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Commissioning an artwork for a collector
Commissioning an artwork for a collector

Points to consider when creating a custom artwork for a collector | Artist | Bluethumb

Kate Revill avatar
Written by Kate Revill
Updated over a week ago

Working on commissions is great - you get to create something unique and you know someone is waiting to snap it up.

Below is the Bluethumbs guide to commissions, the steps that need to be followed and key milestones in the process.


  1. First step is to discuss with the collector directly, what they want, colours, size, style. This is super important to ensure the brief is clear on both sides and that you understand the collectors requirements.

  2. Price - always a hot topic! The price you quote to the buyer needs to be the full price inclusive of shipping costs. You both need to agree to this before any work starts.

  3. Once the work and price has been agreed on the buyer needs to purchase a 30% non refundable deposit, they do this by purchasing a Bluethumb Gift Voucher (steps below on how they can do this). They will need to hold onto this voucher and use it later to make the final purchase.

  4. Once the voucher has been purchased and confirmed by us (we will message you directly to confirm) you can start the work.

  5. Provide regular updates to the buyer throughout the creation process, with images and allow them to make at least one round of revisions.

  6. Once the work is complete and the buyer is happy with the work you will need to list the work at the full agreed amount. The buyer then checks out using the voucher they bought as a deposit and paying the remaining owning.

  7. The order now follows the normal order path, booking and shipping the work to the buyer and following the packaging requirements.

  8. The returns period still applies once delivered, however if the buyer does choose to return the work they will be refunded minus the deposit. The deposit is paid to you to cover the costs of materials. If they do not request a return we will work on paying you for the work after the 7 days has passed (please see When will I be paid? on payment time frames)

Here are a few more detailed insights that we've understood to be key when working on commissions with collectors!

Understand what they're after

Have a good conversation beforehand so you (and the collector) know what you're going to create.

  • If it's based on an original work, that's great. Set the expectation that it won't be a replica.

  • If it involves faces, pets or portraits, set the expectation of how photo-realistic that would be.

  • Discuss colours, tones, shapes - anything you feel might help you understand what they're after

  • Also, remember to confirm the size of the artwork they are after. Many collectors purchase artworks to go into a particular space, so sizing is important.

  • We strongly recommend keeping the communication on and through Bluethumb's messaging platform. This way we can see the conversation and step in to help more easily if there are any issues or concerns. If the conversation is taken off site and a problem arises we me be limited in how we can help and what we can do.


  • Will it surprise them? When asking for commissioned pieces based on existing (sold or available) pieces, they have the expectation that the price will be same or similar. If you think the price will be significantly higher, it's a good idea to explain why.

  • Make it all inclusive $$ amount - when quoting a price, it's best to present one single figure (inclusive of commission and shipping amounts). This reduces the variables they see and minimises the chances of a negotiation. We have placed a ‘Price Calculator’ in the inbox message area so you can use this to help you estimate the shipping costs and overall price of the artwork.

  • Have you considered a round of changes? Commissions sometimes involve a few round of changes from the collector. It's your responsibility to set the expectation on how many rounds there will be (before the commission starts).

  • A commission deposit is required to be paid by the collector before the commission starts, this is to cover you as the artist for material costs and labour if the collector changes their mind or backs out of the commission once started. We request a 30% deposit, the collector can purchase this as a Gift voucher on site (steps outlined below). If the collectors back out of the commission after you have started this amount will be paid to you in full. If the collector does not purchase this there is no deposit held, and in turn we would not be able to pay you if the collector backs out of the commission.

  • If the artist can not complete the commission or creates a work that has deviated from the brief, the commission deposit is forfeited and refunded back to the buyer.


  • Set clear expectations on how long it's going to take to paint and how long it'll take for drying before it's ready for shipping (always keep a week or so in margin - it always comes in handy).

  • If any unforeseen delays occur, keep the collector updated. They could be purchasing this as a gift and have a set completion time they needs this buy.

Shipping costs

  • Make sure the shipping costs are included in the price you've quoted - so there are no surprises. As mentioned above, use the ‘Price Calculator’ in the inbox chat area to enable you too see how much shipping would be on the work and provide the buyer with an inclusive price.

  • Don’t forget about packaging! If your making a work outside of the normal sizes you work on, you may need to create/purchase a custom box to ship the work in. So remember to account for packaging costs as well.

  • If you plan to deliver it personally - let them know well in advance (and ask if it's okay). Don't forget you will need the hand delivery form from us for the buyer to sign.

Set expectations on number of revisions

  • This is a key point and worth mentioning again - If you're liaising directly with the collector, make sure you liaise clearly before starting on how many revisions you're up for so there are no surprises.


  • You will need to list the commission when completed so that the collector can make the final purchase, redeeming the deposit voucher and paying the remaining owing.

  • We recommend listing the work with the title clearly indicating that the work is a commission and who this is for. For example "Commission for Kate". This way, it's clear to staff and other collectors the work is reserved for someone.

  • Ensure you tick the box "This artwork is a commissioned artwork for a collector" under the "Commissioned Artwork" section on the listing page (as shown below) - this notifies us this is a commission for a set person and removes the work from public view in ‘New Art’

  • Once uploaded the work will go into your "Commission" subsection under "My Artworks" from here you can click "Share" next to the appropriate artwork and copy the link to provide to the buyer (screen shot below). This allows the buyer to purchase your work exclusively, once purchased the work will show under "Just Sold".

  • Don't forget to share the link with the buyer, and remind them to use the previously purchased deposit gift voucher to redeem against the sale.

Here's a step by step video guide on how to do this:

If you've read the above and you are ready to get going, then great! We've made it so you can simply copy and paste the below information to the collector to help get the process going.


  • A 30% deposit is required prior to starting the project. This deposit is non-refundable and is paid out to the artist in full to cover the costs of materials, should the commissioned work be cancelled by you at any point.

  • When the artwork is at a mid-way point, update photos will be provided. Final photos will be shared for approval once the work is close to completion. You are then able to submit one round of revisions if needed.

  • Once approved, the artwork will be uploaded to Bluethumb. You can then purchase the work redeeming the deposit voucher against the sale, and paying the remaining owning.

  • The artwork will be ready for shipping soon as discussed and Bluethumb's 7 day return policy still stands from the delivery date. If you decide to return the artwork you will be refunded minus the deposit. This is non-refundable and is paid 100% to the artist to cover their costs.

Hope this sounds fair.

If this sounds good, the easiest way to put down a deposit is to purchase a gift voucher for 30% of the amount. Follow these steps below -

  • Go to gift vouchers page on Bluethumb -

  • Choose the option "My email address so I can send it personally".

  • Enter your name and email address.

  • Enter the artist's name as the recipient.

  • Enter "Deposit for commissioned artwork from 'Artist'" in the message field.

  • Amount to be 30% of the total value of the artwork agreed upon.

Once this is put through, let me know the voucher number (so I can validate the purchase with the Bluethumb Team) and I can start work on your commission. Please hold onto this voucher and keep it safe, it will be needed to redeem the deposit against the final sale amount once completed.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.


If you have any questions/doubts, do let us know. We're always here to assist you can contact us at

If you haven't used the Bluethumb Inbox before, have a read of these following article to help you understand and get the most out of it How to use Bluethumb inbox

It's best to stick to this format as it allows us to provide protection in fringe cases where things go in an unexpected direction. Any communication off site in a relation to a Bluethumb commission is not cover by us.

If you're in doubt and uncertain of anything, please reach out to the Bluethumb team and we can assist.

Your team at Bluethumb

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