At Caswell Gallery we have a lot of interest in portrait commissions. They are fairly commonplace, but somewhat complex in nature. No worries though, we’re going to break it down for you and answer all your questions.

sculpting Athena's portrait - CopyThe first thing clients think of when entertaining a commission is cost. Commissioned portraits can be affordable, but it’s always best to know your budget. This a topic to discuss at the very beginning so you know what to expect. Details that will be considered when the artist gives a quote include number of subjects, size of the finished sculpture, time frame (additional charges usually apply for a rush order), patinas, bases, travel if the artist has to come to you, or vice versa (this is a charge you will incur), shipping if necessary; approximate time it takes to sculpt, and number of requested proofing sessions. Since every commission brings its own special set of circumstances there might be other considerations in addition to those mentioned. Be sure to ask as many questions as you feel necessary, earlier than later is always best. Any question is relevant as it pertains to your piece. It’s important that you establish trust with the artist and have a clear understanding of the process and expectations.

Portrait sculptures are commissioned to portray a variety of subjects–children, grandchildren, grandparents, and pets; sometimes inTPark_2121_030312 memoriam, but always with affection. You may even find yourself spearheading a movement to commission a portrait of a public figure. When considering a portrait commission give some thought how you want your subject portrayed. Do you want a bust, torso, or full body depiction? How many people will be sculpted? For the sake of budget, to a certain extent regard each individual a separate commission. Next would be the size–miniature, life-size, and monuments are all options.

Figuring out these details are all part of the consultation process for which there is no charge. Because portrait sculptures are a reflection of the subject and traits specific to them, be prepared to share anecdotes, hobbies, personality  characteristics, and sometimes even props. These details can make all the difference in the success of the final piece. Remember you are interviewing the sculptor as well, so you want the relationship to be one of mutual respect and collaboration. Once the decision has been made on the above details, the rest of the process will begin. Standard practice will require a deposit and which point the artist will begin your sculpture.

Most often the artist  will have a sitting where the subject will be posed and have their pictures taken from several angles. Facial and other necessary measurements will be noted. In the case of a deceased subject, be prepared to provide pictures from several angles, if at all possible. From there the artist will start sculpting. Once substantial progress has been made on the piece, you will come in to proof and discuss any changes. At this point there may be a series of meetings until the changes have been made to your satisfaction. The artist will then finalize the sculpture and you will come in one last time to approve the piece before it goes to the foundry for casting. The final step in a bronze sculpture commission will be to decide on the patina and whether or not you will have your piece put on a base.

If you keep these things in mind you will be thrilled with your one of a kind sculpture that is sure to become a treasured family heirloom.