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  • Writer's pictureAmy Elizabeth Fine Art

Dog Portrait Artists UK- How to commission a dog portrait of your pet.

Dog Portrait Artists UK- How to commission a portrait of your dog
How to Commission a Dog Portrait- Dog Portrait Artist UK

If you have thought before about getting an artwork piece created by one of the many dog portrait artists that are located around the world and in the UK, you may be curious about how to process of commissioning a dog portrait works. It may be something that you have no prior experience of doing and if you are not familiar with the process it may feel slightly overwhelming.

I have pages on the specific process of commissioning a portrait with me, however, I thought it would be useful to give you some information on the general process, from finding dog portrait artists, to how the process of commissioning a dog portrait works. This will allow you to be more familiar with the process and learn how to find the perfect dog portrait artist for you and your dog.

Step 1: Dog Portrait Artist- What kind of portrait do you want?

There are a few things to consider when thinking about what you want. You need to think about cost, how much are you wanting to spend on a portrait. Different things will affect the price of a portrait, from size, subject, medium and completion date. Remember, that any artist will want to earn a reasonable price for creating something that takes a lot of time, skill and expensive materials (some of the pastels I use cost £8 each(!)).

What kind of medium you want your pet portrait to be created in is another thing to consider. The medium means what kind of material is used in its creation. For example I work in pastels, but other options can include oil paint, watercolour, acrylics and coloured pencil. In narrowing down your preferred medium of art it will help you in choosing an artist, the choice may feel less overwhelming if you only have artists working in one medium to choose from. Some dog portrait artists may work in more than one medium, I for example complete work in both pastel pencil and coloured pencils, using both mediums to create realistic portraits of peoples' pets from photographs.

If you don't have any preference on medium already, it can be a good idea to head over to google, or Pinterest for completed pieces of artwork of dogs, to see if that there are any that you particularly like. Typing in something like "border collie portrait" "gundog portrait" or if you have already set your heart on a pastel dog portrait "black labrador pastel portrait", you will be able to see other pieces of art that suit your personal taste.

Seeing other portraits can also help in choosing what composition you would like. They way most artists work, they will use one main photo to make a "copy" of. If you see a piece that you particularly like do not be afraid to show it to your chosen artist. They may then be able to help you in making sure you get the best- composed photos of your dog, in order to get a portrait in a similar stye. It is incredibly important when commissioning a pet portrait from a photo to take the time to ensure you have a high quality photograph for your artist to work from. I have a selection of guides on my website to help with the process.

Step 2- Making the choice of which of the dog portrait artists to work with

Dog portrait artists will work in a huge variety of styles, it is integral in getting a final piece of artwork that you truly love is making sure you commission something in a style you like. Some people will want a realistic portrait, and others may want something that is more abstract. Search the internet in order to find artists you like the look of in styles and mediums that you like, for example "realistic dog pastel portrait", will pull up artists who work both in your chosen medium and style.

Depending on the breed of dog you own it may vary in how many examples of artwork artists will have to show you of past commissions. However, this isn't a reason to be concerned, every pet is different in some aspects and the same in others. If you like the style and can see they have talent, have faith that they can create a lovely portrait of your dog, even if they are a more unusual dog breed.

Don't be afraid to get in touch with a few different artists, as any dog portrait artist will be happy to have a discussion about any questions you may have, whether it is about how long you would have to wait for your finished commission or what kind of reference photos you need.

If you have a tight deadline for your portrait you will need to mention it, as many dog portrait artists will have a waitlist. If you are needing a portrait for a gift imminently, it may be a good idea to ask if you can have a gift voucher instead, that way you have a gift which can then be booked in the recipients own time. I produce a card, either with a photo of the recipients dog on, or a piece of my artwork on. This creates something more personal to be opened on their special day. The dog portrait can then not only be created after the event, but the recipient can choose what they would like in a painting, which photo to work from to create their portrait and what composition they would desire.

The location of your dog portrait artist may not be a huge factor in the process of choosing an artist and commissioning the portrait. Providing you have high quality photos to work from, these can be emailed over and then the finished artwork shipped internationally. However, if you would like a more local artist, using more specific search terms will help. Utilise google by searching for "dog portrait artist near me" or " dog portrait artist Derbyshire". This will often utilise the google my business listings which show up on a little map at the top of google search results. These searches can be combined with the more specific portrait medium and style searches, such as "realistic pastel dog portrait artist Derbyshire". If you find a more local artist it may be possible for the artist to visit you to take photographs of your dog themselves. This can be especially helpful if you are unable to take suitable photos. Dog portrait artist may also advertise offline in places such as pet feed stores or newsagents.

