30 Mar Empty Space? Commission a Local Artist.
By Casey Kenley
Say you visit a gallery or art fair and are drawn to a certain artist’s style and work. You get a chance to meet the artist. You chat about the person’s craft, inspiration and background. None of the pieces you see is “just right.” But when you walk away, you get a nagging feeling you’re leaving behind something special.
If you’ve ever had that twinge of regret, consider a commission. A local artist can help you bring to life an idea or subject you’ve had in mind for years — or just moments.
Noblesville artist Megan Hutchins works on commercial and individual projects. Her shiny nails give corporate logos a stunning, 3-D effect, and photo transfers make for unforgettable wedding gifts.
Artists like Hutchins who are used to working on commission know how to have conversations with non-artists about their visions and walk them through the process. Here, she answers questions about her work.
NPArts: What is your background?
Megan Hutchins: I was raised in northern Indiana and attended Purdue University for a few years before completing my art degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. My “studio” is in my home right now.
NPArts: Your two primary art styles are pretty unusual. How did you first discover nail art and photo transfers on wood?
MH: I began creating nail art in the fall of 2013 when I was pregnant with our fifth child. I had an empty wall in my living room and I wanted to create a metallic piece of art, so I went to the local hardware store to see if I could find anything that would work. I discovered galvanized roofing nails and began to create my first piece: a world map.
I find the nail art intriguing for the simple fact that it is original. I haven’t seen anything like it and it’s great to interpret a logo or an image into wood and nails.
That map stayed for a year before my husband decided that he would buy it for his office in Carmel. When it was removed, I created my first transfer piece. I had a wonderful picture of my kids on the beach in Maine that I loved. I blew up the size and recreated the image on 20 boards. The piece is definitely a conversation starter.
I love the photo transfers because the sky is the limit for recreating prints. I have color washed the background and transferred black and white images to make a monotone image. I have had lots of success with transferring wedding invitations to be given as gifts. The possibilities are endless and give a rustic, vintage look to the finished piece.
NPArts: What sorts of commissions have you fulfilled?
MH: Nail art has been diverse. I’ve created logos for companies — up to 9 feet long — and created pieces for individuals’ homes including larger states, family silhouettes, and sports-related images. I’ve also had companies buy individual states for their employees.
NPArts: What should someone know about working with an artist on a commissioned piece?
MH: Here’s a great example about what it’s like to work with an artist to create a special piece for you and your company or family.
I recently had a client come to me with a need for her dining room. She had two great canvases for me to work with but wanted something original and meaningful instead of the flower image that was already painted on them. I came up with an idea to use her family’s fingerprints, plaster and paint to create a one-of-a-kind piece. I knew the color scheme she was going with, and it all fell together — in my head.
However, she had no idea what to expect and couldn’t visualize the final piece. So, I gave her images that I sent to the printer beforehand. I texted her pics along the way. I reconfirmed the color scheme as the paint went down. When I delivered the final piece, she was blown away and so happy with her truly original art.
I enjoy creating a vision for someone who isn’t truly sure of what they are hoping for. People do not need to have an exact image or idea in place in order to start the process and they certainly do not need to be well versed in the arts to know what’s going on. Whether I’m working in wood and nails, photo transfers, or some other medium, I always reassure the client with mock-ups and pictures along the way to ensure they will be a happy client now and in the future!
NPArts: How do you help a client bring to life a concept, translating their idea into a real work of art?
MH: When creating a piece for a client, I begin with their idea. If I am creating a piece for a specific spot, I like to go and get pictures and measurements before I give them a quote. I then create an image and size it to three sizes and place it in the picture where it was intended. That way, they can visualize what the final look will be and make a decision for the size according to what they see. I always send them a silver and brown image of the large format image before I send it to the printer.
NPArts: How would someone start a conversation with you about a commission?
MH: As far as beginning the process, it’s as easy as sending an email. I have an option to request a quote on my web page. You can also reach out on my Facebook page or just call or email me. I figure out what the customer is interested in and we go from there.
Find out more about Megan Hutchins and contact her through hgcustomdesigns.com.