Commission Work - Process

Because I create illustrations for children's books, from time to time, I get asked to do custom children's-style art, as announcements, thank-you's or baby gifts. Doing children's book-type illustration as commission work is a bit different than doing it for a publishing house. When creating a piece of art for a commission, the person hiring you usually has a very detailed vision in mind and likes to be a lot more involved in the art direction. As a freelance artist, the trick has always been to find the balance so, I can bring my client's vision to life without completely sacrificing my visual voice. 

The client will contact me because, they've seen my work somewhere and like my style. They give me the reason for the commission then a listing of the parameters in which I am expected to create. This can be anywhere from..."I would like an illustration for a baby boy's room, I want it to include the name and date of birth, very contemporary... I think the nursery is blue and gray."

T: Client Sample Sheet - B: Final Art - Baby Elephant Wall Art Announcement a much more detailed request..."I would like an illustration done to commemorate the birth of this new baby, whose grandmother ( the mom-to-be's mother) just passed, so we need to include the following list of things (insert list here), using specific colors based on a  garment she wore and other symbols, as well as a specific, mythical representation of the grandmother herself watching over the baby."  I am sometimes supplied with photos of the specifics, which are always helpful!

 After a bit more dialogue  about time frame, style, etc, I begin with a very, quick doodle to send to the client just to make sure we're on the same page, before I spend too much time on a more polished version that they don't want.

Top - rough doodle/ Bottom- final sketch - Golden Dragon Wall Art

I get immediate feedback, make whatever changes were necessary and continue to a finished sketch, that I work from to create the final art. In this case, the dragon needed to have the grandmother's traits and I was informed that the room was not a nursery,  but more of a random room in the home that the baby will be in. I made the changes and the final sketch was approved.

I move on to the final color and 3/4 of the way, I make a good quality print. This way I am able to look at it with fresh eyes and make some notes about what I need to add or change.  I always flip my image back and forth at different points in the  process as well, which not only helps to detect any unwanted skewing, but also forces you to see  it differently than the many, many hours you've been looking at it as you work on it. 

Worksheet Print - Golden Dragon Wall Art

I decided that the final piece looked better flipped horizontally and presented it to the client for the final approval, which she gave.  Although it does not look exactly like the style I create in for picture books,  I satisfied all the client requests  and managed to keep some of my visual voice intact. 
Final Art - Golden Dragon Wall Art

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