Made By Mrs M

How to Commission a House Portrait

Art, Architecture, ProductsKate Marsden

It seems, from my inbox at least, that people have started thinking about that event in December! Now is a really good time to start planning if you’re keen to commisson an artist or designer to produce a bespoke or personalised gift - they’re generally not as busy as they will be come November, and you can be sure you’ll definitely receive it in plenty of time!

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It was only when I was putting together my updated portfolio ahead of our open studios back in June, that I realised just how many house portraits I’d produced during the previous 12 months! They make a great gift, and are often bought for that tricky person you struggle to choose something for (husbands, dads…). I love working with people on commissions as it means that I get to find out a little more background - about them, the occassion or even the significance of a particular building if it’s not their home.

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I often get asked about the commission process, so I’ve put this post together to explain! Customers either come to me directly by email, via Instagram or Twitter or by placing an order in my Etsy shop. The vast majority of commissions fit within my pricing structure which is set out on Etsy, however VERY occassonally if something is really complex it may be necessary to provide a quote before I start work.

Once the order is placed, the first step is to send me a photograph of the building…

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At this stage I also ask people if they have any colours in mind, or are after a particular style based on the examples I’ve shown, and then I set to work.

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I create an initial line drawing on layout paper - the final image is often a combination of several sheets of layout paper worked on using a lightbox - this enables me to make changes to the drawing without starting all over again every time! Once I’m happy, I’ll scan the image (or images) and open the file in photoshop.

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Once in photoshop, I’ll tidy up any lines that need it (and combine the various drawings if necessary) before adding in basic shading. some images have more shading than others - generally I take my cue for this from the photograph - some buildings lend themselves to lots of shading to create shape and structure, others don’t.

I’ll then move to the final dimensions for the print and plan the layout…

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Before adding the colour. This one is very simple - some pieces contain multiple colours, or are coloured to match the original photograph.

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I then print the image out onto normal printer paper and stick it up on my studio wall - if I have time I like to leave it there for at least 24 hours. This enables me to look at it every time I walk in or out of the studio and I often spot errors or things I don’t like, which I can remedy before sending to the client. I send them a low resolution version for approval. Artwork is usually approved first time, but occassionally I’m asked to tone down (or up!) the colour, or make more of a particular feature (so need to bring the layout paper out again) before it’s agreed.

The final image is then sent to my printers who produce a high quality giclee print which is usually ready for me to collect and dispatch within a few days.

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The whole process usually takes 2-3 weeks, depending on how many edits are required (and how busy I am!). At this time of year it can take a little longer, but I always let clients know what my estimated dispatch date is at the outset. Last orders for Christmas are at the end of November, but this date can change depending on how much I have on…

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I hope I’ve helped to explain the process. I work from photographs as this enables me to produce work for anyone, anywhere in the world - I’ve drawn houses from all across the UK, the USA and Europe without leaving the studio!

You can order your own house portrait here, or drop me a line for a chat.