A vital part of being a working artist are the clients and what they are looking for to be created. When commissioned for an artwork, there are some specific and at times very sentimental requests that an artist has to be mindful of, as that is what matters at the end of the day.
The client comes to an artist after taking a careful look at their portfolio and has expectations in mind of the kind of work that the artist can do. The client’s desire for a commissioned artwork is mainly based on the artist’s demonstrated capabilities in their portfolio, as well as how they are able to connect with the artist. It is a delicate balance of managing client expectations, perhaps underpromise of what can be done and overdeliver on the actual artwork.
For someone who has been doing commissions for over a decade now, I have an intimate understanding of what an artist can do to not only meet the client expectations when it comes to commissioned artwork but also potentially get a collector for their work. For all the budding artists out there, in this blog, I would like to list down all the things you can do to ensure you meet your client’s expectations with every commission. So, here we go:
- Actively listen and note down of all the things that your client wants!
When being commissioned for a particular artwork, it is crucial for you to listen closely and intently to what your client wants. Make notes, draw rough sketches to share with them to ensure you are understanding exactly what they are looking for. Listening is an essential skill for any professional, however for an artist it can be a matter of incorrectly interpreting someone’s creative vision resulting in lost time, money and effort. Just like any relationship, it is incredibly important to listen and that is how you build a sincere and trusting client relationship.
- Stop trying to be perfect, do what your client needs to do
Perfectionism might be the biggest obstacle that we all face on our way to creating something or even just being productive. Trying to be perfect is often our subconscious way of justifying our procrastination. We take refuge in our research and “planning phase” of the creative project instead of actually doing it.
When it comes to a commission, your responsibility is to the client and ensuring they get the version of the artwork that they want. You should not let your insecurities or perfectionist tendencies get in the way, as this will only adversely affect your relationship with the client and also make them feel like they got an artwork that disregarded their vision.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Starting out, you would probably jump on every single commission that is requested from you. This might be manageable initially when the client workflow is at a trickle, however this would quickly become a challenge once your art business picks up and you have commissions requests pouring in. If you say yes to every request, you will not only be overworked but there is a very high probability your quality of work will also dwindle. This can definitely damage your reputation as you will not only be able to deliver on your client’s deadlines but also produce subpar commissions.
Therefore, I would highly recommend in being mindful of the amount of commissioned work that you are taking on and being on top of your client relationship management.
- Be upfront and communicate openly with your client
This is almost equally important as listening to your client, if you are unable to deliver on a particular request or the timeline of delivering the commission is a bit tight for you, tell your client immediately. This is how you can manage expectations and also not overextend yourself beyond your limits. It is crucial to maintain a line of efficient communication with your clients, so that later on there are no disappointments and potential loss of a valuable client.
There you have it: 4 simple yet essential lessons in making sure that you meet your client’s expectations and build a valuable and trusting relationship with them. For those who are just starting out with their art business, adopting these habits early on will set a healthy foundation for your soon to be thriving business!
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