10_Artist Revenue Streams - Part 5 - How to Obtain Art Commissions

art business tip art marketing commissions

I have broken down art commissions into 2 segments, so be sure to catch the previous episode where we discussed frequently asked questions about the commission, and don’t forget to grab the free download “ 5 Key Questions to Ask Yourself before you take Commissions” which includes a sample invoice that lays out terms and conditions. In this week's episode, we are going to dive into some tactics to gain art commissions. So let’s just jump right in.

Top 5 Methods to Obtain Art Commissions

My top 5 places to obtain commissions for fine art pieces are:

  1. Referrals
  2. Social Media
  3. Local Organizations
  4. Google My Business
  5. Making New Connections through Art shows and Networking Organizations

Now I say Fine art pieces because if you are commissioning for illustrative or digital artwork there are other methods to obtain commissions like:

  • Reddit to get in touch with writers
  • Fiverr
  • Deviantart
  • Even Etsy has listings for digital artworks
  • Magazines are often looking for illustrators
  • Book Publishers And so on.

For the purposes of this article, I’ve focused on one-of-a-kind manually produced art commissions, rather than digital artwork. So let’s take some of the top 5 Places to Obtain Art Commissions:

Referrals and Social Media

The number one place is from your current friends, family, your network. I combine Referrals and Social Media into one avenue because the two will play into each other. So if you think about Facebook or MeWe for example, people who know, like, and trust you are more than happy to support you AND get a fabulous piece of art.

BUT I will also say, these can be some of the worst clients, especially after your prices start going up, because they want a special price or for just have a prepared script with something like “while I’d love to be in a position to do work for free, this is my profession and I do receive payment for the products and services I provide, I hope you can respect that. My fee for X size is $x. If you are still interested let me know and I’d be glad to discuss next steps!”....and that’s when the oooooohhhhh moment happens and they get that it isn’t a hobby….AND you’ll also find that 90% will go oh, well, never mind.

Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it - it will happen at least 1 time a month where someone wants something for nothing. It sucks, it’s demeaning, it’s insulting but - in truth, most people don’t think about wearing your shoes, only there' accept the slap in the face and move on.

But occasionally you’ll get people from your network who adore your work, see the value, and can’t wait to get a custom piece from you! So build on that relationship and the ball can roll from there! Ask them to share pictures of your artwork on their social media, and tag people who they think would love a piece too so that you can start building that referral network. I will go so far as to message the people they tag and introduce myself and ask them if they have any questions for me - the key is not to go into a hard sell. Find the common ground and discuss that instead of jumping into sales.

Think of it like this: you just don’t jump into bed with someone or get married on the first date right? So why in the sam-hill would you ask for a sell the first introduction?


Find local or national organizations that you believe your product offering would work well with and create a win-win scenario.

For example, let’s say you like to do watercolors of houses or buildings - contact local real estate agents or homeowner associations to offer services to paint an art commission for a particular homeowner they have worked with as a thank-you gift or welcome gift. Or contact the local welcome center to ask to put up some information about your services. Pet portraits? Contact pet stores, vet offices, groomers, and so on…. You paint children, contact daycare centers, and elementary schools to ask if you can offer their clients when they purchase a portrait for you will donate 10% back to the school in art supplies or school supplies. Paint flowers? Contact local greenhouses, botanical gardens, nature preserves, and vineyards, - the possibilities!!!

The point is - to find organizations that relate to your target audience, create a win-win proposition, and contact the organizations. Remember EVERYONE thinks of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), so you have to develop a win-win scenario that shines a positive light on them.

Google My Business

Now, if you are doing all of the above, then you should have a business license by now and pay taxes. So set up a Google My Business page. This will enable people who are local to where your business is to find your services! This is by far the most passive means of getting new clients, you just let your website do the talking, have a phone number or email address, and let Google do its thing!  To get this started, simply Google "Google My Business" and get the ball rolling!

Art Shows and Networking Organizations

Art Shows and Networking Organizations combine into the same category because essentially they are show-and-tell opportunities to connect directly with a prospective buyer or interested party.



99% of the time, based on my experience, they do not purchase right then and there is an art commission, but they will ask you a bunch of questions. So be prepared with the responses that you created when you completed the 5 Key Questions to Consider BEFORE you take a commission worksheet. And before they leave, collect their information, name, phone number, email address and subject they want to be created, and a due date. Then follow up with them the very next day. I also recommend writing some notes about them in a separate paper as soon as they leave and it is fresh in your mind so that later you can add a bit more details to the communication with them.

The key is to remember you are dating right now - they aren’t ready to hop into the sack with you….schedule a follow-up call with them to address any questions/concerns they may have thought of overnight.

AND add a sense of urgency, if they had a date in mind to have the art commission ready, then remind them it takes you X duration to complete the art commission so you really need the decision to move forward by X date to ensure you can get them on your schedule.


So that’s it for this week! Feel free to message me questions that you may have about art commissions and I’ll do my best to answer! Until next time, stay safe, happy, and healthy! ANd happy creating!

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