www.robinsbest.com
fine art side 
link to entry page of Robins Best Custom Art & Design Studio link to the home page to the fine art section of the website link to information about the artist, Robin Gross link to galleries of work done in pencil, pastel, and watercolors link to custom picture framing services link to graphic design services including logo design and sign design and photography link to cad services using Pro-Engineer software to model and design in 3-D link to ordering and pricing information link to directory of helpful links in the art world link to the faq section (frequently asked questions)
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

A compilation of questions heard over the years regarding ordering and creating art....
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Fill out this form if you would like to contact the artist.... You will have a response from the artist within 48 hours. Your name and email address will not be forwarded to any other person or agency.

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Sketch of Austin Powers


photo of my display booth set up during the Cannan Falls RiverWalk Art Festival
Picture of my booth at an Art Festival in Cannon Falls, MN


photo of my little retail store & frame shop in downtown Lake City; spring & summer of 2003
Here is a pic of the little shop that I had in down town Lake City, Minnesota



one of my first professional watercolor paintings from the early '90's
This is one of my first professional watercolor paintings from the early '90's



Mixed media (colored pencil and pastel) drawing re-created from an old photo of a ruined, yet very special artwork.
Mixed media (colored pencil and pastel) drawing re-created from an old photo of a ruined, yet very special artwork



A client's laundry room transformed with murals into a taste of Tuscany
Laundry room transformed with murals into a taste of Tuscany



Example of some face painting
Example of some face painting



Caricatures of a local Lake City band called BackLash
Caricatures of a local Lake City band called BackLash



Sandwich Board Sign created for Hearth & Home Technologies
Sandwich Board Sign created for Hearth & Home Technologies



Flyer done for a local Cannon Falls Comedy Show
Flyer done for a Cannon Falls Comedy Show, coordinated by North Woods Comedy Company



Frequently Asked Questions

Ordering artwork off the internet or consigning a graphic designer for a project can be an intimidating process.
I would like to make it as pleasant as possible, so I've added this FAQ page.   Please feel free to contact me if your questions are not answered here.  Thanks!

  1. What do you need from your clients when you do a portrait or caricature?

  2. How long does it take to create a drawing?

  3. Will I get my photos back and how do you handle shipping?


  4. What is your lead time for portraits and caricatures?

  5. What is your lead time for graphic computer work & drafting projects?

  6. Why does it take longer to create a portrait than to do other projects?

  7. Do you ever use a computer to create your portraits?

  8. What is your copy write policy?

  9. What exactly is photo retouching & how much does it cost?

  10. What kind of drafting do you do?

  11. What sort of framing do you do?

  12. Can you make brochures or business cards?

  13. Do you do web design and how much does it cost?

  14. Do you do caricatures?

  15. Do you do signs?

  16. Do you do nudes?


  1. What do you need from your clients when you do a portrait?

    Generally I need a very clear photograph to refer to.  I can work from one or more photographs.  They must be very good to excellent in quality.  This means a clear picture with good color and contrast.  Please make sure to make me aware of any details such as eye color, wedding rings, etc that may not show up clearly in the photo and are important to the picture.  I have worked from fuzzy, low quality photos in the past with mixed results.  I am willing to work with such a photo, but I just want you to be aware that the drawing's accuracy will be limited by what I can actually see in the photo.  Also, I can take pictures for you too, that way I have more control over the lighting etc.

    Also, if you would like images removed or added to the artwork please specify.  There may be an additional charge for adding an image, but I will let you know what the final price is before I accept the commission.  I recommend at least the medium size paper (11 x 14 or 12 x 18) for full body images or if the artwork is going to have more than two subjects in it.  If you try to squeeze too much information into a small piece of artwork, it loses allot of charm and accuracy.   I've found that the detail is so fine that it becomes almost unmanageable when the subjects get very small.

    I also require a down payment of 30% of the total cost of the portrait before I start working.   I accept checks and credit cards.  Also, I've added a little form in the ordering sections that needs to be printed, filled out, and sent with the photograph(s); and it that basically gives me copy writes to the photo so that I don't violate any copy write laws. It looks like this:

    I,…………………………………………………………………….. attest that I own or have obtained permission to reproduce the photographic image enclosed.  It is the policy of Robin's Best Custom Art & Design not to repr
    oduce any copyrighted material.

