Commissioning Art with Kati Kleimola

When we decorated Daphne’s nursery for the One Room Challenge, we got our first piece of custom art. It’s a floral painting created by Kati Kleimola and it’s just beautiful! Kati had reached out in 2017 and asked if we’d be interested in a custom piece and I quickly said YES (!), but it wasn’t until we started Daphne’s room makeover that I knew what we wanted. Then we worked with Kati to get a painting that is perfect for our space, and the process was really fun!

I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of commissioning art, but this experience changed that. So I wanted to share more of the behind-the-scenes process with you. Kati was graceful enough to answer a bunch of my questions (no small feat when your an artist with 5 kids!) and I’m sharing them below in interview format. I hope you enjoy this!

An Interview with Artist Kati Kleimola

photo via @Kati_Kleimola

G&P: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

KK: My name is Kati Kleimola and I’m an artist from Toledo, Ohio. I work from my home studio and I love all things floral. I taught K-8th art for 8 years and while I enjoyed teaching I was always wishing for more hours in the day to spend painting. Two years ago I took the leap to pursue painting full time. I’m now able to do what I love while being home with my husband and our 5 children. To satisfy my love to teach and share the gift of creativity, I host painting workshops at a local gallery a couple times a month.

G&P: Have you always been an artist?

KK: I have always been wired to see things through a creative lens. I would say I knew I was an artist as a child, but honestly most children call themselves an artist. I just never grew out of it, and thankfully I had parents and teachers that encouraged me to chase all my creative ideas.

photo via @Kati_Kleimola

G&P: What inspires your art?

KK: Even though the majority of my work is of flowers, I’m most inspired by people. Flowers have a way of connecting me with memories. When the tulips come up in the spring, I’m reminded of my Dad planting them around the big tree of my childhood home, just because he knew I would love them. Lilacs make me think of the fence my brother and I use to hop to sneak out of that same yard. And pink roses will always make me think of my wedding day.

G&P: How does the process of commissioning a piece of artwork?

KK: The best way to begin a commission is to send an email briefly explaining the idea for the commission. Sometimes I am commissioned to create pieces very similar to past work and other times it’s something very unique. I’m actually in the process of creating a commission of 50 little 4×4” paintings that will be used as wedding favors. I love when a client has a vision that challenges me to create something a little different. As long as the idea fits well with my style and my available time, I will begin paperwork to book the commission.

Editor’s Note: for Daphne’s piece, I sent Kati a few photos of the room, pre-makeover, along with a description of the look and feel I was trying to achieve in here. Here were my exact words: “Daphne was born in July and I associate her (and this room) with ‘summer in the country’ – flowers, slow days, a bit of whimsy, and a vintage vibe.” I also mentioned the pieces of Kati’s that I was most drawn to and listed a few colors I was hoping to have in the space, including pink, sage green, white/creams. 

photo via @Kati_Kleimola

G&P: Do you try to match art to the interior space or create art based on inspiration from the client or yourself?

KK: When I create a commission I want it to be the right fit for the space and also what my client was envisioning. If it’s possible I try to see the space in person. This helps me recommend the right size painting for the room. I also get a feel for the space and the colors in the room. I love when I have a color swatch of the wall that the painting will hang. I will incorporate bits of that color as well as colors that complement the space. Sometimes my clients don’t know exactly what they are looking for. In that case I have a list of questions that help me narrow ideas down. I will also ask which paintings from my portfolio they are drawn to the most. It’s also great to have photo inspiration.

G&P: I know you’re doing your own One Room Challenge space (in your OLD home!). What inspires your interior design? (You can check out Kati’s ORC reveal here.)

photo via @Kati_Kleimola

KK: The thing I love about old homes is they have good bones. They were built with such detail and craftsmanship that all you really have to do is bring it back to life. My design goals for my home are to create spaces that are both beautiful and practical for a young family. I would say I prefer an uncluttered look, with large art, splashes of color and a bit of nature.

G&P: What could people expect budget wise? Are there any rules of thumbs people could use for estimating the price?

KK: I use a standard pricing for all of my work that is calculated by the cost of materials, time to create and size of the piece. A 24 x 24” painting is the same cost if you were to purchase it online, in a gallery or as a commission. I work in a large variety of sizes, from a 4×4” to 36×48” to large murals. You can get an idea of prices from my work being sold on my website, but I am also happy to email pricing quotes.

Thank you Kati! And if you want to learn more about Kati or her art, check out her Instagram and website.


All room sources available here

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