What to expect from a custom artwork commission

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

Portrait of Jason and Todd shown on their living room,

Todd and Jason's custom portrait in their living room gallery.

Here's a look behind the scenes at artwork made for home galleries:

  • The process in phases: client/artist discussion, sketching, colors, sizing

  • Timeline: creative, then print production, framing, shipping

  • Lots of banter with me along the way + lots and lots of happiness!

The joy I see coming from a client when they see their art is its own reward.

The artwork arrives

Here's a video from Matt once he received his original piece of art. He had a lot of expletives. 😂

"This is so fucking dope! Wow. I can't wait to hang it up." - Matt

When Peaches received his piece in the mail, he was shocked and speechless. He also has a super charming southern accent, so I love watching his reactions. The full unboxing was almost 30 minutes of comedy gold.

Oh bitch. Oh bitch. Let me tell you something. Ooooooh bitch. Oh lord. Oh lord father god. Father God. Oh! I'm scared to touch it! - Peaches

And here is Jessie Colter showing off his two 24" x 36" canvas works that just arrived—and he's all smiles. We FaceTimed to talk about the upcoming installation, custom framing he ordered, and the placement and orientation of each piece in his home gallery.

He called me while I was enjoying my first outdoor beverage when Chicago's stay-at-home orders were lifted. And yes, I know I look rough, it was a strong drink. Maybe.

Jessie Colter showing the artwork that just arrived

But I also get to see the joy throughout the whole process. The final product isn't ever truly a surprise because the client has input throughout the creation process. The reactions above are common and genuine responses to the artistry up close, the quality of the surface, and the satisfaction of having received such a special gift. A gift they all had a hand in co-creating.

Here's how we normally do it.

The process

All custom orders start with a conversation. This is my favorite part of the process and one that allows the client to feel heard.

We talk about:

  1. what makes them feel strong & beautiful

  2. what kind of piece they want

  3. my past work and things they like

  4. things they don't want

We also talk about logistics and technical constraints:

  1. where the piece might go

  2. artwork size

  3. budget

  4. timing

The client usually provides reference images if needed and we get to work.


With the information onhand to create a custom piece, I'll create an initial sketch. This is usually provided by video to the client so they can see the basic pose and get the tone of the piece. I prefer to send this work when it's about 80% done. I never want to get too far without a check-in with the client.

I'll send a video of the work in progress at this point.

The client approves this work and may request minor edits or adjustments. It's super important to get those in before moving to the final coloring stage.

We'll talk about color choices. Clients typically have strong gut reactions to what color ranges we should explore.

Coloring and details

I'll consider the feedback and make a plan for edits and colors. At this point, I'll usually make some additional edits I want to make that I didn't waste time solving during the previous step.

This stage usually involves selecting garment textures, materials, and figuring out the lighting situation in the artwork.

I send a final video of the work to the client for approval.


Once the artwork is approved we'll create several files for social media (ours and the clients) and send the files to the framing/production partner. Or if it's an original pen, ink, or paper artwork, the artwork will simply get wrapped and shipped.

If you are considering buying artwork for your home, a custom piece created just for you is a wonderful option. Prices are reasonable and we can bring to life something wonderful and joyous to look at—together.

Please email me at lonnie@lonniedraws.com

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