Commissioned art used to be one of those rarefied pursuits that only the wealthy could indulge in. That was until Melvin Yuan came into the scene. An entrepreneur, Yuan came into the art world by chance.

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He was on holiday when he met the artist-in-residence at the resort he was staying at. A few conversations later, he realised the simplicity of the commissioning process – all you needed was a mobile phone and an Internet connection. What he was curious about was the price. In his mind, Yuan thought that commissioned art would cost upward of tens of thousands of dollars. The artist replied, “Excluding cost of materials, it would cost four to five hundred dollars.”

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That was how the seed for The Commissioned, a portal that connects artists from all over the world with interested buyers, was born. Think of it as Uber for art. Now you too can own a work of art that you commissioned for yourself or for other people. The beauty of commissioned art, unlike pieces you buy in art galleries, is that you can be part of the co-creation, from conceptualisation to the final piece hanging in your house, and that’s an intoxicating concept.

I was given the opportunity to commission a piece of art in the portal during The Commissioned’s soft launch. With close to 200 artists on its curated roster, The Commissioned leaves you spoilt for choice. Anticipating the paralysis that comes along with so many options, The Commissioned has also hired an art concierge who will give you a few accurate artist recommendations based on your preferences.

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I was looking for an Andy Warhol-esque pop art painting, so the concierge gave me a few options. Local artist Alicia Wee caught my eye. She had put up pictures of her bubble wrap painting works, which piqued my curiosity. In my world, bubble wraps were made for popping, not permanence and a piece painted on bubble wrap sounds like a short-lived memory instead of a heirloom to be passed down to the children. The Commissioned lets you initiate a conversation with artists whom you’re interested in hiring before you make the plunge. This lets the both of you decide whether you’re suitable for each other – a creative relationship can only blossom if it’s a two-way street; just as you have every right to inform the artist that you would like certain changes made, the artist also has the power to respectfully decline your request or give you advice on your commissioned artwork.

Alicia was fantastic, accommodating my requests and giving me updates of the piece’s creation. She started by drawing out her interpretation of the picture I gave her in colour pencils, so that I could see what the finished product would look like. She also assuaged my fears, explaining that the bubble wrap painting would be encased in a sturdy wood and plastic frame. So I could hand it down to my children if I wanted to.

Three weeks later, I held my own commissioned piece of art in my hands. And it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg, just a mere couple of hundred dollars. I had commissioned the piece for my fiancée and if I had attempted to make my own artwork for her, I’m sure it would have resulted in us separating after she realised that her children would have no creative bone in their bodies. Instead she’s now very pleased with her one-of-a-kind gift.

Find out more at

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Commissioned Art for the Masses
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