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Becca Basic is an internationally collected artist, photographer, and creative business educator in Orlando, FL.

©2020 Becca Basic, LLC

How to Create an Art Commission Policy

Updated: Jun 29, 2019

We’ve all been there. Someone wants to commission a piece from us. We’re really excited because we gave a price, they accepted, and then it happens. You purchased supplies and started, but they’ve yet to make a payment. The client all of a sudden hates the agreed upon theme and they want to make a million changes. What do you do? Could you have done something to have prevented all of this?

Let's learn how to create your own commission policy to guide your client through your very own process and create a fantastic experience for the both of you!

When it comes to commission policies, many artists don't know where to begin.

Unfortunately, many learn the hard way over time due to poor experiences. To ensure the commission process is positive for both the artist and the collector, expectations and

guidelines must be set within a commission policy.

A commission policy is simply advising a client as to what they can expect of you and what you expect of them to remove any potential headaches for both parties and therefore, creating a pleasant experience clients will be sure to share with their friends. This helps your clients gain confidence in you as an experienced professional.

Whenever considering a commission, set forth procedures and guidelines to make the process as seamless as possible while at the same time, providing an exceptional client experience that will potentially open doors for future opportunities. 


Be crystal clear as to understanding what the collector is asking for. Discuss color, style, subject matter, size, and any other details you might need. Once you understand what the client is specifically looking for, briefly discuss your commission process and advise them that you will review their requests and send them a written quote. Make sure to let them know in that first conversation that you will not begin until you have received their initial installment (Yes - you will require an installment before you begin!).

Note: Never give your quote during the initial discussion. Take the time to consider supply costs, your time, and your experience before presenting a quote to your client. That is, unless you have set price points for your work. You never want to present a price you haven't had time to consider that you may very well regret later. 


Having all the details in writing gives both you and the client a point of reference through the process as well as a stated agreement. Make sure to include all of the following:


Include medium, size, details, and any other pertinent information.  Be sure to include the phrase, "If you are in agreement, please submit your non-refundable installment. Once the installment is received, I will begin creating your piece." Receiving the installment is the action that states the collector is in agreement to the transaction. 


State your price as well as your expectation of payments. Here's an example:

Price: $1200

Non-refundable installment: $400

Second Installment (30 days from deposit): $400

Final Installment (30 days from second installment): $400

If the client falls through with any payment, reserve the right to keep the initial installment as agreed upon and list the item for sale. Whether you choose to refund any other payments made outside of the initial deposit is up to you. Just make sure you notate it in your own policy. 

There are many ways you can handle your pricing and payments. The point is having a pricing and payment procedure as part of your policy so that there aren't any questions

or possible issues.


Request a non-refundable installment to purchase supplies and get started. Making it non-refundable ensures committed buyers. Consider a deposit of at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the purchase price to further ensure the buyer's committment.

Note: Make sure to use the word "installment" vs. "deposit." In certain parts of the United States, an installment is legally considered a non-refundable item while a

deposit sometimes is not.


Limit revisions. This motivates the collector to be clear and concise with any possible changes they might like to make. A good rule of thumb would be 3 revisions per piece. You must decide if these revisions will be allowed during the sketch process, the creation

process, or both. 

You can consider allowing additional revisions with an imposed fee. Consider a fee large enough to discourage additional revisions, but one that would be sufficient for your time if the collector chooses to do so. Note that this may alter the original estimated completion time, so be sure to create room for this in your policy by advising your collector how much time will be added to the estimated completion time with each

additional revision.


Retain the copyrights and reproduction rights of the original unless a specific agreement had been made otherwise. This allows you to leverage your time by earning potential

income from reproductions later.


Give an expected time for completion and stick to it; however, always give an expectation that allows much more time than needed in case of any unexpected issues. You never know when you might fall ill, have a family emergency, or have other unexpected

incidents that could possibly affect production time. 


Once all payments plus shipping are received, you can deliver your completed work of

art to your client (and now collector!).

Bonus Tips:

SPECIAL TOUCHES Consider including a thank you card and other unexpected gifts like prints, postcards, stickers, etc. when delivering finished artwork to the client. Thank them for being a collector! Unexpected special touches create brand loyalty and a stronger connection in the relationship between you and your collector. 

UNDERPROMISE AND OVERDELIVER Finished early? Consider waiving the shipping fee if you have finished early and are ready for final payment earlier than your collector expected.

Now you have all the tools you need to create your own art commission policy! The details are up to you, but the most important thing is having a plan!

©2018 Becca Basic, LLC

Becca Basic is an artist who's passionate about helping other creatives learn the business skills to live their dreams. If you find this post helpful to you, please share it so that it may help other artists like you!