How does one go about commissioning a work of art?
If the work of art will be for a personal space, such as a portrait of a particular person (including a self portrait), a pet, a specific location or home, there are some basic steps to follow.
First, select an artist whose work you have seen and enjoyed. It seems obvious but this is important. Just as you would check references and ask to see a portfolio of an interior designer before retaining her to decorate your home or office, it is a good idea to look at as many examples of an artist’s work as possible before commissioning her to paint for you so that you really know her style (and you like it), and you know her strengths and weaknesses.
Next, be very specific about what you want in advance. An artist will likely ask you about size and orientation of the work (horizontal, vertical) in quoting you a price for the project. You should agree to these basic points before work begins. In addition, chances are that you have some conception in your mind of how you want the finished product to look, and it is very helpful to the artist if you can identify that. If, for example, you envision your portrait in an outdoor setting such as a garden as opposed to a formal, interior space that is an important difference and one which you should discuss with your painter. If you are commissioning an artist to paint a specific place but you really like the loosely-rendered style of another of her works then you should say that before she begins to paint. All of this allows the artist the opportunity to create something that will better meet with your expectations, and then everyone is happy.
Third, if the artist will be working from photographs as opposed to in-person, provide a variety of images as background material. Explain what you like about the images so that you and the artist see eye-to-eye.
Finally, allow the artist creative freedom once work has begun. After all, this is a work of art and not a digital photograph that you can re-touch. Do not try to edit the work by asking the artist to repaint certain details and basically put the artist in the position of creating a paint-by-numbers.