How to get the art piece you really want.
What is commissioned art, exactly?
A commissioned work of art involves someone – a commissioner – asking an artist to create something unique for him or her. With the sheer diversity of the contemporary art world, the sky’s the limit.
How and where do you commission art?
The process is generally more involved than walking into a gallery and purchasing something you like. According to Melvin Yuan, CEO of The Commissioned – a website which facilitates art commissions – it’s ideal for the commissioner to communicate openly with the artist and establish a rapport. If you don’t already have an artist in mind, it may be a good idea to visit fairs, or get to know gallerists, who can connect you to artists who can deliver the style you want. Newer platforms, such as The Commissioned, allow you to browse artists’ portfolios.
These works by artist Tilen Ti, whose main medium is watercolour, were commissioned by pet owners who wanted portraits of their beloved animals. Prices start from $330 for an A4-size portrait.
An example of a commissioned work is this piece titled Asemic Lines by artist Boedi Widjaja, commissioned by the LTA for the Beauty World MRT station.
How much does commissioned art cost?
Factors that influence the price include the artist’s experience, their past sale prices, their prominence in the art world, the medium of the commission, the complexity of the project, and so on. If you meet an artist at a graduation show and commission a simple sketch, it could be something in the low three figures, or less. On the other end of the spectrum, for work by regulars of international fairs and biennales – well, there’s no real upper limit there. Extreme outliers aside, you’re likely to see prices in the four-figure range.
How long do I have to wait for an artwork?
That depends on some factors. Perhaps the most critical would be the scale and complexity of the work in question. A small portrait might take no more than a few weeks, while experimental work might take longer to conceptualise and execute.
What if I don’t like it?
Of the artists we spoke to, none had stories of failed expectations to relate. Honesty in communicating reduces the possibility of what could be a rather costly experience.