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Conor O'Brien

4 Years Ago

Asked To Do A Commission, But In The Style Of Another Artist?

I have a part-time job in Sainsbury's. I started my shift today at 12.00 and straight away a customer walks up to me and says she was told I do art etc. She then asked me could I do a painting for her. Of course, I gladly said yes. She said she wants a 35" x 35" canvas, which is the biggest piece of art I will have worked on.

The strange part is though, she asked me can I do this specific painting in the style of another artist. The man that recommended me to her is a big fan of my art, and he said to her I can do anything really, so whatever she wants done, I could do it. All of my previous commissions to date have been pictures of people, pets, buildings etc. all done in a realistic/traditional style. So this will be something new for me to do.

But I'm just wondering why she didn't ask that artist to do the painting for her in his style, the style that she wants. And I was also thinking that this artist could stumble across this painting that I will do for her, and think "that looks like my painting?", until he sees that it is under my name etc. And now I'm wondering is there any sort of copyright infringement by copying someones painting? (I don't know yet if she wants an exact replica of one of his paintings or if she wants a specific image done in his style).

Has anyone here had a commission request like this? Where they are asked to do a style similar to a particular artist?

Conor O'Brien
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John Lyes

4 Years Ago

If it's an old master or someone in the public domain, no worries about it, artists do it all the time. Google how many Pollock knock offs there are out there, or van Gogh. Even here on FAA I see quite a lot of art that looks like a certain artist, the styles, the techniques etc. If it's a current artist, and it sort of resembles his style, as long as it's not stroke for stroke, go for it.


Donna Proctor

4 Years Ago


I'm going to assume that the image she wants you to paint is not an image the artist has painted. With that said, many artists paint in similar styles... think of expressionism, abstract, impressionism, realism, etc. I might be wrong and I am sure if I am, someone will chime in and tell me - and I hope they do!

I see no problem with painting an image she wants commissioned in a style that is not necessarily your own - as long as it's not his image or very similar to the subject of his image. I see this as a perfect opportunity for you to expand your wings with something you haven't done before! :)

--Donna Proctor


Pencil Paws

4 Years Ago

I find it a slightly strange request, you would think they would admire your own personal style rather than ask you to paint in a style that isn't what you normally do. But looking at the positive side, which Donna did above, I suppose it is chance to try something different.
I personally wouldn't do it though, my style is my style and it would take a lot of practice for me to work in a style that I wasn't used to.


Janine Riley

4 Years Ago

1st question; Has she seen your work ?

Do you admire this other style , can you work with it - in your own flair ?

You need to have a clear & concise conversation about what it is exactly that she wants.

Obviously copyrights are a concern. & you can Google those dates.

I think you will be more satisfied on working on being you. Flash forward 5 years - will you be proud of this work in your portfolio ?


Mary Ellen Anderson

4 Years Ago

Sure all the time. In commission work than very often you are just a tool of the ARTIST that commissioned you. It's the commissioner visions that they are wanting to pay to get seen, who you are doesn't even matter. They just require a toolset of skills they want to buy from you. Commissions are often the most challenging work because of this view, and easy to have misunderstandings. It is normal for commissioners to think in terms that they are YOU, and not that you are great.

Even if a commissioner just says, paint me a picture, there is a psychological ownership in commanding something into existence. Commission work is about their ego and acclaim, not yours. Even if you are really something in the art world, the feeling the commissioner is getting is owning (controlling) a piece of you.


Rosemary Williams

4 Years Ago

I photograph, not paint, but if someone asked me to do a photograph that looked like someone else's photograph my first thought would be then it wouldn't really be me. I would just be copying someone else's style and not following my own style. I believe in staying true to yourself.


Mary Ellen Anderson

4 Years Ago

This is another area where artist need to make a mental separation of their artistic work and their commercial work. In commercial, you are offering your products and skills for sell, and that's what they are buying. You really do have to be prepared to deal with this reality. People are going to do what they want with your art, and since they paid for it, that is their right.

