How to Commission an Artwork like a Gallery Co-Founder

While we’ve always offered commissions at Bluethumb, there has previously been a virtual veil between a buyer and an artist in the form of our awesome team. Not anymore. While we love chatting to you, we know it might not always be us you want to talk to about your dream piece – it’s the artist themselves.

Time-consuming, expensive and inaccessible: these are just some of the common misconceptions circulating commissions. With the arrival of our direct inbox feature, it’s time to debunk the hearsay and demonstrate just how easy it is for you to have your perfect piece crafted by contacting the artist directly at their studio. And who better to try out the process than the co-founder of the company? George Hartley recently had an artwork commissioned using Bluethumb’s direct messaging service and is here to talk us through the surprisingly simple process.

Bluethumb Co-Founders Ed & George Hartley in front of their Melbourne gallery

Co-Founders Ed & George Hartley in front of Bluethumb’s new gallery in Melbourne

Step 1: Ask the Artist

If you’ve been scouting out talent on Bluethumb for a while, you perhaps have an artist or artwork in mind for the commission process. Whether the piece you’ve fallen in love with is already taken, or doesn’t exist yet, you can contact the artist to enquire about getting one that’s just right for you. George had been keeping an eye on stencil artist Logan Moody‘s series of crushed cans for a while before arranging his commission. “I have been keen on getting a Coopers can done (I grew up in South Australia so feel patriotic about our hometown brewing). However, my partner Lauren loves Pepsi Max, so thought it would be a nice surprise to get this piece commissioned for her birthday. I messaged Logan directly through Bluethumb, it was easy. There’s a button ‘Ask About a Commission’ on his profile, and it went straight through to him.”

Crush #7 is the first piece in its series, in which Logan creates beauty from common waste

This first enquiry is a great place to pass on any finer details on the size, style, subject or colour to the artist, as all of these are things for the artist to consider for the next step.

Step 2: The Quote

Once the enquiry is out there, the artist will respond to you directly with a quote for pricing and a rough timeframe for the piece. “There’s a chat feature on Bluethumb to message artists directly. Logan replied to my message on the same day, gave me a price and a timeline, and that was all. It was really simple.” If an artist is painting a close replica of a sold piece, or one of the same dimensions and has little to no amendments, most Bluethumb artists will quote a similar price to the original piece. Significant changes, however, may give a change in price accordingly.

Local Sydney artist Ben Tankard in front of Monopoly painting

Ben Tankard is known for his pop-meets-abstract takes on the iconic Monopoly board and Unpopular Penguin series – which are, ironically, a very popular request for customised commissions!

Step 3: The Deposit

Once you’ve received your quote and a timeframe for the commission, you can seal the deal by putting down a 30% non-refundable deposit. This deposit covers the cost of the materials and the artist’s time in the setup of the commission. George describes this part of the process as super simple – Logan started his commission the day after he’d paid the deposit. A trouble-free and popular way of putting down a deposit is to purchase a gift voucher for 30% of the final quote.

The signature style from Bluethumb bestseller Marnie McKnight is in popular demand and doesn’t go unsold for long. Did you know that Marnie accepts commissions, like this diptych?

Step 4: Complete the Commission

The timeframe for a piece can vary artist to artist, artwork to artwork, but you can expect to get a sneak peek at the work as it is close to being finished. “The artist had just had a kid (congrats Logan!) so he knew it would take longer than expected,” George explains. “He gave me an estimate of 6 weeks and stuck to it; it was pretty easy. He kept me in the loop with progress pictures over the next couple of weeks.” While George found no changes necessary, this is the perfect time to make any small amendments you’d like to the piece, such as slight shifts in colour or texture. The artist then will take this into account and work to incorporate your changes into the painting.

Logan in his studio working on another piece from the Crushed series

Step 5: Bring Your Commission Home

The wait is over! All the last little modifications have been made and the artwork is ready for its new home. The remaining payment is complete, and the piece shipped to its new owner (that’s you), ready to hang on your wall. The birthday girl’s verdict? “Lauren loves it! It’s hanging pride of place near the kitchen.” George is already thinking about his next commissioned piece: “The first issue is creating more wall space though…”

How good are personalised gifts? This limited edition print has found its true home with a Pepsi Max lover!

Ready to Get Started?

You know what to do – ask an artist through the Bluethumb website to kick off your commission. A commissioned piece is still covered by our 7-day returns policy, so the process stays full of peace of mind and free from fuss and hassle. We’re always happy to help. Send us an email at [email protected] to get the ball rolling.

Moving in together
The Ultimate Guide to Interior Design

4 Comments

  1. Meg Vivers (artist) says:

    I have not had success with commissions. The paintings that buyers fall in love with, of mine, are not (in their mind) similar to what I produce. Therefore, I would feel very pressured if a 30% commission were asked. That’s just my opinion, and other artists seem to always be getting successful commissions. I have sometimes refused to do commissions for the first reason I give above. My paintings are spontaneous and therefore ‘one-on-a-kind’.

  2. GWENDA MCDOUGALL says:

    Within your ‘How to commission an artwork’ article…you mentioned…’if an Artist produces ‘a replica of a sold piece’. I find this surprising…the ‘rule’ is that at least 20% of the image should be changed…to honour the value of the first purchaser of the piece.

    Just saying…

    • Romy says:

      I agree Glenda. I would be annoyed if I pay for a ‘commissioned’ piece to find out it was not one of a kind. The only reason I would accept a replica is if thats what I specifically requested- which is then not really a commission more a copy?
      I can see Megs point of view too- there needs to be very clear communications and check ins along the way to make sure you are on the same page as the buyer.

  3. Canvas Print says:

    Hello, I simply read out your blog, it’s very intriguing and Informative thank you for sharing it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *