The Commission Process

I welcome opportunities to create commissioned artwork for individuals, groups, or professional organizations. My goal in accepting commissions is for the process to be both gratifying for me as an artist and pleasurable for those who have chosen to integrate my art into their living or working environment.

I price my work based on the dimensions of the work, the research involved in sketching and developing the work, and the labor-intensity of the techniques and processes that will be employed in creating the work.

Once a concept for the work has been agreed upon, I will require a deposit before production begins. Should a client refuse the finished artwork, the deposit is retained to cover the cost of materials and time spent creating the artwork.

I hope we can work together to create something whimsical for your home or office. Thank you for your interest in my artwork.

Melissa Fassel Dunn

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

How does the process begin?

Everything begins with a friendly and open conversation via email, phone, or in person. You are under no obligation to buy anything or sign anything during an initial conversation. The purpose is to discuss our expectations and hopefully agree to move forward with a commissioned artwork.

Once we agree on a general size and theme, we can begin to outline the price and a timeframe for work to be completed.

How do you determine the price?

The final price can be estimated by the complexity of the painting and the finished size. A large painting of one simple object may cost the same as a small painting with several smaller and more complicated objects. Generally, the more complicated the piece and the larger the size, the higher the price. The more simple the piece and the smaller the size, the lower the price.

General Pricing:

  • 8×10” painting: $250 -$450
  • 11×14” painting: $350 – $550
  • 16×20” painting: $500 – $800
  • 18×24” painting: $600 – $900

How long does it take to finish?

The time it takes to complete a painting varies depending on the size and complexity of the design. Most paintings under 18×24” take 2-4 months. Deadlines and delivery dates can be negotiated. The final selling price may be increased for rush deliveries.

The delivery date will be determined once both parties agree on the overall design and size of the artwork.

Can you create a design based on a photo?

Yes, but there are limitations. I cannot create artwork based on a copyrighted photo, licensed design or another artist’s work unless the copyright holder provides written permission.

Also, not all photos are appropriate for the types of paintings that are my speciality. I do not paint “realistic” paintings, but I can generally “whimsify” most photographs or concepts.

During our initial conversation, we may discuss options or interpretations of photos in order to agree on the best approach.

Can I choose the colors you will use?

My goal for every design is to create a whimsical and beautiful painting. We can discuss general colors, but too much restriction and/or dictation will negatively impact the final result.

I will create an initial sketch or sketches of what we have discussed. Sketches will be used as a guide, so that we can agree on a general concept and color scheme. However, the creative process often has a life of its own. In order to do my best work, I need to have flexibility.

Can I see the progress of the painting as you work?

Yes. I will provide an initial sketch before production begins on the final artwork. At that point we will have aconversation to make sure our expectations for the project are in line with each other. This is the time to address any concerns or changes in the design.

Can I see the artwork while you are making it?

Most of my clients like to be a bit surprised. However, if you would like, I will provide photos of the paintings at key junctures during the process — for example, when the initial outline or shapes are painted on the canvas, and at a couple of other junctures once they are fleshed out. If at any one of these points, you do not think the painting is going in the direction that we discussed, you should bring it up at one of these junctures.

With every commission, my goal is to meet or exceed the client’s expectations. During the creative process, if for some reason I find that a major part of the painting needs to be changed from the original drawing, I will communicate with the client to explain my reasoning and we can discuss the options. As the  artist, I must have the final word on  creative decisions, and I take that responsibility very seriously.


Art Commission Contract

This agreement (the “Agreement”) is made effective [INSERT DATE]  by and between:

(Artist) Melissa Fassel Dunn
123 Anywhere Street
City, MA 06060|
(617) 555-5555


(Collector) Joe Smith

123 Anywhere Street
City, MA 06060
(617) 555-5555

The parties agree as follows:

The Project: The Collector is commissioning a painting in size 16×20” to be created by the Artist. Subject matter is a city scene of Boston, based on photos provided by the Collector and interpreted by the Artist. The Artist and Collector have agreed to a color scheme and final dimensions for the artwork.

