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How to Commission Art: A Guide by Industry-Leading Art Advisors

When looking to commission art or commission a painting, the process of art commissions can seem complicated. Understandably, many questions arise for clients about how to commission art. Where is the best place to commission art, and how to find an artist? Is it possible to commission art online? What are typical painting commission prices?

When working with clients, Artelier’s role as art consultants is understanding the clients vision for their art commission, and then finding a suitable artist to fulfil it. Our art consultants project manage the art commission, ensuring that the custom artwork is delivered seamlessly. Sharing our extensive experience in this field, our art consultants give tips on how to commission art and paintings, and answer common questions.

What are art commissions?

An artwork commission is when a client or art consultant approaches an artist to make a custom artwork specially for them, rather than buying an artwork that the artist had already created. When you commission a piece of art, you collaborate with the artist to develop ideas for the artwork – you may have a vision in mind, a purpose for commissioning art, or an intended place for the art commission, and you communicate this to the artist. The artist then creates custom art based on your preferences.

When commissioning a painting, this allows great flexibility in terms of style, colours, and subject matter. For instance, a painting commission can bring together the colour scheme of a room, or be inspired by a theme that you are interested in. The process for commissioning a painting is similar to commissioning a work of art like a sculpture, mural or installation. After finding an artist you love and making contact, you discuss ideas for the art commission, keep communication throughout the process, and eventually receive a custom artwork.

Who can commission art?

Anyone who can source an artist who is suitable for their needs can reach out to them and discuss ideas. These could be private clients who want to source something for their homes, or businesses – such as hotel art commissions, corporate art commissions, public art commissions, and art for interior designers and developers.

How do I choose art for my project?

Before approaching an artist with an art commission, it is essential to evaluate your ideas and refine your vision. Understand why you want the artwork and what you want to achieve with the art commission, and consider how to communicate this to the artist when commissioning art.

It is essential to reflect on the artist’s previous art commissions – are there similar art commissions in their portfolio which you can reference, to better communicate what art you would like? For instance, if commissioning a painting, pick artworks from their previous work which match the style or techniques you like. Think about colour palettes or contemporary painting styles that you are drawn to, and show the artist these for reference.

Remember that commissioning art is an investment and a truly unique process – not simply purchasing décor. Artwork commissions, when done correctly, offer much more than off-the-shelf decoration. Use the opportunity for developing a custom artwork, and stick away from fads or fashions that are found online, as these do not age well with time.

How to commission art?

These steps are essential for artist commissions, be that to commission a painting, sculpture. mural, or installation:

  1. Refine your vision – evaluate what you want from your art commission and find references

  2. Research the market – broaden your knowledge of art practices, and find several options for artists

  3. Identify a suitable artist – ensure they are available, experienced and capable of meeting your needs for the art commission

  4. Get to know the artist and their work – look at the evolution of their work and what art they are creating now, and assess if you can have a good working relationship

  5. Develop ideas – artists can build on your ideas, and understand their materials better than the client

  6. Set your parameters – establish the specifications for your art commission, such as scale, finishes, colours, composition, materials, time-frames and budgets

  7. Samples – ask the artist to provide you with samples of the finishes and colours, as it is essential to see this in the flesh

  8. Manage the art commission – there is no need to oversee every aspect of commissioning art, as the artist’s space should be respected, but decide upon when they will give you updates

  9. Shipping and installation – communicate with the artist on options for shipping, and how the artwork should be handled, and find suitable art specialists to fulfil this

  10. Curation and presentation – Curate the artwork commission in situ, considering view points and lighting, as well as practical maintenance

For a more detailed guide, see Artelier's article on How to Commission Art.

How does an art consultant help in commissioning art?

One of the roles of an art consultant is to be a specialist in commissioning art. This includes sourcing an artist, communicating with them to ensure the artwork fits the brief, project managing the art commission, and handling all shipments and installation.

Finding an artist for an art commission without knowing the market can be challenging. An artist found online may not meet your vision in reality, may not have the necessary experience, or simply not be available to work on a new art commission.

An art consultant not only sources an artist for the art commission who suits your needs, but works with both client and artist to develop ideas and make a truly exciting concept. This ensures that the artwork will be of outstanding quality, and a worthwhile art investment.

In addition, it is useful to have an art consultant on board to broker the relationship between client and artist – an art consultant understands the needs, ideas and concerns of both, and can ensure the art commissioning process is smooth and avoid any problems. Art consultants are also able to realistically oversee costs and time-frames, so that both parties are happy with the art commissioning process and the best possible artwork is created.

If the client is inexperienced in commissioning art, they may overlook key considerations such as insurance for shipping, fine art handling and specialist installation services. This could lead to hindrances or even damage, which is expensive to fix.

What are typical art commission prices?

Art commission prices range from hundreds to multiple thousands of pounds, depending on the client’s budget and a realistic artwork cost from the artist’s perspective. When considering how much you are willing to spend on art, evaluate what is most important – the artist’s experience, the materials used, the artwork size, the length of time it would take to produce the artwork? All these can impact on the cost of the artwork commission, so consider where you are willing to be flexible.

Working with an experienced art consultant is helpful, as both client and artist may underestimate the cost of art commissions. As a result, the artwork could cost more than the client initially thought, or the artist may have to invest much more time and materials than previously thought, leading to an unpleasant experience. In addition, there are other hidden costs which may not be factored in by the artist when giving a quote – such as the cost of creating suitable crates or shipping materials, transportation, framing and plinths. An art consultant can give an accurate art commission price that takes into account all factors.

Is it possible to commission art online?

Nowadays its possible for all communication to be digital, but whether this is a good idea when commissioning art is another matter. While it is still technically a ‘commission’ if you select a custom artwork for the artist to reproduce, it cuts out the creative potential and human connection. Often, much more exciting ideas (both for the client and the artist!) can form if you communicate in person, or meet over the phone. In addition, simply ordering an artwork online means that you will not be actively involved in the art commission process, leaving more scope for the artwork to not be as you envisioned.

If the artist is not local, then it is strongly encouraged that you speak regularly over the phone, and that they send updates via images. Before finalising finishes and colours, samples should be sent to you, as these often look very different in person. Working with an art consultant ensures that the artwork commission comes off as planned, even if the artist is not local to you.


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