Artsy Amani

My first art commission

It can be tough to start out in any profession, especially illustration. Here’s the story of how I began to sell my art. 

In 11th grade, I suddenly developed an interest in acrylic paint. I had tried it out a bit in the past, but didn’t stick with it. Whenever I was making art, it was either doodles in class or greeting cards. My former art teacher had told me about Young at Art, a local art contest for visual artists aged from 12 to 19 years and who live in the national capital. Not having anything to stop me, I decided to try it out.

My first sold piece

I had always loved to draw humans so that’s what I decided to focus on. My piece showed half the face of various people with an X on their mouths, as well as roses and thorns all around. Thinking back on it now, I thought the concept was very cliched. But it was good enough for the judges because my piece, along with many others, was exposed in the Shenkman Art Centre. I was surprised and proud to have my work showcased there, but I was even more surprised when one of our family friends asked me to buy it for 100$. It was the first time I sold artwork, and definitely not the last. 
During the same year, I took part in another art exhibit happening at Shenkman. My former art teacher had once again been my advisor and told me that a special exhibit was being held to showcase high school students in commemoration of the 150th year since Canada became a country. This time, I made a painting showing the back of a man with the Canadian flag as a cape and holding a Tim Horton’s coffee (at this point it might as well be our national drink) while gazing at the Canadian parliament. Very patriotic, I know. Turns out my school loved it so much that they bought it for 150$.

Image of four people with an X on their mouth, surrounded by roses
My first sold painting

My first order

It was great that people were interested in the work I produced, but no one had asked me for an art commission yet. At least not until the summer following my high school graduation. I had continued to make paintings and posted them on my Instagram page. That’s how one of my friends asked me to draw her portrait. I was very excited by the project and started working on it right away. I decided to make it black and white, to make her red lipstick stand out as well as the small red flowers I glued all around. It took me about a week or so to get the piece done and I was very proud of it. Excitedly, I sent the picture to my friend. 
If I wanted to look good, I would tell you she loved it and even paid double the price. But the reality is that I hadn’t properly captured her traits and because of that she wasn’t very satisfied with the result. So I remade the painting. I believe it was a good experience for me to learn how to make sure I meet my client’s needs instead of focusing on what I want to do. She liked the second version much more and still has it with her today.

Image of a woman with branches behind her
The first version of her portrait
Image of a woman with branches behind her
The second version of her portrait

And after that?

Again, I could lie to you and say that since that moment, the orders wouldn’t stop flooding. But it’s not true. I did receive a lot of commissions after that, namely for portraits, but also for comics. Through each project, I improve a bit more and learn new things. There is still a lot more art I want to create and a lot more clients I want to please!