In this section I try to give you a few pointers and things to look for, as well as things to avoid when you want to ask for a portrait commission in Amsterdam, or anywhere else for that matter. Please keep in mind these points are totally subjective, as is art, and only meant to help you end up with a piece you can cherish for a long time, at a good value for your money.
POINT 1: DO YOUR HOMEWORK
You're about to spend some good money on a hand made, portrait commission. It's good to know what is out there. Don't fall for the first artists you come across (even if that's me!). Chances are, you're being impressed by what you see because you have not shopped around. Develop a reasonably wide idea for the quality, price points and options out there. Amsterdam, being a city with such artistic heritage, has a number of options and artists that can create a portrait you'll be happy with.
POINT 2: BEWARE OF VERY CHEAP WEBSITES
Yes, anyone can 'make' a portrait. You send in your photo, they trace it on a window, add some shading here and there and your portrait commission is created for 50 bucks. There's do-it-all websites that do portraits on demand, photos on canvas, and a bunch of other things. Unless you pay a decent fee for a portrait, you're likely to end up with a cheap and quick gimmick.
POINT 3: BEWARE OF FANCY WEBSITES
There's nicely made websites and claims to artistic pedigree where the artist states he or she went to a famous school or studied under so and so. Make visual judgements and see if the portrait commissions that this person has created are worth all their titles and badges. They are often not. Art dealers and galleries love nothing else than to add a big price tag to a story that sells.
POINT 4: SIGNS OF TRUE QUALITY, OR LACK THEREOF
If you're only starting to enjoy art and shop for a commission portrait in Amsterdam, these are some indications of poor quality that can be easily spotted:
a. Incorrect line drawing. Nothing will make a portrait look worse than drawing mistakes. When a drawing is tight you can feel it. It makes complete sense. Analyze the artists work and see if their portrait commissions have excellent drawing.
Don't fall for loose or expressionist attempts at hiding this. A good artist can make loose and spontaneous portrait commissions while sticking to a precise and correct drawing.
b. Bad use of tone or colors. When an artist just traces or copies the tones and colors off a photograph something really ugly tends to happen. The result, whether in black and white or color tends to be a face that looks as if Photoshop enhanced or wearing a thick layer of fake tan. Sometimes it's too shiny, sometimes too opaque.
This is the sign of someone who likely does not understand how to turn form or the concept of color temperature. Skin tones are not only pink or brown, they are all the colors of the rainbow.
c. Photorealism. This is kind of a fad that never dies. Artists that charge a lot of money for becoming human copy machines, recreating the most minute details. It is a matter of taste, but when looking for a good portrait artist, keep in mind that this artist is only good in terms of the choices he or she makes. The things that are left out are what matters. Photorealism is akin to not knowing what to do, it takes the patience of a monk, but very little if any understanding.
d. Lack of character. What makes a portrait good, its not only capturing the sitter, but also transcending him or her in a way. A great portrait is a piece you would have on your wall even if the person is unknown to you. The artist has created a composition that works, knows more than superficially about the use of materials and the result in general is pleasing to the eye. When creating a portrait commission in Amsterdam, judge work not only by resemblance but by the general result.
The standard size used is 30 x 40 cm = 12 x 16 inch. Normally I do not make monumental portrait commissions, but you can opt to increase the size to 40 x 50 for a 20% premium in price. Anything else we can discuss!
I will make your portrait commission in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After that I can ship it anywhere a major courier like DHL, FedEx or TNT delivers. Shipping costs are only charged in the case of sketches and are a flat cost of 25 USD worldwide and free within Western Europe.
You can pay by bank transfer or by Paypal. First a deposit of 50% is paid up front and the remaining before shipping.
I will first give you the choice to proof the portrait commission via photo, or to receive the finished piece unseen. If you receive the artwork and are not satisfied, we can re-ship and re-work the portrait to make any improvements or changes you consider necessary until you are totally and completely satisfied. If in the end you are still not happy, you will return the piece and I will refund you completely. None of this has ever happened.
The main reason I make portrait commissions in Amsterdam is for the love of art. Unless you're happy with it, I'm not comfortable charging any money.
Yes, I can make any other themes without a problem. Price would be subject to the complexity of the work.
No, framing is not included. I can offer to source a European frame if you provide your preferences and the cost will be added to the artwork. This usually starts at 150 Euro and goes up from there, depending on your taste. Timing is an extra 2 weeks.
Prices start at 500 Euro for a single person oil sketch such as the woman with hat at the top of the page. A piece such as "Storytelling" with mother and son is 1,500 Euro.
A piece of fine art reveals itself slowly to the viewer because of the though and craftsmanship that has gone into it. You can't explain why it's special, but you just know it is.
Eyes across the room are inevitably drawn to it. Comments ensue.
Much has been said about the importance of art and beauty and we intuitively like to surround ourselves with objects that tell the story of our lives.
Such is the case with artistic portraits, which, if made with the right combination of passion and skill, capture something elusive, evocative.
If the portrait resembles the subject in their essence, and avoids the gimmick and the cheap emotion, it becomes something timeless.
Copyright Pablo Bran. All rights reserved.