Commissioning Artwork FAQ

Commissioning a piece of original art may be intimidating if you've never done it before. There’s so many unknowns. Will it look like what you envisioned? How much will it cost? How long does it take? Is the artist you have in mind currently taking on custom requests?

I wouldn’t want any of my customers to feel this way or to rule out custom orders because they’re unsure about the process. Commissioning art can be an enjoyable experience so I thought I’d share how I personally handle commissions and answer some FAQ. A huge part of my handmade business is custom work, so I welcome special requests!

Q: I’m interested in commissioning a wool landscape painting. What do I need to do?

A: Send me a message via Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, or contact form to get the conversation started. If you have a photo you’d like me to use as a reference for the piece, please include that. We'll work out the size, frame choice, deadline, and go from there. Pricing depends on size and complexity of the piece, but a good ballpark budget number for custom felted landscapes is $2 per square inch. For example, an 8x10 scene would typically run $160, which includes the frame.


Q: I saw something in your Etsy shop or Instagram that I liked, but I want it in another color (or a slightly different design, size, etc.).

A: No problem! Nearly all of my jewelry can be customized, and often times the fiber art can be recreated or tweaked to be a specific size, alternate color range, etc.


Q: Do I pay before or after the work is done?

A: 99% of the time I’ll request payment upfront. This goes for jewelry, fiber art, or any other custom orders. Once I’ve received payment, your order will be added to my list and I complete them in order of payment received (unless there’s a specific deadline previously discussed).


Q: Does a custom order cost more?

A: Not necessarily! The price is usually the same, but it may take a few days longer to create, depending on the request and if I need to special order materials.

Q: Do you offer proofs or photos prior to shipping a custom order?

A: I typically don’t do this for custom jewelry, ornaments, or smaller items. However, for the custom wool landscapes, I’m happy to to show you progress pictures upon request.

Q: Do you offer discounts on bulk orders? 

A: When it comes to jewelry, yes, I'm happy to work with you on the total price if you're ordering 10 or more pieces. When it comes to the fiber art, the price is firm. Needle felting is a very tedious process and this is the reason my fiber art work never goes on sale online or at events.


 Q: The piece I wanted to buy has already sold. Can you make another?

A: Probably so! I don't mind recreating pieces (although they'll always be slightly different than the original because they're handmade). If you see something that's sold, get in touch and I'll let you know if I can recreate something similar. 


A quick run down of do’s and don’t when commissioning art:

DON’T commission artists to knock off other artist’s work. It’s not cool, and it’s no fair.

DO ask artists for references or examples of past work if you’re unsure if they’re the right person for the job.

DON’T expect the artist to deliver the finished piece in person, even if they’re local.   

DO ask for progress images if you’re particular about the composition, materials, etc.

DON’T be afraid to be specific if you have a certain size, look, or deadline in mind. Share that with the artist from the start so they can accommodate your wishes.

DO allow the artist to do what they do best and embrace their process. The finished piece will surely look different than what you had in your mind, but hopefully it’ll be even better than what you imagined.


I’m taking time today to run through my most frequently asked questions and answer them all in one shot. If you have inquiries of your own, send em’ over!

1. What’s with the name?   

    Once Again Sam has been my shop name from the beginning, and it has nothing to do with Casablanca (the line from the movie is actually “Play it, Sam”, but it’s often misquoted). My name isn’t Sam, and neither is my husbands. We both get that a lot!

Here’s the real story: when I got married, my initials became S.A.M., and I thought having a name within a name was pretty novel, so I decided to use that for my business. When I first started my shop, I never dreamed I’d ever meet my customers in person, I assumed my business would only exist on the web, so I liked using an alias to maintain some anonymity. Well, that blew up in my face - nowadays I meet thousands of customers every year in person and they don’t know what to call me (you can call me Sarah, by the way)!  The “Once Again” part of the name refers to my love of upcycling. I repurpose materials like leather & wood and give them new life “once again” in a whole new way.

2. Do you make everything?

    Yep! I have many hobbies, my skill sets are always growing, and I make everything you see on my table at craft shows and in my Etsy shop. My husband helps with the general operations of my business, and he definitely has a hand in the designs and will often assist with some of the woodworking items as well. Everything is made in our home studio in Greenville, SC.

3. I’m local, can I pick up my order?

    It seems like an easy way to save a few bucks on shipping, so I don’t blame you for asking, but I’m afraid I cannot do meetups or deliveries. I do go to the post office almost every day, so I promise you wont be waiting long! I get asked this question a LOT, especially around holidays (the record still stands at 22 meetup requests in one week last year right before Christmas). If I had taken the time to meet up with 22 different people to deliver their orders, 22 other people wouldn't have gotten theirs on time, so it's really not fair to the rest of my customers (or myself). 

If you really don’t want to pay shipping, here’s a few things you can do:

4. Do you ever have coupon codes?

    Yes, but it’s rare. I only do discount coupon codes about 4-5 times a year (usually for 20% off or less). Here’s why: I decided I would rather have my “real price” as my “all the time price” rather than marking things up just to put them on sale. I wanted my customers to be able to buy whenever they wanted, and not have to wait for the next sale to be able to afford the purchase. 

5. Do you take custom orders?

    YES!!! I’d say about 50% of my business is actually custom work. People see something they like in my shop or on social media, but they want something slightly different (or completely different) and I’m cool with that. Interested in a custom order? Just send me a note (via Etsy Conversation, a direct message on social media, or through the contact form on this website).

6. Did you go to school for this?

    Nope. Although I did go to art school (Maryland Institute College of Art), I studied Environmental Design (Interior Design / Architecture / Furniture Design), nothing to do with fiber art or jewelry. When it comes to the items I make & sell through Once Again Sam, I’m primarily self taught.

7. Do you do this for a living?

    Pretty much! In 2013 or thereabout, I was able to flip flop my hobby with my career. My business was doing well, and I was making more selling my work than I was in my full time interior design job, so I made the switch. The problem was, I actually liked my day job too (as an interior designer in the field of commercial architecture), so I’ve been lucky to find a firm that’s flexible enough to let me work part time. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to do both! I typically work 20-25 hours a week as a designer, and 40+ as a maker. Income-wise, I'm about 80% self employed. 

8. Will you ever open a brick & mortar store?

    Boy, that’s tempting, but as of right now I have no plans to. I love working out of my home, and having the flexibility to set up temporary shops at regional craft shows, while not being chained to retail hours. I know I’d enjoy the retail design & display side of things, but for now, I’m sticking to what has worked well so far: online shops & craft shows. Things can always change in the future though!

9. Do you teach classes?

    I have in the past, but it’s not something I do regularly.

10. About the needle felted fiber art: Are these toys? Why are they so expensive?

    They are definitely NOT TOYS! They’re actually quite fragile, and I’m afraid if you give one of these needle felted creations to a small child or household pet, it will probably not survive. Although a lot of my felted pieces are cute little animals and monsters, they’re intended to be decorative art pieces.

As for the cost, they may seem pricey, but it’s because they take an awful long time to make. I’m talking hours and hours. A small four-legged felted animal figurine may require 4-6 hours of my time to create, so in the end, I’m making minimum wage of some of these things, which isn't much for something that requires a specialized skill, but I do it because I enjoy the process.