I recently had a piece of art (above) made especially for me. As an art lover I have bought pieces that I saw and loved but never had art made for me, so this was exciting. I came across Efrossini Art in a café and met with Efi to discuss what I had in mind. At then end of the process we chatted about how to commission art to get a piece you love.
How to brief an artist – your why
When I met with Efi, it was initially to discuss her work and see what was available to buy. There were two pieces that really impacted me but they were sold and Efi’s studio didn’t have anything from the same series of artwork. Which led to a discussion about a commission. This is what Efi had to say about the brief stage of the commissioning process –
Efi: I guide a conversation firstly about the reasons or purpose of the artwork. For example, a milestone, new home, a gift, an act of self-love or fulfilling their need as an art collector.
I need to get a picture in my mind of their stylistic, thematic and colour preferences. I also ask for examples of my art that they are drawn to. And some contrasting samples of other art to get a broader picture of their preferences.
It’s a rich conversation which draws out the purpose of the piece which doesn’t always come easy.
What the theme and narrative dimension of the artwork is, as well as the emotive power that the artwork is to have for them personally is of utmost importance.
The artwork ultimately is in service to them and is created with the intention of creative ‘medicine,’ be that energising, uplifting, restorative, inspiring or a parallel process of evolving personal growth.
I think of them (the artwork) as totemic, imbued with power and intelligence.
I don’t approach it purely logically because the process has a deeper psycho spiritual dimension. So as much as I need a brief from the client, they walk away having been given an understanding that the artwork itself also has a say in how it will look.
This is a metaphor for creating art that is essentially an Efrossini artwork. Not overly prescribed by the client. I take all the information and come to an agreement of the essential elements that are in alignment with the client’s aesthetic.
To only then be free to follow the creative process ensuring it is alive and has artistic integrity.
Finally, I get clear information about the size, timeline and budget. This of course is part of the consultation process.
Fundamentally, I personally need to feel confident that the client and I are a good fit and that they trust my process.
TK: From my own perspective I talked to Efi about my life, what draw me to her work, what I like in other pieces of art that I had and for this piece the characters from Greek mythology that struck a cord with me.
What inspires you and the artist
TK: When I met with Efi we had a vibrant conversation about ourselves. I divulged personal information as much as she did. We go to know each other and our experiences.
Initially I was drawn to Efi by seeing a piece of her work in a café. It had a strong cultural connection. There was something in her work that I connected with and our first meeting was about my own inspiration as well as the artists’.
This is what Efi is inspired by –
Efi: In a commission, the client is my inspiration. I must feel love an excitement to create for someone. This ensures desire and passion on my part; separate from the enjoyment I experience in creating art.
The client’s voice needs to be a gentle whisper throughout the creation. So that their voice in the artwork emerging is the loudest. I am inspired by a sense of purpose and service and driven to create art that will enhance and enliven someone’s world.
In general, I draw inspiration from my beliefs that creations are alive. Not merely an extension of me or anybody else for that matter.
I draw inspiration from mythology, storytelling of diverse cultures, the earliest experiences of wonderment I had as a child when hearing magical stories being told.
I am inspired by ceremonial devotional art and folk art that brings people of all walks of life into the power of imagery and sculpture.
Outside of the gallery I love that people make room for art in their homes and are open to being affected by it. I am inspired by the colour palette of the modern painters of the 20th century and their experimental eye and virtuosity with the paint brush beyond their oftentimes, formal training.
The artworks inspire each other. I think of them as different pages from the same book. For example, currently I’m working on a painting that is inspired from another work I did over 10 years ago. I’m excited to see what offspring it will produce and what new perspective will be revealed.
Understanding the story behind the art
When I collected my commissioned piece, I was mesmerised by Efi’s explanation. She was able to articulate her process, the technical composition as well as the symbolism. So, I asked her about this –
Efi: I do my utmost to hand over, in words, the experience I had creating it for them as much as the meaning and insights I gained from being so close to it.
This is my way of demonstrating how I unravel it’s meaning and the layers of the piece. The story of its evolution is also the client’s story.
They become the caretaker and the voice of the art. They may wish to not speak of it out loud, that’s personal preference. However, I do my best to honour the work, their artwork, by sharing how it has impacted me.
This way I gift them one the many dimensions of their artwork. I do not believe that I hold the superior key. After all, the artwork continues to speak well after it has left my studio and the symbology inherent in it is ever evolving.
From the beginning my intention of treating the artwork as a guide. As a wise counsel, a friend, a divine presence that helps to instil this for the benefit of all who sees it.
TK: The piece Efi created for me is truly special. I feel like she has painted my soul. That my heart was on the canvas, for everyone to see. I felt vulnerable in a good way. So, the final tip on how to commission art to get a piece you love is to be vulnerable.