A Guide to Brazzlebird Commission Work
Hi! Welcome! So excited that you’re considering commissioning a custom piece of art from Brazzlebird! Whether or not this is your first time commissioning work, it’s helpful to get a guide to how the process works - and what you can expect during our collaboration.
I’ve learned a great deal about what makes a smooth collaboration from working with big brands as a branded content producer in NYC and find so much of the client-producer best practice rules applicable in the commissioning process too. The most important part of any collaborative creative relationship is communication! Most of the tips below cover the best way to communicate and keep the creativity flowing.
You’ve likely chosen to work with me because you’ve seen my work and like my style - and you probably have an idea in your head of the final image you’re hoping to get from me - tell me! Tell me everything! It can be something as small as preferring a blue-green to a yellow-green, or as big as explaining what elements you do (and don’t) like from a previous piece of work. Share your Pinterest boards, tell me about the person you’re commissioning the work for, or the space you’ll be displaying the finished product… whatever has gone into your decision to get custom artwork made inspires and informs the finished piece. The more detail you give me about your expectations and inspiration (even if it’s from another artist or media source), the better equipped I am to create something you’ll love. The earlier in the process that you share all of the info, the more guidance I have so SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!
DO use email
As wonderful as this inter-connected world is - Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Viber, Email, Phone Calls, Snapchat, Myspace… ;-) it becomes very difficult to keep track of all of the communication happening across so many platforms! For that reason, it’s very important to me that all communication about your commission is done by email. By keeping all of the important details in one place (and usually on one email thread) I can keep track of everything and go back and reference your information and requests very easily. I know not everyone is a religious email-user but this really helps to keep my business organized so for the time we’re working together, I appreciate you paying a little more attention to your inbox than you usually might! If you have something urgent to contact me about, you can Whatsapp me or call me but following up with an email message is always best. After calls or meetings, I’ll follow up with my notes from the meeting to make sure we’re on the same page - please read through them and let me know if I’ve missed something important - I’m only human!
DON’T be afraid
Collaboration is very important to me - getting your input and creative ideas helps me to create the artwork you’re picturing in your mind’s eye! I know that sometimes it can be difficult to give feedback on what you don’t like - especially if you’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings - but the clearer you are with your feedback, the better. If you don’t like something, let me know! I’d rather do a few extra drafts and get the work to exceed your vision than have you leave with a product you’re not entirely happy with. I found in the process of planning my own wedding that some vendors were taken aback by my directness; “Please never combine baby’s breath with other flowers. I love it on its own but add it to an arrangement and the whole thing just looks cheap.” but I don’t see the point of pussy-footing around what I don’t like - it’s a waste of time for everyone. It’s totally possible to be tactful and direct at the same time - don’t be afraid of telling me what you’re loving and what just isn’t working for you. It’s not personal, it’s business!
DO understand the style
I like to divide my work into ‘collections’ - The Line Collection, The Classic Collection, The Character Collection, and The Ampersand (&) Collection - because I enjoy working in a number of different styles that are very different. You can browse these collections on my website, Etsy store, and Instagram, and it should be quite clear what the ‘rules’ are in each collection. When discussing what you’d like, it’s very helpful to know which style/collection appeals to you so do browse to get some ideas! You’ll also see that my price list is organized according to these collections. I am always open to trying new things and styles but please know that I will NEVER directly duplicate the work of another artist. There are many watercolor and digital artists that I admire and am inspired by but I will not straight copy someone else’s style so please don’t ask me to. That doesn’t mean that you can’t share the work of other artists as inspiration and tell me what you like about their work as a jumping-off point - I like getting that kind of information! But please also know what my look is and be sure that it’s what you’re excited about so you’re happy with my take on your inspiration!
DO define your limits
I love sharing the work I’m doing on social media - especially when I’m working on a commission because it’s so much fun! It’s really fun for my followers to see what I’m creating - and often inspires them to commission their own work so sharing is a very important part of my business. That said, if you have a particular reason for not wanting the work that I’m doing for you to be shared - or just want me to delay sharing it until after you’ve received it/used it/hung it/gifted it - I understand. Please just let me know as we’re getting started if you have any limits around sharing - or if you’re happy for me to share as long as I don’t tag you, or if you want me to share EVERY step and tag you and the gift’s recipient etc. etc. For any ‘personal’ information - for example a birthday party invitation, or wedding invitation - I will usually replace the text/specific information with arbitrary info before sharing socially, unless you ask otherwise.
Beyond the creation process, I really enjoy sharing photos of the work in its final ‘home’/’function’/’environment’ - especially for event stationery, home decor, and gifts so please share photos with me (especially professional ones from your photographer if possible) so I can share them too! Don’t forget to tag @Brazzlebird and #Brazzlebird in your social media posts.
DO make decisions
As one of my #BossLady heroes, Anna Wintour, says; “Even if I’m completely unsure, I’ll pretend I know exactly what I’m talking about and make a decision.” As often as possible, I try to give my customers options on the first draft so you’re able to find the perfect combination of elements for you! That said, sometimes too many options feels overwhelming (especially if you’re a Libra like me who has to make lists of pros and cons before choosing ANYTHING). The one thing I’ve realized over time is that you usually know within the first few seconds which thing you want to choose - and even if you agonize for days and weeks, you ultimately end up back with that one thing (just ask my husband about the 10-vineyard-wedding-venue-touring weekend for our even though I already knew that the place I had found online from the USA was really ‘the one’). Trust your gut when making decisions. And if you really don’t have a preference, you could always flip a coin and leave it up to fate to decide!
DO use drafts wisely
When you look at my price list and quotes, you’ll see that I define the number of drafts included in the base price. My standard is one draft delivery, and one final delivery per image. If there are one or two little tweaks needed on the final delivery, I’m usually happy to do those for free but in order to account for my time, I will charge for additional drafts if those tweaks turn into bigger asks or require a lot of reworking/repainting. I will let you know before I start working on an additional draft what the price will be - transparency is very important to me - but with all of this in mind, take time to look at each draft you receive and reply to me with all of your thoughts and notes in one email so I can totally nail final delivery! There’s no urgency to respond to me within an hour or two of receiving a draft (unless we’re working on a very intense deadline) so feel free to take the time, share with a friend, get an opinion, and think about what you need/don’t need changed. You don’t want to be paying for additional drafts to alter things you could have changed on the first draft!
DO ask questions
I try to share a lot of info about my products, pricing and process but if you’ve read through it all and things still seem unclear, feel free to ask me! It helps you feel more confident about what you’re getting and it helps me to refine my information to make it more accessible and easy to understand for other potential customers!
I hope this guide is a helpful intro to commission communication - I’m no expert but I’m sharing the tips and tricks that have helped me when working with vendors and artists while planning my own wedding, and from being on the vendor side when working with commission clients and big brands as a video producer.
Visit my Contact page and let’s get started!