    1. The parties have agreed to 1 piece of artwork, each with the finished dimensions: 16”W x 24”H, unframed.

    2. Color scheme will be bright, bold colors.

    3. Painting will be made in acrylic paints on stretched canvas.

    4. The parties have agreed to a delivery date of May 31, 2013, or earlier. Fees – see item 6b.

Creative Decisions: The Artist will consult with the Collector on layout, color palette, and subject/content, and will provide sketches of her intended design(s) before production begins (the “Sketches”). During production, the Artist will make reasonable efforts to inform and consult with the Collector regarding major changes she deems necessary in the works’ design. The Artist will make all final decisions regarding the aesthetics of the composition(s).
Copyright: the Artist reserves all the common-law copyright and other rights to all works commissioned by the Collector that are created by the Artist (including the final artwork and all sketches and studies), including all reproduction rights and the right to claim statutory copyright.
Payment Terms: Cost of artwork is $650.00 payable per section 5.
Payment Schedule: Fee/Selling price for the artwork will be calculated as specified above.  Payments are required according to the following schedule:

  • Non- refundable initial deposit of 1/3 ($216.66) of the selling price ($650) is due once the Collector and Artist agree on the general composition, color scheme and final dimensions of the artwork, and before. Production of the artwork begins after this fee is received.
  •  Non-refundable second deposit of an additional 1/3 ($216.67) of the selling price ($650)  is due upon delivery of the first Sketch.
  • Payment in full: the remaining 1/3 ($216.67) of the selling price ($650)  is due upon delivery of the finished artwork.   Without in any way limiting the rights of Artist, Payment of the same shall be deemed acceptance or the artwork by Collector and full satisfaction of Artist’s obligations hereunder.

Delivery: All artwork will be complete and delivered on or before [specify date] following receipt of the non-refundable deposit; provided, however, on notice to the Collector, the Artist may extend such date by an additional 30 days.

General:  If any term or provision of this Agreement or the application thereof to any person, property or circumstance shall to any extent be invalid or unenforceable, then the remainder of this Agreement or the application of such term or provision to persons, property or circumstances other than those as to which it is invalid or unenforceable shall not be affected thereby, and each term and provision of this Agreement shall be valid and enforced to the fullest extent permitted by law.  This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts without regard to conflicts of law principles.   Each party submits to the jurisdiction of the courts located within said Commonwealth with respect to any action arising under or related to this Agreement and agree that the same is a convenient forum.  The Collector shall pay all costs and expenses of Artist in enforcing her rights under this Agreement (including reasonable attorneys’ fees and other legal expenses).  THE ARTWORK IS BEING SOLD WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER AND ANY AND ALL OF THE SAME ARE HEREBY DISCLAIMED INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, WARRANTIES OF NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.   As to any claim or cause of action of Collector against Artist arising under or related to this Agreement, all remedies at law or in equity shall be limited to non-refundable amounts actually paid by the Collector to the Artist hereunder.   The provisions of Paragraphs 3 and 7 hereof shall survive indefinitely and without regard to any termination of this Agreement.  The obligations of the Collector and the Artist hereunder shall inure to the benefit of and be binding on the respective heirs, personal representatives, successors and assigns of the parties.  This Agreement embodies the entire agreement and understanding between the Artist and the Collector concerning the subject matter hereof and incorporates and supersedes all other agreements with regard thereto. This Agreement may be amended or modified only upon the written mutual consent of the parties. This Agreement may be executed in multiple facsimile (including .pdf and the like) or original counterparts each of which shall be deemed an original and together shall constitute one and the same instrument.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the parties hereto have executed this Agreement under seal effective on the day and year first written above.

Artist                                                                                       Collector

Signature: _______________________________                         Signature: ____________________________________