Commissioning A Portrait Bust

A 4-Stage Approach

Stage 1

Initial Meeting

Initially I would like to meet you. This can be at your home or my studio.  We will discuss exactly what your requirements are and  if you feel that I am able to deliver. It is an opportunity to meet one another and for us both to become comfortable with the task ahead!

I will show you my full portfolio of commissions, together with samples of bronze, explaining the surface finishes (patination) that I can achieve.


At this initial meeting we can discuss all aspects of the work. Where the bust will be placed, your sitting requirements, the type of expression, venue, costs, size of work, type of base, materials, finish of bronze or bronze-resin, delivery dates and traveling expenses etc. 

You may consider a bas-relief wall mounted plaque (which can be modeled entirely from photographs) or a bronze-resin cast.


Everything discussed is drawn up into an informal contract so that you have reference to that which has been discussed. This can be simply in the form of a letter, or a more formal contract, outlining our discussion, together with a final quote for the finished work. 

The quote is always the price you will pay, which will include basic travelling expenses. I ensure that there are no hidden extras and the price that we agree is the price of the final invoice. 

When you feel comfortable with all the details, the contract can be signed. From this basis, should you decide to go ahead, the logistics of the modelling sessions begin. However, if you decide not to go ahead with the commission at this stage there is absolutely no commitment.

Basic travelling expenses will be charged if the meeting has been at your home.


My preferred method for undertaking a private commission is to ask for no payment until the clay is complete and all are happy with it’s likeness.  

This enables both parties to relax knowing that there is no obligation, nor is there a pressure to achieve a quick result.

Over the many years, I have found that this simple safety measure works so well, that it has become my standard practice for private commissions. 

Thus when the clay is complete and satisfaction has been achieved on all sides, a payment of 1/2 of the total is due, with the remainder being paid upon receipt of the bronze.

For public commissions or those involving a committee, I adopt a more formal procedure and accept a proportion of the payment upfront.  This is always detailed in a formal contract.

Luke SHepherd working on a portrait Sculpture

Stage 2

Modelling sessions

Most clients favour modelling sessions in the comfort of their own home. This involves choosing a good light spacious room and ample sheeting to protect the floor! I can offer sittings in my Devon studio should you prefer.

At the end of the sittings many of my clients tell me how relaxing and enjoyable they have been. There is no need to keep absolutely still – on the contrary – it is time for numerous teas/coffees and good conversation. Movement and shuffling to remain comfortable are encouraged and if the work is done in your home, you will have the use of your most comfortable chair.

I will take approximately 10 hours of your time. This can be divided into 6 × 1.5 hours, 5 × 2 hours or 4 × 2.5 hours over a period of approximately a month. Photographs will be used to minimize your sitting time but the process cannot be rushed.

At each stage of the sittings I invite you and your family to take an active role in informing me of your opinions of the resemblance. This helps to ensure that everything is considered.

Once the sittings are completed and the clay finished and approved, the work is ready to progress to stage 3.  At this stage (for a private commission) you will be invoiced for the first payment of 1/2 of the total value of the commission.

Luke SHepherd working on a portrait Sculpture

Stage 3

Casting in bronze

When the sittings are over the clay is ready for casting.  From the finished clay I will prepare a rubber mould.  From this I take a wax model which will be delivered to the foundry to be cast into bronze. This can take up to 90 days depending upon the schedule of the bronze casting foundry.

With a diploma in lost-wax bronze casting, I am able to complete the detailed finishing of the bronze myself, ensuring that every nuance is captured.

Luke Shepherd's bronze portrait sculpture exhibits a clearly recognisable style, capturing the unique strengths and subtle nuances of each sitter. 

He has skillfully moved beyond his formative years into a mature and sought after bronze portrait sculptor. With early success in both in the Royal Academy, London and the Academie des Beaux-Arts, Paris
Maurice Quillan
Read more about the casting process

Stage 4


Luke SHepherd portrait Sculpture

Having chosen the patina (colour) and the type of base suitable for the bronze, the work is now ready for delivery. I prefer to deliver this to you or we can use my insured art delivery courier. Written maintenance instructions together with a signed certificate of authentication and guarantee of workmanship are supplied with every bronze.

All casting is overseen and finished by Luke ensuring the highest possible standard of replication of his work.

Bronze: Bronze castings are individually cast at a specialist art casting foundry, using the traditional lost-wax process. Each piece is carefully filed, hand-finished and patinated in Luke’s studio. Each bronze comes with a guarantee of workmanship.

Bronze-Resin: Cold cast bronze is polyester resin saturated with bronze metal dust giving a highly durable and quality imitation of genuine bronze. All bronze-resin castings are undertaken by the artist. The bronze-resin castings are so effective that they can easily be mistaken for the real thing. Bronze-resin also comes with a guarantee of workmanship.

How I work with children

Children’s busts offer a fine memento of a special period in their lives. There is no particular age that is preferable for sittings, as this is a very individual decision. 

With young children the sittings will be limited to shorter periods and they often watch an i-Pad.  This helps to keep their attention just that much longer! The use of photographs can help too.

Luke SHepherd working on a portrait Sculpture
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