What to Commission
Bespoke Art Ideas for Custom Artwork
Commissioning bespoke art is a beautiful dance between the artist and the buyer. It is a relationship where imagination, purpose, and connection intertwine to create something deeply personal and wholly new.
Many go into the commissioning experience with a firm idea of the subject, whether it be a vibrant abstract to match the home décor, a portrait of a celebrated loved one, or a favorite place. The possibilities for creating something personal and meaningful are limitless.
In working with our diverse set of fine artists, here are a few great commission ideas and what to consider in engaging an artist with bespoke art ideas.
The Oxford Dictionary defines abstract art as, “art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures.” Abstract art is transportive, its infinite varieties lend well to commissioning. Says ARTDEX, “the entire point of abstract art — that reality is, in fact, subjective. Anyone can make of it what they will because we are all different at the core”.
Abstracts can pull the décor of a room together like nothing else and can set the tone of a room with one look. When thinking about abstract art, emotion mixes with style. What colors move you or would create a brilliant feel in a room? What style do you prefer as you look through different artists? How do all of the elements in the work form a cohesive piece? Gosha Karpowicz‘s piece above so elegantly plays with color, composition, and lines to present a painting that would instantly elevate a space.
Commissioning an abstract bespoke custom art piece allows the imagination to go wild for both the artist and the buyer. You can allow the artist to fully lean into their own creative style, can give minimal feedback on a few choice colors, or engage on every aspect of the piece.
A portrait is a way to preserve a person’s legacy or capture their essence, living or as a remembrance. Whether a black and white sketch, a realistic oil painting, or a digital illustration, the portrait is a way to remember those that mean the most.
If in the same geography, many portrait artists encourage a live sitting or photo taking. However, as many portrait artists and their buyers are separated by distance, a few great photographs give the artist a starting point. Just note if based on a photograph, good lighting and positioning are essential for a quality portrait.
Will the portrait just show the face or a portion of the body? What will the face show, seriousness or whimsy, gravity or elation? It is also worth considering the setting of the subject, from a more muted, monochromatic background, to an intentional setting like a favorite place. There is much to consider when doing a portrait beyond just the subject. Set, setting, and tone are all vital.
As quoted in a wonderful article by the BBC, Alison Smith notes, “Whereas in the past it was really a mark of rank or status or celebrity, I think now portraiture is more about identity.”
Speaking of favorite settings, a landscape commission helps transport the buyer, bringing any place close to home. From waves crashing on the shore to snow-peaked mountains, a childhood home to a vast cityscape, a landscape piece delivers the sites, scents, and sounds of a place onto canvas.
When thinking about a landscape, again, a photograph may be the best starting point. From there, think about the colors and the surrounding scene. Even details like the weather are important to discuss. What subjects do you want to be included in the piece? From plants and animals to objects embedded in the scene, it all should come together cohesively in a landscape work. Will the landscape be photorealistic or based on the artist’s stylistic interpretation, like Gavin Glakas’ incredible piece shown above?
We all have our cherished things, those items in our life that mean so much. For some, it is musical instruments; for others, the stillness of a bowl of fruit. Commissioning a still-life painting can be multifold, from celebrating one’s passions to instilling a certain emotive feeling in a room. Getty says about still life paintings, “They can evoke a mood, demonstrate an artist’s skill, and remind you of life’s hidden and temporary beauty.”
Again, you may want to present a photograph of your favorites, or you may lean into the artist’s imagination. Much like landscapes, colors, orientation, and realism will all play a part in creating that one-of-a-kind still life.
Make certain you discuss why that certain item inspires you, what emotions it brings forward, and the vital role it plays in your life.
Our dog, Mushu, rules our home. Much like a human portrait, a pet portrait will follow the same guidelines. A photograph will many times be required so the artist can represent your four-legged friend in the very best way.
Again, think about color, setting, and realism. Take Rodger Schultz‘s piece above. The buyers cherished both their dog and their city, making this animal portrait perfect for their wall. Whether still wagging tails, purring by your side, in-home, or in the wild, animals are an integral part of our lives, our inspiration.
Whether a wedding or a graduation, a memorial or birth (or, in this case, celebrating the power of music), art is a wonderful way to take a creative snapshot of a moment in time. These make for perfect celebratory gifts.
Perhaps a recurring theme, but a photograph (or several) can give the artist a good starting point. From there, discussions between the buyer and the artist can specify the details of the piece, from setting and orientation to color and feel.
From an actor to an athlete, a musician to a painter, there are those in our lives that fill us with inspiration. There are so many ways an artist can work with you to honor who moves you the most. This, like most commission pieces, comes with a great deal of flexibility. Is there a scene from a movie that you would like to use? A particular picture of your favorite artist? A moment in time that you would like recorded?
Style is important. For example, Cabell Molina’s paintings, as exampled above, are easily recognizable as a notable celebrity. However, her style is so wonderfully unique.
There are times when an artist has an absolute signature style, a way of painting or a subject that is definitively them. This does not mean that they are not commissionable. Part of the elegance of commissioning is the ability to give as much or as little voice in discussing the wants of the piece.
Take Xenia Gray‘s well-recognized works. The subject matter is highly emotional, and the paintings are daring and beautiful. However, given this, a commissioning buyer may have influence in size and color, in subject and movement, while allowing Xenia to paint in her creative freedom. This certainly does not mean that the art piece is not influenced by the buyer’s voie. That buyer finds value in the style regardless.
Ultimately, the end goal of commissioning bespoke art ideas is to create art that speaks to you on a deeper level, art that means something specific to you, and art that is personal. You may have something specific in mind, or you could allow the artist to work in their creative process.
However, when it comes to bespoke art ideas, the experience of working with the artist, collaborating on a human level, and peeling back the veil in the creative process is the most magical of experiences!