Custom Orders & Why I Don't

Posted by Whitney Morman on

One of the questions I receive most often is, "Will you make me something?" The answer is always, "No." 

As a young artist, I used to accept custom orders for paintings. I had one custom order and saw the dismay on the customer's face when I brought the piece to them and could feel the disappointment as they handed me the cash. I swore then and there, no more painting custom orders. That was somewhere around 2008-2010. Very rarely have I gone against my own decision and done a commissioned piece. I still vote no on that front. 

I used to accept custom orders for pottery and after a few, I realized I was dragging my feet to get to the studio. I was finding anything else to do other than going to throw. I was deep cleaning my apartment, cleaning my car, reading a book, gathering tax information in July for end of year taxes... I mean literally anything else than going to the studio. 

I throw and I paint because I enjoy it. Commissioned work, sure, it can help pay the bills, but it takes all the fun out of it. One thing I have come to realize over the last year though: I also don't feel as though I'm in a 'perfected' place in my pottery to offer custom work. I would like to get to a point in which I have pieces and their shapes, sizes, and colors perfected enough that I can have confidence in allowing clients to order those items specifically. 

In my mind, offering custom orders to my clients would mean limitations on the word "custom". I know what I'm good at and I know what my faults are, I also know how much glaze is and to purchase a whole bunch of a color that I never use but for one client would not be something I'd like to venture into. I think if I ever opened up to the idea of commissioned pieces again, the limit would be custom in terms of items I already make in colors I already offer or to stay within my established and respected collections. (i.e. I'm not making a Charmed piece purple with the decal or adding Gun Metal Green glaze from Espuela to my 5th Buffalo Pieces.) Oof. 

Maybe in the next few years I'll come back around to the idea and revisit my thoughts on custom work but for now, the answer for my happiness and sanity remains, no. 


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