    X…………………………………………………………………………….(sign)  ………………………..(Date)



  2. How long does it take to create a drawing?

    The actual time required to create a drawing or painting will vary by the size of the artwork and the medium that it's created in.  The pricing schedule for portraits is reflective of this time requirement.  For instance, an 8 x 10 (small) graphite with one face in it would take about 12 hours.  But, a portrait with three people in it, depicted from the waist up on a large paper (16 x 24) in graphite could take up to 45 hours.  That time could nearly double if that same portrait was done in color. Also, I don't sit down and do the entire job at one sitting. I need to break it up since physically and mentally, the process is rather draining. So, for every hour of drawing time, there is about 4 hours of down time at least. Plus, I am working full-time as a single parent to support my 2 kids, so I have to squeeze in my art time into evenings and weekends these days.

  3. Will I get my photos back and how do you handle shipping?

    Yes, I always send photographs back to their owners when I am finished with the project.   It's very important that you include your shipping address with your order, by the way.  I generally ship with the United States Postal Service, unless my clients would like me to use a different delivery service.   My standard shipping and handling rates are $15.00 for most packages, and $10.00 or less for 8x10 and smaller packages.  If my client needs me to use a different mail service, then I will increase the shipping fees accordingly.   I always use some padding with my shipping and do everything that I can to make sure that the package will reach my clients in good shape.  I like to send my clients a tracking number after their package has shipped.  It is easiest to send the tracking information via email.

  4. What is your lead time for portraits?

    I am giving about a 3 month lead time for portraits right now.  Lead time is the time that it takes from when the order is placed until I ship the portrait.   I'm also not doing any art shows anymore since it is no longer necessary  So, if you want to order a portrait for Christmas, you should get your order in by September at the latest!

  5. What is your lead time for graphic computer work & drafting projects?

    I usually start on a computer project within a few days of receiving it, and then stay with the project thru completion. It varies from project to project, but I cannot work on it full time anymore due to other family obligations. So, my lead time has become a little extended.

  6. Why does it take longer to create a portrait than to do other projects?

    The computer work usually has a real tight deadline because a company is relying on the prints or artwork for a business purpose and cannot wait.   I am an excellent keyboarder and can type much faster than I can draw.  I can sit at a computer for 10 hours straight without batting an eye.  But, I can only draw or paint for a couple of hours at a time.   The focus that I use for my artwork is much more intense and it drains me pretty quickly.  I take a great deal of pride in my artwork and I want to make sure that I've captured the essence of the subject.   I generally like to take little breaks in my drawing schedule so that I can look at the work with a fresh eye; I will invariably find something that can be made better.

    I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.  Basically, I love to paint and draw.   It's an extremely fulfilling process and I welcome portrait orders.  But, I like to put a little extra TLC into each one and make sure that my customers get the best product for their money and time.  So, I approach my portrait business as a love, rather than a job like my drafting work.

  7. Do you ever use a computer to create your portraits?

    No, I do not use a computer to create my portraits! I lay everything out the old fashioned way; I eyeball it!

    About 16 years ago, I did figure out how to "cheat". I would photocopy the image that I wanted to draw, enlarge the photocopy and basically trace all of my guidelines for my drawing. Then I just had to fill in the blanks with detail. It was a way to make sure that there was no error and it was much faster than eyeballing it. That system worked great until my oldest son told some of my admiring friends that I just traced my drawings. There really was more involved than just tracing, but I felt so mortified that I promised myself I would never short change my drawings again. And I have kept that promise all of these years!

    But, on a side note; I am tinkering with some of the new software to modify photographs and create unique artwork that is purely digital.   That can be fun.....

  8. What is your copy write policy?

    I do not promote reproducing copy writed material.  If you would like me to draw from a professional photograph, then I have a form that you can print out and sign on the ordering section of my site. Or you can print this one out:


    I,…………………………………………………………………….. attest that I own or have obtained permission to reproduce the photographic image enclosed.  It is the policy of Robin's Best Custom Art & Design not to repr
    oduce any copyrighted material.

    X…………………………………………………………………………….(sign)  ………………………..(Date)



  9. What exactly is photo retouching & how much does it cost?

    Photo retouching is the process of fixing and changing a photograph using a computer.  The process can be as simple as removing a a scratch or a crease, to radically changing the lighting and arrangement of a picture.   It is an especially useful tool for bringing old damaged photographs back to life.   I've used it to spark up some ugly dark photos that didn't give justice to the scene they were recording.

