I'm an artist and I don't take commissions. This may not be true forever but for now, it's the way I operate. For me, art is about putting myself out there. Maybe it's selfish but commissions give me anxiety. I started to notice how I felt when I painted them – excited, grateful for the work, thrilled that someone likes my stuff enough to get a custom piece....but also, nervousness, dread, resentment and anxiety.
Painting commissions reminded me of a time in my life where I did graphic design freelance. I actually have my BFA in graphic design and I still work in the field, but for years I wanted to run my own design studio. It seemed like the logical final step for someone in the design field who didn't want to work for anyone. Except you're always working for someone.
With design, I had clients. Clients have their own ideas about how things should be, no matter what you come up with. And they should! I was designing brands and websites for small businesses and it's totally good and normal for them to have a vision for what they want their brand to be.
It felt like I was taking orders during those years. I enjoyed working within the constraints that clients gave me because it was a challenge, but I also hate working for people, clients included. I never thought deeply about it until last year, 3 years after I stopped taking design freelance work. I finally could admit something that I knew in my gut all along – I hate design freelance!
Ponnopozz came to be because it allowed me to do whatever I wanted and answer to no one but myself. It's very liberating for someone like me who tends to be a people-pleaser. My art has become sacred, albeit difficult some days. Allowing commissions just puts me right back into the client / contractor funnel. It's a place I don't want to be.
To top it off, I did have a few lousy experiences with painting commissions. I'd paint something that wasn't my typical style, for instance. I'd feel resentful and upset during the process. Or those few times when clients didn't like what I created and wanted me to change a few things. Those times stung and took all the fun out of painting.
So, that's why for now, I've decided to keep my paintings close to my heart. Those who buy the paintings I make are purchasing something that I truly enjoyed making – something that came from my spirit.
That's why I give early access to my email list subscribers (formerly Friends of Ponnopozz originals, or FPO). I wanted to give customers interested in original art a chance to buy before the general public. It felt like the right thing to do since I'd taken commissions away. The list has gone well so far – often my work sells to someone on this list!
If you're interested in getting early access to my original work, sign up for my newsletter, here. Be sure to check the box for original artwork!
I agree with your No commissions. It’s really hard to not take them and I still do but I painted a piece last week “I am normally a minimalist abstract artist” and did a piece of their sons home. I gave it my style loose and “vague” and the Purple on the door was off according to her. I think she didn’t actually give it as a gift because she didn’t like it. People see my work and expect me to paint realistic dogs and cats :) I feel your pain.