Often times we are asked why do artists require a nonrefundable deposit to begin an art commission? The answer is simple. Making art and selling art, while a labor of love for most artists, is still a business and the artist’s livelihood. It’s not often, but occasionally someone will decide to cancel a commission; the artist has already spent their time and the cost of materials to begin a commission. Would a contractor updating one’s kitchen or bath start without a deposit?
A reputable artist will meet a few times before starting a commission to ensure that they thoroughly understand the vision for the piece and to set a timetable for delivery. If the client wishes to see the work in progress, the artist will send updates accordingly and make adjustments where appropriate. If the artist hasn’t begun the work, most will refund the deposit to the client.
A working artist must generate income from their work in order to continue to produce work. This would be true for all businesses. There should always be a written agreement between the artist and client as to what is expected and the terms and conditions of the commission.