Commissions

Commission for a 1950s modernist church and its vicarage

Let there be Light- St Cuthbert's by Peter Vincent PS



One of our most niche commissions to date was a portrait of a modern 1950s church in North London. 

The client, the church’s vicar, had seen the 2015 FBA exhibition The Painted Parish' online and was inspired to commission an artist to paint his own place of worship.  Mall Galleries art advisors put together a portfolio of possible artists and Peter Vincent PS was chosen. Peter had previously been commissioned by us to paint the Royal Automobile Club’s Art Deco swimming pool, therefore seemed a perfect fit for a 20th century building portrait. 

The resulting pastel works, two paintings of the interior and exterior, were a memento of the exchange between a reverend and an artist in the shadow of a modernist church. 

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Let there be Light- St Cuthbert's by Peter Vincent PS

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St Cuthberts by Peter Vincent PS

The Royal Automobile Club Exhibitions and Commissions

The RAC Snow Effect by Ken Howard OBE RA

In 2011, the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) reached it’s centenary year. In commemoration of this, they invited 26 artists to paint the Club’s two stunning premises in Central London and Surrey, culminating in a large exhibition for the Club’s members.  The artists were given free reign of the two clubs on a day of their choice and asked to produce paintings for a final exhibition.

Ken Howard OBE and Pete ‘the Street’ Brown NEAC RP chose external views of the RAC on Pall Mall, in winter and summer respectively, with red buses hurtling past it’s façade.

Some, such as Sue Ryder RP NEAC and Robbie Wraith RP chose to depict the vast gold-gilded dining room whereas, others ventured outside to the terrace where the Club backs out onto the private gardens of Carlton House Terrace.

At Woodcote Park, the Club’s country home, the artists took in the sweeping views and the parked vintage cars on show, reminding members of summer days spent there.

The final exhibition was extremely well-received, with many members taking home paintings of their club. We have been commissioning exhibitions with the RAC every year since.

 

The Club Room by Glyns Ambrose PS

End of the Day Pall Mall by Peter Brown NEAC RP

Morning in the Great Gallery by Roger Dellar ROI

Fine Dining Preparations by Pauline Fazakerley RI

Members Sitting Room by Felicity House PS

The RAC Snow Effect by Ken Howard OBE RA

Dining with Roses by Sue Ryder NEAC RP

The Front of the RAC Club by Melissa Scott-Miller NEAC RP

Reflected Grandeur by Peter Vincent PS

The Grand Gallery II by Robbie Wraith RP

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A Club Room Desk

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Snow Effect by Ken Howard RA OBE

Waves and Windsurfing: A Family Holiday at Bantham Beach

Bantham Beach by Duncan Palmar

Sebastian Seal had come across a painting of Bantham Beach by Duncan Palmar at the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA) Annual Exhibition and although the painting had sold, it had struck a chord.  Sebastian knew the area well, as he spends the summer holidays with his family windsurfing in the Cornish bay.  

Mall Galleries offers commissions advice throughout the RSMA and so Sebastian was able to discuss the possibilities of commissioning Duncan with our consultants who arranged quotes and contracts with the artist and put them in touch. Sebastian was interested in commissioning a similar work to the Bantham Beach painting he’d seen, but as the conversation unfolded with Duncan, the idea that he and his family would feature in it emerged.  The final result featured the beach that Sebastian had such a connection to, bathed in summer sunlight, his children in the foreground and almost a speck on the horizon, Sebastian’s red windsurf sail.

Sebastian said about the experience:

"Commissioning was a great experience for us, from the anticipation in waiting for the painting to be finished, the lovely surprise at the final result and the personal touch when we met Duncan and discussed how our ideas were introduced into his own work."



-Sebastian Seal 2016

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Bantham Beach by Duncan Palmar

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Bantham Beach by Duncan Palmar

Commissioning Conversation: Context

 

Here are the videos from the second in the Commissioning Conversation talks which aim to demystify the commissions process by inviting artists and art consultants to talk about projects they have worked on with their clients.  The theme for this particluar event which took place 7 February 2016 during the Columbia Threadneedle Prize Exhibition was Context.

We invited Yuki Aruga, Miriam Escofet Assoc RP and Eleanor Watson to speak about the contexts from which some of their favourite commissioned artworks arose. Stories of moving house, the death of a grandparent, renaissance scuplture galleries and even superhero wallpaper emerged! Watch the videos below to see the results.

