Life is full of stories to tell.
Christmas cards with the yearly picture and summary. Wedding gifts to communicate your joy. Baby announcements. Event invitations. If you read this post, you know how even your home decor tells a story--about you.
In all sorts of situations, there’s an opportunity to tell your story. How will you tell it? I know a lot of you have thought about telling it through commissioned artwork, but haven’t ever done it.
These 4 myths often keep people from getting custom artwork done to tell their story.
As an artist myself, of course I have personal motives for convincing you those reasons aren’t true. But it still stands. They just plain aren’t true. So whether you’re considering working with me or another artist or just want to be aware for the future, it’s worth at least a quick scan.
So. Stuff about working with artists that you probably thought was true, but isn’t (or at least not in the way you think):
You Have To Be Some Kind of Art Connoisseur To Hire An Artist
Have you ever seen an image that made you sigh? Or smile? Touched you in some way?
I thought so.
There you go, that’s all you needed. You’re qualified to buy custom art!
Everyone needs beauty, and although people may disagree about what exactly beauty is or what it looks like, you know what strikes you when you see it. You don’t have to know anything about classical art, or the names of famous painters, or have a gallery wall.
What DO you need to do?
Want more from an artist you like.
Yep. That's it.
Cheaper is Better
Yep, here it is. The big one. It’s true, you can’t really get custom art at the dollar store.
But honestly, you wouldn’t want the kind of custom art you could get at the dollar store.
I think the main thing people misunderstand about custom art is what they’re actually paying for. It makes perfect sense that you don’t understand the price tag--which usually seems pretty high when we compare it to buying wall decor at, say, a department store. But that’s not the kind of art you’re paying for.
I’m going to talk more about pricing and how there are usually lots of budget-friendly options for custom art next week, but for now let’s just focus on what you’re actually paying for when you hire an artist:
No matter how simple a drawing or painting may look when it’s done, lots of time went into it. Artists can spend hours on what seems like an effortless sketch. They spent time making it look that way. Time to come up with the concept, or idea, of the piece. Time to test it out. Time to create it and perfect it. Time to change it if necessary.
SKILLS AND EXPERTISE:
Graphic Designers charge $75, $150, even $300 or more per hour. Most businesses want high quality, eye-catching design for their business, and understand that they need the skills graphic designers offer to create them. For your personal project, you want a particular story told in a particular way. Most custom pieces aren't priced on a per hour basis, but the idea still stands--when you hire an artist, you’re paying for their skills to do this. Otherwise you would just do it yourself, right?
The assumption tends to be that people who draw or paint for a living do it just for fun, or that they came into the world inherently knowing how to do what they do and didn't need any training. Sure, people have natural talent, but artists also take classes, get degrees, and spend hours and hours every day practicing their craft. You’re paying for the time and experience that culminated in the skills you see them exhibiting today. Those exact skills that enable them to tell your story just the way you want it.
THE WAY THEY SEE THE WORLD:
Bear with me, I know that sounds weird. But everyone sees the world a little bit differently, and part of an artist's job is to bring their perspective to life for others to see and enjoy or learn from.
When you first discover an artist whose work you love, you may think it’s their style, or their use of colors, or the way they draw hair or animals or buildings that you like most. But if you consistently like a lot of their work, it probably doesn’t have as much to do with their style or technical ability as you might think. Of course those are all parts of it, but most of the time the main thing you’ll be attracted to has more to do with the feel of their work. How does it make you feel about the subject? The world? You? What kinds of stories do they tell? Are they the kind of stories you’d just want to jump into a stay awhile? All these are part of the way the artist sees the world and communicates it. They use their time and technical skills and experience to do so, but anyone can, with practice, learn to do what your favorite artist does technically well. What will be different for every single person is the story they see in the world, and how they share the story they see.
And you can’t get that at your local department store.
Want to learn more about hiring me for custom work? The next Bespoke Event is in October, and I don't want you to miss it!
YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
Everyone that contacts me asking about custom work has some idea of the project they want done. They’d like give a meaningful gift, or they want to acknowledge an upcoming anniversary in a unique way, or they want just the right piece to go in their newly decorated room.
Some people have a very particular image in mind. Others have no idea, and just know they want something nice for a specific occasion.
Both are completely, 100% absolutely A-OK.
Actually, to be honest, my favorite projects are often the ones where the client comes to me with just that--an occasion in mind, and a “something with Peter Pan” or “something with us in a garden,” or “I want to say something about how good a father he is,” and that’s it. Those kinds of projects let me fully use my imagination, technical skills, experience, storytelling ability and intuition to tell their story in a unique and meaningful way.
When you hire an artist, you don’t have to know exactly what you want. They will help you through the process, and come up with ways to tell your story that you’ve probably never dreamed of. That’s part of the magic of it--they see your story and bring it to life in ways you can’t. And good artists make sure the final piece feel just right to you even if you didn’t know what you wanted in the first place.
So don’t worry about having a concrete idea before you talk to the artist about it, trust them to do their job, and see what magic unfolds.
If You Haven't Done it Before, You'll Somehow Do it Wrong
It’s true, there are a lot of things people don’t understand about how artists work or why they charge what they do, or how the custom art process even works.
But that’s ok.
You don’t have to know everything about it to try it. It’s not some secret club you’re not allowed in to. I promise.
It’s understandable to be a bit nervous about something new, but there’s really nothing to worry about. Most artists that offer custom art work with clients who are new to the process all the time. Most of the people I work with have never hired an artist before, and it's not a problem at all. You’re not alone, and you’re not going to make a fool of yourself. There’s nothing you can really mess up on.
If it makes you feel better, tell the artist it’s your first time commissioning art. Ask questions (even if you think they’re dumb--they’re not.).
If the artist is good at what they do as a businessperson, they’ll walk you through the process with grace and answer any questions you have.
For what it's worth, that's what I try to do. I want the process to be as simple, easy and enjoyable as it can be.
Want to learn more about hiring me for custom work? The next Bespoke Event starts tomorrow--don't miss it!