Thursday, January 15, 2009

NEVER, EVER: #1

#1 in a series of free good advice for artists of all stripes.

NEVER, EVER take a portrait commission where the only reference is a group polaroid from a bowling team in 1970. Just don't. Everyone will be unhappy.

Underlying principle: just because you can recognize your own features in a blurry b/w snapshot where the head is 1/4" tall doesn't mean there's enough information to actually create a work of art from that. Professional portrait artists take 100-300 pictures of a perfectly living, appropriately dressed, well-lit person to make a single portrait.

Solutions: a) pass it by. b) get a lot more photos. c) get a stand in and do the 100-300 picture thing. Preference: a.

Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe in a reader

5 comments:

  1. I wish someone had told me this one a few years ago - portrait from a 1960's colour wedding photo (faded colour photo!) - NEVER again!

    ReplyDelete
  2. LOL! Right on!

    I once got a call from someone who wanted a portrait of their dog. They wanted me to use a picture on a coffee mug of another dog that they said looked exactly like their dog. Can you believe it?

    ReplyDelete
  3. LOL Lacey that is too funny. We all realize the only reason I could make this list is because I have taken these kinds of jobs right? Girl's gotta make a living! But the stress has prematurely aged me.

    Anita I hear you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I found your blog just now (through Carol Marine) and wish I'd read this most excellent advice a week ago when I took a doggie portrait commission BEFORE I had received the reference photos. The ONLY shot available (this is a posthumous portrait...the portrait subject is in Dog Heaven) is from 10 feet away taken with an old low-res cell phone cam. I can tell it is a dog, sure, but must rely on the owner's description of the Shih Tzu/Boston Terrier mix. Seriously. Arrrggghh!
    Anyway, your blog is wonderful -- thank you -- and I hope to learn other valuable things that will help me preserve what little is left of my sanity.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I also just found your blog through Carol Marine's sight. I LOVE this advice you give! I don't know HOW many portraits I have done from highly inferior photographs!!! Each time I say to myself "never again"! Thanks for the encouragement to set my boundaries as a professional artist and not feel I have to accept all my commissions on the customers' terms....or even accept them at all!

    ReplyDelete