What is an Art Commission? When to Opt for Custom Art

 “Let it Shine” by Nava Lundy
 “Let it Shine” by Nava Lundy
 “Let it Shine” by Nava Lundy

Whether it is the mother-in-law who has everything, the boss who has impeccable style, or the unusually hard-to-please best friend, we’ve all experienced the quandary of the impossible gift recipient. We scour jewelry shops and department stores yet everything seems to come up short -- nothing is quite unique or personalized enough to feel authentic. Art offers a promising option, but nothing from our usual favorite artists and galleries quite fits the gift we have in mind. It might not occur to many of us, but commissioned art offers the perfect customized solution to fit most gifting needs.


What is an Art Commission?

If you aren’t familiar with the reference, an art commission is the process of working with an artist to create a unique artwork based on your ideas and the artist's specific style. The commission is typically facilitated by gallery experts who are adept at identifying and exploring your needs and matching them with the ideal artist.

Once considered a luxury only accessible to the most sophisticated buyers and collectors, many galleries have transformed and streamlined the process by which you can acquire commissioned art. Procuring custom art is accomplished through a gallery facilitated collaboration between the client and artist. Gallery advisors take care to ensure that the commission meets your needs while honoring the artist’s creative requirements. The services allow you to navigate the art commission experience with confidence that the final creative product will exceed expectations.

Why Commission a Painting?

In addition to identifying the perfect gift, there are many reasons why we seek to commission a work of art, most commonly in the form of paintings. Many pursue a commissioned piece because it is a unique and gratifying experience to work directly with an artist to see your aesthetic vision come to life. It offers the one-of-a-kind ability to create a family heirloom and can also be an opportunity to support cultural production.

Custom art requests may involve any style from impressionist art to abstract art to realism, and for which you can indicate your preferred canvas and medium.

Some of the more common reasons we work with clients to commission artwork include the following:

To Recognize an Occasion

Some events in our life are so meaningful and once-in-a-lifetime that we choose to find ways to commemorate them. A commissioned artwork delivers the capacity to relive those experiences every time you see them on your wall. They may include:


We recently worked with a client Irina whose daughter had just gotten married and she wanted to commission a special gift for the couple. The painting “Nara Park Wedding” was based on a wedding photo in which the bride waded into the water in her dress. Irina wanted them to have a nice piece of artwork for the new home they shared together.“Nara Park Wedding” Commission by Jonelle Summerfield


Our client Alan approached us about doing an art commission as a gift for his friend and coworker Sam, whose career in construction spanned 45 years. Together with other employees, they chipped in to commission what turned out to be an incredible piece, which was a perfect tribute to Sam’s many years of work in the industry. Alan knew that Sam was a fan of colorful art, and in searching for the perfect artist to visually reflect upon Sam’s career, he found Jesse Aldana, whose portfolio of work includes bold and bright hues.“The Roads Traveled” Commission by Jesse Aldana

The final piece, aptly entitled “The Roads Traveled” portrayed Sam standing and looking back on a winding road that reflected elements from previous jobs and life milestones. The hill that Sam is standing on in the piece has a palm tree, since he had recently purchased land in Belize, representing both his distinguished past while anticipating the joy of retirement in his future.

Birthdays and Holidays

A commissioned artwork can be a thoughtful and creative solution for finding the perfect gift for annual occasions for “the person who has everything” or that special someone who is just particularly hard to shop for.

Professional Milestones

UGallery was pleased to be able to assist our client Steve who was seeking to acknowledge his wife’s life work as a teacher. Through the one-of-a-kind commissioned painting, artist Jesse Aldana skillfully crafted a portrait of Steve’s wife and her work as a teacher. In the painting, she is shown to “catch” and share the light of the sun with her pupils. Jesse’s artwork reflects a clever and powerful metaphor for the way in which she illuminates her student’s worlds through her sharing of knowledge.“The Art of Teaching” Commission by Jesse Aldana

To “Revisit” a Treasured Place

Often a place or location can have such a powerful reminiscent effect that we want to revisit it in our memory for a lifetime. These may include:

A Familiar Landscape That Represents a Favorite Vacation Retreat

Perhaps it is your favorite beach, or a mountain retreat you visited with your parents often as a child. Recapturing that sense of place and the warm emotions it fuels can be perfectly accomplished through a commissioned painting.


A Family Home That Evokes Childhood Memories, or a Much Loved Current Home

“John’s House” Commission by Kent SullivanSome of the more famous paintings of homes are based on real-life houses. That same familiarity that creates a sense of happiness in recalling our favorite places from the past can be applied to a place that we call home. “John's House” by artist Kent Sullivan is a piece commissioned by our client John who had recently purchased an older home that sits on a large piece of property in New Jersey. Consistent with the characteristics of the home, John wanted a more traditional style of painting. Although the photos he shared were taken in winter, he asked Kent to fill it in with more greenery. He also sent photos of some of the flowers that bloom around the house which Kent was able to incorporate.

John’s family was sincerely pleased with the final piece, which they proudly display on the mantel of their beloved new home. According to John, “Kent captured our home perfectly with amazing attention to detail.”

To Capture the Image of Loved Ones

Not only do personalized works of art have immeasurable value to the owners, but they are also treasured keepsakes that are certain to be cherished for generations to come. Artists can utilize an image to create wonderful representations of the ones we love, such as in the form of:

A Family or Individual Portrait

A painted family portrait offers a unique opportunity to capture the impression of the people we love in a way that bears a deeper reflection of their characteristics and qualities. This may include loved ones who have passed, for which an experienced artist can work with you to respectfully memorialize a beloved family member.

A Pet Portrait

Not unlike other forms of portraiture, oftentimes a still image doesn’t embody the spirit and charm of our beloved pets like that which can be expressed through the creative lens of an artist. Given our intense love for our animals, and the brief yet joyous time they are part of our worlds, a painted portrait is a wonderful way to capture their image. You can acquire art that is a true reflection of their personality and spirit to enjoy in the present as well as for posterity.

To Fill a Blank Wall in Your Home

Are you looking for a painting in a particular size, style or color scheme? Perhaps nothing in your favorite artist’s portfolio fits your required specifications for your wall space. Commissioning art that meets your unique needs provides the perfect solution to these types of design dilemmas.“Autumn Mingle” (above the couch) Commission by Melissa Gannon

UGallery client Elyse was faced with just this type of quandary when attempting to find the right pieces for her small urban apartment living room. While Elyse had identified some favorite pieces from UGallery’s collection, they weren’t quite the right size for the wall space. Artist Melissa Gannon created a trio of wall hangings to fit Elyse’s living room. The collaboration resulted in “Autumn Mingle,” -- three framed watercolor and acrylic ink paintings on paper that feature birds among vibrant fall leaves, which now adorns her wall and perfectly complements her design decor.

Whether it is as a gift, a way to capture a memory or to create the perfect design motif, custom art opens up a world of opportunities and you don’t have to be an experienced collector to take advantage.

Looking to procure a custom artwork? UGallery utilizes a simple six-step process. To learn more, contact us on our website to get started with your special commission.