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5 Ideas for Custom Art Gifts

Custom art: What can I be commissioned to draw for you?

There are so many things independent artists can be commissioned to create for you, let me give you 5 ideas right now, so you can shop small for the most unique gifts!


If you're searching for one of the most unique and personal gifts out there, you can't go far wrong in hiring an independent artist or illustrator to create custom works of art. But, what are the choices out there, if you're not arty yourself, the art world can feel super overwhelming to dive into. Here's where I come in with 5 ideas for custom art gifts!

Personalised Map Art

Starting in with unique gift idea number one, and my personal favourite to create: personalised maps. Personalised maps can be used for weddings, special birthdays, to tell someone you love them, anniversaries . . . so many things can be recorded here.

A hand drawn map of The Nower, near Dorking. It features three trees in the centre, a small compass rose, and a black and white colour scheme
A custom map of The Nower

I offer a few different types of personalised map. Mini maps, like the above are designed to commemorate one special place or moment.

A black and white hand drawn map of the UK with personalised locations drawn onto it, including York University and the Brecon Beacons. The title block has also been personalised with the names of the couple.
A custom map of the UK

I can also draw larger maps with specific locations picked out and dates mentioned, like the one above. I think these are perfect for extra special gifts, and I love that they are a reminder of joyful memories; of your journey together.

I've been commissioned to create maps for special teachers leaving schools, retiring rugby coaches, and for couples, like the one above.

A personalised map is one of the absolute best, most unique gifts you can give (in my humble opinion!)

Custom Drawn Buildings

In at number two: custom drawn buildings. Now, you might be thinking 'what?' But let me explain: I've drawn special buildings (e.g. the church where a couple got married) for anniversaries and birthdays, commemorating marriages and special journeys, and I think it's one of the loveliest, most thoughtful gifts you can get for someone.

A traditional graphite pencil drawing of Christchurch in Dorset
Custom building portrait: Christchurch in Dorset, the perfect gift for a wedding anniversary

It shows you've listened, taken note of what is special to them, and then had a totally unique piece of art created for their walls especially to remind them of that joyful moment.

The Trevi Fountain, Vatican and Colosseum, hand drawn in graphite pencil
The Trevi Fountain, Vatican and Colosseum, hand drawn in graphite pencil

The pieces above I did in my fine art style as opposed to my illustrative style, and the three Italian buildings were actually really mini, about the size of a 50p piece. I loved doing these so much, and really enjoyed how they turned out.

Custom Tree Portrait

If the last one stumped you, this one probably seems really wild. But, trees can be so, so special, symbolising so much. In the Nower map at the top of this post, the three trees in the centre represented a lasting friendship that had been formed under those very trees.

An intricate tree, hand drawn in graphite pencil. It is a traditional drawing with lots of detail
A tree portrait, hand drawn in graphite pencil

If you or someone you know has a tree that is very special to them, then tree portraits are one of the most unique art gifts you can get. I happen to think trees also look super cool on the wall, with a nice wide white space around them and then a slim black frame. Combining traditional with contemporary, perfect. This tree above was drawn in my fine art style. Which you can see more of here.

Custom Pet/Animal Portrait

Ok, in at number 4, one of the most popular gifts artists and illustrators are often hired to create: pet portraits. One of my specialisms as an illustrator is in drawing animals, so I love to create drawings of animals on commission. I've been commissioned to draw sloths, rabbits and cuttlefish, but one of my favourite ways to draw a pet portrait is below.

A black rabbit wears a green top hat and cravat, with a white shirt and burgundy waistcoat. He is set in an oval frame with a mustard yellow background
A pet portrait of our rabbit Howl

This is Howl, one of the little rabbits we used to have, and I had a lot of fun giving him a gentlemanly character. He was such a quiet little man, and Tesla (our other rabbit), used to be so dominant to him! He bore it all with such quiet dignity.

So if you're looking for a fun and unique gift for any animal lover then why not try a pet portrait like this? Or if you want a more traditional take, then I highly recommend watercolourist Emily Mei.

Personalised Family Crest

The final gift idea of the day and a little bit of fun: how about getting yourselves a personalised family crest? I haven't created any yet (apart from the quick one below, drawn for a map), but I am desperate to. I think they'd be so fun! I've done a lot of research into heraldry, so if you think you might want a family crest (an unofficial one, obviously!), get in touch, I'd love to make one for you!

A black and white drawing of a compass rose, in the centre of which is a crest featuring two owls, one black, one white, a crest with a crown on it and a book, which reads 'Veritas, in nigro et alba' 'The truth in black and white'
A crest I created for the map in Simul by Andrew Caldecott

And there you have it, five ideas for unique custom art gifts that I can be commissioned to draw for you: a custom map, a building portrait, a tree portrait, a pet portrait and a personalised family crest! If any of these seem good to you, then feel free to contact me on the email below:

Or, you can drop a comment in the box below. Feel free to ask any questions: no questions are silly questions and I'd love to help.

Or perhaps you want to have a bash at creating your own map? Click here for the start of my series on how to draw your own illustrated map!

Or, take a deep dive into maps as gifts, by clicking here to go to my blog on maps as gifts.

As always, thanks for reading!


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