Once you’ve decided to commission an artist to undertake calligraphy or lettering, the key steps are to:

  1. Work out what your requirements are
  2. Select and consult an artist
  3. Discuss price, terms and timing

1. Work out what your requirements are

Below are some aspects which may be relevant to the commission depending on what it is. The professional you select will be able to guide you in your choice of materials, etc. The SLLA does not take responsibility for contracts between artists and clients.

A Poem

  • Formal or informal
  • Black on white / cream
  • One colour lettering on a coloured background
  • Full Colour
  • Illustration or design
  • Gilding added

Wedding Stationery

As timing is very important plan this with the calligrapher well in advance.

  • Design of Invitation – handwritten or digital or a combination
  • Printed invitations with guests names handwritten
  • Handwritten envelopes
  • Order of Service
  • Menus
  • Handwritten placecards
  • Table Plans

Family Tree

  • Should the family tree be designed from scratch?
  • Is this already typed and needs to be copied?
  • Is the information available digitally? (This can save a lot of time)
  • Titles – written or drawn and painted
  • Additional artwork / illustrations / heraldry
  • Gilding
  • Heraldry, Citations and Memorials

2. Select and consult an artist

The most reliable source for choosing an artist is through personal knowledge or recommendation. At SLLA, we offer two ways of providing artist recommendations:

  • Talk to SLLA secretary, who can suggest specialists in certain areas
  • Visit our artist’s gallery to view examples and contact details of our commissioning members.

Once you’ve chosen an artist, arrange a meeting or communicate by telephone to discuss your requirements and ask for a quotation. It is essential to have written quotation with details of what is included once you have agreed on your choices.

Working with the artist

Brief the artist carefully and be open to suggestions. If you are informative and ask questions it will be easier to gauge how well you are communicating with one another.

But in every case, there comes a point when you as client will disengage and leave the artist to proceed on his own. If you are too restrictive it may inhibit the artist’s creativity – remember, you chose the artist because you liked their work… many artists go the extra mile.

You may require the artist to submit a preliminary sketch or rough. This is a safe approach although it may cost a little more. This can also be done quite successfully using digital photography and e-mail.

If you should change your mind about something previously agreed which creates extra work, this may incur an additional charge.

3. Discuss price, terms and timing

As soon as you have decided to commission something which requires a deadline begin to find an artist, even if it is well before the event. This way you’ll avoid disappointment.

Your quotation should have all the details of what is included in the price – e.g. size, materials, gilding etc.

Payment considerations

  • Deadlines and timing
  • Delivered method (collected, courier, mail etc)
  • Risk and insurance in delivery
  • Pricing: per hour or per item
  • Deposit or progress payments, or full payment on receipt of item
  • Additional costs such as framing, packaging, delivery, VAT
  • Terms for late additions or deletions
  • Method of payment: cheque, card or online payment

Share your experience

Once you have had your commission completed and are pleased with the outcome please tell the SLLA and recommend the artist to your friends and family.

2 thoughts on “Commissioning an Artist

  • November 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Hello! I am an artist who is commissioned to produce bespoke art work for clients. Increasingly I am being requested for calligraphers to write on my art created work, vows table plans etc, wedding stationery.
    It would be an ongoing process. I would appreciate any responses, if any members could help! I am based near Windsor.

    Many thanks!

    • November 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Hi Sian

      Thanks very much for your comment. Please feel free to contact any of the artists listed on the website directly. I will also pass your message on to the committee, who may be able to send your message around to members.

      Kate (Webmaster)


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