commission work can stretch your creativity

When you face a blank canvas (whether literal or metaphorical), starting a new work can be a daunting experience.

But when you create commission work, you have to throw away control over the variables:

  • choice of format or shape or material
  • your personal tendencies
  • infinite time

Commission work gives parameters, where personal work can often be difficult to nail down. Commission work inspires creativity because the client provides limits of size, format, materials, budget, or time.

In the beginning of my career, working for clients was a way for me to give structure and form to my creativity. It's a way for me to give purpose to my skills, that so often seem to drift and wander through the air like smoke, then vanish, like vapor.

 The challenge of a fine art commission comes from size restrictions, subject matter, medium, and timeframe or deadline.

The challenge of a fine art commission comes from size restrictions, subject matter, medium, and timeframe or deadline.

Creating on-demand also takes a bit of the romantic moodiness out of the artist's life by giving it structure. It's easier to fall into a disciplined pattern of creating: I getup, I make, I do more, I sleep, I get up, I make. Repeat.

Each time I create a commission work, it's an outpouring of my time and energy that I always learn from. With experience and self-knowledge, it's become easier to do. In fact, I've taken the systems from your my work and applied them to all my artmaking--like it's my professional job.

So as an artist, each day, my job is to move my personal work forward in some way, as if I were creating a project for someone else...

 The challenge of photographing a wedding comes from restrictions on time, location, weather, and more.

The challenge of photographing a wedding comes from restrictions on time, location, weather, and more.

In both commission work and personal artmaking, you have to sit outside yourself and be your own boss (a challenging one, but a nice one, of course). 

I've seen in my own life how client work can propel me into wonderful new avenues. If you're determined enough, you can absolutely make wonderful things happen with your client work. If you can keep up the pattern of getting up and doing one thing to move your work forward every day, it will truly change your life.

Feeling stuck? Here's a handy-dandy list of things to get you creatively UN-stuck.