Many years ago, I painted murals in a nursery for a couple who were transplants to New Jersey and were from Colorado. The Mom-to-be was naturally happy to be meeting her baby soon, but she was sad at the same time. She missed the landscape of Colorado and she missed her family. I can understand that. When you’re in a new place that is more busy and congested and it is nothing you are used to, it can be overwhelming.
Both she and her husband recounted to me with pride, some of their favorite places in Colorado and described them to me in depth. Thank goodness the internet existed back then and I was able to research the beautiful landscapes that make up Colorado, because I had never been there.
We brainstormed together and decided that an approach would be to paint various key destinations in Colorado that Mom and Dad had been to. One destination would flow into another.
White paneling, about five feet high, was going to be installed around the room. The scenery would encompass the upper portion of the walls. So that the room wouldn’t look to choppy, I recommended that I paint a sky with clouds on the ceiling.
Mom didn’t want dark colors; she wanted a very light happy feel. This room was going to remain a nursery as the couple planned on having more children, so the end result had to look gender neutral.
Based upon these specifications, I created a room for the family that would serve as a home away from home. So, when Mom or Dad missed their home state, all they had to do was step into this very special space.
It all boils down to money. Not my favorite topic, but something that must be addressed. Yeah, I know–insert eyeball roll.
From my point of view, the conversation is not only about dollars. It is more about communication and education. The client needs to tell me what he or she wants and then ideally, a budget is discussed. ( What if the client is unsure of what he/she wants? The artist can show a variety of samples from his/her portfolio as ideas.) Then, I can see if there is a product that will accomplish the task using a reasonable amount of labor.
In other words, is the project doable for a certain price???
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the scenario. I do, quite often, ask the clients if there is a budget in mind. Sometimes I’m given a ballpark and sometimes not. I’m not really one to engage in a numbers game. Remember the communication and education thing I mentioned before? I, as an artist, want to keep the communication lines open. I need the client to tell me yes or no on a finish, and how much they are willing to spend. This way we aren’t wasting each other’s time. For example, there are some metallic paint products out there that cost over $100 per gallon. This is just the materials! If the products are imported from overseas, there’s a good chance they are going to cost more money. In terms of labor, my labor price is pretty average. This is where I need to educate the client: it’s the labor involved with a particular process. Some finishes require 5-7 passes, meaning that there are 5-7 times I’m applying products around the room. In terms of mural work, if you are looking for something much more intricate and hyper-real, you can expect to be charged more. Why? You are paying for someone’s time. Everyone’s time is valuable, isn’t it? Lastly, let’s not forget the artist’s “artistic vision, i.e. ability to see things creatively or creative problem solving, come into play . All of these things hold value. That value will be reflected in the final project result.
My advice is that as a client, be up front with the artist. If there’s a strict budget, make that known. Ask questions about products. Ask if there are alternative products that can be used. If you’re requesting a mural ask the artist if he/she can do what you’re asking within a monetary framework. If you don’t ask, how will you know? Communicate these concerns to someone you may hire to create a vision for you. That person will in turn, appreciate the teamwork effort and will do his or her best to educate you on the most appropriate way to achieve your goals.