Pictured above: Public art commission in progress – see more info below
Oliver Budd shares his wisdom and advice about working for clients and doing collaborations with other artists.
By Oliver Budd
Most creative people I know would be very happy to be isolated within their studios and immerse themselves in their art without any interference whatsoever. But we have commitments, the most pressing of which is usually money, so, as inconvenient as it sometimes seems, we seek commissions to fund that annoying aspect of our lives.
It may be for some of us that we can sell our work in galleries or online, but that’s a bit like fishing. To be assured of a regular income, we need to seek clients. In my forty-year career as a mosaic artist, I have had many various people wanting my work, from huge public authorities looking for massive public artworks to individuals seeking unique or personal mosaics for their homes or workplaces.
Amongst that multitude of customers, I’ve pretty much had great relationships with all of them. I think that’s because commissioning an artwork is a pleasure, so they’re very happy about the process and, because I’m being paid, so am I!
Occasionally there have been problems. I’ve designed things only to be asked if the work could be in another colour to match the décor. Or I’ve agreed the specifics of a piece and, on delivery, the client wants to make changes too late in the day.
Walls, the measurements to which have been approved and agreed, sometimes change shape and dimensions without anybody informing me and, in one classic instance, I installed a mosaic in central London, which had vanished with a month! I still have no idea where it went.
My happiest collaborations have been with clients who trusted me and gave me the autonomy to produce the design they’d commissioned, loved it on delivery and paid promptly.
The best clients or collaborations with other artists are the ones that include mutual respect, give and take, and a common goal – the best possible outcome. Listen closely and reply well!
Here are just four of my many favourite commissions. All are different in scale, location and purpose, but all involved fabulous collaborations with clients who have become friends and the results have been a joy to make and occasionally revisit.
The Angel, St Matthew’s Church, Bayswater, London. The artist was Roger Wagner, a brilliant artist, famous for his paintings of religious themes and a stunning use of a lapis blue paint. He designed this panel as a memorial work to be set into a window space within this stunning church.
Yachts, UK. This was for a Turkish baths and was a commission from a private client that came via an enquiry on my website. The client provided an incredibly high-quality greyscale photograph of three of his yachts for me to work from.
Public art commission. The artist is Zac Ove, who I’ve been working with for a few months now. It’s a great collaboration with a mutual love of colour and vibrancy. It’s a real joy to work with somebody who really appreciates your skills and material knowledge but also inputs really good suggestions as to how they want their work to be realised. (The photo shows the work in progress so far.)
Entrance floor panels for 31 Seasalt shops, UK and Ireland. Seasalt really respects traditional shop design and mosaic doorsteps. The peltas (scalloping or fanning behind the lettering) is complicated but satisfying once you get it right!