I’ve been waiting to share this collage. It was commissioned by my cousin as a gift for her daughter, and I didn’t want to show everyone else until after the recipient had a chance to enjoy it. She has a passion for saving endangered animals; that’s the reason for the bats. It’s a subject I’d probably never have selected on my own, but it was inspiring to work on a subject that was a stretch for me. Besides, a commission is a commission and this was my first.
Producing artwork on commission is a little different. It’s great to know while you work that the labor isn’t in vain. I also loved the idea of making it for a particular special person. Still, I had a few jitters. I’d heard a horror stories about commissions that had gone wrong — clients who demanded endless revisions, or who tried to oversee the work so closely that it became impossible to work at all. I followed the advice of my second mom, Ceil Surbrook, not to accept any advance payment. An advance muddies the issue of who owns the work and makes it difficult for the artist to draw a line between reasonable and unreasonable accommodation of the client’s whims.
Cautions aside, everything about this project went smoothly. I felt a little anxious when I sent pictures of the nearly finished work to my client for her approval. I’m used to submitting my work for evaluation, and getting more comfortable with that fact that not everyone is going to like it, but this time I really hoped one specific person would love it. Ceil’s advice helped here, too — in the worst case, if she didn’t like the work, I could always (in theory, at least) find another buyer.
It took most of the month I’d budgeted to complete this piece, with suitable pauses to step back and then approach it with a fresh eye. I’ve rushed larger pieces in less time, but pauses are a very important part of the process; without them my work isn’t nearly as good. Work delivered, payment deposited, I finally got word that the recipient was delighted so that now I can share it with you.