How to commission an artist for custom art (affordable guide)

February 18, 2022

Tips on how to commission an expert artist (for custom artwork) on an affordable budget

Custom art pieces can be a wonderful addition to any home. Whether you have a taste for contemporary painting or are looking for that perfect traditional accent piece, you can commission an artist to turn your photo (or idea) into a piece of artwork that matches your vision.

Unfortunately, many people are hesitant to do this out of fear that it's too expensive for their budget or the process is too overwhelming. However, it is possible to commission a stunning piece of custom paintings and drawings without breaking the bank or worrying about underpaying the artist.

5 tips for commissioning artwork affordably

A physical, commissioned piece of art that is shipped to you can range anywhere from fifty to several thousands of dollars. This all, of course, depends on a number of different factors, such as:

  • The size of your painting
  • How much detail you want in the piece of art
  • The number of subjects or objects you wish to have in the painting (example: 2 people vs. 6 people)
  • The experience of the artist

(Side note: If you instead prefer digital paintings sent electronically, those are typically much cheaper and are a great option too).

A mural filled with intricate paintings of small cherubs and harps will definitely cost more than a small portrait of your parrot. But you don’t have to commission a large and elaborate painting to decorate your home. In many cases, simple yet fine paintings can make a huge difference in your decor. 

Here’s how you can commission a stunning piece of art without breaking the bank. 

1. Choose a small canvas size

Unsurprisingly, larger canvases come with a higher price tag. A big canvas is going to be more expensive and will require a greater amount of paint and effort. In general, pieces cost about $2.50 per square inch on a stretched canvas of piece of paper. While it doesn’t seem like much, it can quickly add up. 

Luckily, you don’t always need a huge canvas to create a perfect painting. Small and medium sized canvases can still showcase your family portrait or pet dog in a stunning and impressive way. Whether you hang it in your bedroom or by your dining room table, it is sure to enhance the interior design of your home. 

2. Avoid adding too much background noise

The level of complexity and detail within your painting will also influence the final cost of the art piece. Simply put: having a detailed background can jack up the price. If possible, opt for a simple background color or a background that doesn’t contain too many unnecessary details. Having a simple background is perfect for family and pet portraits, as it keeps the focus on the subjects of your painting. 

3. Stay open to a wide number of potential artists

The fees among artists can vary depending upon their level of expertise as well as any specialties they may offer. An artist with decades of experience in mixed media or hyperrealism will likely be on the pricey side. However, if you’re willing to work with an artist who has fewer years of experience, you can commission a gorgeous piece of art for less money. Even though they technically have less experience, that doesn’t mean that their ability to create something you love is lacking.

4. Set up clear expectations for the project with a formal contract

No matter who you end up working with, it is important that you outline what you want included in the painting. If you do not specify, it typically means the artist can use his or her own inspiration.

As you work with the artist, you should clearly articulate your vision to them. Don’t assume that they can read your mind and seamlessly create the exact painting you want from them. By effectively communicating your needs and expectations, the artist can confidently create an art piece you will be excited to hang in your home. 

5. Keep the image simple 

In general, an abstract painting filled with several colors is going to cost less than an intricate painting of the solar system and all of its planets and stars. Having a high number of subjects is going to cost more, as it requires more time and materials on behalf of the artist. 

Consider keeping your image on the simple side. This doesn’t mean that you can’t add any background images such as trees or a beach. With that said, you shouldn’t go overboard either. 

Simple portraits of your family members or your favorite pets can make great additions to your home. Many people also enjoy commissioning pieces of their house or landscape. 

Are you ready to commission your own gorgeous piece of art? Learning how to commission art without breaking the bank is challenging, but definitely doable. At MadeMay, we work with hundreds of diverse and talented artists that can accommodate your budget.

Start the request process now to decorate your home with stunning pieces of art! :)