The array of custom commissioned sculptural works I do – jewelry-scale or large-scale – have proven to be exceptionally rewarding. My clients speak highly of the process of commissioning and fashioning a unique work of wearable or viewable art, and the process involves personal, collaborative investments of time and easy and efficient two-way communication. From early stage sketches to final finished pieces, custom commissions follow a sequence of milestones.
The client’s vision is the beginning of everything, however rough, however refined. Maybe this vision is sparked by a significant family gemstone, ready to be reworked into a new piece of jewelry. It could be dainty, or big. Maybe the vision is all about the negative space -- where the skin is visible behind a pendant, or a wall shows through a sculpture piece, alive with light and shadow. Maybe the piece is functional, intending to serve as a vessel or a frame. The beginning idea may be sparked by a special life moment, like an engagement, a birth, a marriage, or the memory made at a favorite place. The question is always: how can we build the most beautiful and effective piece of art for this specific job?
Wherever the inspiration comes from, the client and I connect here, at this point. Moving forward, most commissions go through these seven essential stages of design and budgeting.
Getting to know you: contact
Typically, a client initiates a discussion via a phone call or sends an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with an initial idea or concept for a piece. I take a collaborative approach that assumes I’m being hired for my unique vision and abilities, so the client’s concept acts as the starting point for a much longer process, one of discovery and invention, ultimately driven by the artist.
Concept presentation: first look
The initial concepts are presented, usually in sketch format with a lengthy and detailed write-up. There may be one or multiple options, and things like material choices, size, key inspirations are verified in this process. Feedback on the concept and direction are solicited and budget ranges are discussed. After the next steps and vision after the first look are agreed upon, 50% of the cost is paid before proceeding further.
Concept refinement: the devil and the details
Very often, feedback from the initial presentation is incorporated into a second presentation.
Once the concept is fully defined with intention, material, scale, gemstones and rough dimensions set, the budgeting will be complete. This typically ends the initial concept development proposal phase, and the remaining 50% of the initial contract costs are agreed upon and due upon installation of the piece.
When it gets real: prototype
Once the budget has been accepted, the project moves forward. The final sculpture, jewelry piece or art work goes into production. This typically starts with a model in wax, a high fidelity drawing or a mini metal comp. This moment of the commission process is exciting because the ideas become reality for the first time. My clients often enjoy visiting the studio during this process, and I welcome them to come by!
Creation of the piece: production
Once the prototype is approved, the work enters into production. This phase may take a relatively long time, since fabricating in metal and assembling a work goes slowly. Once the piece is completed, a celebratory “unveiling” of the finished work for the client is scheduled.
Delivering the finished work is a very fun day, and we will coordinate delivery. At the conclusion of a commissioned project, we hope you will have gained an intimate view of the creative process. The ability to influence the decisions that are involved in bringing a work of art into the world is a privilege my clients have consistently come to review as “aweome”.