The next Commissioning Conversation event is Sunday 20th March, 3-4pm with Melissa Scott-Miller, Toby Ward and Anna Bromwich.  Find out more and book your place here.

 

Eleanor Watson

Miriam Escofet Assoc RP

Yuki Aruga


An artwork commission is a personalised experience that is different for everyone, at Mall Galleries we employ Commission Consultants to guide you through the process of commissioning an artwork from choosing an artist to choosing an artwork that is suitable for your home or business.

If you would like to find out more information regarding commissioning an artwork or book a private consultation, click here.

 

Commissioning Conversation Maritime

In October Mall Galleries Art Consultancy held it's first in a series of events about commissioning art.  Each event invites artists and Mall Galleries commissions consultants to talk about different stories of commissions they have undertaken or overseen. 


The talks focus around a different theme every time and as we kicked off the series during the Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition 2015, 'Maritime' was chosen as a talking point.  Watch the videos below to hear Geoff Hunt PPRSMA talking about painting a famous American clipper for the American Club in Hong Kong, Dolores de Sade show her work on ecologist Alexander von Humboldt's discovery of penguins on the Chilean coast and Jeff Stultiens RP discuss painting Navy and lifeguard portraits. 

If you are looking to commission artwork yourself, get in touch with Mall Galleries commissions team so that we can find the right artist for you.

 

Geoff Hunt PPRSMA

 

Dolores de Sade RP

 

Jeff Stultiens RP

 

How Does Commissioning Work?


An artwork commission is a personalised experience that is different for everyone, at Mall Galleries we employ Commission Consultants to guide you through the process of commissioning an artwork from choosing an artist to choosing an artwork that is suitable for your home or business.

If you would like to find out more information regarding commissioning an artwork or book a private consultation, click here.

How To and Why Commission Artwork

How does commissioning work? Why would I commission an artwork in the first place? How much does it cost? How do I choose an artist? If you’ve never commissioned an artwork before, there might be a million questions like the above in your mind. Anna Bromwich, Mall Galleries Commissions Consultant, will attempt to clarify some of these points.


Commissioning is the process by which an artist creates a work of art on a client’s invitation. This invitation comes in many shapes and forms.  As Commissions Consultant at Mall Galleries, I have seen clients move towards commissioning because the exhibition work they were interested in was sold before they could get to it and they wanted to commission something similar.

We have commissioned house and boat portraits, plein air painted landscapes and still lifes of objects. Each object or place would hold sentimental value for the commissioner.  We have worked with companies and diverse businesses on commissioning emerging artists for their office walls. We have sourced the right artist for someone’s new home, matching colour and style to personality. 

As a commissions consultant my main role is as a mediator. Some clients know who they want to commission, others look to us for help.  We talk everything through with the client, presenting you with portfolios and helping to clarify ideas.  Once you have settled on an artist we take care of written agreements, organise site visits if necessary and make sure communication runs fluidly between you and the commissioned artist.  We work with budgets anywhere between £750 – 100,000, so it’s worth having a chat with our consultants in the gallery.  Invoicing in two instalments, a deposit to start and the balance on completion, means that both parties interests are protected.

As an example of the above, The Pastel Society visitors might be interested one of our most recent commissions – a portrait of a 1950s church in North London.  The client, the church’s vicar, had seen the 2015 FBA exhibition The Painted Parish online and had been inspired to commission an artist to paint his own place of worship.  Mall Galleries art advisors put together a portfolio of possible artists. Peter Vincent PS was chosen. Vincent had previously been commissioned by us to paint the Royal Automobile Club’s Art Deco swimming pool and so he seemed a perfect fit for a 20th century building portrait.  The resulting pastel work was a memento of the exchange between a reverend and an artist in the shadow of a modernist church. 

Peter Vincent PS, Let There Be Light - St Cuthbert's


An artwork commission is a personalised experience that is different for everyone, at Mall Galleries we employ Commission Consultants to guide you through the process of commissioning an artwork from choosing an artist to choosing an artwork that is suitable for your home or business.

If you would like to find out more information regarding commissioning an artwork or book a private consultation, click here.

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Peter Vincent PS, Let There Be Light - St Cuthbert's (detail)

Portrait Painting Commissions Continue to Flourish

Portrait commissions remain an important art form and co-collaboration between artist and sitter. The Royal Society of Portrait Painters, for example, placed a record number of commissions again last year, up by over 24%, despite the onslaught of the smartphone, Snapchat and the selfie.

