Studio Art Direct Demystifies Commissioning Art for Corporate Projects.

Tetherow Art
Tetherow Golf Club Art Commission

Portland, Oregon – It is a rare occasion when we can find the right number of artworks, in the right size, in the right colors, in the right style for a corporate art project.  So often times, more often than not, we commission works of art specifically for resort, office, medical, or hospitality projects. 

Commissioning art is a leap for most clients, even for design professionals. People are simply more comfortable buying what they can touch, feel and immediately relate to.  But the satisfaction of commissioning art specifically designed to capture the feeling, aura, image or design of a company or interior style is an exciting and rewarding process for everyone involved.

Rarely do you have an opportunity to breathe your ideas into a work of art. Who would dare?  But many artist leap at the opportunity.  It pushes them into places sometimes unknown. Allows them to spread their creative wings on a work of art guaranteed to sell and often is some of the best work they create. 

Commissioned works of art can bring elements of surprise and a feeling of ownership to the buyer that simply can not be gained in buying off the shelf.

Here are some helpful tips for commissioning artworks for corporate art projects:

Start with size:

Parameters always start with size and substrate – assuming the artist you have chosen is working within the style, palette and genre you already prefer.  So start with size.  If you have some graphic skills, take pictures of the walls you want to place art on, measure something to make it to-scale, and place an artwork image into the photograph in the size you want.  You will find that often the size that you think you need is not big enough.  Creating a to-scale image will help you understand the balance of space to artwork.  This is the starting place for all Studio Art Direct projects. It is often required in projects that are still in construction document form – meaning the space is not built yet.  We use graphic design programs to “program” a project including floorplans showing location, and to-scale images of art sizes and concepts in elevation form – often including the specified wall colors, furniture swatches and flooring.

Choose a color palette:

We know, we have heard the old saying “art doesn’t have to match the couch.” And it does not if you are a collector.  But if you are looking for artwork for a corporate project often the interior design scheme and style is of utmost importance.  A few basic color swatches is the perfect place to start. When the options for artwork are in the millions, honing down selections to a palette helps define the process and makes what could be overwhelming manageable.

Choose a style, genre and medium:

There are some basic guidelines we often share with clients.  If you are a medical facility, stay away from red and abstract paintings. Instead consider landscapes that are soothing – they are proven to lower heart rates and aid in healing.  If you are a condo developer longing to attract the young and hip, choose abstracts and large graphics.  If you want to create a feeling of serenity and peace, go with colors in the same palette as the room in soft, subtle, minimalist shapes.  If you want to create excitement, go with bold strokes in contrasting colors to the space.  For a style that seems to appease all the art connoisseurs that may be weighing in on your choice, abstracted landscapes will make 68% of employees, customers and visitors happy.  Know that you will never get 100% consensus.

Choosing a medium, such as oil, acrylic, watercolor, monoprints, photographs, encaustic, or mixed media, doesn’t require knowledge of the medium itself.  What you are looking for is a style of art. How the artist gets there should be left to the creative professional.  But know that watercolor, photographs and print-makings will most likely need to be framed and under glass. This incurs additional expense. 

Find the right artist, for the right project:

Artists are enormously talented and can shift from medium, to style, to genre depending on the body of work they are currently creating. But working within their current groove will garner the best results. So, search online at sites like or from thousands of artist websites and find a style, palette, medium and genre you like and contact that artist with your ideas.  Don’t make a watercolorist paint with oils. Don’t ask a figurative painter to do landscapes. Don’t ask an abstract artist to do realism.  Chances are they can do it, but there studio and mind is set up for creating their current body of work style – so find the right artist for the right project.  

Know that some artist are offended when asked to create a commission.  And that is perfectly OK.  Don’t feel jolted. Move on. There are many artist who enjoy the commissioning process and are more than happy to work with you. It is a vetting process. 

Communicate your vision:

Your vision and ideas should be communicated to the artist verbally. Talk with several artists. Find someone you feel comfortable with and who you feel understands your vision, budget and goals.

Get it in writing:

At Studio Art Direct, we have Letters of Engagement for every commission.  The Engagement clearly states our expectations and the process including progress viewings of artwork, schedules, payment terms and conditions.  Remember that contracts are merely an outline of expectations for both parties.  Conflict only arises when expectations are not met – so spell it out.  Revise as needed and get a signature.  And remember, no matter the contract, the artwork is always the sole ownership of the artist.  For the life of the art. Any use beyond the contract agreement is expressly prohibited by federal law. 

If you don’t have “an artistic bone in your body” – though we at Studio Art Direct would challenge that – then speak your vision through an artist.  You will achieve great satisfaction, and so will the artist.


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