Commissioned work is both good and frustrating at the same time. I am currently working on four different pieces of commissioned work and am very blessed to have clients who want original artwork. The challenge sometimes comes into play when someone wants me to create work that I find boring, or dull, or ordinary. Luckily, none of the pieces I am working on now fall into this category, but I have had it happen in the past. For example, I was commissioned to create a 50th anniversary gift which would include the Hawaiian Wedding song. The woman wanted it done for her husband as they were married in Hawaii and that song was sung at their wedding. Such beautiful text, all in Hawaiian, and I could only imagine the wonderful colors and ideas I was going to be able to employ. The woman however wanted it in brown and beige. Can you imagine that beautiful song in brown ink on beige paper?? As Charlie Brown would say, “AAAWWWKKKK!!!” I was dumbfounded. BUT…that is what she wanted, it was her piece and her money, so I created it in brown ink on beige paper. It killed me to do it, but I did it anyway. I have had countless other commissioned work over the years, and my lessons learned are as follows:
1. The old adage that the customer is always right applies to commissioned works as well.The customer is always right – even if their color choices are boring to me.
2. The customer wants it their way and in their timeframe – no excuses. Always deliver when you promise.
3. Even if I don’t like what I am being asked to create, create it anyway and yield to the idea that people see art in different ways. To me brown and beige are not interesting, to her it was AWESOME! (When she showed it to her husband he cried!)
4. Commissioned work is paid work, and paid work pays for art supplies and show fees and framing…so get more commissioned work.
5. Word of mouth is THE most powerful tool out there…one happy client will become more happy paying clients.
6. Plant the seeds and the harvest will come. When I left the American Craft Council Show last month, I did not have four commissions…now I do. The law of sowing a reaping ALWAYS rings true. Plant the seeds and they will come up, just not when or where or how you expected.
And so, it is with great joy that I thank my clients for commissioned work. I appreciate their trust and confidence in my skills, their ideas and thoughts, and I am blessed to be part of their special life moments. How many other people get to celebrate other people’s life victories in art!?! Between weddings, anniversaries, births, graduations, and all other life events I can be working until the day my hand can no longer hold a pen…whew! But for tonight, I am letting the current artworks dry until I begin shipping them out on Thursday, thankful for the work and the funds and the people who enjoy my art enough to buy more.