Friday, July 17, 2015

Top 10 portrait painters - and a commissions checklist

I've just read an excellent and informative article identifying the Top Ten Portrait Painters 2015. It's by Annabel Elton, Head of Commissions (i.e. the lady in charge of the Federation of British Artists’ Fine Art Commissions Service) at the Mall Galleries. This article follows on from her earlier LinkedIn Pulse article - Portrait Commissions Are Thriving!
The Royal Society of Portrait Painters placed a record number of commissions last year (a rise of 62% from 2013) despite the onslaught of the photograph, the digital age and the selfie.
The latest article lists the top ten artists generating enquiries at the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of as being (listed alphabetically by surname by me):

Incidentally none of the artists in the list won any of the prizes at the RP's Annual Exhibition this year!

(Lefy to right) Sir Alan Battersby Paul Brason PPRP

I've done my list above in alphabetical order by surname whereas Annabel has them in a different order. That's because her heading indicates that.....
The Top Portrait painters this year are Phoebe Dickinson, Robbie Wraith and Keith Breeden. These are the artists who received the most enquiries at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries.
It would be nice to know which are the top artists ranked according to the value of the commissions they subsequently generated!

Personally, I'm all in favour of limited information being released as to who are the really successful artists - in terms of generating commissions or sales for the following reasons:
  • competition for commissions in real life is very competitive!
  • information like this helps guide up and coming artists as to the type of art which sells well at exhibitions at the Mall Galleries. I'm not suggesting people should copy successful artists - but at least it tells them what the people who come to see the exhibitions like.
  • there's nothing like some healthy competition to get:
    • member artists to up their game and submit their very best work to annual exhibitions
    • prompt selection panels to make sure they select the best work submitted by members - and to not just hang work because it was submitted!
All the artists except Phoebe are members or associate members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Above the links in their names are to their pages on the RP website and after their names I've listed their professional signature letters and also listed their websites

(Note: If you click the commissions heading on the left of their RP page it gives a rough fee-guide for a single portrait - related both to size and media - and what it includes and excludes.)

It's a very interesting piece of information - not least for all aspiring portrait painters as it indicates:
  • what type of artist attracts commission enquiries via the Fed.
  • the fact that you don't have to be a member of one of the Fed. societies to generate enquiries about a commission!

A website checklist for artists doing commissions

I've added the artists' websites to my list - not least because it's my belief that anybody wanting to commission a portrait painter will also look at their website.

Do take a look at their websites. I'm personally convinced that the professionalism of an artist's website makes a big difference to whether or not they get commissions. Try studying their websites and see what conclusions you can draw.

Tell me what you think - do websites matter to commissions?

Here's my suggested checklist for all artists undertaking commissions.
Does your personal website or agent:
  • use your name for the URL?
  • indicate your art education?
  • describe how you work and your preferred approach to commissions?
  • list people who have sat for commissions?
  • say which media you work in for commissions - and include examples for all such media on your website?
  • provide indicative fees for size and type of media?
  • state what your fee includes and excludes?

FBA/Mall Galleries Commission Service

I'm a big fan of Annabel whose job is basically to help anybody who wants to commission a portrait. She helps them find the right artist and then makes sure that the commission process runs smoothly. You can contact her via this page

The 2016 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

For those interested in exhibiting at the next annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters......

  • This is where you can find how to exhibit
  • The key dates are as follows:

    • Online submission opens: Monday 2 November 2015, 12 noon
    • Online submission closes: Friday 29 January 2016, 12 noon
    • Pre-selection notification: Friday 12 February, 12 noon [Log in to see if your work has been pre-selected]
    • Receiving Day (if pre-selected): Saturday 27 February, 10am – 5pm
    • Acceptance notification: Tuesday 1 March, 12 noon
    • Unaccepted collection: Thursday 3 March, 10am – 5pm
    • Exhibition open: Thursday 5 May, 10am – 5pm (open until 7pm on Tuesdays)
    • Exhibition closes: Friday 20 May, 5pm
    • Unsold collection: Thursday 26 May, 10am – 5pm


1 comment:

bernadettemadden.ie said...

I'm delighted to see Anthony Connolly on this list; I am familiar with his work as he is a regular exhibitor (through open submission) to the Royal Hibernian Academy's annual exhibition in Dublin (where I live ). In last year's show he was awarded the AXA Prize for Drawing.

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