In the last post on this series, we covered some basic tips for working on art commissions.
On this post, we’ll discuss in more detail things you can do when working on art commissions for businesses.
Creating art for businesses is very different from creating commissions for individuals, because there will often be a lot more people involved in the process. Whereas some organisations (such as city councils) regularly commission artists and will have a clear process in place, others have never done so before. Because you might be working with feedback and expectations from a large team of people, communication can be even more challenging.
Keep in mind some of these tips to help you during the process:
Know who is making decisions and giving you feedback.
Even if you deal directly with only one individual in the organisation, they will often be the spokesperson for a group of people that all have a say in the artwork. Understand who is involved and what process they use to discuss your work and come to agreements. If someone is passing on the ideas between you and a larger team, do something so that they can be easily presented (such as a PDF explaining your concepts) or try to arrange a meeting to present them yourself.
Establish your creative context.
You need to understand from the start what they expect from you as an artist and how much your creative input will be valued and listened to. Some businesses will have a designer / creative team, and they might see you as a collaborator on the conceptual phase or merely want you to reproduce their ideas, as well as anything in between those two extremes. If there is an existing creative project in place (such as interior redesign or a rebrand of the company) try to speak to the designers to understand what your creative context is.
Always understand their brand and who you are creating for.
Even if you have complete creative freedom with your piece, make an effort to understand the company’s brand and values, as well as the audience of your artwork, so that you can sell your ideas. If you have to justify any creative choices, it’ll be much more effective to do so explaining how they are relevant to the company and the people involved with it.
Make art for the audience, not the boss.
Inevitably, sometimes you will receive feedback that is based on the personal taste of an authority in the company or the individuals working with you. Although their understanding of the organisation is essential, their personal taste should NOT determine the direction of the artwork. It is essential that the conversations about your piece centres around its audience, whether it's existing customers, prospects or staff. Be prepared to explain your creative decisions and stand your ground on important points.
Accept that some people will hate it.
The bigger the business, the smaller the chances that every single person in it will love your work. Do the best art you can in the context of the project and don't worry too much about individual opinions.