The Art Commission Process Demystified

art commission process custom original painting
To some, the idea of having a custom piece of art made might seem too indulgent, complicated or intimidating, but the process (and myself!) is/are probably a lot more approachable than you might think. I'd like to distill the art commission experience here to give you a better idea of what to expect. This might seem like a long post, but I wanted to be as detailed as possible.

First, comes a conversation/email. And yes, it's ok if you don't even know exactly what you want! Some clients have a clear vision while others want me to take full control of the wheel - either way works as well as any point in between. I like to first gather information from you in certain categories. These questions help me determine the size, materials and time needed so I can give a more accurate estimate.

ART SURROUNDINGS - In what room will the piece hang? What is the color scheme of that space? What are the wall measurements? What is the wall color/material? If you don't know what size would be proportionate, I am happy to make a recommendation based on the location of the piece. And you don't have to stick to standard sizes - I am able to get customized sizes in a variety of substrates.

art painting styles techniques

ART STYLE/MATERIALS - What type of art do you gravitate towards? I have a variety of different styles that I work in (click each link below for an example):
1. Full bleed cradled panel with or without Resin finish
2. Transparent layered acrylic plexiglass
3. Threaded Painting Strips
4. Framed art - Traditional or Modern Shadowbox 
5. Personalized Gratitude Mandala
6. 3D multi-paneled composition
7. Assemblage (layers of cut artwork glued together)
These styles range in material costs as well as the time involved, so the more specific you can be, the more accurate of an estimate I can provide. If you're not sure, I'm happy to quote more than one variation if the comparison might help you in your decision. 

ESTIMATE - Armed with this information, it is my turn to get quotes from vendors, price out materials and time relevant to size and selected style. In general, an art commission is 30-40% more than a painting I would just paint myself in order to cover the extra time involved. An estimate usually includes material costs, my fee depending on the scope of the project, shipping and tax, as well as a general turnaround time frame so that everyone is on the same page.

COMPOSITION CLARIFICATION - After an estimate is approved, a 50% deposit is collected up front to cover expenses. Materials are ordered and while those are on their way, I ask that clients spend some time on my website to identify which artworks resemble the composition they are after (regardless of colors used). In the world of abstract, it can be difficult to articulate a desired visual. By referencing specific existing artworks, it helps me get inside your head to understand what aesthetic you are going for. 

COLOR PALETTE - With client feedback, I work on developing a grouping of specific ink colors to incorporate into your piece. Some clients like to just send photos of their space and let me pick what would compliment their room while others have very specific color requests. Either way, I build a palette so that we can see all colors together. Adjustments can be made as necessary. I also like to identify at this stage what the dominant colors will be, broken down as a general percentage to the whole piece. For example: 30% Pink Sherbet, 30% Denim, 25% Mushroom, 10Stonewashed, 5% whitespace

color palette, art commission processcolor study art commission process custom painting

COLOR STUDY - Once a color palette is approved, I move to do a mini painting to see how the colors react to one another when blended. While the color palette shows individual colors, new colors can form when these colors blend and any unwanted combinations can be identified at this stage. 

ART IN PROGRESS - With a general sense of a composition, an approved palette and color study, it is time for me to create the finished artwork! Alcohol inks are tricky in that there is no "erasing" and painting over a layer can get muddy. For these reasons, it's important to take the time on the previous steps to get the painting right the first time. Then, it's time for me to do my magic!

REVEAL - Once finished, I will present to you the final piece in photos or in person. Upon completion, the final balance will be due. Each artwork is signed on the back and equipped with the appropriate hanging hardware.

DELIVERY - Your work can be arranged for pick up or ship directly to your home! I will also include any specific hanging instructions to ensure it is properly installed.

That's it! You now have a one-of-a-kind artwork for your home that you will cherish every time you look at it! It truly is a special process to combine my talents with your unique voice. If interested, feel free to start a conversation at

art commission example
Julie Pelaez Studios Art Commission Example