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How to Commission a Portrait

Updated: Apr 8, 2019

So you know you want to have a portrait made of someone you love, but where do you start?

There is almost no heirloom more dearly treasured and meaningful than a portrait. It is a beacon of family ties, and a pillar of history for the next generation. A well done portrait can also increase in value and desirability over time. When you choose to have a portrait made for whatever occasion (and there are many appropriate) you will not be disappointed with its reception! But for the biggest bang for your buck I have a list of Dos and Dont's that you will find very helpful!

“Most artists will appreciate being able to have input and a clear idea of your expectations.”

To Begin with...


Impulsively send a photo of what you want painted to an artist you don't have report with.

Ask an artist to make you a pencil drawing when all their demonstrated work is in acrylic.


When you have a particular person (or animal), place or thing in mind email the artist to ask what they can do as far as sizes, prices and medium. Most artists will appreciate being able to have input and a clear idea of your expectations.

Your research in art mediums. Watercolor. Acrylic. Oil. Pastel. Charcoal/Graphite. what is the look you want to achieve? Ask the artist what mediums they are comfortable working with. Then choose from those options.

How to Choose the photo


TL-Bad quality and fuzzy. TR-to many people and small faces. BL- to smiley and direct. BR-professional paid for photo
Portrait photo Don't

Send the most recent photo

Send a low resolution or blurry photo

Send a photo you had professionally taken (you already paid for it once)

send a posed group shot

Send a photo with the subject smiling and looking directly at the camera

Send a photo with low contrast lighting or

unnatural florescent or to much flash.


 Eye level, natural lighting with clear relaxed facial expressions.  Angles that create and interesting visual statement.
Do Photos for Portraits

Send a mid to high resolution photo, where all the lines of the features are clearly seen when zoomed in. if all you have is an old none digital photo discuss this with the artist to see what options the artist can provide.

Send a photo you took on eye level, it doesn't have to win a photography award it just has to show the face at a flattering angle.

Send a photo of the subject doing something they enjoy not necessarily the most recent, but a photo that shows personality or an important time in the subjects life.

Send a photo that has interesting lighting or natural lighting. This is really important for taking a portrait and turning it into timeless work of art.

What to Ask for When Ordering...


Try to save money by ordering 5"x7" of three + people in one painting

Expect a small painting to be as detailed as a larger painting if you haven't seen any examples by the artist

A quick turn around time, with a 1-2 week notice, if its close to a holiday (artists have families too)

Ask the artist to go out of their way, delivery or free shipping, unless they offer.

ask and artist to accomplish their work in a different artists style, if you like someone else work ask them, or find an artist who has a similar body of work.


Stick with larger sizes when ordering a portrait of multiple people in one painting no smaller than 11"x14"

Do expect a painting to be more vivid and detailed the larger its dimensions

Order a portrait 4 weeks out from the date you want it, at the very least, give the artist a very clear date when you need it by. Specify if you need it shipped or if you'd like to pick it up.


Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Being a patron of art is an investment you won't regret!

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