A Brief Blog about Commissions, Why I Don’t Do Them, and Earning a Living as An Artist

Gosh.. that’s quite a big subject.   I’ve been turning commissions down for a while, but recently I seem to have annoyed one or two folks, and I saw an artist I admire comment that “Commissions stifle creativity.”  I understood immediately what they meant..

It’s like this:

I love making art and trying out new techniques.  I have a job a couple of days a week in a picture framers. Which is great. The rest of the time I make art. Or think about making art.  There is never enough time.

I’m a latecomer to making art.  I drew a bit always.  I took ‘A’ level Art in my early 40’s, then went on to an HND in Fine Art.  Then I painted a bit and made lino prints and sold a few things.  Art was never a serious contender in the making-a-living stakes for me.  Time passes.  You get older and wonder what you are doing with your life.  (Trust me, you will.)  The world alters.  There is the internet.  You share drawings and someone asks you to illustrate a poetry book (Thank you x).  You start to draw and make things  and you start trying to sell them..

If you are making art you develop and grow by doing it.  I’m learning as I go.  When I grow up I’d like to illustrate picture books.  It’s harder than it looks but I’m learning and teaching myself.  I like applying my illustrations to products and I like designing things.  Happily other people seem to like these too and want to buy them.  I like trying  different materials and art forms. Sometimes I’m ok at these and people want to buy them.

The Bit About Commissions:

I don’t make much money doing art, but I have a plan.  My plan involves learning enough to be an illustrator; drawing and designing things that I can use on lots of products to earn me money; learning new skills and techniques that will help me with both of those.

I meander a bit off course quite often.  I’ve tried etching and taught myself to paint with watercolour.  It’s interesting and each technique teaches me something I can carry over into the other stuff I do.

I’ve been making needle felt animals lately.  I’m enjoying it.  I’ve sold everything I’ve made, mostly within minutes of it going on sale.  I’ve had lots of requests for commissions.  If I’d agreed to all those requests I would have made the first 3 things over and over.  I would have learnt no new techniques.  I would have got bored.  I wouldn’t have sold any more than I have.  I would have been stressed about deadlines.  I wouldn’t have developed.  It would have brought me no more work other than more of the same.

It’s the same with everything.  If you ask me to make you something, I have to think about the price, the time, if it’s going to help me to get where I want to be professionally. I’m really sad that I can’t keep everyone happy.

So.  Commissions (Can) Stifle Creativity.  I know lots of artists are happy with them.  Right now they’re not for me.

This is me. Trying. Learning.  Needing to do new things all the time.  Aiming for the sky.  Hoping it’ll all work out.  Hoping you’ll enjoy what I do and that I’m spreading a little joy.

And if you like what I do you can support me by following me on Twitter , Facebook, buying from my shop, or generally shouting and cheering.

Thank you xx













One thought on “A Brief Blog about Commissions, Why I Don’t Do Them, and Earning a Living as An Artist

  1. I totally understand what you are saying. I love your art, sadly I have no money so am not much help, but perhaps it is enough that it makes you happy and it makes others happy that it exists 🙂

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