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Commissioning art at 'reasonable' prices.

The cost of commissioning a painting can vary dramatically, from under £100.00 to many thousands of pounds.  The reasons for the enormous variation is largely down to the artist selected, as it is their time (and reputation), that the client is paying for.  

 

There may be slight differences in the cost of the materials used, but these are usually a minor part of the total package.

Does the cost of a painting correlate to client satisfaction?

Not necessarily! 

 

The artist cost (and reputation) is no guarantee that the painting produced will be to your liking, as an artist will usually specialise in a particular:

  1. style of painting ( i.e. modern, traditional, impressionism, abstract)

  2. Subject specialism ( i.e. human portrait, animal portrait, wildlife, landscape, etc.)

  3. Mediums used ( i.e. oils, acrylics, watercolours, pastels, pencils, ink, etc.)

 

The client may also find that higher costs can mean that the artist is less flexible about how they work with clients as their reputation means they can be more ‘choosy’.

What is a reasonable charge for an artwork commission?

There are some artists who produce a painting in a few hours, however, if you are commissioning a painting (or drawing) it is likely to be a subject that will take much longer.  

 

There is no ‘typical’ painting, but it is not unusual for an artist to spend well over 40 hours on a commission.  Bearing in mind minimum wage rates of over £7.00 per hour, and considering the cost of materials, it can be seen that £300.00 is not an unreasonable charge.  However, as stated at the beginning of this page, it is possible to commission a piece of art for under £100.00.

Why are some artists willing to work for lower rates? 

There are many types of artists that fall into this category.  The following are very general descriptions of some of the common groups:

  1. Formulaic painters - Painters who specialise in a very limited range of subject matters and medium.  They spend the minimum amount of time on each painting and have little contact with the client.

  2. Artists developing their business - Frequently they have another job which covers their cost of living.  Until they have built up their portfolio of work and their reputation, they will often work at lower rates.  

  3. Talented amateur - Many amateur artists have developed their painting skills to the point that they produce excellent work.  Their aim is to produce paintings that are displayed and enjoyed, while generating sufficient income to cover the cost of their hobby and a few little luxuries.

  4. Students - Many Fine Art students undertake commissions to help cover their costs while they are studying.  Due to the demands of their courses, you may find the commissions will have to fit in with their coursework brief which can mean delays in obtaining the artwork while it goes through the assessment and student exhibition procedures.  Never the less this is an excellent way of sponsoring future artists, and who knows you could buy a cheap early work of a future famous artist!

  5. Artists who have retired and have turned their hobby of painting into a business.  Many are fortunate to have a comfortable pension, so can afford to produce work at very competitive prices.  These artists tend to work in a particular niche regarding subject and medium as this is what they are interested in.

How do you find a suitable artist?

Somewhere out there is an artist willing to produce a work of art for you; that you will be love and you can afford.  But how do you get find them?

To help in a successful search, here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself in order to narrow down the search criteria.  The more you know, the easier it will be to find a suitable artist.  :

  • What is the subject?  Pet portrait, human portrait, landscape, marine art etc.

  • What medium would you like it produced in?  Oil, acrylics, watercolour etc.

  • What time frame do you have?  (Most paintings take months rather than weeks to produce)

  • What size of painting would you like?

  • What surface would you like it painting on?  (This frequently depends on the medium.)

  • What is your budget?

  • How involved do you want to be in the process?

Places to look for artists:

Local to you

Word of mouth - a personal recommendation is often the best way to go!

Exhibitions - An opportunity to see actual paintings, but these can be spasmodic and limited.

Search in Yellow pages, Yelp, Trade directories.  These are excellent ways to make contact with local artists, often they have links to artists websites that are hard to find on Google.  They will provide contact details so you can speak to the artist directly and see their work without having to travel too far.

Galleries - You can see the paintings, but the galleries can be selective due to space and charge the artist high commissions   Tend to be used by artists charging higher prices.

National and International

Web search, bear in mind the search results are likely to flag up commercial sites that sub contract to artists who have to pay a commission, so they may be 20% more expensive.  You can see images of the paintings, but not the actual artwork.  You are likely to be dealing with an artist who does not live near you, so communication can be difficult.