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How to get your first commission after university.

Being proactive is a trait that will always serve you well in the creative industry. At Asare Simms we are constantly creating our own opportunities (through developing our branding, creating new projects and allowing ourselves the time to learn more about our field, programmes and techniques.)

Photography by Adjust Your Set

Things to remember while applying for commissions

• Applying for commissions gives you the chance of getting your name out there, whether you get chosen or not.

• Having to write treatments will allow you to come up with new projects that can be further developed if not chosen.

• Learning how to market yourself is a vital lesson that applying to briefs will teach you. Spend time drafting the perfect introduction about yourself and/or your company to create a clear vision of who you are professional.

Applying for the job

After getting through to the interview stage we were surprised to hear the praises about our work submitted, mostly towards are experimental piece To Dear Charlie. The piece was a conversation starter and they were interested in hearing about our story and what lead to our inspiration for our work.

Photography by Raphael Boamah-Asare

  • Only submit work that you are confident about and that fits the brief requirements, it’s about quality not quantity.
  • Find out what work they’ve done before and compare your style to theirs. What could you bring to table?
  • Be prepared to talk about your creative story and have questions ready about the brief and the company.
  • Include your website and social media links in the signature section of your e-mail. Companies will always be interested in how you present yourself online.

Photography by Raphael Boamah-Asare

The pressures of expectations
Once we got given the job offer we quickly realised that we had to make sure that the end result hit the expectation of the work in our portfolio. No matter how experienced you are the feeling of self-doubt comes to mind as you wonder if the client will end up liking the end result

• Keep in contact with the client. Make sure they’re aware of what the current idea is and when/how it’ll be completed.

• Never leave communication up to the client, they will most likely have several projects going on and have clients of their own. Don’t hesitate to call and e-mail them within reason.

• Don’t oversell what you can do. The client wouldn’t expect more than what’s in your portfolio. Being open about your skills is key.

Working with others will always be challenging but it is part of the process of creating work on a larger scale. Learning how to best communicate and work with clients will bring great successes to your career, however, depending on client work will also have some downfalls.

Pro’s about working on commission

• Spread the word about your company and services in your industry
• Earn money to develop your own projects
• Work on a variety of briefs

Con’s about working on commission

• A lack of personality to work
• Relying on commissions to start new projects
• All work feels the same

Ending thoughts

There is a fine line for finding a healthy balance between commission work and personal projects. In order to make a name for yourself you have to establish your voice as an artist, something that is usually reserved for personal work. Once you’re at the stage of accepting commissioned work, never rely on them to get you to the next level. Commissioned work is just a platform that will only become beneficial to you if you keep the determination, passion and self discipline in you had in the beginning of your career.

So what do you prefer doing: personal work or commissioned work? Let us know in the comments below!

Article by Shaneika Johnson-Simms