Art in the Time of Corona: Commissioning Artworks for Added Income

person painting

If you’re a visual artist with regular employment, the COVID-19 pandemic may have limited your economic gains from your art. But it shouldn’t stop you from looking for potential clients to augment your income while you’re at home and keeping safe.

Commissioning for digital art is now a thing. From the artist’s perspective, it means producing an original piece of artwork exclusively for a client based on the client’s requirements. It can be portraits, fan arts, comic books, book illustrations, and other forms of digital art. If you plan to do commissioned work, make sure you have the following ready for when the opportunity knocks:

An Active Website and Social Media Pages

It always helps to have your website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Etsy pages, where you can post your recent or most eye-catching artworks for the client to peruse. Sharing past commissioned projects for reference will also be more manageable than putting together a portfolio (unless you have a digital collection that you can send).

If you plan to offer commissioned work as a regular service, make sure your website or social media pages clearly state this. You may share past projects or your schedule for current ones if your contract allows it. Doing so tells potential clients that you’re a busy person, which implies that many clients like your style and often hire your services and that signing you up is urgent.

A Comprehensive Contract Template

man with tattoos paintingNever do a commission without a contract and be as detailed as possible. The contract should specify the exact scope of work, the number of revisions allowed (if any), the estimated timeline, the approval process, deadlines (if you have multiple), and the definition of the parties involved. It should clearly state your regular prices, prices for commissioned work, and payment schedule. The standard payment terms for commissions are 50% upon signing the contract and 50% when you complete the job, but you can discuss payment schedules with your client.

It may be useful to attach a list of all your current prices, applicable taxes (if any), and a price increase, if you’re looking at one in the coming months, so clients would know what to expect. Also, include terms for reproduction, exhibition, promotion, and sharing of the artworks online. Some clients may not be comfortable having the commissioned work posted on your pages.

An Assistant for Admin and Accounting

If you’re excellent and punctual, chances are your commissioning pursuits will expand. In this case, you can’t keep on managing your operations and accounting yourself. Hiring an assistant who will take care of calls and messages for you and manage physical and online client meetings, contract signing, and submission of materials will help you tremendously.

Are you not into the business side of things? You can get a company to handle Quickbooks cleanup to make sure you’ll have time to do your art without sacrificing your bookkeeping system. Remember, you’re not doing this just to share your passion. You’re doing it to earn extra income or transition into selling various art products as a business.

Being stuck at home can do a lot to your emotions, mental health—and creativity. For some people, imitating art was a way to survive the mundane routines of home quarantine and come out with a better sense of humor. Now is the time to be creative in doing what you love and earning from it.  With these essential reminders, commissioned projects will run without a hiccup.

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