How to choose a house portrait artist? Things to think about when commissioning a house illustration
This is probably a question that all of my clients ask themselves before contacting me. As a house portrait artist myself, to be honest, commissioning a house portrait is not something I often do, but here is the advice I would give a friend.
It’s about PPI – professional, pigment and interest . . . .
I’m not talking about whether the artist receives their full income from painting, but whether the seller is professional and honest about being an artist, you may even question whether they actually are an artist, or just filling their lockdown hours. These days, there are dozens of software programmes and apps that will turn any photograph into a watercolour painting. Whilst the user has control over style, colours and texture etc, they don’t need any artistic ability and had you invested your house portrait money in the inexpensive software, you could have done it yourself! If you look carefully, you’ll discover quite a few of the house portrait artists are using this method, always that check that the artist states the image is hand drawn, look for photographs of their drawing and painting method, study their past commissions, other artwork, google them to see where else and what else they sell and read their collection of past reviews (remembering of course that there are some very tricky customers out there that don’t always leave 5* reviews!)
You will know if an artist is professional by reading their statement about the tools and materials that they use. There are a thousand brands and qualities of watercolour paint, but a good artist will work with professional grade paints, inks and papers. A ‘pigment’ is a pure colour, a coloured material that is completely or nearly insoluble in water. Conversely, ‘dyes’ are usually soluble. Paints, inks and printer inks that state ‘pigment’ are usually longer lasting and have archival qualities which means the painting or printed artwork will stay fresh, bright and clear for many years. Cheaper, student grade watercolour paints and cheaper printer inks will not last nearly as long. Be especially wary of original marker pen artwork as unless pigment markerpens have been used, the artwork will fade very quickly.
You’ve found a good artist when they appear to be actually interested in the details of your house and do some research into the style of house and the local area. If they ask for several photographs of the property at different angles, you will know that they are going to combine different aspects and sources of information into their painting and hopefully give the illustration some life and personalisation. On the other hand, if the artist works only from one photograph and their artwork clinically resembles the photo that you sent (and all their other past commissions), their input is very minimal and the painting may appear soleless and unimaginative.
Ultimately, you choose an artist because you love their work, you like the style that they paint in (such as whether they choose to paint in a 3 dimensional effect, or very flat), the media that they use (watercolour, gouache, ink, digital) will best suit the recipient’s home, and artist is easy to contact, approachable and knowledgeable.
Good luck with your search for a house portrait artist, please do get in touch if you would like to discuss your commission ideas. There's a lot of information about commissioning Quayscape on this page of the website.
or you can request a commission through Etsy