Step 3-The Agreement with your dog portrait artist

Once you have found the artist of your dreams, you will have to form an agreement. In talking with your chosen artist, you will discuss aspects such as size, medium and waiting lists. This is a process, you want to take the time now to get your composition, size and photographs just right. You may need help in taking photographs, if you have an idea of what you want them to look like but are struggling in making that a reality, you artist should be able to help. I personally have a huge range of guides to getting photographs, as I want my clients not only to get lovely photos of their pets for the portrait (as it makes my life a lot easier, and results in a better portrait) but I want to give people the tools to get better photos of their pets throughout their lives.

Most artists take a deposit before the artwork is started, and then once the work is completed and checked by the client, the final payment is made before the work is sent out. Commissioning custom artwork or your pet is a process, rather than a purchase.

Step 4- Getting your dog "sitting' for their portrait

Throughout history portraits have been created with sittings, where the subject of the portrait would physically sit for the artist. Now for your dog portrait, the process with be done through photographs. Artists will show you what they need in a photograph, but every one of them will thank you profusely for providing a high-quality reference photo for them to work from. Every artist at some point in their career will have had clients provide substandard photographs, this does make their job harder. You want to not only have a good representation of their likeness, but also of their personality too.

The artist will probably have never met your dog. It is your job to provide enough information through photographs for them to create a true likeness of your pet. An absolute rule is- the better the reference photograph, the better the finished portrait.

The more detail in the photograph the more detail that can be included in the portrait. It is these tiny details that can make a huge difference in the final piece of art.

Commissioning a memorial portrait is a process in itself. If you are wanting to commission a portrait of a dog who has passed away, please read my page specifically on commissioning a memorial pet portrait. The process is slightly different as we are limited with the photos you already have. Artist will be able to give you an assessment as to what is realistically possible with the photos you have.

If you are struggling to get decent photographs yourself, consider hiring a photographer to take some for you. If you are not able to do this, ask friends or relatives that may be able to help out. I have had one client who asked her dog groomer to take some photos of her dog for her.

You do not have to have an expensive DSLR camera, but using a newer smartphone and taking the time to work on getting the best composition, will pay dividends when it comes to the final product. I have a page specifically on taking photos with your phone. As a keen photographer and a pet portrait artist who knows what is needed in a reference photograph, I have a range of pages on my website about taking photographs specifically for commissioning a pet portrait, including this one, where I go through the process of taking suitable photos of my dog Monty.

Step 5- Framing you final dog portrait

In general, framing will not be included in the commission. I provide a high-quality picture mount, to ensure that unsuitable mounts do not get used with my artwork. (Poor quality mounts can cause yellowing to the paper).I use archival acid free mounts which should last a lifetime. However, some artists may not do this, and you will also need a frame.

Choosing a frame that complements both your finished dog artwork and your home decor, is very important. Whether a framing service is offered by a dog portrait artist will vary, this is something you will have to ask them. It does mean that artwork can be expensive and delicate to post, so they may not offer it. Artists will be pleased to give you opinions on what they think will suit the artwork. For example, I do not like white picture mounts round portraits that are completed on white paper, I prefer an off white or cream. As for materials for the frame this can also be dependent on your artwork, choosing a colour/wood stain to complement the colours of your dogs fur and also the colours of your home.

A pastel horse portrait, created from a photo. Horse Portrait artists UK
A completed dog portrait in pastels, with a white conservation standard mount

Artists will often provide you with a care guide, that will if you have unframed artwork, give guidance on framing. There are rules that must be adhered to, like not using a frame that is glazed with plexiglass if your portrait is in pastel. Any good artist will be very keen to help you with sourcing a suitable frame. After all, the artist is likely to have put a lot of time and effort into creating a piece of artwork you adore, they will want it to be framed properly for it to look its best, and so it will last a lifetime.

I sincerely hope this post has helped you in learning more about the process of commissioning a portrait of your dog, and I hope you take the time to check out some of my artwork or contact me about any questions you may have. I would love to see some photos of your pets!

I am a pet portrait artist based in Derbyshire in the UK, specialising in pastel pencils and coloured pencil portraits, in a realistic style from photos taken by my clients. Check out some of my previous artwork here. Learn more about my dog portraits here.

I would love if you could subscribe to my email list, here I will keep you up to date with exclusive offers, details on exhibitions and original pieces of artwork I have for sale. You can find the subscription box by clicking on the image below.

My name is Amy and I am a coloured pencil and pastel pencil pet portrait artist based in Derbyshire in the UK, I work entirely from photos either taken by me or provided by my clients. Contact me for a no obligation chat on commissioning your own pet portrait.


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