Tell your story

“If I have a picture, can you make artwork based on that?”

“Can you make a painting using a color palette that will go with my living room?”

“I have this idea in mind. Can you make it into a painting?”

Yes, yes and yes!

Julie Berthelot @2010 - 11 x 14 inches, acrylic on canvas. A portrait of my sister from when she was little.

Julie Berthelot @ 2010 – 11 x 14 inches, acrylic on canvas. A portrait of my sister from when she was little.


One of the most common questions I got while doing the Home & Design Show was about commissioning artwork. It’s a good question. Not all artists like to do it because it can be very tricky. The artist has to interpret the idea of the client in a way that will create the desired result, which can be a little (or a lot!) unpredictable.

But mostly I think there are a lot of questions because commissioning artwork isn’t something that a lot of people do these days. We’re used to walking into a store or gallery, or shopping online for what we want. When we find something we like at the right price, that’s it.

But what is the process of commissioning artwork and why bother when there’s so much artwork out there to choose from already? Well, let’s see . . .

“Put the ‘you’ in your interior design”

This is an idea I heard from some of the presenters at the Home & Design Show. They spoke a lot about putting your personality into your space when decorating your home, and what better way to do that than with artwork that means something to you and that you know you’ll enjoy looking at every day for years?

When I asked Tommy Smythe (of HGTV’s ‘Sarah 101’) about how his clients normally acquire artwork for their spaces, he said that ideally they already have artwork that they love before he even starts and that he can use it as a point of inspiration while creating his designs, (rather than finding artwork for them and fitting it in after the fact).

A great way to get artwork that will mean something to you for years to come is to base it on your own ideas or photographs of people and places that mean something to you.

I’ve done this for clients using the style of my Urban Forest series. They’ve approached me with photographs of landscapes that inspire them or that hold special memories and I’ve interpreted them in this style to create meaningful artwork that also incorporates a unique look.

Julie Berthelot © 2013

Julie Berthelot © 2013 – 48 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas.

(The image on the right is an example of a commissioned piece based on a specific place that held special meaning and memories for my client. Although I had pictures of this place taken during the daytime, the silhouette of the trees and rocks against the sunset was introduced because my client wanted a more vibrant color palette. This is a great example of the flexibility that a painting can offer.)

Another great way to introduce meaning into the artwork you choose for your home is to commission a realistic portrait or landscape based on the places and people you love most. This can be done in the form of a traditional family portrait, or can be based on a photograph you really love.

Julie Berthelot © 2005

Julie Berthelot © 2005 – 20 x 16 inch, acrylic on canvas. This is a portrait based on a photograph I took of my cousin on the beach in my home town.


If you really want to think outside the box, get your favorite artist to recreate a scene from a movie or tv show you love. (I love doing this!) It’s such a great and non-traditional way to incorporate your personality into your space.

I have these all over my house and I never get tired of them!


But commissioning artwork must be so expensive!

Actually, in my case and with some other artists, commissioning a piece can actually cost less than buying existing artwork.

Firstly, you’re cutting out the middleman, which is the gallery in most cases. If they aren’t collecting a commission on the work, it’s easier to offer lower prices.

Also, when you make a series of paintings, you’re not guaranteed to sell every one, so prices need to stay high in order for the artist to make a profit, whereas a commission is a guaranteed sale, so the artist doesn’t have to worry about this and can offer lower prices as a result.

Julie Berthelot © 2004 - 11 x 14 inches, pencil on paper.

Julie Berthelot © 2004 – 11 x 14 inches, pencil on paper.


How does this even work?

Well, it’s more complicated than buying from, but less complicated than you might think.

I like to keep it as simple and as painless as possible. Here are the basic steps:

  1. You contact me with your idea.
  2. I provide a quote.
  3. If you’re ok with the quote, I send over images of what the final artwork will look like, (sketches or photoshop images).
  4. You can provide changes, or give me the ‘go ahead’ to start the work.
  5. You’ll receive pictures of the final work (and request last minute changes, if needed).
  6. If all is well, you can pay by cash, cheque, email transfer (and credit card, in some cases).
  7. Artwork is delivered to you.

For more details on commissioning different types of artwork from me specifically, you can click here for my ‘Commissioning’ page.


What if I go through all this trouble and don’t like the end result?

Definitely not the best-case scenario! But it can happen.

I’ve only experienced this once or twice, but usually, because I take steps to ensure the client and I are on the same page, they are very happy with the results.

For the Urban Forest series: I realize that the end product can be unpredictable so, if you’re not completely happy with the work, but I feel it’s something that could sell easily enough in a gallery, we can let them have it and you wouldn’t be charged anything. (This is an arrangement that we’d have to come to before beginning the painting however).

For portraits: These are generally a lot more predictable, so the chances that it would go wrong are pretty minimal. However, if it does, it’s usually not something that I can sell to someone else, so you’re more likely to have to purchase the work regardless.


Julie Berthelot © 2012 - 14 x 11, watercolour on paper. My daughter at our favourite café.

Julie Berthelot © 2012 – 14 x 11, watercolour on paper. My daughter at our favourite café.

Tell your story!

“This is an artistic interpretation of the flowers I photographed while on vacation in Paris”. Doesn’t that sound like a better story to tell your guests than “Oh, that . . . I found that on sale at Home Sense”. (LOL!)

It’s important to live somewhere you are comfortable in and proud of, and that will reflect your personality. You’ve used the skills and talents of experts to build your house, put in the cabinetry, design the furniture and, essentially, realize your vision. Why not use the skills of an artist to add something that is truly yours?

You have a story to tell, and we’re here to help you tell it!




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