An Artist’s Take on Art: Commissions


Have you ever been afraid of not living up to expectations? Maybe you have. Maybe you haven’t. But, I certainly have. Being an artist means constantly living up to expectations, especially when it comes to commissioned work. For those of you who don’t know what a commission is, it’s a form of payment where you get money for every piece of art made. This can be art of any form, including custom glass jars or homemade socks. Thank Civics B for that definition.

It’s stressful because you don’t know when your next payment will come, and you could go without money for weeks, or months. Some artists prefer to be paid after their projects are completed and have to wait even longer for financial compensation. Other artists are so stacked up with commissions that they can’t take any more for as long as a year, depending on their popularity. Others price their art too low and in turn get too little money and too much work, while others price too high and don’t get a lot of business.

It’s a delicate science.

If you’re wondering, I do commissions. People mostly pay me through a fake currency (that can be transferred into money if you wanted) called deviantart points. I don’t really use deviantart itself for anything else, though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the same as real money, but I do have a Paypal as an alternative channel for revenue. The most I have been payed for a piece is eight dollars. It isn’t a lot, but I’m working my way up as my art improves.

So why should you do commissions if it’s difficult to succeed?

Despite the time and effort it takes I do think there is a benefit. A couple, actually.

  •       You get money. Maybe not a lot, but it’s there. Even a little can help, I promise.
  •       You can practice sketching whatever you like to draw. Or, maybe you want to draw something new or different to practice. But if you do this I suggest telling those who are paying you that this is something different from your usual preference. It’s really up to you what kind of commissions you take, and I find the freedom that you can have truly amazing.
  •       This is arguably the most important part. When you do commissions, or post art in exchange for money (on Etsy, Facebook, Purely, or Redbubble), you build up a reputation and a resume in the art community. People may recognize you by your style or type of art. If you’re consistent with commissions, this could help with college. If you use your experience to make a portfolio, you can use it to get an art-related job, or maybe something similar that requires consistent commissioned work.

Now while this is all well and good, make sure to remember that most of you reading this are high schoolers.  That means it’s hard to dedicate time for commissions among clubs, sports, academics, and anything else you do on a daily basis. You are human. This means that you can tell someone they might not have their commission finished for a while. Sometimes this can mean never. Personally, I think it’s smart to always have extra money to give a person a full refund, but it’s your choice in the end.

Being an artist is hard. It’s difficult to improve and figure out what you like to do, and it’s hard to get recognized for it. There will always be someone better, or more popular. Try not to worry about that. In the end, any kind of art can just be a hobby. Don’t force yourself to do commissions if you don’t want to. You are more important than your art, and that isn’t a bad thing. I’m not a professional, but we all must learn some way or another.