Have you considered purchasing a custom pet portrait from one of your favourite artists but not sure what to expect? I have written this handy guide that outlines all of the things you should know when requesting a quote and placing your order.
Good reference photos are key.
Unless the artist you are working with is a personal friend or family member, they likely have not or will not ever meet your pet in person. So, it is your responsibility to provide the artist with good photos that clearly show your pet’s face and accurately portrays their size, shape, and colour.
Your photos should be sharp – not blurry – and high resolution enough so that the artist can zoom in to view the details, such as the colour of your cat’s eyes or the mark on your dog’s nose. Avoid using photo filters as these will alter the colour of your pet’s fur or other features. If you’re looking for a classic full-face portrait (where the animal’s face is completely level with you, the viewer), do not provide photos taken at extreme angles that may warp the perceived size of your dog’s nose or your cat’s ears.
Remember, your artist does not know what your pet looks like and in most cases, we have only your reference photos to rely on. The more high-quality photos you provide, the more accurate the artist’s rendering will be.
Creating custom art takes time.
Unless you already have experience ordering custom artwork from professional artists, you may be surprised at how long it takes to complete a custom work of art. And each artist is different.
The amount of time it takes to complete a custom pet portrait is dependent on the size and complexity of the artwork, and the artist’s availability and style.
It’s easy to understand why larger or more detailed artwork takes longer (and costs more). Bigger size means more surface area and materials. More detail means more time. What many customers may not know is that each artist operates differently. For example, many artists work part-time or full-time jobs on top of their creative practice. This will affect the amount of time an artist has to spend on creating art. The artist’s style also affects time. An artist that draws simplified cartoon-style drawings may spend less time on their work than an artist that creates realistic and detailed portraits. Again: More details = more time.
Just like how complexity affects the time it takes to complete custom artwork, time affects the price…
The price of your custom pet portrait.
There is no universally accepted formula for pricing artwork, and the pricing is ultimately up to the artist, but there are a few things that will affect the price you pay: time, demand, and the artist’s experience.
It’s probably easy to understand that more time equals more money. For example, if an artist wants to pay themselves minimum wage for their time (here in New Brunswick, it’s just over $11/hour), they need to consider the material cost and the number of hours they will spend creating the pet portrait (this should include time spent on concept sketches, as well). If the materials needed to create a painting costs $20, and the artist spends 10 hours on the artwork, they should charge their client $130. However, artists may charge more or less depending on what point they are in their career. If you cannot afford the quote provided to you by the artist, then it is best to respectfully decline before the project begins. It is also worth noting that many artists, including myself, will ask for a deposit up front, which could be anywhere between 10% to 100% of the overall price.
The artist’s popularity will also affect the price. The higher the demand is for their work, the more they will charge. Experience also plays a role in pricing. The more experienced and skilled an artist is, the more their work will be valued and, therefore, the more their work will cost. This is why students and emerging artists often charge less compared to established artists. Although I believe artists should charge a fair price for their time, I also think it is a good practice to charge a lower price while you work on building your skills and portfolio.
Now that you know the ins and outs of custom pet portraits, you can now contact your favourite artist with confidence and a renewed respect for their work! If you would like to know more about my work, please send me an email or subscribe to my monthly newsletter.