How to properly work with and deal with clients who commissioned you for custom artwork | 9-step guide

June 18, 2021

Written by Kasey Halbleib

You can view Kasey's works & place a commission via her profile.

What a thrill it is to get a new commission request from a new client! But after that initial thrill of the notification popping up, it can be a bit daunting to get started, especially if this is one of the first times that you’ve dealt with handling custom artwork requests from clients on a platform such as MadeMay. But fear not, this article will break it all down for you. So let’s dive in with it. 

Step One

Celebrate! You’ve landed your first commission request on MadeMay, give yourself a high-five! 

Step Two

Once you’ve come down from celebrating, make sure to look over the details of the commission request. Ensure that the request fits your style, preference and process of creation. This is very important, if the commission request simply doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, be honest and feel no pressure to accept every single request you receive. If you believe that the potential client would be served better in a different direction, in the end everyone can avoid the headache that comes with a bad fit commission. 

Step Three

After all the details are looked over, and the request seems like a job you’re willing and able to tackle, accept it (and do another little happy dance, you deserve it!). On the MadeMay platform, prior to accepting you must enter in the estimated completion date for the custom piece. When that field is filled in and “accept commission” is selected, the information to contact your client will be there and it’s a good idea to start up the conversation with the client. Even if all of the details you need to get started are presented in the commission request, it’s a good rule of thumb to follow to keep the client in the loop of progress on the art piece. 

Step Four

In the initial email to the client some important aspects to cover are simple, yet effective and helpful. Start with a thank you and express your excitement for the project, then ask any and all questions you have on the request in order for you to have the widest scope of details possible to fall back on and reference. Any clarification should be given or asked for in this email and it’s best to keep it short, sweet and kind to prevent confusion between the two parties involved in the messages. Finally, in this email include a reiteration of the estimated completion date. Yes, it was already included from the MadeMay platform but putting it into this message never hurts and only helps to hold accountability in order to hit that deadline! 

Step Five

Get started! This step is pretty self-explanatory, but is still just as important as any other step. Make sure to take your time, yet still keep a good pace to hit the deadline you established for yourself. 

Step Six

Be sure to keep the conversation going with the client. Make sure they know you are still working on their commission request and making progress with it. Progress photos aren’t always required if you don’t feel comfortable with that, but a quick email to keep the client informed and reminded is good for building trustworthy artist-client relationships! 

Step Seven

Once the piece is completed snap some good photos of it, with good lighting and various angles, then send it to the client in an email to let them know you’re wrapping it all up! Then create the shipping label with your preferred mail carrier’s website, enter in all of the information for the label from the initial request on MadeMay (address, client’s full name, etc.) and then find the cost for shipping. With this cost, go back to the commission request on MadeMay and enter in the shipping information such as cost, tracking number, carrier and receipt. 

Step Eight

Let the packaging begin! Make sure the artwork is safe and protected from potential damage in whatever you are packaging it in. Also, include any small goodies that can be used to advertise yourself! This can look like stickers, cards or a handwritten note. These can set you apart from the crowd and make a memorable impact on the client receiving the piece. 

Step Nine

Send it off and keep in touch with the client! Follow up with an email to confirm they received the piece and are happy with it. Keeping up with satisfied clients can help to potentially land more commissions in the future! 

Of course, these steps aren’t all set in stone and you can do whatever works for you, but these are a good group of steps to help you if you’re just starting out. Happy creating!