Friday, December 23, 2016

Working with galleries, agents, and commissioned work.


So, recently I thought I would try working with someone at an art gallery.  The guy is a totally cute man and had a great attitude.  I met him one afternoon by accident while visiting his gallery. 
He asked me if I was an artist and I immediately told him my work didn't fit in with what he seemed to show.  He insisted on seeing my website and spent a bit of time oohing and ahing over my work.  We totally hit it off.  

A week or two later I was mailing out work and on an impulse I sent him one of the small oil paintings that he kept returning to on my site with a thank you note for being so nice to me.
I had forgotten about it when after a month or two I got a call from him asking me if I was willing to do some commissions in a hurry for Christmas.   I said yes, told him what kind of photos I needed from him, and also that I preferred to do watercolor since I get likenesses better.  Each portrait would be $300 and if the client didn't like the result no one would have to pay.  No questions asked.
He insisted on oils, which I did, I made two or three versions for each commission but gave him all three.

I delivered on time the Tuesday before Christmas.  Each commission I also delivered an extra watercolor and three or four preliminary sketches as extras.  One of the paintings was damaged when they picked it up.  I checked in and was told I was done and the paintings looked great.
Wednesday morning I got a series of texts.  That's when the revisions came back. Major ones.  I ended up staying up late, reworking flesh color, background color face shape you name it.
I worked my ass off getting them done and then redelivered. 

Then I got a text,  "Do you think this looks like the girl in the photo?"

Here's what I wrote back.

Yes. Please don't send the digital image to the client because in terms of psychology it's kind of like an invitation to make more revisions.  If they disapprove of the commission, I will not cash the check.  You can reissue a check for 600 after Christmas.   I've enjoyed doing the commissions, however, this process is a bit more intricate than what I'm used to. In the past, I've only had to do one revision on a painting and it has been to make a nose less pug. Etc.  It may be how you or your assistants are presenting the work to the client.  Most of my commissions have been from people who have bought several pieces from me in the past and are aware of how I stylize and or change how things look.  I also express to them that I get a better likeness with watercolor and I ask them to give me permission to do what I like with the caveat that if they do not like the end result they have the right, with no grumpiness on my part, to not buy the work.  John Singer Sargent once said, "A portrait is a likeness in which something is wrong with the mouth."

The director wrote back and said, "I'll circle back to you after the holidays."

So, my thoughts are, I think that I will continue to work only directly with clients since I can control the prices, communication and not have intermediary "agents" complicating the field. 
What are your thoughts?