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How to commission work

Commissioning a piece of artwork is a huge leap of faith! Unlike buying something ready made, you don’t know what you are going to get. I feel that it is very important to work closely with the client, so that they are involved throughout the process, and become involved with the journey of developing a new work. Public art by its nature has to speak to many people, and it is so important to create work with the audience in mind.

When a client first approaches me about a potential project, I meet with them to discuss the process. If they decide to go ahead with the project, I try to give an indication of costs, which may of course change slightly as it depends on materials. It helps if the client understands some of the costs involved, so I give a breakdown of all the expenses. At this stage, I charge a small “design fee” which is non-refundable and covers some of the costs of developing the project. Once the design has been acceptable, I will send a quotation for the costs of making the work, and an agreement to sign. I usually break the costs down into instalments.

If the commission is a community based project it is sometimes possible to obtain funding to run workshops and to cover materials. I am happy to discuss proposals with individuals or groups.

Clients vary hugely. Some people have a very clear idea of what they are looking for, and others are not so sure. Ideas can develop and change as the project progresses. It helps if the client can jot down initial thoughts, and if they can find images that inspire them or other references, these can be used in the design development. The joy of working to commission is that each new project is completely different and a new journey for everyone. I never repeat work, so each piece is unique and fresh.

I love working to commission, and enjoy the interaction with different people. There are two moments which I enjoy most – the initial ideas, and at the end when the piece is installed and I can stand back and see it for the first time.

All content © Copyright 2010 by Claudia Phipps Architectural Glass.