Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to start a Commission

I promised that you could follow along on the Take a Seat Project. And right about now you are probably thinking, what the heck, I thought she was going to be painting and doing some collage, not working on a computer.
Uh, yeah......but fact is, there is a lot of pre-work that I do before I ever pick up a brush. Sometimes it seems like the art is the quickest part of the process.
For instance, once I learned I had 'won' the commission (and I say won because I was in competition with other artists) I started to formulate plans. Mainly I did a lot of thinking.
I made notes.
Sketched out ideas.
And then set up a meeting with the client.
During the meeting I asked a lot of questions and took notes. I showed my initial idea and asked for images from the client.
Obtained research material regarding the COW projects which were also fiberglass. Ordered materials that I needed. Cost - close to $400, yikes! 
While I was waiting for the photos from the client, I completed all the things that were 'on my plate' so I could dedicate full effort toward the commission.
Flash Forward - materials arrived - photos and art materials.
I reviewed and then took more time to think.
Lots of thinking.
Scratched my entire proposal.
Developed a new idea and called the client to discuss.
Turns out my new idea involved imagery that was part of a letterpress job a local artist had done for client. I really wanted to use these images in my collage, but refused to do it unless we had permission. Client called and then I also called to obtain permission. The other artist, Eric Woods, was actually pleased that I asked and generously agreed, woo hoo! Naturally I will give him credit.
As an aside, you should check out his company, Firecracker Press here. They do amazing work.

I drove over to client's office and picked up Eric's original posters to use for collage.
Went through all the photos furnished by client.
Cropped madly and then (using a book) taught myself how to create 'fabric' with a half drop repeat. Using the clients materials this allowed me to create a custom pattern.
Sent it out for printing. Translation, honey would you have these printed for me.....
Re-contacted client to obtain a higher res version of another piece that client wanted to play an integral role in the collage.
Awaiting its arrival.
Called the company that does the Clear Coat (this is the final step) and made an appointment for next week. Nothing like a deadline to keep me on track.
Took the posters (on very thick paper) into the studio and experimented with ways to separate the paper layers so they are thinner and will collage more seamlessly. Decided that using a palette knife was the best (although quite messy) way to do this.
Started to play with my palette to see if I could match the orange Logo color.
Hmmm, day one over, I haven't even touched that chair.


  1. thank you for sharing this. i love glimpses into how other artists work (and work it out!)

  2. Mary Beth, this is really interesting. Thanks for sharing the process for preparation. Cannot wait to follow the rest of the process.

  3. I love process, and I enjoyed hearing about yours. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's sewing, refinishing furniture or planting a garden, the underlying process takes the most time but pays off in the end product.

  4. Ready for the next installment. This is fascinating to me. THANK YOU!!!

  5. Wow~~a very interesting process, love hearing the step by step method of laying this out....thanks for sharing.


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