Half Empty, Since 1998

“Do not be afraid to ask about money and when you will get paid.”

Commissioning Street Art: Craig Metzger

Craig Metzger, Wooster Collective. April 4th, 2004

WOOSTER COLLECTIVE: So what’s been your criteria for taking on a commission? What elements need to be in place before you’ll commit to a project?

CRAIG METZGER:For me, there are so many factors that come into play. A part of it depends on my financial needs at that given time (student loans and rent). I’ve been really lucky so far and have been approached by some reputable brands and individuals. The elements that need to be in place include time frame, what the work will be used for, budget, amount of creative freedom, and clear instructions and direction. I also need to know a little history about the brand/individual before I commit.

WOOSTER: So are there brands that you would love to work with?

METZGER: I’m dying to work with big fashion brands (Prada, Fendi, Marc Jacobs etc). I have all these ideas for patterns and interesting applications that I would love to play with. There’s something intriguing about the fashion world to me. It’s like this totally make-believe land and some of the attitudes are down-right hysterical. I think it would be an awesome experience to work in that realm.

WOOSTER: Have you ever turned down a commission? What were the circumstances?

METZGER: I’ve been real lucky. Everyone that approached me has been really good. There was this one time I was approached by an agency to do some work but they were so vague on the client and how much the job would pay. They also wanted me to send in ideas but I felt it was a little shady so I backed out.

WOOSTER: As an artist, looking at work that has been done recently, are there examples where you thought a commission worked really well? Examples where it didn’t?

METZGER: I’ve been into that whole Tylenol Ouch campaign. I saw that ESPO ‘zine that Aaron Rose put together on behalf of Tylenol and I thought that was really neat. The DC artist project shoes are kind of interesting as well. A part of me thinks the whole limited edition thing is kind of played but DC is doing a good job with them. I’m also a big fan of what Nike has done with it’s whole artist thing. They really support the arts and creativity. I don’t think any project has necessarily failed but it’s definitely getting over saturated right now.

WOOSTER: What advice would you give to other artists who are approached by brands for commissions?

METZGER: Don’t sell yourself short, but at the same time be realistic. Make sure you know a little about the brand or individual you are working for. A little research can go a long way. Also ask as many questions you feel is necessary to get the job done right. Do not be afraid to ask about money and when you will get paid. I talk to a lot of up-and-coming artists who get nervous when asking about money. When you do decide to do the work, make sure it’s brand you can be proud of. Think longevity with regard to your career.

WOOSTER: When it comes to a commission, is it always about the money? Can a commission help a career in ways outside of money?

METZGER: It’s definitely not always about the money. There are jobs out there that you’ll get that will definitely help your credibility and help bring in bigger clients in the future. It’s like a game of chess, it’s all about the next move. You always need to think ahead. If a cool trendy client asks you to do work and the money isn’t all that much, you should try and see how you can get paid in terms of promotion. For example if you are doing work for a product ask them about giving you credit in the press releases (these go to all the magazines) and a possible link or blurb on their web site about you and all your important information (web site etc). Press can sometimes be worth way more than money.

WOOSTER: Has you perspective on commissions changed over time?

METZGER: I used to jump right into it not really thinking but with time I’ve learned how to work the system to my advantage while at the same time providing the best service and work possible. Communication is the key.


Commissioning Street Art

(Included in Half Empty #2)