Month: January 2014

Guest Post: A Fresh Approach to Art Commissions By Simone Collins


I’m very excited to have Simone Collins write about her and her fiance’s recent art project, a website built specifically for finding and selling commissioned artwork, called ArtCorgi. As an artist, and wannabe working artist, I truly appreciate their effort to bring fine art and non-massed produced work back to the forefront. As nice as it is to have “art” readily available at cheap prices in the Home Goods and Ikeas of the world, I think it is more interesting and fulfilling to have your own personalized work of art hanging on your wall.

As I explored ArtCorgi for the first time I was very drawn to the clean, fun, and easy to navigate style of the website. Simone and Malcolm obviously took the time to carefully layout their site before launching it, which is much appreciated when it seems the internet is overrun with non-functioning websites. As I clicked through I was quickly able to discover information about artwork that appealed to me, contact information, and even an artist submission form. I love their corgi theme, which gives it a playful vibe, after all art should be fun!

The only complaint I have is a somewhat unfair one. While I love the artwork they already have available for commission orders, it is overwhelmingly comic book and fantasy style. There are some wonderful realistic landscape and portrait options available, they are just currently in the minority. I am fully confident as their website grows their selection of artistic styles will grow along with it. I’m looking forward to following their art commission initiative and seeing how it takes off in the future!

popart1000pxIf you have walked through an art museum, studied history, or admired famous paintings and sculptures, you have come across commissioned art. For thousands of years, people have commissioned original works from talented and creative artists to affirm their influence, solidify their reputations, flaunt their good taste, and perpetuate their favorite styles and concepts.

I think it’s an incredibly fun concept- one that is under-utilized today. During the Italian Renaissance, the Medicis had themselves painted into religious scenes. Why should we not have fun by having ourselves depicted in our favorite television books’, shows’ and movies’ styles?

My fiancé Malcolm Collins actually did something along those lines when he proposed to me this past summer. Knowing that I love art (especially online pop art and fan art), he commissioned 21 pieces of art depicting us in some of our favorite shows’, movies’, and games’ artistic styles and posted the art on reddit for me to discover- much to my surprise and delight! Here, for example, is a commission he made of us in Adventure Time style.

Adventure Time Commission by Amy Liu

Illustration by Amy Liu

Malcolm’s proposal ended up going viral inspiring us to explore the idea of making it easier for other people to commission art from up-and-coming artists. Because artists and friends we spoke with about the idea really loved it, we decided to act on our idea and create a marketplace, which we named ArtCorgi (the thinking being that our cute corgi mascot could act as a friendly go-between introducing everyday patrons to cool online artists).

ArtCorgi Screenshot

ArtCorgi features styles of art you can commission alongside up-front prices, set turnaround times, and clear samples. These features spare you from intimidating negotiations and give you very good idea of what you’ll be getting from an artist (even though your work will be entirely original).

ArtCorgi launches today. We can’t wait to see how people begin to use it. Our dream is to see everyday people (rather than large corporations and incredibly wealthy patrons) shape the art worldfineart300px and build their legacies through commissioned art. But hey- we’d also be thrilled to see art commissions become the new “it” gift- something that is utterly unique, super personalized, and highly visible (especially if used as a Facebook cover photo or mobile phone or computer wallpaper).

Most importantly, we want people to feel like they can reach out to their favorite online artists personally, support them in a creative way, and assume an active- rather than passive- role in the online art world even if they don’t create art themselves. With up-front prices, clear terms, and clear processes, we hope ArtCorgi can make reaching out to and working with artists far less intimidating and far more convenient.

Though we’re really keen on making art commissions accessible to people who have budgets like we do, we’re also adamant about making sure artists are paid fairly for their work. Many professional designers, painters, and illustrators struggle when selling work online as many sites have devolved into bargain basement marketplaces where recreational artists sell work at unsustainable prices. By asking artists to set minimum price points, then setting prices at or above those levels, we’ve made a concerted effort with ArtCorgi to ensure that commission prices are sustainable.

If you’re an artist and interested in offering commissions through our site, we would love to hear from you! Check out our artist page and consider filling out an application. I have had a blast getting to know the artists who have joined our network thus far, and would love to get to know you, too.


Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and the new art commission website, ArtCorgi. Help spread the word about my blog and ArtCorgi by liking, tweeting, sharing,  e-mailing, and subscribing! We couldn’t do it without your help. Thanks for stopping by!


Visual Journal Page 58: School Year Wrap Up


I couldn’t believe it. I was at the end, the end of my second year teaching, the end of my first year teaching AP Art, the end of my first year heading up the art department, and the end of a stressful, crazy, busy, yet very rewarding year.

My classes were already wrapped up, projects were being picked up, all I had left was a couple of half days and post planning days. I was more than ready to begin my much anticipated summer vacation, but something was still left hanging in the air

The ends are always bittersweet. As I emptied abandoned cubbies of forgotten materials and unwanted artwork I reminisced on the success of this project, failure of that one, and the students who worked on each one. I felt excited to close the chapter on another class, but nervous about the next unknown group I would get in a few short months. As I scrubbed away a school year worth of paint, pencil, and marker, which covered every surface, I remembered funny situations, difficult students, building relationships, moments of inspiration, relief to see some moving on, and sadness over losing others.

The end of this year was particularly hard, I didn’t know how to cope, after all how do you cope with the unknown? The facts were simple, another year was complete, next year only one art teacher would return, I didn’t particularly want to come back, Morgan did, but she was the one left without a contract. I still hadn’t heard from a recent job interview, I already signed a contract to return, but things could still change. I could still get the job, Morgan could still come back, everything could fall in place; but there was no word yet.

I couldn’t say goodbye to students, fellow faculty, my classroom. All I could do was ignore the question marks, continue through the end of the year procedures, shut down my room as if I were coming back, and patiently play my part in the waiting game.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Collected scraps of paper
  • Sharpie


This visual journal page reflects a year of collecting. After completing my first book there were three things I decided to do in every single book. 1: Start my books with a quote or mantra to reflect and guide my year. 2: Create a summary of the school year page. 3: End my book with a tribute to the book I used to transform into my visual journal. Because I already knew a end of year summary was in my future, I began setting aside small items from day one.

Anytime I found an accidental or abandoned work of art that caught my eye, I picked it up, and stuck it in my journaling folder. Whenever a student left me a post-it note on my computer, or small nick-knack, I saved them. Any invitation to an art event, interesting slivers of magazines, or something that made me smile was tucked away for later.

When it finally came time to create my summary collage I had a lot of items to rummage through, discard, and select before I got started. Because so many different things come together to create one design it is very important to try to find a common thread to tie everything together. Creating a balanced, appealing, and successful image with so many things is a difficult thing to do. When tackling something like this I focus on pattern. texture, and color. Color is the easiest tool to use to tie images together, because it is the first thing you see when you glance at a page.

In order to create a balanced visual journal page I began selecting items primarily with blues, and a hint of yellow and red. I have a few pops of color coming through, but with an overall balance of blue, the various cut outs came together.


Create your own visual journaling tradition. What will you carry on to your next book?

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