Commissioning Art Work


When you commission a piece of furniture, you are entering into a partnership with the artist.  You are the catalyst that initiates a chain of events resulting in the creation of a unique work. 

You present the furniture maker with a problem to solve, or a set of parameters to work within.  Typical considerations include function, size, type of wood, color, or a mood or tone that you want to create.  The finished piece can reflect something of your own personality as well as the creative vision of the artist. 

In order to integrate successfully your needs with the furniture maker's artistic goals, it is important to search for common ground.  If you have seen some of the artist's work that you like, the chances are good that you share some common interests, or sensibilities.  

What is it about the work that appeals to you?  What are some of your likes and dislikes?  What other objects are you comfortable with, or excited by?  

While your input into the process is vital, the artist needs to have as much latitude as possible in the creation of the work. 

As you discuss the potential piece, it is possible that your interests may not be compatible.  If this turns out to be the case, do not be discouraged.  There are other artists who may be perfect for the job.  However, it is probable that you will find that common ground and can proceed with designing the piece. 

Each artist works a little differently.  The presentation I make is usually in the form of a scale drawing or drawings, but sometimes it will be a model or photograph of a model.  For this work I charge a design fee.  This fee, which varies according to the complexity and size of the job, pays for a portion of the time I spend on the design.  To me, it represents a certain amount of commitment to the project.   

Once I have completed the design, I will be able to give you a realistic estimate of the cost of the piece and project a delivery date. 

If the customer is pleased with the design and satisfied with the price, we can proceed to the best part:  the realization of a unique and personal piece of furniture.  It is even possible that along the way the customer will become hooked on the notion of commissioning art.  I have seen it happen.  

-Craig Nutt , Furniture Maker and Sculptor

See Some Examples of Drawings and Finished Works


DESIGN FEE:  Typically $100.00 to $800.00 occasionally higher on more complex pieces. 

PAYMENT:  A deposit of one third of the total cost of the piece is due at the time of the order, one third when work is actually started, and the final third is due upon completion.  All sales in Tennessee are subject to sales tax.    

SHIPMENT:  I ship by a variety of means including van lines, motor freight, and occasionally UPS on smaller works - whichever is the most convenient and economical.  If shipment is via motor freight, crating is required at a typical charge of $100-$300.  Shipments are made freight-collect unless other arrangements have been made.

 Originally published in "The Guild:  A Sourcebook of American Craft Artists," 1987, Kraus Sikes, Inc. This version Copyright 2002:  Craig Nutt.