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Getting Into The Business of Commission Painting - The Real 411

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

This blog is in connection with a popular video from our YouTube channel.

Since the course of the pandemic, there have been many who picked up new hobbies and some who have turned their hobbies into a business in an effort to supplement income while getting through unemployment and/ or inflation. With that said, I figured that it would be a good time to re-circulate this information.

Feel free to check out and share the video below.

Find more info and all social media links on our website:

First off, let’s be clear:

**Commission painting is NOT for everyone. The life of a commission painter is NOT glorious.**

Being a commission painter whether part or full time, will require the following:

  • Patience

  • Motivated self starter

  • Discipline

  • Consistency

  • Organization

  • Good with money

  • Realistic expectations

  • A decent amount of business sense

  • Know when to say “no”

What do you like to paint? What do you want to specialize in?

  • Single figures

  • Dioramas

  • Armies

  • Terrain

  • Display boards

Don’t paint what you don’t like/ enjoy.

Start slowly! - When starting out, take in one commission at a time.

Your time is worth money! - I really can’t stress this enough. No one else would ever go into their jobs and work for free or work for under minimum wage, so why should you?

Always ask for at least a 50% deposit or payment upfront. You can make the deposit or part of the deposit non refundable. That needs to be stated in an agreement or email. Agreements can also be made using programs such as Google Docs or use legal sites where you can create forms. If you have a friend who is a lawyer that deals in contracts, that can be even better.

Always keep your client updated - WIP photos, if there are delays, send messages. Using email is always advised from the beginning to end of a transaction. Save the emails into a file by making a folder in your email. (I.E.- commission emails).

What does the client pay for when paying you to paint for them?:

  • Experience

  • Education/ classes

  • Overhead

  • Supplies

  • Other investments in yourself/ your studio

  • Of course, the work itself.

What to do when a client gives you issues:

  • Be honest and realistic. If they are being unrealistic with deadlines and such, you need to say so.

  • If a client treats you disrespectfully, do not put up with it.

  • If a client tries to pay you less, that’s a no-go.

  • Do not let a client haggle you on price - you are not a car dealership!

  • Be okay with not booking a commission. If a potential client complains that the rate is too high or says “Well, I could go to ‘so and so’ or ‘such and such’ and pay less” That’s fine, then they can go see that so and so and such and such. Cheaper does not always mean better.

Money- Be a saver!

  • Commission painting is not consistent money. You might make thousands one month and nothing the next month.

  • Put about 30% aside in a separate account for taxes. (Percentages of tax may vary depending on your state/country)

  • Always comparison shop for your supplies. Use coupons when applicable. Unless you want to spend the extra to support a friend, favorite company, or FLGS.

Making your studio an actual business:

  • Business license

  • Tax ID #

  • Sales Tax Number (if you plan to sell products)

  • Find out about tax and business laws in your area.

  • PayPal/ Venmo- can be used to accept payments, create invoices, etc.

  • Quickbooks- or another similar accounting software

  • Spreadsheets are your friend!

  • Save receipts! Keep track of your deductions- brushes, paints, hobby supplies, minis, games, convention badges, hotels, restaurants, a percentage of your utilities/phone, advertisement, mileage on your car- all TAX DEDUCTIBLE!

Hope this information has been helpful!

Stay crispy in milk and keep on painting!


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