How To Commission A Collage
I have completed many commissions for customers over the years and this is my guide for getting the best results for your own commission!
Firstly, and very importantly, it has to be interesting, both for me to work on and for you/the recipient to get the most enjoyment from. You might think it would be nice to commemorate the garden shed your dad used as his man cave, but it's probably not going to make a fascinating picture...!
The collage you can see on the left is part of a commission that I made for Ragleth Gallery in Church Stretton in 2021.
You will be able to see how this was commissioned as I take you through the steps below.
I work from photographs for this kind of collage. If I am near to you, it's preferable for me to take my own photographs so that I can use my artistic eye to get the best from the subject! If it's not possible for me to take photographs then you need to provide them yourself. To the right is my own photograph of the gallery. The building has some interesting details and the scene gives scope to add comical elements. The gallery is takes prominence - I have thought about the angle of it - I can see what is happening at either side and it has space around it which helps me create a good composition. It's a grey day and there is the odd obstruction in the way. Some problems can be overcome with artistic licence but I am unable to change the appearance of a piece significantly from the source photograph! Try to pick a bright day to take photographs and notice if anything is included that you don't want shown. Give me several (but not hundreds!) of photos from different positions both portrait and landscape so that I can choose the best to work from.
The photographs you provide need to be a good size and resolution. Most modern phones or cameras will take a good enough photograph as long as you don't re-size them - images should be 1500 x 2000 pixels or more. The simple way to establish if your photograph is good enough is to print it out at home on an A4 page. Is is blurry or pixelated? It should be clear and all the details should be easy to see. Is it small on the page? It should fill the whole page and still be a clear image. Send your images to me digitally so that I can print them full page on A4 paper to work from. Please use image transfer services such as WeTransfer or FileMail to send multiple images for free, if you send via e-mail images might not arrive due to their large size. Stock photos of the right size and quality can also be used. Please do not text/What's App etc. images to me as they are difficult to retrieve.
3. Size and Shape
You will need to decide what size canvas is best for your commission.
If you have a particular place you are thinking of hanging it then it is helpful for me to see where it will be positioned as I may be able to advise and later take into account certain colours, features or light that will improve the overall effect of the piece.
The smallest size that I am able to work on is A4 but be aware that this can make the image a little cramped and means I will be cutting very tiny pieces of paper to collage making it rather fiddly work.
Much more comfortable sizes are A2 and A3 and are most commonly chosen by customers. I will usually use standard sizes of manufactured canvas (please see price guide below) but I am more than happy to source or make up any size or shape of canvas that you would like.
Canvasses normally come in narrow stretched (approx. 1.8cm) or deep stretched (approx.3.8cm) varieties. For this type of collage I usually use narrow stretched as it makes framing options for the customer/recipient more accessible. Deep stretched are more commonly than not left unframed but it is also perfectly fine to leave a narrow stretched canvas unframed or to frame a deep stretched canvas depending on your preferences.
..and what about framing?
I possess enough framing skills to frame my own work simply, but I am not a framer by trade. If the item is to be shipped it is lighter and therefore less expensive to ship if it is unframed. I recommend using a framer local to you and if you are located near to me I am happy to provide names of professional framing services that I have used.
4.Work in Progress
Once you have given me all the information that I need to begin work I will transfer your photo onto canvas in pencil like the drawing of Ragleth Gallery you can see on the right. I will send you an image of the sketch before I go any further so that you can see if it is looking as you expected. Please note this is a guide for me and not a finished drawing - all the pencil marks will disappear under the collage .
The next step is to loosely paint the image in colour. This is to get rid of any white canvas that might show under the collage.
Then I will create the collaged artwork, which will be a mixture of both collage and paint, using clippings from my collection of magazines. It will take several weeks to months to complete depending on the complexity of the commission and any circumstances outside my control. I use any colours or patterns that I think will be appropriate or fun to use within the image. The results are subject to the magazine content available to me at the time. If I cut out amusing elements or words I will be inclined to include them, all of which makes each piece completely unique! I will keep you in the loop with photos as I go along, like those below. Your collage will be signed and strung at the back, ready to hang. Please let me know if your commission is for a special occasion and/or the process should be kept secret so it is a surprise.
What makes my collages particularly appealing is the possibilities they offer for personalisation. Everybody loves something that is special to them! A popular idea is to have your home commemorated - you might want to include well loved pets, treasured vehicles, particular hobbies, even family members if you like them! If you are a business, you may fancy a set of collages depicting your region. It is also possible to have a pet portrayal, a doggy depiction or maybe a cat characterization - I hesitate to say "pet portrait" as mine will be packed with pattern and personality rather than being a sentimental chocolate box likeness! As before, the quality of the photographs you can provide will determine the success of the outcome. Please send me clear scanned images and I will do my utmost to include every detail you request. Please be aware that images that I have printed out to collage differ in appearance from magazine cuttings and may look matt or slightly blurred. You can also collect together and send me significant collage materials for use within the collage itself. These may be personal documents (e.g. letters) or newpapers/flyers particular to the area in which you live, perhaps pet food wrappers would be interesting to include - the more laterally you think the more fun the results (but please don't send me your passport - send scans of anything you don't want to be chopped up into tiny pieces!). Be aware that any papers must be fairly thin e.g. like magazine pages but not like glossy magazine covers. Please provide all information and materials to me together before I start work, if elements are drip fed to me they may not be included.
I'm sure this raises more questions than answers so do contact me if you would like to discuss your ideas further.
If you are a business you may be interested in creating personalised products that you can sell in-house. I have done this for my own little gallery and for a small selection of similar businesses including Ragleth Gallery, Church Stretton, Fitch and Fellows, Thame and the Glass Museum, Stourbridge. The more familiar I am with the subject the better the results so the more information, insider knowledge and history that you can offer, the more satisfied you will be with the results.
Or you may be an individual who is looking to have a small run of prints or cards for personal use.
Please contact me to discuss your individual requirements. In each case you are the legal owner of the original artwork but common law copyright is retained by me and you may not reproduce or permit any modification of the artwork without my prior permission.
6.Creating cards and prints from collages
This is a quick guide to the most common sizes that customers choose.
Because this style of work is popular for presents and personalised commissions I have standardised prices across all sizes at approximately 14p per square centimeter. This can be applied to sizes and shapes of canvas not illustrated here to help you estimate costs.
Please note, a non-refundable deposit will be required to start work and I reserve the right to add additional charges if a lot of time consuming additions or changes are required during the process of finishing the commissioning to get it right.
The balance is due on completion including any delivery costs.
If you are located near to me I am more than happy to deliver in person or for you to collect. If this is not the case, your canvas will be well packed and posted out to you.
Postage costs are calculated by weight.