Monday, 13 June 2011

89 Cornwall Street

89 Cornwall Street (Oil on canvas, 145 x 180 mm approx)

My recent excursion into working to commission worked really well, I thought, so I was interested to read John Salmon's blog post, Commissions? No thanks, in which he recounts the awkward progress of a commission he undertook and the increasingly bizarre items he was asked to include.

John's article reminded me that the Holy Island commission isn't my first commission. The painting shown here was done as the result of a commission I was offered in October 2006. The proposal looked promising. As one of a group of artists, I was to paint a "portrait" of the headquarters of a financial services company. The resulting work would be hung there, a brochure would be printed to include all the works and prints would be shown in their offices round the country. No extra payment for the prints, but I was content that my work would be seen widely.

I accepted and completed the painting using photographs provided by the commissioning agent (who was not the client), shipping it off in November 2006.

By December I learned that the client had decided to postpone printing the brochure until the following March, but I would be contacted in the near future for a written perspective on my work to be included in the brochure.

By July 2007 nothing further had been heard and I had yet to issue an Invoice (foolish me). The commissioners told me the project was still on hold but that I should issue my invoice direct to the client. I did so on 10 July.

I issued a Statement in August and followed that with a letter later that month.

On 4 January 2008 I sent a new Invoice and Statement to the commissioning agents, arguing that my contract was with them rather than the client and asking for payment within seven days.

That did at least shake things up, finally. By return of post my Invoice and Statement came back with an apologetic letter, suggesting that "the confusion may stem from a changeover in staff" at the client's offices.

Payment arrived from the client on 9 January 2008.

It might be argued that I should have been more proactive in chasing up the payment, but this was my first experience of a formal commission and was unsure of how things worked. I also had other problems in my life. The most annoying aspect of it is that I rather enjoyed carrying out the work and had hopes that it might lead to similar commissions. The whole episode depressed me and I put it out of my mind. Even the original photographs I took of the painting have disappeared - the one shown here is taken from the inkjet print I attached to the Invoices.

[Later: A trawl of the Internet shows that the client company went into administration in May 2008, after allegations of "financial irregularities." and was sold shortly afterwards. A history of the business, following the arrival of the man whom I was told in January 2008 had all of the pictures, makes fascinating reading. I don't know where he is now, or where my painting might be.]


John Salmon said...

I'm pleased my experience rang a few bells for you too Harry. Who'd want to be an artist eh?. Yeah! Too right, we do.

Thanks for the link in your post Harry. I'll be certain to repay the compliment at some stage.

All good wishes beamed from London.

harry bell said...

Many thanks, John. As you suggest, we do it because we have to.

April Jarocka said...

Scary. It makes me grateful my commissions are on a more personal level. At least you did get paid, but shame you've no idea what happened to the painting.

harry bell said...

All my other commissions have been on a personal level, too, but this one originated with AXIS. It hasn't put me off accepting other commissions in this way, but I'd be much more wary and on top of things.