Unlike a reflection in the mirrors or a photograph, the painted portrait is the distillation of many moments and is interpreted through the imagination of an artist, so a portrait often teaches us to see somebody differently.  A good portrait not only captures something essential about a person, it can also reveal unseen aspects of a personality or physique. Very often seeing a portrait for the first time is therefore disconcerting, it takes time to learn a new way of seeing mediated by the artist and the medium.

It is not just the commissioning of portraits that flourishes, historical portraiture is also still in vogue. Last year, for example, an exhibition of Rembrandt’s later portraits attracted over a quarter of a million visitors, and exhibitions of portraits by Goya and Sargent were also hugely popular.  Looking back, Rembrandt portraits took centre stage at the National Gallery in 2014, Manet at the Royal Academy in 2013 and Freud at the National Portrait Gallery in 2012. Portrait painting seems to be a growing and popular genre.



An artwork commission is a personalised experience that is different for everyone, at Mall Galleries we employ Commission Consultants to guide you through the process of commissioning an artwork from choosing an artist to choosing an artwork that is suitable for your home or business.

If you would like to find out more information regarding commissioning an artwork or book a private consultation, click here.


 

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Robbie Wraith RP, Anna, Profile (detail)

How to Commission Art

Commissioning a work is a deeply rewarding and enjoyable process and our help in guiding you through the process makes it easy.

The first stage is to choose an artist. Our consultants can help you with this as it could be overwhelming and confusing. We take your brief about the parameters of the commission and a pricing outline, size and medium as well as the subject and style and shortlist suitable artists for you.

Once you have chosen your favourite artist it is good to talk to them directly. It is worth noting that the price an artist gives you is for their fee.  Expenses such as framing, travel and accommodation are extra.

Another aspect you might not be aware of is that copyright belongs to the artist unless it, or part of it, is assigned to another person. This means that you can’t reproduce the work you commissioned without the artist’s permission. Copyright and the broader rights enshrined in intellectual property law should be discussed early in the process. 

Once the details are established, the artist should give you a quote. There are usually two elements to the pricing, the artist’s fee and their expenses.  Framing, delivery, travel and accommodation are not normally included. A letter of agreement is useful for establishing expectations and preventing problems due to misunderstandings.

Many artists take a deposit before starting work and the rest on completion. Three or more staged payments can be made for larger works but a second final payment on completion is more normal.  

Portraiture is one of the most often commissioned genres.   Broadly speaking for ‘from life’ work, six to ten sittings of 1 and 1/2 to two hours would be normal. If the artist uses photography they are likely to need fewer sittings. These can take place either in the studio or at your chosen location.

Once the work is complete, the artist will often show you a .jpg of the work for approval before delivering the work.  

Particularly with portraits, it takes time to see the work objectively. Six weeks is a good starting point but it takes five years or more to divorce your self from the image. We are so used to seeing ourselves in the mirror or photography but a portrait is something completely different and it can take a while to get used to it.

At the end of the day your piece of work will be a joy forever.



An artwork commission is a personalised experience that is different for everyone, at Mall Galleries we employ Commission Consultants to guide you through the process of commissioning an artwork from choosing an artist to choosing an artwork that is suitable for your home or business.

If you would like to find out more information regarding commissioning an artwork or book a private consultation, click here.

 

Commissions: What Artists Should Know

Not all artists like to work to commission, for some artists it is a constraint and compromise. For others it is an inspiration, a discipline and an enjoyable collaboration. It is worth experimenting with working to commission to find out which category you fall into before committing to it.

The key difference between a commission and a non-commissioned work is the patron’s part in the creative process. It is hard to generalise about art commissions but the one consistent thing with commissioned work is that communication and the management of expectations are key elements for a successful outcome.

The level of collaboration that suits an artist differs; some artists like their work to be truly collaborative throughout, whereas others reveal their work only once it is finished. There is no right or wrong way, but you do need to work out where you are on that scale and set some up-front ground rules on the level of engagement accordingly. 

Before you begin a commissioned work, the parameters of the commission and a pricing outline need to be agreed with your patron. Size and medium are usually the easy part and can be established by email. The subject matter and its treatment are more subtle so is best done face to face if possible. For a portrait, you will need to have discussed what the sitter is to wear and the environment in which they will be set as well as the practicalities of sittings.  Because the language people use to describe art is not well developed, it can be difficult to communicate a concept. It is important to listen to your brief very carefully and to stick to it unless by agreement. I find that sketches are a good way to ensure that the ideas in your patron’s mind are close to those in yours.  

