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Avoid Commission Overwhelm Easily

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Want to run your own art business but wonder if you'll lose your artistic inspiration? I hear this a lot from artist and I've struggled with this fear myself in the past. Let me tell you how I overcame commission overwhelm! I want to save you some time with your worries on this topic. There's an easy way to do this.

First off, I'll be explaining how I did this with portrait drawing orders / commissions. But you can apply this easy strategy to any type of artistic creations, like paintings.


If you're business blows up fast, like mine did, you could be caught in this trap if you don't prepare. If your art business grows slow and steady, it's easier to get a grasp on this. First let me ask you "Do you even want to take commissions or custom orders"? Remember this is YOUR business. You make the decisions.

Here's a story of my own commission overwhelm.

I drew portrait drawings of people and animals for over 25 years. When I started selling my work online, using social media, I got a ton of orders. I remember Tim, my husband, asking me if I can even draw fast enough to fill all these requests. Nice problem to have, I thought, until I literally couldn't draw fast enough because I had too many orders.

I remember getting stressed out to the max at times. I was waking up early in the morning, drawing all day, took a couple breaks to eat and at night sat on the couch with my drawing pad while Tim was watching TV until it was time to go to bed. Yes I was making money but I couldn't clean my house, do errands or spend time with the kids.

Christmas time was the worst! If you're already a working artist who's taking commissions you know EXACTLY what I mean. Everyone wants a special gift from you to capture a memory with your artistic skills they can cherish forever.

Yes that is a wonderful thing to make your customers cry happy tears with your amazing artwork. But are you in tears as well because of overwhelm? I remember a few Christmas seasons where I proclaimed, "I'm not gonna do this next year"!

Here's the EASY solution to conquer the Commission Overwhelm trap:

Limit the number of orders you will take on each month. You can do this weekly if it's easier for you. Yup that's it really!

I know, it's easier said than done. I get it. You don't want to turn down business. You want to make the money. You want to have a good reputation etc. You might be a "yes" person like I was for years. But I'm warning you right now: have a limited amount of spots to fill and that's it.


This is how to calculate how many commission orders you can take:

How many days per week do you want to be creating?

How much time during the day do you want to dedicate to working on commissions / orders?

How much time do you need to complete the average piece of work?

Tip: add in some extra time per piece for edits & slow drawing or painting creative flow.

This is how mine looks:

3 days per week x 5 hours per day = 15 hours per week - 2 hours for unexpected edits or slow drawing time = 13 hours per week. It takes me on average 1 hour to draw a detailed portrait, 1 subject. So... I could take 13 subject orders per week.

*I also charge per subject so this doesn't mean I will always have 13 separate drawings. For example I could have 3 subjects in one drawing.

I sure hope this helps you?! If you would like extra help for your art business you might enjoy this free Art Business Guide I wrote! Grab it HERE.

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