Why Commissions Work for (Some) Artists and Collectors

Being a full-time artist is so rewarding, but you have to be flexible and up for the challenge. I’m a firm believer in painting what speaks to me and inspires me, even if it’s just for one day, and I’m always fortunate with that painting moves someone else and they decide to add it to their personal collection. It’s a happy job requirement of being a thriving artist. But, what about the many fans that have not bought an original painting of mine, even though they love my art?


A scene I captured in Abu Dhabi on my iPhone last year
A scene I captured in Abu Dhabi on my iPhone last year
The resulting painting “Heat Wave” which has become one of my most successful paintings.











The missing link can sometimes be the personal connection to the painting. The story behind it. And that’s where commissions come in. A commission of a family portrait, a scene at the beach, or your favorite travel destination are all great examples of reasons to commission an artist to paint you an original work of art that speaks to you immediately. Having spent years and years of honing both my drawing and painting skills, I can honestly say that translating a photograph into a work of art is definitely included in my range of expertise. The real challenge is blending the artist’s style and capability with the vision of the client.

A late night study of an abstract seascape, inspired by Abu Dhabi

Artists like myself tend to love commissions, but it depends a lot on the subject, and the client, for that matter. Take abstract art, my favorite, for example. It can start with working with the commissioner on the desired color scheme and size, but the opportunities are still endless. So when prospective clients come to me with commission requests, I recommend they spend time looking at art that they enjoy for a few days and then let me grow to understand their preferences. If they already see a painting of mine that has sold and they’d like one similar, then it becomes much easier. And if they would like a painting from a particular photo, then sending me multiple photo references is key to my inspiration and creative process.

Many artists, after they’ve become quite established (and therefore busy), decide they no longer can accept commissioned work and work exclusively within their own creative motivations and gallery needs. For now, I take commissions regularly (I am working on 3 projects at the moment) and have decided to temporarily waive my commission fee. This means, my commissioned painting prices are congruent with my original sales prices, making it an opportune time to get a custom work of art.

"Full Bloom" -commissioned original painting for a client office in Abu Dhabi
“Full Bloom” -commissioned original painting for a client office in Abu Dhabi

In sum, I think commissions are a great way for artists and art lovers to connect. We get to work on a myriad of subject matter, keeping our portfolio fresh, while embracing the challenge of making a client happy. Art lovers can build their collection in a more comfortable fashion, owning the art that is most personal to them, as opposed to going with trends or specific styling.

I plan on working on several portrait studies this week as well (in addition to continuing progress on several commissions). So, stick around for some behind the scenes pictures from my studio!

For more information on my commission process, visit: www.amirarahim.com/commissions

Reflections On My First Solo Art Exhibition

It’s been a very busy and inspiring month. A few months back, I was featured in The National newspaper and then Time Out Abu Dhabi magazine and started garnering more attention in the capital and my new home.

When I was contacted by the Art Director of Brighton College to see if I would be interested in exhibiting my work with their gallery for a month. Of course, “HELL YES!” was pretty much my initial reaction. The only thing was, my entire show had to be ready by the first week in October. So, after my trip to Sudan for 10 days in September, I came back to a studio of empty canvases and nestled paint tubes and proceeded to do what I love and know most: painting.

My exhibition launched October 12th, and consists of a good portion of works I produced earlier this year, as well as several new works that I’m quite proud of in both the abstract and pop/fauve/abstract realism style I’ve been doing with animals.

30x24" canvas  Available
“Friendly Falcon” 30×24″ canvas
Available at www.amirarahim.com
“Giselle” 24×24″ canvas Available at www.amirarahim.com
30x24" canvas  Available
“Gino” 30×24″ canvas
Available at www.amirarahim.com

I expected it to be hard work painting under such a tight deadline and it was. I spent many nights reworking some paintings, fine tuning things. But fortunately, much of what I painted were things that I wanted to explore for months now. I had them inside and they couldn’t wait to come out. What I didn’t expect was the emotional aftermath of the experience.

Without sounding overly dramatic, I definitely bond with my paintings during their creation and completion. Many of them were hanging in my home for my eyes to feast for months. So, to pack up everything and drop them to a gallery for a month on end, was bittersweet.


"Brave Heart" 20x40" canvas Available at www.amirarahim.com
“Brave Heart”
20×40″ canvas
Available at www.amirarahim.com

But, unlike some artists, I do create my work with the intention to sell. I love when I can make a piece of art that moves someone else just as much as it moves me. I love even more when they decide to take that piece of art and place in their home to enjoy for a lifetime.

In a year’s time, I’ve sold countless paintings and prints, made great friends, and established a good fan base. I now feel like my budding art career is ready to take the next step. With that said, preparing for this exhibition was good practice for my next endeavor: being a gallery-represented artist. I made sure each painting was produced with high quality materials. I varnished everything in the best fashion I could, and really treated them for what they are–fine art to be handled with care. I tried to have harmony between my pieces, color palettes, and styles. It was a beautiful ride, and I am very happy to have the chance to share my work with the Abu Dhabi community.

"Fae Flowers" 28x40" canvas Available at www.amirarahim.com
“Fae Flowers”
28×40″ canvas
Available at www.amirarahim.com

Since my exhibition, I’ve received three requests for commissioned paintings (one of which will be going to the US), and have sold one painting, “Humphrey’s Back”. He’s the first sell, and I shouldn’t be surprised. My camels are the first to go and I can’t quite explain the energy and emotions these creatures bring up.

A week after my opening reception, I got invited back to speak with the 5th, 6th, and 12th year students at the school on being an artist in the UAE. Just getting the opportunity to inspire young kids and encourage them to pursue art education and practice was really fulfilling. Every class asked me loads of questions in the Q&A, and one kid was so kind, that he stood up and told us how now, he is inspired by me just like I am inspired by so many artists living and passed. It was so much fun and I really couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with. Thanks a lot Kathryn Wilson for your support of the arts and artists in the area!

The exhibition is on for two more weeks! If you’re in Abu Dhabi, please stop by Brighton College Main Gallery for a visit.

Me and the 5th grade art students of Brighton College