"A Painful Commission" by S'zanne Reynolds
Commissions are often a challenge for many artists. I've learned the hard way, never to make assumptions or you can lose the sale, or worse--your client.
Don't assume, for example, that they'll understand why you're taking so long to finish a painting. Explain the process and keep clients updated with the progress, or lack of progress.
Be realistic setting a timeline, and don't be afraid to communicate road blocks or explain why the work may take longer than expected. Keep the lines of communication open and don't ignore any problems.
What you see in your head, is not necessarily what they'll want. Discuss the plans for the work and define the details as much as possible. If they can't point to a particular piece in your portfolio that they like and want you to emulate style-wise, then don't take on the job. You cannot be anything other than the artist you already are at the moment.
And, don't assume, they'll want to purchase the piece upon completion. Have a backup plan and offer them another painting for the same value as the non-refundable deposit.
If you don't currently have a dedicated block of time to complete the commission, say 4-6 hours a day for 2-3 weeks or however long you plan for it to take, ask them to come back in 6 months or put them on a waiting list. Accepting commissions too far in advance of your availability will make you look like you're not really interested in doing business with them, and it may potentially build tension and frustration for all concerned.
We all want our clients to be happy with our commissions, and we desire to act with integrity and professionalism. But even the best intentions can go awry. Click on LadiesWhoLaunch.com for some good guidelines on setting goals, expectations and desired results to help avoid the pitfalls of bad planning and unexpected outcomes in any business.
Art is, after all, a business...the business of creativity!