This is something every artist hears, no matter what stage they are in their creative career.

"Why does this cost so much?"

It is super easy to head to HomeSense and pick up a pretty piece of art for $50. There is nothing wrong with buying mass produced art. I have HomeSense art, thrift store art, gifted art, found art... who doesn't?? But sometimes there is that big empty wall that you just can't find the *right* piece in the right colour palette or you can't find the size for that awkward spot above the stairs or you want to bring the outside inside but can't quite figure out how to do it. And sometimes you really want a piece of art that represents something special to you. Whether it's a wedding, a family vacation or that beach where you got engaged... a custom piece of art can make it happen. That is the time that you reach out to your favourite artist and say hey, can you create the art of my dreams for me?



You'll absolutely be able to find an artist to create something for you within a wide range of budgets. From small sketches to large scale paintings, textile art, diptychs or triptychs to murals even. There is bound to be the perfect artist match out there for you. That being said, custom artwork is, generally speaking, not exactly cheap. People can be surprised at quotes for art commissions and hey, if it's not in your budget that's totally ok! I would love to shed a little bit of light onto what goes into art that is created just for you. Of course, other artists likely do things a bit differently but this is how it goes for me.



This is generally how it goes:

First there is the initial email or inquiry, and details are exchanged. Then we move on to writing up and signing a contract and then perhaps some back and forth about more details or changes and then the deposit is paid. Then there is the design/sketch phase which includes drawing, colouring, choosing a palette of yarn, photographing it, emailing back and forth and making adjustments. I order and pick up a canvas if it is a custom size and also make sure I have enough bubble wrap, boxes and tape for when it's time to ship. All of this is hours of work in itself. 




Then, the creating phase. For me, this can be anywhere from 20 - 60+ hours of work. I start with drawing out a cartoon (which is a full size sketch of the design that hangs behind my loom so I can follow my design as I weave). I usually draw the cartoon right onto the canvas that your art is mounted to so... surprise there's art under the art! Then comes warping my loom and making sure each warp string is exactly where it needs to be and making sure the tension is right. Then I go through my yarn stash and choose all the colours I need, buy or order colours I don't have, wind skeins of yarn... and this is all before I've even put yarn to loom!

The actual weaving can take days or weeks depending on the size and complexity of the design. Back and forth I go making sure each colour works with the next and that there aren't any spots that need to be reworked. And if there are spots to be reworked, that means unweaving and reweaving until I am satisfied.



Next comes the finishing stage. Sometimes a design requires me to hand sew different sections together so I'll do that if needed. After I cut it off the loom I will iron/block it, clean up the back by snipping off long yarn ends and making sure there aren't any bumpy areas when I flip it over. Then if the design requires it I mount my weaving to a canvas (that involves hundreds and hundreds of staples lol). If there is no canvas involved, I usually opt for an invisible hanging option which includes carefully hand stitching velcro to the back of the piece and attaching a flat piece of wood to that. Then there's the final stretch where I send my client a photo for the final ok, and they send the remaining balance and shipping charge. If the piece is being framed I take it to my framer where he dresses it up in a gorgeous custom frame, I add d-rings and wire for hanging, name it and sign it. Then I write up a certificate of authenticity, wrap the whole shebang in layers and layers of bubble wrap, add cardboard to the corners, attempt to construct a giant, super awkwardly shaped box, tape it all up and then FINALLY ship it! 

On top of all this physical work (and this is just as important!) the value an artist offers comes from years and years of experience and learning. Watching you tube videos, endlessly googling how to do a weird thing you can't quite figure out then spending weeks doing and redoing that thing so you finally understand how it's done, taking courses and workshops, practicing (and practising and practising), making tons of mistakes and then making enough work to get to this wonderful stage of being able to offer our clients the art of their dreams. (Not to mention the marketing, photography, social media and accounting lol) 


As the artist half in the creative partnership that is an art commission, I can tell you that when someone you've never met, someone who has only ever seen you and your work through a tiny square in their hand, reaches out to you and asks you to capture one of their cherished moments forever... that is magic. When someone has bought their dream house and wants to fill it with art or opens an incredible restaurant filled with work by local artists... yes, absolute MAGIC I tell ya. When I hear the story that brings the art to life, when I get that little glimpse into the moment I am capturing, it's an incredible feeling and it is an honour to be trusted to create it for them. 

All this being said, custom art can be a very personal thing and an invaluable addition to your home. When you reach out to an artist with a vision or an idea in mind, not only do you get a spectacular piece of art in the end, but you are also an integral part of making that art come to life. Collaborating with an artist you love and admire can be an incredible experience and the result is something that gives you joy, brings you peace and can take you right back to a moment in time that you cherish and will remember for the rest of your life. 

I hope this post shed a bit of light onto the process of at least one artist! I also hope you have some art in your home that brings you joy every time you look at it.



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