Recently, I completed a fairly large commission request and I thought I would take the time to go into greater detail about commissions in general. I’ll use my experience with this most recent bird painting commissions as an example.

The reason I am writing this post and going into depth about commissions is, I am often asked things like “do I offer commissions,”  “what does an artist commission mean?, and “how long does a bird commission take?” So to answer your questions over the next few paragraphs, I’m going to get into the background and finer details of the artist commission process and I’ll explain more about how to commission me.

Bird Painting Commissions

Artists Who Paint Birds

I have been painting birds since I was a child. So yes, I would consider myself an artist who paints birds. 

Growing up where I did, my mother and my grandmother always had a few bird feeders scattered throughout their yards. There was always something new to see and at times it felt like they would suddenly appear out of nowhere.

I know my mom has old drawings of sparrows, bluejays, cardinals, chickadees, hawks, etc. tucked away somewhere back home. I would definitely consider birds one of my favourite subjects to illustrate and paint. 

So here’s a little collection of work featuring birds. 

Chickadee Art
“Chickadees in Autumn”
Bird Art Sketch
Birds in Flight Sketch
Bluebird Art
Bluebird in Flowers
Fabriano Gold Finch
American Gold Finch
Chickadee Painting
“A Message of Hope Duo”
Chickadee Drawing
“A Message of Hope Duo”
Chickadee
“Forest Messenger”

Well… it’s pretty clear the Black Capped Chickadee is my favourite! 

Now that I’ve hopefully instilled some confidence in my ability to illustrate birds, I’m going to tackle some of my most frequently asked questions.

Can You Commission Someone?

Of course you can!

Many artists including myself accept commissions. The only way to know for certain is by asking. 

Commissioning an artist is probably one of the biggest compliments you can provide to them.

For me it’s a humbling experience. The fact that you’re willing to part with your hard earned money to show me that you appreciate my skills enough to invest in me and my work. That is significant.

It means a great deal.

What Does Commission an Artist Mean?

To commission an artist means to hire them to create a custom body of artwork. 

This means you own the artwork created, however the artwork will remain the intellectual property of the artist, and the commission cannot be reproduced or copied without the artists written consent. 

If you choose to resell the original, you are free to do so. 

How Long Does a Commission Take?

It can be as fast as two weeks but it usually takes me three to four weeks. Under normal circumstances.

abnormal circumstances would be a planned vacation, family emergency, or the holiday season.

Work life balance is very important to me. Despite popular belief a struggling artist is not a working artist. the level of motivation and creativity I have is in direct balance with the amount of time I set aside for myself. So when I do go on vacation I do not bring work with me. otherwise I would miss out on my vacation.

Of course unexpected things come up, and it can disrupt daily operations. Fingers crossed *knock on wood* that something like this doesn’t happen anytime soon but if it does and you’ve commissioned me I will keep you informed of any delays.

And how could I avoid mentioning the holiday season… For me it usually starts getting busy by the second week of November and doesn’t quiet down until Christmas week. So if you are thinking of getting custom artwork for a loved one please don’t wait until the last minute.

Once your piece hits my desk, I send updates and ask for your opinion frequently.

How Much Does a Commission Cost?

There are a lot of variables to consider when it comes to price. 

As a rule of thumb the larger the piece, the more time is required, the higher the cost becomes.

If for example you commission me to create something outside of what I consider within my wheelhouse, like a galloping horse, or a whale. The time it would take me to conceptualize, and illustrate the piece might be considerably longer than it would if I were working on a bird painting commissions featuring a black-capped chickadee.

Is Commissioned Artwork More Expensive?

When it comes to my work, No.

All of my artworks pricing is calculated in the same way. Regardless if I painted it for myself or for a commission. The price will cover the cost of materials, custom framing, and my time. 

I can’t speak for other artists and how they price their work but in my experience everyone treats the situation slightly differently. So the only way to know for sure is to ask.

If you love their work, I’m sure they would be thrilled to discuss a project for you.

Do You Tip the Artist?

This is something I have experienced on very rare occasions. 

If I exceed your expectations so much that you feel a tip is justified, of course I would be grateful, but I would prefer that gratitude is shown in other ways. Help me promote my business. Tell your friends. Throw me all over your social media. Leave me a review on google. That kind of thing.

Besides, If you have commissioned me, the price I bill you covers the cost of materials, custom framing, shipping fees, and my time. That money technically goes directly to me. Tipping culture is generally for people in service industry where the bulk of your bill goes toward the restaurant or owner and not the server helping you directly.

How Do We Start Bird Painting Commissions?

The best way is to ask. Via email please! justinericksonart@gmail.com or directly through my website.

To get the ball rolling, tell me things like what your favourite bird is, or how large you’d like the final piece to be. If you have a scene in mind, or a specific colour palette you’d like me to use.

If you have a fixed budget or you don’t want to spend over a certain amount. Tell me! I will tell you what I can provide within that budget.

Don’t forget to tell me if it will be a gift. Especially if it’s supposed to be a surprise. I’ll refrain from displaying any progress on my social media accounts. Also this ensures its completion by the birthdate or anniversary date etc.

If the piece is for someone’s birthday, anniversary, wedding, etc. I will prioritize the project to ensure it arrives on time.

It’s all very exciting and I try to make the process fun where I can. So if you have a bird painting commissions project in mind, I look forward to hearing from you.

Stay Creative,

Justin Erickson


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