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, to discuss exactly what your requirements are and to see if you feel that I am able to deliver. 

I will show you my full portfolio of commissions, together with samples of bronze, explaining the surface finishes (patination) that I can achieve. It is an opportunity to meet one another and for us both to become comfortable with the task ahead!


At this initial meeting we can discuss all aspects of the work, such as where the bust will be placed, your sitting requirements, the type of expression that you wish to be captured in the work, 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, that I will send you outlining what we discussed at our meeting, 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 contact 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. I only ask that you cover my basic travelling expenses, if the meeting has been at your home.


My preferred method for undertaking a 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 detailed in a formal contract.

Stage 2

Modelling sessions

Most clients favour modelling sessions in the comfort of their own home. This involves choosing a good light room with space to place the dais and manoeuvre the modelling stand together with 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 time sitting, but the process cannot be rushed. If the time-honoured skill and judgement of modelling is to fully capture your appearance, then sittings rather than photographs are essential and I will ask that you allow me to look from all angles. A skilled eye can always detect the difference between a bronze modelled from sittings or from photographs.

I invite you and your family to take and active role in informing me of your opinions as to the resemblance of the developing clay, at each stage of the sittings. This helps 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.

Stage 3

Casting in bronze

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

The fine detailed finishing of the bronze will be done by myself, in my studio, to ensure that every nuance is captured as seen, and not lost in the roughness of the casting process.  I am one of th every few sculptors that hand finishes all their own bronzes.

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


Having chosen the patina(colour) and the type of base suitable for the placement of the bronze, the work is now ready for delivery. Preferably this is by hand or possibly by insured parcel post. 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 I often bring an i-Pad for them to watch, in order to keep their attention just that much longer! It is common to have shorter sittings . The use of photographs help greatly, but they cannot replace the sitting times.
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