How much does it cost to commission custom art? 4 basic guidelines

June 18, 2021

In most traditional off-the-rack art shops, you'll likely find the price labeled clearly and conspicuously alongside the art piece. Likewise, online art shops display the price along the image of the painting as well.


However, when ordering a personalized art piece that's made specifically/uniquely for you, the question of pricing causes many potential buyers to feel lost. "How can I accurately price something if it hasn't been even created yet?"


Understandably, it is difficult to know what a fair price would be, for example, a portrait of you and a loved one. $100, $500, $5,000? Unless you are a professional artist - and most of us aren't that - things can be a bit confusing.


Fortunately, the process of requesting custom art on MadeMay provides custom-art buyers an easy way to get a fair shake: first answer a few questions based on your needs & desires, and then you will be matched with artists so you can compare by price and style. The pricing is all up-front, so there is no need for any back-and-forth quoting. Once you pick your favorite artist, you will be able to upload your images & further describe your custom art request before you place an order.


On average, pricing for commissioned painting from an experienced artist starts at $100 and can go as high as $10,000.


Generally, here are 4 simple guidelines to help you get a sense of how much you should be paying for your soon-to-be masterpiece.


#1 - Number of subjects

The more time it takes, the more it will cost. Naturally, a single portrait with 1 subject (for example, a person) will cost less than a single portrait with 20 subjects (people).

Keep this in mind as you put in your request on MadeMay, as the budget you set in the request form should be realistic of the price point relative to the number of subjects, which include things like people, animals, objects, and other main focus points.

General rule of thumb: expect to pay an addition 50% per subject added. For example, if artist's baseline is generally $100 for a small puppy painting, the price will go up to $150 for a 2nd, additional puppy (assuming you want the 2nd puppy on the forefront, and not as a minor background figment).


#2 - Experience of the artist

It no secret that a positive correlation exists between the price of artwork with the number of years of experience of the artist. Ultimately, each artist will have a different price standard for his or her work, so gauging an "average" price point by experience (not to be confused with the age of the artist) may do you an injustice.

A special tip we give to our clients that is often met with a surprise reaction: don't obsess over "natural-born talent". Yes, some are born with more talent than others. However, developing the skill of art takes time, patience, and discipline. Leonardo da Vinci, for example, meticulously studied human subjects by dissecting deceased bodies in nearby hospitals to better understand the fine details of muscles, bones, blood vessels, etc. before heading back to his art studio. Arguably one of the most talented artists, even he had to compile thousands of pages of notes among his varied studies, like the flow of water, engineering, etc.

General rule of thumb: expect to pay more for more experienced artists.


#3 - Detail of the painting

The greater the detail, the more expensive a painting will be. For example, in the style of hyper-realism, an artist will generally spend 3+ months (full-time) on a single painting.  As you can imagine, more detail translates to more time, which brings up the price.


Similar to pricing the experience of an artist, there is no definite price gauge on the depth & detail of the painting. However, when filling out & submitting in a request, we encourage you to be specific in how much detail you do or don't want in a painting, so the artist can respond with an accurate price.


#4 - Size & material

Unless specifically requested, the artist will determine what material he/she uses on paintings. The material cost isn't the greatest cost for an artist (the labor/work is), but it is something to keep in mind. For example, sizing-up and getting a larger painting will require a greater canvas, as well as higher shipping cost for the artist. Additionally, materials such as oil is more expensive than acrylic and watercolor.


Being Sure

If you still have questions or are unsure about budgeting your painting, we recommend reaching out to one of MadeMay's curators, who are available 7 days a week and can assist you along the process - entirely free.

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Articles written by MadeMay's staff and community of over 500+  expert artists and creators.
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