yourself and your equine partner at a stationary object with poise and grace while attempting to survive...
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-27-2011, 07:33 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Danville, IL
Posts: 595
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I have just the thing for you!

DarlingMionette's Commission Guide can walk you through the process. A lot of people prefer to pay with a PayPal account -- there's less private, sensitive information that isn't involved as there would be with cash or checks. PayPal is just a form of buying/selling things online (think bank transfer only with e-mail addresses); a lot of people who buy from eBay have one.

As for $5, I think you're underselling yourself for those portraits. While cheap, you'll find yourself with a huge order of commissions and you'll struggle to get them all done in a timely manner. Set a limit for now (such as "only 5 slots available, 5 slots for reserve"), and as you finish a commission open a new spot up. This will help you learn to prioritize.

In addition, you don't need photographic references. Some people will ask you to draw their horse, for example, doing an action that they're not in the photo reference(s) they send you. If you'd like, feel free to e-mail me here and I'll gladly give you more advice on the subject, and even some critique if you would like. (:

Also, don't do half-off. By mandating a "50% down-payment," you're helping insure that you're going to get paid. (So you don't finish the picture and send it off only to hear you won't be getting paid -- they have some sort of excuse.) It also helps to not post the finished product of the drawing online or mailing it off until the full payment is received. That way, you're not getting ripped off!

Communication is also key. Show the commissioner your sketches (make sure to have your signature[s] on them so they don't take off with that and not pay you, too) and ask if that's how they'd like their commission. Let them know if something happens that causes you to postpone or cancel their order. Refund any money if you have to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances (such as a family emergency).

And last, but not least, testimonies! If you can get your commissioners to leave a review, you're more inclined to get more customers (especially if you have a good review on your work and the time spent on it).

"Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative." (H.G. Wells)
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Last edited by Creampuff; 01-27-2011 at 07:38 PM.
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-27-2011, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: NSW, Australia
Posts: 8,167
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I am selling my first commission for $10 to HorseChic Thank you for all the help guys

Cross Country- The act of hurling yourself and your equine partner at a stationary object with poise and grace while attempting to survive...
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-28-2011, 01:25 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Australia
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Oops sorry I didn't answer your question about payment.
I started out charging around the $30 mark for an A4 graphite drawing of friends horses. As I got more business i started to charge more. My basic rule of thumb is that is you have a huge wait list, you're too cheap. If you have no wait list, you're too expensive. If you have a steady flow of work, you're just right :)

With friends/family I usually get paid cash, however I have the options for people to pay via money order/cheque, direct deposit and particularly for my international clients, Paypal.
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-28-2011, 12:40 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Witbank, South Africa
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I would really love one PintoTess, but I dont think my mom would... Lol.

Every girl wants their own LOVE STORY, I found mine... :)
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post #9 of 9 Old 01-29-2011, 02:00 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2010
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Haha lol it Is ok :)
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