When my friend Katie’s husband, Buck, first reached out to me for a commissioned Kimposed painting as a surprise birthday gift, I was incredibly flattered! Of course, at some point I would like to do custom work, but I didn’t think it was going to be so soon!
Buck wanted the lyrics of the Rise Against song, Swing Life Away to quote in the piece. It was “their” song from the first years of dating. I asked a few questions on the art detailing, agreed on a deadline and amount, and I was off to work! Here’s what I learned throughout this process.
I had about 2 weeks to complete the piece and have it framed before Katie’s birthday, which was easy breezy if I didn’t have a day job, or if I didn’t have a vacation already planned that would eat up 5 of those days. This meant I had no room for procrastination. I began work almost immediately after he asked me.
The lettering process for this painting took much longer than I anticipated. I wanted to use a new style, and ended going through tons of test paper (sorry trees!) before laying down the lyrics on my final composition watercolor paper. If I had not spent the time to get this done before my trip, I would not have met my deadline. Long story short, don’t procrastinate! Get to work as soon as you can; you never know how long the planning process may take. Client deadlines come first, and they have the biggest influence on your reputation.
Keep in Constant Communication
Putting myself in my client’s shoes, I knew I would want to have the peace of mind knowing that progress was being made. I kept regular contact with him, and sent over progress pictures as I continued to work on the painting.
The transparency in communication not only reinforced that the painting would be completed in time, but also gave the client an opportunity for feedback, if necessary. Luckily, he loved every step of the way, so I didn’t have to restart or redo anything!
Be As Accommodating As Possible, But Also Realistic
At the beginning of the process, Buck asked me to get the painting framed. The painting was a standard size and finding a decent frame was not going to be difficult nor expensive. I made sure to finish the painting within a reasonable time frame to allow myself some free time to go shopping. I found a beautiful frame, at a reasonable price, and he reimbursed me, with a tip!
I’m a strong believer of building relationships through positive experiences, especially if it’s for a client. Going out of your way for clients will not only give the added benefit of convenience for them, but will also give them a lasting positive impression of you and open the possibility for future work.
Of course, there are limitations. As long as the request is mutually beneficial, and won’t put you under, go for it! If not, kindly decline or provide alternative resolutions.
All in all, I had an amazing experience working through my first commissioned painting with my first-ever clients. It was incredibly rewarding, especially after Katie received it! It was a complete surprise. Apparently she cried, but in a good way!