I really enjoy working on commissions, trying to deliver the best work I can for the customer. Even better when the customer is someone I know and love - in this case my niece Laura. Her husband wrote a poem for their twin boys called Bear on the stair - and Laura asked if I could write it out. Of course it just had to be in a concertina book that opens like a staircase - and I let myself go crazy with pretty watercolours too.
While it's great having customers who are very clear what they'd like, I love to be able to have total freedom for how to deliver the piece. This works particularly well if the commission doesn't have to be rushed - I spend several days with ideas just tumbling around in my head about the best way to present the piece, along with thinking about whether the customer is going to want to be involved in making choices along the way. Very occasionally (like this piece) I simply create the finished piece and send it off! Usually I ask some questions and maybe offer some options, which help give me an idea that I'm on the right lines.
I can only recall one occasion when I was quite wrong about what the customer wanted - we'd been sharing ideas on layout and lettering style for a poem he'd commissioned. I'd written in a selection of shades of blue, and thought this worked really well. Just before I went to write the final piece I asked if the shades of blue were to his liking - and the answer was "can I have it in a shimmery pink with a pink cloudy background?"
Well - that's what I delivered, but between you and I it was not a look I'd have gone for - it's not a piece that'll be appearing in my gallery any time soon!
I'm Janet Smith, a calligrapher who loves to experiment with lettering and calligraphy.