Preparatory drawing by Andrew James

Copyright belongs to the artist unless it, or part of it, is assigned to another person. This is not something that a client is often aware of. It means that they can’t reproduce the work they commissioned without your permission.  Commercial reproduction would rightly carry a fee but you may however wish to encourage other forms of reproduction because it is likely to be in your interest if your client were to promote you by putting your work up on their Facebook page or create personal Christmas cards.

Copyright and the broader rights enshrined in intellectual property law should be discussed early in the process.

Once the details are established, the client will need a quote. As an emerging artist, it is good to remember that each happy patron and each work hung on the wall is an advertisement for you, so it is best not to overprice. There are usually two elements to the pricing, your fee and your expenses.  Framing, delivery, travel and accommodation are usually itemised separately at cost. Contracts are very useful for agreeing what the expectations are and preventing problems due to misunderstandings.

Many artists take a deposit before starting work, partly to make sure that their patron is serious about the commission and partly for cash-flow reasons.  Others prefer not to be tied so that either party can walk away from the commission if they need to.  Three staged payments can be made for larger works but a single second final payment on completion is more normal.  

James Lloyd starting a portrait

Portraiture is one of the most frequently commissioned genres.  Broadly speaking for ‘from life’ work, six to ten sittings of 1 and 1/2 to two hours would be normal. If you use photography you are likely to need fewer sittings. These can take place either in the studio or at the client's location. It is wise to employ basic safety precautions for lone-workers, such as letting somebody know where you are going, whom you are with and when you are expected to return.

Once the work is finished, it can be useful to manage expectations by showing the client a .jpg of the image for approval before delivering the work. 



An artwork commission is a personalised experience that is different for everyone, at Mall Galleries we employ Commission Consultants to guide you through the process of commissioning an artwork from choosing an artist to choosing an artwork that is suitable for your home or business.

If you would like to find out more information regarding commissioning an artwork or book a private consultation, click here.

Diana Bell on Public Commissions for the Community

Diana Bell is an experienced commissioned artist.  Here she talks to us about commissions in the public realm.


Diana Bell specialises in creating work for public spaces. Context is crucial to her work, and her pieces are situated outside of the gallery, rooted in the world. She is fascinated by what it means to be human, and the relationship between humans and their environment. Public commissions enable Diana to explore the human condition whilst inviting the public to participate in the making of her work. 

 

Public Commissions that involve the Community

Diana’s favourite commissions are those that involve collaboration with the public. 

Diana Bell, Together

Her figurative sculpture ‘Together’ was commissioned in 2007 by Lidl Supermarket and reflects the community of Blackbird Leys. Through working with primary schools, youth groups and an art group, she created a sculpture to depict a supportive community that depends on each other.

Diana Bell, Together

Breaking out of the gallery space 

‘Context is everything’ 

Diana’s public participation pieces depend on particular contexts that root her artwork in the world. Her work encourages people to respond. By moving her work out of a gallery space into the outer world, it must adapt to new challenges, fit into the world around it but also compete with everything in a public space.  

One of Diana’s favourite commissions was ‘The Big Book’. In 2010 Dianna created a 2.2 metre book where the public were invited to step from reality into the book and release their imagination in words. The book began its journey from the Bodlean library in Oxford, and has since travelled to thirteen venues, including Liverpool, Birmingham, Bath and Berlin. In Berlin it was situated in a square next to where the Nazis burnt books during the Holocaust, evoking a powerful significance between the artwork and its location.

 

Diana Bell, The Big Book

Opening up conversations 

‘You can have a philosophical conversation with almost anyone on the street which is so exciting’

Diana worked on ‘The Big Book’ unexpectedly for five years, collecting approximately 5,900 contributions in 63 different languages. She continues to collect stories from the public in ‘The Big Question Mark’, a project that invites participants to go on a symbolic journey whilst answering questions about their origins. The audience has an integral part in the creative process, enabling them to be both participants and creators.

Commissions that begin with an idea 

‘Where do ideas come from? I don’t know where they come from. They just come, I suppose’

The process of commissioning is an evolving one, which can take interesting turns of direction. Diana views commissions as an exciting journey that can lead to a wealth of possibilities. Whether an idea originates with the artist, or a community, company or an individual, it involves working together in a dynamic process of collaboration. 

 

By Sophia Siddiqui

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Diana Bell, The Big Book