A Note on Pet Commissions – Pricing and Timing

Pricing has always been a challenge to me – and this is not my first creative endeavour! As a photographer I often struggled with it as well, and my experience has taught me a couple of things.

I honestly wish that I could draw pets for every person who contacts me – I believe that anyone who loves their pet so much as to consider creating an artwork of the animal deserves a portrait. But the unfortunate fact is that there are only so many hours in a day and I also need to pay bills and eat. As with a doctor or accountant I have put an effort into honing my skill and it is unfortunately not really a job I can delegate to anyone else either. My time to create is therefor really precious.

With a Pet Portrait – and indeed many commissions – the subject is of a very personal nature. While you might love pets in general, chances are you won’t want someone else’s Poodle on your wall, and therefor the portrait I create for you is really a one-of-a-kind. I cannot make prints and I cannot sell it to anyone else. Depending on the size I will spend a minimum of 20 hours creating it and make sure that I meticulously capture every detail. Larger portraits (think 50cm x 70cm) often take me up to 3 weeks – that is 3 weeks that I cannot spend on anything else to generate an income and pay my own bills.

Clients often tell me they ‘just want something small’ or ‘a quick drawing’ and if you’ve been following my work or inspected my page, you’ll know that the same amount of detail goes into every drawing. And as a matter of fact smaller – is often more difficult as the details are finer. My heart and soul goes into creating a drawing that will make your loved furry friend come alive on paper and I am not prepared to attach my name to a hurried job that I did in order to save some time and charge less.

While I really work hard at trying to juggle commissions and gallery orders I am often booked months in advance for both. I know an exhibition is coming up 5 months in advance and I have to create artwork for it, in the meantime I also create additional works for my print range and add in those lovely pet commissions. Sometimes life gets a bit in the way and now and then even I need a break. I confess to often miscalculating how long a drawing will take as I seem to put more and more effort into the detail. Therefor I really urge my clients to book well in advance to make sure they have a spot on my waiting list. I usually cannot squeeze in a quick portrait – and as a matter of fact use this opportunity to allow my clients to pay off on their orders. I have had more than one complaint from clients telling me they need something ‘by next week’, but in my job that is simply not doable.

Creating these portraits – both Pet Portraits and Wildlife – is my absolute passion. If I could I’d live on the love for creating and spend 24 hours a day doing it. Life is real however and therefor I do need to charge for my time and skill and then put in the effort to create the best I possibly can. I am truly grateful to do this fulltime and give my clients a little love to hang on their wall…

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