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The Trials and Tribulations of Producing a Commissioned Artwork

'Is it a bird?'

I'm pretty pleased with this acrylic painting recently framed up and delivered to a customer based in Scotland but its been a rocky road to completion and I feel I've learned a lot so thought it was worth a blog post.

It's not my first commission and I went into it feeling relatively experienced and organised. The customer had reached out to me on social media and asked if I could design an image based on some snaps shed taken on her phone of her husband and children on the beach flying a kite. She wanted herself and her dog in the picture too, even though they weren't in the photos taken that day. I asked her for as many photos as she could find of her family from different angles to help me get an idea of how they might interact and be positioned in the composition. I did an initial rough sketch to give her an idea of what I was thinking.

I then drew up a contract in which we established all the necessary details including the materials I would be using, the dimensions of the artwork required, its orientation, whether framing would be required, the colour palette and style of painting, the overall concept of the painting (in this case a painting of the family playing with a kite on the beach loosely based on the photographs provided, with an emphasis on the sky creating a sense of space) and any existing Hayley Stokes Art images being referenced. In this case the customer had particularly liked my "Hornsea Hike" sketch so I was aiming for a similar style.

Importantly, we agreed a payment process. On payment of a non-refundable deposit of 50% to cover labour and materials, I would aim to complete the painting within 1-2 months. It was agreed that the remaining payment would be made on completion of the painting and that at this point, the customer could choose not to purchase the painting if she so wished, in which case no further payment would be required. It was agreed that I would regularly check in with my progress to try to increase the chance of the customer's satisfaction with the final result. We agreed that framing and delivery charges would be in addition to these costs and would be agreed upon completion when it would be clearer what the best framing options would be.

Sounds like a bullet proof plan right?!

It did seem to be going seamlessly until I began to near the end of my initial artwork and was picking up that the customer seemed to be politely agreeing with the progress but was somewhat lacking in the enthusiasm she'd had at the beginning. Just as importantly, I was losing enthusiasm myself, and even though the customer had agreed to purchase the artwork and had even sent payment for framing and postage, I decided to double check with her that she was genuinely happy with the result (shown below)..