Have you ever thought about having a painting done just for you? Or something for that friend who has everything? I have very rarely accepted commissions over the past few years - I used to find that there was a great deal of pressure to read the mind of the client. I would ask them to try and describe exactly what they wanted and get frustrated when they'd give me artistic license. "The gall!" I would think to myself, "They want ME to come up with the WHOLE concept???!!!" Well, duh.. yes. But I didn't get it. I got analysis paralysis every time and as a result my automatic answer to the question,
"Do you do commissions?"
was always a firm and final "No."
Then, out of nowhere, something happened. A persuasive and determined Day of the Dead fan convinced me that what he was looking for was what I was already doing. Our conversation can be summed up thusly:
Me: "It's going to be cartoony, you know that, right?"Client: "Yes! That's what I want."Me: "It is going to have weird backgrounds, perhaps a lot of patterns, and the figures will be .. well.. skeletal and pale and they won't have eyelids." Client: "Perfect!"Hmmm. Okay then! <lightbulb goes off> OH! Okay then!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don't know why I hadn't grasped that before - I'm sure people had tried to get the message through in the past but I suppose I was too caught up in fear to really hear them. That one client, though, managed to break down the barrier for me and I realized that my unique vision and style were precisely why they were asking me to do the work in the first place!
It was an astounding moment for me as an artist and on a personal level, too.
I had thought people were looking for this:
But they weren't. They were looking for this:
Once I accepted that potential clients were not asking me to make a photo-realistic image the act of creating a unique Dia de los Muertos portrait for them seemed a lot more doable - and much more fun!
I'm offering custom portraits through Etsy right now, if you are starting your Christmas shopping and are stuck for a unique idea, or if there's a wedding coming up and you know the couple will get a kick out of seeing themselves as skeletons in love. :)
Click here to go to the listing and read about the process and pricing:
CUSTOM DAY OF THE DEAD PORTRAITS BY BONES NELSON