Now I disagree that any sales by an artist are prostitution, any more then I think all wage earners are prostitutes, but these choices are what defines us. So be careful in what commissions you take, or develop your persuasion skills and develop it on your terms. Don't sign paintings you can't.

If you are so rigid in who you are that you refuse to give any control, then how could you do any commissions. If you allow your name on every piece of junk it will damage your reputation. But if you can retain who you are in other peoples inspirations then you develop your brand.


Jim Vansant

4 Years Ago

Two things come to mind, really more but I will stick with two. The band "The Pure Prairie League" had Norman Rockwell do an album cover for them years ago. He was probably pretty pricy. After that they had some other artist do their subsequent album covers using the same theme and look of the original Norman Rockwell cover, probably for a lot less. This was all commissioned work and the artist was hired as an illustrator. One can actually be the other in real life although many artists may resent being called an illustrator.
My own experience: my cousin grew up with one of those furniture store pictures over the mantle piece that was a print and he had some sentimental attachment to it (home and chilhood and all) and he hired me to do a copy of it in oils. I did it as close as I could and it was much better than the original 35 year old deteriorating print. Did I have any qualms about it? Maybe but I needed the money.


Mike Savad

4 Years Ago

to me it sounds like they don't care about your art other than you told them you would do it. it sounds more like they asked the other artist and they either said no, or they wanted a huge sum of money. i don't think you would get in trouble from the other artist, but then would you want to sign your name to it? i guess you can ask them - if your a fan of my work, why do you want it to look like someone elses and see what they say.

and what is this image? is it something you can get in trouble for? like is it someone else's photo?

---Mike Savad


Dan Richards

4 Years Ago

I have B&W pieces that have been compared to Ansel Addams, yet is my own work, and I know another Photographer that shoots with the style of Doreatha Lang, yet she shoots her own stuff and in her own way. All because you do a piece that looks like another's style, but is not represented as that person's work, then there is no line crossed.


Dan Turner

4 Years Ago

Conor, make sure you are clear on what she wants and that you can deliver the goods. Accept the deposit and do the work. Get paid for your skills and make this woman happy. There are no conflicts.

Dan Turner
Dan Turner Fine Art
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Conor O'Brien

4 Years Ago

Thanks for the replies everyone. I have emailed her some further questions about what it is exactly that she wants done.

As I was about to start my shift, we could only speak for a few minutes. She mentioned an artist (who I have Google'd and sent to her to make sure we are talking about the same artist). She mentioned a 35" x 35" canvas for her kitchen. She mentioned that the artist has done pictures of farm animals and she would like one similar.

Once I got home and Google'd the artist, I think I understood what she meant by his 'style'. I don't think she means his style or method of painting, but more his style in how the subject is portrayed. His paintings are close ups of the animals face which creates an unusual perspective with the animals body appearing far away, as well as the landscape in the background. He paints them in a realistic manner so I could easily do the same.

When she replies, and I have more details, I will post it here. I will share the website images of the artist's paintings once I can confirm that he is the artist she was referring to.

Conor O'Brien
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Loretta Luglio

4 Years Ago

Conor - I would be perfectly clear in understanding what she expects. If she is talking about composition style that to me is more easily done then copying technique of another artist. I would go over that with her so you know exactly what she wants. Also, get your deposit up front.


Jane McIlroy

4 Years Ago

Mary Ellen hit the nail on the head: "This is another area where artist need to make a mental separation of their artistic work and their commercial work." A commissioned work, done to order, isn't the same as something you would do for yourself, because you're working to somebody else's specifications. Anybody who thinks their 'art' is too precious to be dictated to by a client would probably never be happy doing commissions anyway.

In this case though, it sounds as if Conor's main concern is about being asked to produce something that might infringe the other artist's copyright. I'd have thought it would be ok to paint in the style of another artist, as long as there was no direct copying involved. It's unlikely to cause a problem, but I suppose it's a bit of a grey area.


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