As artists we are challenged to find a way to get our work out to others while still enjoying the process and not compromising ourselves. While everyone has a different journey with this and relationship to their work, their self-value as an artist, and the timing of their releases, not all artists find it easy to make a living at what they do right off the bat and not all artists may hit it big in having their work discovered or desired by every gallery or person. So, artists are left with wanting to be able to do what they love, not compromise their integrity, remain authentic to the style they enjoy, but also still be able to enjoy that connection that happens when someone purchases and takes home a piece of their work.
In many cases, this is why some artists may opt for offering commissions and take on custom work, as it allows them to still be an artist, while helping to support their ability to keep creating.
Some artists simply prefer doing custom work because they truly love that one-on-one connection and intimate relationship they create with the person they’re creating for and it allows them to challenge themselves with continued new subjects and ways to create.
They love the interactive quality of the work and having something new to work on every day.
For some, it’s more consistent work than trying to sell original pieces.
Then there are artists who purely love creative freedom and not having to create something someone else tells them to, not have to be concerned if it’s exactly what that person wanted, and simply love to work from that impetus of creative energy that moves through them when inspired and not on a timeline or schedule.
And then there are the artists that like a balance of both and find they compliment the process of being able to do what they love and tempers the right balance of compromise and variety, while helping them live and work as the artist they see themselves to be.
Where do I fall into all of this?
Well, having done all three levels, I find myself back in the place of truly feeling the call of full creative freedom at the doorway of my heart.
That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the process of commissions in the past, as I’ve met some dear souls through that work, was able to challenge myself in many ways, and did enjoy that intuitively intimate connection and relationship channel during the process of creating – this was both with paintings and sacred tattoo designs.
However, I much preferred total creative freedom and found that when, in some cases, I was being dictated by every little part of the process and was at the mercy of someone else’s feelings around something I may have spent hours working on, it really could be a very stressful process and put a damper on creativity.
I adored the times when I was handed creative license with commissions and found that those pieces came out the best.
Custom work can, in essence, have the potential to be an interruption to an artist’s flow of their own planned work, unless it truly is an artist’s joy and perhaps first love, to create commissioned pieces.
I can even remember when I created my first mural for an investment firm I worked for and several large commissioned paintings I was hired for in the beginning that I had to work at convincing the very left-brained people who hired me with proposals and long explanations of what I envisioned, supplies needed, logistics, and how long and how much it would cost, as well as having to provide a sample sketch even when I knew that the magick happened during the process of creating. I then felt like I had to stick to that plan and wouldn’t have any room for inspirational flow in the unfolding of its creation. It became too much of a business and my need to make someone understand a right brain process with left brained explanations.
The connection can potentially get lost in the translation of this.
Luckily, those paintings went really well, although were stressful and tied me up in things I ended up rather not be involved with, but the mural wasn’t as much embraced even though they agreed to my sketch.
While they liked it, they didn’t love it. I found out that it lasted only several months before they painted it over. Not a surprise, as my heart saw a potential for them that the financial people there just didn’t quite understand. They were stuck in the old ways and this new vision was a bit too uncomfortable.
I was grateful to all of them for my very first opportunities to get my business going, which ironically allowed me to quit that investment firm job in the first place, and was still proud of myself for being able to acquire some really huge projects without any resume behind me.
These experiences may not have been my perfect fit, but at the time were my perfect reflection for what I needed to learn and what I called up for growth.
Then there were the many wonderful fits where harmony and synergy were in flow.
I think this is key if you do choose the custom work.
It really depends on the individual and what feels right. It’s important to align yourself, as well as put out intentions of the type of clients you want to work with, be willing to say “no” when something doesn’t sit right, and not take something on just for the money if at all possible.
The theme of this post actually was inspired by my continuing to get requests for custom sacred tattoo design commissions and people finding me online and even sharing my work with others, which happened twice already today. Even though I’ve removed my website and these offerings, there’s no way to remove the world-wide web of your past work altogether and those phantom pages that float in the ethers, so I take it as opportunity to feel grounded in my choices and able to say, “no” with gratitude.
I think these are key things for any kind of work we do and not just as an artist.
There isn’t one right or wrong way with this, but there are things to weigh and options to look at to see what feels right and where you’re willing to compromise or not. Or in fact, what doesn’t feel to be a compromise, but maybe just a shift in perspective that can open you to more possibilities.
You may even move in and out of these choices over the course of your artistic journey.
My professional artist life began as all commissions, then turned into a mix of custom and originals, and now is solely original-based creations.
This has all moved me into the new creations I’ve been inspired to paint solely from my inner child’s joy, imagination, and love.
I had hoped today I’d be sharing the first of these little paintings with you, but Spirit has something else in mind, as this past week has been very full and so I won’t have the last two of this first group done until next week.
Astrid feels next Wednesday is the day to reveal them, so stay tuned for Whimsical Wednesdays on 12/12 – no surprise there that alignments have it falling on this day.
Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you’re an artist of any genre, where do you find the greatest joy?
Is it in creating custom pieces, your own originals, or a mix?
Is there something you could tweak that would make your current path more enjoyable?
How do you hope things to evolve and what steps do you plan to take to make that happen?
In love and creative magick, I wish you the most heartfelt journey with your art.