Custom Art - my experience by Elaina Soto

Custom Art - my experience with custom art
As an artist I've been hired many times to create custom work for people. I'm completely flattered that someone loves MY art enough to hire me to create something special for them. Below are a few custom pieces.
*and YES that bottom left piece is a dog dressed as Liberace. One of those wild requests I was reluctant to do at first but loved it through the process.
All these pieces were extremely challenging yet a great way to force me to create in ways I haven't before. Every time I create custom work I am almost in tears and fearful of my client being displeased with the work. I truly want to do a fantastic job because these people wanted something specific and believed that I was the person who could do it! So you better believe I'm going to stress out about it! So far, I haven't had an unhappy customer and I've been pleased with the work I never thought I could produce without the offer. But one of these days I might not meet the the standards of a custom piece and when that happens I'll just have to pull up my big girl panties and find a solution. 
I've always been on the producing end with custom art. Never had I been on the receiving end until now. I joined instagram around April of this year and I'm completely addicted (create an account, you won't regret it!). I don't follow everyone and their mother but I do make a point to follow artists. 
One artist in particular, had me entertained. I really enjoyed his many images of his sketches and art work. He created a lot of black-line robots. His style was consistent and amusing. After seeing many of his multiple art posts I realized I needed to see him create MY HUSBAND as a robot!
My husband [Mike] just loves vintage robots. He has quite the collection from antique shops over the years. He always says, "I want to be a robot", "I want to talk like a robot", "why can't I just be a robot?". To tell you the truth, it might be bad ass if I could say I'm married to a real robot!
One year he made his best attempt to be a robot and that damn costume merged itself into a piece of furniture in our dining room for 2 years. What did our guests think as we sat down for dinner while this giant robot in the corner watched us eat. Oh well, welcome to Casa Loco de Soto!
Mike the robot
Anyway! I contacted Keni Thomas (ig: @thomcat23 - He's the instagram user I was stalking). I told him that I completely dug his work, asked him his rate for a piece of a specific size and of my husband (including a few minimal details about my husband). He responded promptly and the deal was set! 
*when asking for custom art, you must be specific about what you're looking for because artists need this information to give you a suitable fee. 
These are a few pieces by Keni Thomas. Great stuff!
All artists have busy schedules (partly because they have so many projects they're juggling and can't just focus on one; this is our life and yes we love it). With the scale of the work I asked him to do, I had hoped it wouldn't take him long (in my mind 1 month) and assumed it would be longer.
*artists need time to create, some requests can be more challenging than others due to the scale of the project. So if you want something done right try not to rush and give sufficient time.  
I kept my list short and sent him maybe 5 photos of my husband that I felt would be best to help Keni. Then I just let him have "artistic license"!
*What is artistic license? - It's granting the artist authority in their interpretation of something and not holding them accountable for their exactness. 
It's a great feeling when someone tells you they give you "artistic license". They're trusting you 100% in your perception. And when you say this, you'd better mean it, don't decide later to get picky and suddenly request to toss in gnomes and machine guns when that wasn't apart of the original discussion. This brings the artists motivation from sky high down to the ground. Sometimes the artist will comply but the rate might change. So be wise in how you choose to give your artist direction on your piece. 
Keni sent me the design and wow! It was perfect! Why? Because it was all that I wanted, a version of my husband as a robot through Keni's eyes! I couldn't imagine what it was going to look like, I just knew anything he'd produce would be IT because I was that much a fan of his art. I didn't change anything, we added a quick quote (which was discussed during our very first conversation) and the piece was DONE. 
Here's the finished product! I had it framed and gave it to my husband this morning for his birthday. He was speechless and all smiles the entire time. He stared at it and said, "we have to hang this somewhere everyone can see!"
Mission accomplished, Keni. Thank you!
For the first time, I understood what it felt like to be the consumer of custom art. I said go with it and he did what he does best. I didn't give him restrictions, I gave him artistic license to create in his own way, my husband the robot. I greatly appreciated this and somewhat understand what people think of me when they ask for custom art. I never knew. I always used to wonder, "are they still happy with their art"... now I know, of course they are! It's what they asked for by an artist they appreciate. My husband and I will always love our custom art and will definitely commission other artists in the future. It's rewarding and beneficial for both parties; esteem is raised high and custom treasure is one of a kind. 

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Comment by Maryssa on September 10, 2012 at 11:07am
Hi Elaina ,I am a huge supporter of your work and think you are very talented.And very much enjoy and look forward to all the things you create.Im not sure if you remember me but I'm Maryssa the girl who makes customs shoes.I made the shoes you wanted but lost ur email.I will be going to the wonderful PUG Yardsale if you would like me to bring them for you :).And also I love the picture of your husband as a robot,it's aborable.
Comment by Desilu on September 12, 2012 at 7:51pm

ok,1: liberace dog is way cool 2. you do great work, i love the style. 3. i like his donkey in a mustache, it's freaking awesome and 4. what he did with your husband is FANFREAKINGTASTIC!! i've always thought custom art was worth the time, and the price, and this blog proves it. thanks for sharing!

Comment by Elaina Soto on September 27, 2012 at 10:57am
Maryssa - Yes I remember you! I was wondering about my shoes ;) I'll be at the PUG sale and would love to meet you. My email is I can't wait to have my custom shoes! Just make sure you tell me the price again so I can have that ready for you! Post some of your art on your page and on my official page as well. I'd love to see more! Thank you again! (sorry for the late response)
Comment by Elaina Soto on September 27, 2012 at 10:59am
Double O Jenn - Thank you. I was so nervous before painting LIberace, he was my first attempt at painting a custom pup. Now he's one of my favorites, I conquered a fear in this piece. I'm happy you enjoyed the blog. Keni Thomas is a great artist and he does most of his art posts on instagram. Start following today! (sorry for the late response)


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