A short list of our most frequently asked questions:

  • What is an art commission?
  • It’s the hiring of an artist or creative team to create a piece of art or an art installation for a specific space - interior, architectural, or public area. Art commissions involve collaboration, because for the artist, making art is not simply about the work, but about working with others to enhance the space - resulting in more inspired and innovative environments.
  • What is the RFP process? How to hire an artist?
  • RFP means "request for proposal." It is the process used by commissioners to find and hire an artist or creative team for a commissioned art project. Related international terms include a Call for Entries, Expressions of Interest (EOI), or Request for Tender (RFT).
  • The RFP process usually starts with a RFQ document, which is a "request for qualifications," used to pre-qualify applicants. In the document a commissioner includes site details, budget, contact information, and the project objectives.
  • Applicants respond to the RFQ by submitting at a minimum a letter of interest, a resume/cv, and samples of past commissioned projects.
  • After reviewing the applications, a commissioner will then select a few artists or creative teams to submit a full proposal. At this point, artists are provided an honorarium to create a design proposal.
  • Benefits of starting with a RFQ:
    • Attracts more artists since it’s a simpler first step
    • Saves time for the commissioner in reviewing full proposals later
  • I have a need for commissioned art, but I don't have a sense of what this will cost. Can I get an idea of the budget range?
  • That's a common early question. Often the very first question asked.
  • It's common to come into this process not knowing if it's the kind of project that costs $50,000 or $5 million. Often, people say they have no sense of the cost of the artwork they have in mind.
  • The solution: Use the CODAworx site and find artwork you like and see what those art commissions cost. You may learn that what you have in your budget is enough.
  • What's the timeline to execute on a commissioned art project?
  • Again, this is a common question. Typically, for a larger commission, it will take the artist a year, and sometimes more. Sometimes the fabricators and foundries and industry resources factor into and extend that timeline.
  • Backing up from there, the selection process can be as short as 3 months. Typically 6 months. Never really more than 9 months.
  • If it's new construction or re-development, think backwards from when you want to "break ground" on your new building.
  • The above is for something big — a substantial piece of art. For that, you do need a good lead time. Smaller commissions don't take as long.
  • Do people start the process not really knowing what they want? How do you articulate your needs and wants in that case?
  • Often, people will come to the beginning of the process and not have something specific in mind.
  • We hear the phrase, "I know in general what I'm looking for." Or, all the person commissioning the piece knows is that there is a space he or she wants to work with, like "I need to fill a big space on the wall."
  • Rest assured: You can keep the process open and loose at first.
  • You can say something meaningful yet open, like "I need an iconic piece of art that fits with the character of our city." That's the beauty of the RFP process when you have access to elite creatives. Your needs and desires will be translated for you.
  • How does the artist selection process start?
  • Even though we call this the RFP process, in the first big piece of the process (which is what our tools address), we're asking artists and creatives to apply with their images of previous work, plus the information that gives credibility to who they are as professionals.
  • The initial application process brings in top artists, so you are able to make a selection of finalists, usually about 3 to 5 creatives / artists. That's when you ask for the actual proposal... from those 3 to 5 artists. You do not need to sift through 100s of proposals.
  • How long should the application period last?
  • We recommend a month to accept applications, although we have seen shorter and longer periods. Our experience tells us that 80% of applications come in the last few days before deadline.
  • Once I've scored the applicants, what are my next steps?
  • Once you have scored and ranked applicants, we recommend you narrow it down to a small group of finalists. You have many options at this point. For instance, you can start by taking it down to 5 to 7 strong contenders, and do Skype interviews that will help you narrow the field even more. Or, you can immediately narrow the list to 2-3 finalists.
  • At the point where you get to a small list of finalists, we suggest that you then pay each of these candidates a design fee, which gets you a full proposal from each. A proposal will include drawings, a budget, and a timetable. It may include several design options or directions for the artwork.
  • These proposals likely take a couple months for the artists to develop.
  • Not all projects have the same scope. For smaller projects, 1 finalist may be fine. For larger projects, however, we strongly recommend 2 or 3.
  • How much are design fees? Why pay them?
  • Design fees can range from $500 to $5,000, typically $1,000 to $1,500.
  • We're really big on design fees, even though lots of organizations don't initially see their worth.
  • The design fee doesn't nearly cover the artist's costs for making the proposal, but it recognizes that a big part of what you're paying for is the artist's ideas.
  • The artists we work with are professionals, and they'll put their heart and soul into a proposal, as well as a good deal of time. You get a lot out of the design fee.
  • How many people should be involved in the selection process?
  • For larger commissions, there is a value in having several people involved in the process. We recommend no more than 7, or it gets unwieldy. Up to 10 is possible. Less than 5 is probably not enough to get good perspective on a big commission.
  • Does a project ever change directions?
  • Our best advice: You may think you know what you want, but don't limit yourself.
  • Cast your net wider than you initially have in mind. That's our recommendation.
  • Why can you do that? Because CODAworx provides access to an elite creative community.
  • You need the best, and you need people who know what they are doing. These are experienced professionals who know how to create great pieces of art on time and on budget.
  • If you don't want to take a risk, you use the best.