Isobel Dennis, Fair Director, Collect 2019, discusses the art of commissioning craft pieces for design projects.
Collect 2019, The International Art Fair for Modern Craft and Design, returns to the Saatchi Gallery for its 15th edition from 28 February – 3 March 2019. The gallery-presented fair dedicated to modern craft and design, provides an opportunity to invest in exceptional work and commission to order.
Ceramicist Katie Spragg, who is represented by gallerist Joanna Bird Contemporary Collections at Collect 2019, is just one of the many artists exhibiting at Collect and welcomes personal commissions. Joanna explains, “Commissioning is key to our way of working, sensitively matching artist to client and thence working with architects and interior designers. Managing the expectations of the client and their team with the imagination and skill of the artist throughout is an evolving, exciting adventure that can take months or even years and is, in my experience, a deeply satisfying creation to orchestrate. For the client with courage and flair, working closely with the artist and thereby understanding the entire process is richly rewarding for all concerned.”
Commissions are a key part of Collect and it’s an area that has grown exponentially. The boundaries between craft and art are becoming more indistinguishable with impressive price tags for craft works; a bowl by Lucie Rie, Austrian-born British potter sold for $212,000, five times its estimate at Phillips New York recently, and galleries are increasingly curating craft in a fine-art context.
It’s the larger pieces that are often proving most popular with bespoke clients at Collect. As a result of Collect 2018, interior architects, Liaigre, commissioned an installation for its Mayfair store from the Brazilian, South London based artist, Valeria Nascimento via UK gallery Jaggedart. Entitled ‘Rainforest’, the installation consists of thousands of hand crafted paper thin porcelain petals hanging on delicate strands from the ceiling. As Valeria says, ‘“Working to commission is one of the most stimulating ways to create. These requests lead to new processes of making and as an artist, exploring these limitless boundaries is what keeps me inspired.”
But it doesn’t have to be large scale. Most artists have a problem-solving mind-set combined with an emotional, human connection and empathy, along with a deep material skill and artistic knowledge that comes from training and learning, the results can be truly stunning.
But how to ensure the commissioning process goes smoothly and delivers the returns you want? Buying and working directly with a gallery is a good way as their expertise, advice and knowledge of the artists they represent will be hugely valuable to anyone considering commissioning from an artist.
Deborah Finn, of gallery Cavaliero Finn advises, “Before commissioning an artist, make sure you know the full scope of the artist’s work. Discuss with them those pieces you’re drawn to and those that appeal less. That way you can be truly confident that whatever your chosen artist creates, you will like it.”
As with any transaction, it’s a good idea to be clear from the outset in terms of budget, timings and expectations. Both parties should sign a contract and the client should expect to pay 50 per cent of the fee up front.
Angel Monzon, at Vessel gallery which specialises in glass adds, “The key thing is not to be too prescriptive, you are commissioning a work that is the artist’s creation, not yours. Keep the lines of communication open and enjoy the process. The result will be magical.”
Tickets for Collect 2019 can be purchased at www.craftscouncil.org.uk