How my commission business exploded.


  • SVS OG

    Just thought I would throw this out there. No, I don’t want to paint dog portraits all year long. I don’t even have it highlighted on my website or have an Etsy shop. It’s a niche I feel in to.

    A store I sell my notecards in asked me to come for an even they were having at their store. Sit at a table and paint. The first even I made pennies for how long I sat there. I sold prints but customized it with someone’s name. The next event was around Christmas 2019. I needed a bigger ticket item to see if that would make it worth my time to be there. It exploded. I did stylized dog portraits. Y’all, don’t tell me secret, I don’t even own a dog. Explode may mean different things to everyone. Let’s just say it paid for all the food at Disney world for our winter trip.

    This year I made was there for two weekends and got that many more commissions. I hate the idea of only doing commission work. It’s a one and done painting. But sometimes it pays the bills. By limiting it to only Christmas time and doing items that I enjoy painting or are just quick to knock out, it makes it doable. This year I expanded to house paintings. Those I charged double what I charge for the dogs. I also got tons of repeat clients from last year.

    Just thought I would throw it out there. Small and local businesses supporting one another. They like the traffic and I like their traffic. There is no way I could get that many orders on my own. I’ll pay a percentage or a “booth rental.” Only because I adore them. They truly are the best!

    Good luck to you guys this holiday season! 192DA680-DE90-43FE-886B-C4D04D838CBC.jpeg E30DA890-C8C8-41DD-B785-0C8472A497BF.jpeg



  • That's a unique commission, house portraits! I've only ever seen one other house commission. And I like the style you used for this. I know what you mean about dog portraits all year LOL I stopped taking commissions but they did help pay the bills, it's so true.


  • SVS OG

    @Amanda-Bancroft right! People love their pets, but you can only paint so many before your eyes get crossed. And I don’t feel like it’s moving my art in any direction. Sometimes it’s all about diversified income streams. And that’s good too!!!



  • @Whitney-Simms I got swamped in dog portraits too, I had to actually start telling people I couldn't finish them by Christmas. I didn't even advertise but I've done a few for Christmas for probably the last 5: years or so so I guess this year people thought of it. Super cool. I'm actually making some decent income from them too which is a first lol 😅


  • Pro

    LOL guess what I've been doing today. I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in this boat, @Whitney-Simms and @Coley!

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  • @NessIllustration omg, this is adorable! It's raining dog portraits lately ha Ha


  • SVS OG

    @NessIllustration thats adorable! So stinking cute. @Coley we should all start a club! Congrats on the work though. Yeah, once the last one is done I promised myself I’m not taking anymore this year. I hope I can stick to my guns. I have four to paint and four to start from scratch.
    Coley- is yours just spreading by word of mouth?



  • @Whitney-Simms mostly the people who commission me are friends or Facebook friends at least. I have been painting pets for maybe 6 years off and on and I post them on my Facebook when I'm done (usually). I have a Facebook art page as well but mostly I guess word of mouth/Facebook history over the years. Often I get commissioned when a pet passes away. The other day I passed on my condolences on a pet's passing and almost immediately they contacted me for a large commission. I wasn't trying to hit them up! I really felt sad about it. Anyhow I think people just know now that I do it and have it tucked away in their minds until they decide they're Ready. I'm sure yours will grow over the years too!


  • Pro

    @Coley The ones from when a pet passes away are REALLY hard to say no to aren't they..



  • @NessIllustration yes and sometimes the photos they have aren't the best to work from either. But so far I've made it work. Struggling through one with a pretty pose now but a diffuse sort of lighting, I must say I think the stuff I've learned at SVS has helped me figure out how to adapt when the photo reference isn't enough!



  • To join the dog-commission parade, I entered a very specific niche this year. I drew a LOT of images specifically for people's ... dog's Instagram accounts. The images ended up being used for general marketing or those IG story covers. One of my dog clients got a job with a tourist bureau, and I did art of the dog for the bureau.

    Below was used for a the dog on the right (Teddy) attending the other dog's (Ollie's) birthday party, which was attended by a few pups who have big followings on Instagram.

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  • To everyone doing pets, what's your process? Digital or traditional? Mailed original or downloadable scans?


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