    I start with a scan of the photograph(s), and then modify that file using computer software.  If my client has a very high resolution scan, I can use that; or I can scan the photo myself.   It's usually easier for me to do the scanning since these files can get quite large and difficult to move via email.

  10. What kind of drafting do you do?

  11. I have an associate's degree in mechanical design.  I've worked with machines and their components in an engineering technical role since 1988.   I'm very comfortable around sheet metal and steel, and lately I've been working in the plastic extrusions industry.  I've even played with creating metal CAD art.   I can create component drawings, assembly drawings, and circuit drawings.  I've also done a fair amount of plant layout and NC programming for sheet metal.   I have Pro-Engineer Wildfire software right now.

  12. What sort of framing do you do?

  13. Sadly, I don't frame anymore. During the summer of 2007, I had to sell off most of my framing stuff due to the necessity to move into a place that did not have room for my equipment. Plus, I don't do as much of my business stuff since I've had to go back to work full-time so that I can support my kids better. It's tough to be a single parent on an artist's income! I caved and went back to drafting, but I maintain this site on the hopes that I'll eventually work on a few projects here and there.

    I've framed prints, original artwork, puzzles, and needlework.  I use standard picture frame glass, but I have access to conservation clear glass with UV coatings etc . I used to custom cut all of my mats, and had the capability to create quite a few different decorative designs.   I did archival mounting (it does cost more) alongside my more standard mounting that features acid free mounting boards and tapes.   The industry standard mat board that I carried does have some acid in the core material, but it is encased in an acid-free wrap that keeps it safe for many years.   I could obtain rag mat that is 100 percent acid free for those special projects where money is not an object. I could still give advice if you are planning on framing one of my projects.

  14. Can you design logos, brochures or business cards?

    Yes, I can design logos, brochures, business cards, newsletters, fliers, etc. I can print out small runs myself for you, order prints for you, or get you the digital files to take to your local printer.  You can see some examples of my work in the digital art gallery.

  15. Do you do web design and how much does it cost?

  16. I used to do web design.   I really don't have time anymore and I've allowed my memberships to various design services expire. Sorry.
  17. Do you do caricatures?

    Yes, I do caricatures. You can see an entire gallery of them here.  I do work from photographs to create them. I charge $25 for one person done in graphite, and $40 for two people in graphite (black & white). I charge $18 for each additional face in the picture. Those charges go up by 50% if the caricature is in colored pencil. I require a 35% deposit and shipping/handling is a minimum fee of $10.00.

  18. How & when do I pay you?

    A 30% deposit is made before the project is started.   If the deposit is a check, it is held until the project is complete.   If this is long running project, then statements will be generated regularly and a payment plan will be developed.   But, in most instances the project is finite and is paid in full at completion.   After my client proofs and approves the final product (usually via email), I present them with an invoice, I get paid for my services, and ship out the product.   If there is a time factor involved, then credit card payment can streamline the process greatly.

  19. Do you do signs?

    No, not anymore.  I used to work with a company in Cannon Falls, but I no longer do that. I often did help out with the building and installation process too.   So, I did offer the complete package to my business clients, from the basic identity package to exterior signage to vehicle lettering and graphics. It was very exciting and I did enjoy the business. But it wasn't growing quite fast enough and I had to make some choices that would be in my children's best interest.

  20. Do you do nudes?

    At just about every art show that I've ever done, somebody asks me that question.   Usually it's just to be funny.  I do live in Minnesota after all!   So, I thought that I would answer it here too, in case any of you are wondering...

    No, I don't do nudes!    LOL!!    I've tried, but I get too embarrassed and quit.   It's just not my thing.   But, thanks for asking!   I can't tell you how many sweltering art shows were brightened up by that one wild hair question!

    Have a great day!
link to galleries of work done in pencil, pastel, and watercolors

Click here to enter the main gallery.
Be sure to check out this large collection of portraits done in watercolor, pastel, graphite, and colored pencil. You can also see and order caricatures, murals, and original paintings and drawings.

Watercolor painting of the point in Lake City, Minnesota
Click here to see a larger image of this graphite drawing and collage
Graphite drawing of a good dog, who's name was Homey.
Graphite drawing and collage of a father and son farming team in Wisconsin