• Olly Jordan

Chapter 96 - Commission - Portrait - Demi Lovato - 2020


Demi Lovato - A3 300gsm Watercolour Paper

Here is my first commission of a famous person, so it will be alot easier to discuss the process of taking on that commission here as I have a real example of how I did it. This painting was such a breeze I don't actually remember doing it! It is still of a very high quality and the skintones are really nicely blended together which is good, constantly making slight improvements, I just don't remember any issues with it really.


The Acceptance of Commission Process - Famous Faces


The client reached out via instagram and asked if I would be able to paint Demi Lovato for them. I then recommended that they take a look at my prices and sizes on my website and then come back to me, as that section of my website helps straighten out any potential questions they may have as it discusses the prices/sizes/background style and commission process as a whole. Thankfully the client got back to me and chose size and background style. Then it came to discussing the photo references. The client sent me a bunch of selfies of Demi Lovato that also had a few snapchat filters over the top, you know the kind with the dog ears or sparkles. I then explained that I can not work from a single photo as neither me or the client own the right to that photo, plus I'm not sure how good a selfie would look as a painting. I did however suggest that I can sort of make a whole new reference image by collaging together different reference images to essentially get the perfect photo, thankfully the client was more than happy to go along with this.


Now, seeing as I was asking the client to essentially change the idea they had in mind, it was important to very quickly get a photoshopped new photo reference so the client would still be engaged. Before going off on my reference photo hunt across the internet however, I asked if the client had any specifics like hair style/length, makeup, outfit vibe, the only specific was a short bob haircut. This was a very good client to work with as it had direction but was also pretty open to interpretation and I had alot of freedom with finding the photo references.

Here are the two photoshop mockups that i provided, I think that both used around 4 different photo references per mockup, one face, one hair, one earring, one body. Now obviously the background would have to be ignored, that was just so I could get speedy results and get back to the client before moving onto the next stage. The client liked the look of the mockup on the right so I took that forward to the next step. As you can imagine, this did require a fair amount of conversation between me and the client, although this conversation took place over the space of a week, it was worth it to get the best possible artwork as the result. Within that week was the time that I found the references and made the mockups.

Next was to mockup how the portrait would look on as the finished artwork. So this meant removing any unnecessary background details from the original reference photos and adding any coloured mark making behind the portrait to quickly illustrate how the portrait would work with the colours. In this case, the client just wanted a plain background and to just have Demi Lovato on her own, so that is why the portrait just has a white background. The client was very excited about this mockup and this mockup is what I used to paint the portrait. After we agreed on the photo reference, we just had to discuss payment methods and then I would start the painting.


This seems like alot of effort to create just a single piece of artwork, but copyright is a real thing and this is a way to be able to work safely with the famous faces. This was a good case where the client was open to having their initial idea changed, seeing as it started with a few filtered selfies, hopefully future clients who want me to paint famous people will have the same understanding. This process does essentially get you a bespoke and unique image as this photo of Demi Lovato does not actually exist anywhere.


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