My paintings generally sell before they are finished. A potential client will come to my studio, like what I'm working on and secure it with a deposit.
It can take months for a canvas to evolve from concept to completion, and I always have people waiting for something to be finished. I'm fortunate and happy to be this busy, but it doesn't allow me to build up an inventory of available works to display in shows.
Some people have had to commission work when I've had nothing available at my studio. Usually, a client will discuss with me an approximate canvas size, secure it with a deposit, and ask me to do my "own thing." Others request something specific be included in their painting. For example, a client had seen The Iguana Riders and wanted something from the riding series with a similar jungle-like environment which resulted in The Flamingo Riders.
Another client from Texas had requested armadillos, a frequent road sighting in that state. Consequently, The Armadillo Riders came into being. Absolut Riders filled an Absolut bottle requirement, and a theme of spirituality was a prerequisite for Levitation.
Many of the club-themed works, such as La Conga, came from clients who had seen Club Mozambique or The Mozambique Lounge and wanted a similar feel. The Contemporary Arts Center commissioned me to create the 1996 Collector's Club Print which resulted in The Grand Finale at Club Mozambique.
Recently completed, The Victors , was done for an LSU fan requiring only that I include the school colors - purple and gold - and that a tiger, the school mascot, be seen somewhere in the painting.
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta poster commission in 2003 proved to be an exciting challenge with the end result being, The Balloon Riders ,
Some requirements are more extensive. For Oaks Lounge a client took interior and exterior photos of an Opelousas, Louisiana bar, which included a few of the local patrons. Oaks Lounge had been his hometown hangout as a youth and he wanted to capture memories of it. Colorful stories of Oaks Lounge's history and of the characters who frequented it, began to give me a feeling for the place. I was encouraged to do my own thing, but include indentifying features such as the Bouree card players, the pool table, and the Schlitz beer sign, etc. Before I can become involved in a painting, it has to become my own, not just the client's memory or experience, but mine as well.
The Secret was a painting commissioned by Southeastern Louisiana University for their annual issue of Louisiana Literature. I was asked to illustrate a short story. It was a mystery, with a contemporary slant on the biblical story of Samson's wife's betrayal of revealing his riddle to the Philistines. Again, it becomes a retelling as seen through my eyes, as the artist.
The painting Dia de los Muertos was commissioned by a client very much interested in the Mexican "Day of the Dead" Holiday. Much of the suggested imagery was incorporated into the artist's own concept of the ritualistic observance honoring the departed.
If you are interested in how to commission a work, contact Bill Jonas by e-mail.