Buying art is a tricky business. The art world is filled with many opportunities and pitfalls, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
All you need is a little knowledge and some common sense. Here are five rules you should know before buying any artwork:
Can I directly ask an artist to buy artwork from them that I saw at a gallery?
You can directly ask an artist to buy artwork you saw at a gallery. You can seek an artist and request they create a piece for you. You can purchase work from the artist immediately or wait until the job is finished if it’s still being made.
You can also ask them how much longer it will take before they finish it and then decide whether or not to purchase it when they spend creating it.
Contact the artist if you want to purchase artwork that’s already been created and available for sale.
Let them know what you’re looking for, and they’ll be able to let you know if they have anything available. If they do, great! If not, ask them if they can create something similar or have another idea in mind that would work out better for your needs.
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, you can also consider purchasing art from artists who don’t have galleries.
These artists may be willing to sell their work directly through social media or online marketplaces such as Etsy.
This can be a great way to get the piece you want at an affordable price.
Who gets the commission if you buy it?
If you see a work of art at a show that doesn’t get sold, the artist still gets their commission. The gallery will usually take 20-40% of the selling price (or even less), and if they repurchase it, they may offer you a discount on it because they want to keep it as part of their inventory.
If you want to sell your art, it’s essential to know what the gallery will do with it. Galleries vary in what they charge artists for selling their work, but usually, they take anywhere from 20-40% of the selling price—and sometimes more.
It’s important to note that the artist can either pay the gallery a commission on all sales or just on the originals they sell. Many artists choose this option so they don’t have to pay commissions on works sold at shows but not through their galleries.
If the gallery buys back work from an artist, they usually offer a discount because they want to keep it as part of their inventory.
Here are the dos and don’ts when it comes to commissions.
DO consider how much money you can spend.
When you’re commissioning a piece of art, you should think about the following factors:
-Budget. How much money are you willing to spend on your commission?
Some artists have set prices for their work, while others will discuss options with clients based on their needs.
Regardless of the cost, it’s essential to consider how much money is available before beginning any discussions with potential artists.
-Size and complexity of the artwork. Many commissions are small, but it’s common for larger pieces like murals or paintings over 4 feet tall to take several weeks or months to complete due to their scale and materials used.
In these cases, both parties should agree upon completion deadlines, so everyone knows what’s expected from them during each stage of production—and when things can be expected by those who want them.
DON’T worry that you might offend the artist.
It would help if you did not worry that you might offend the artist. Artists are typically very open to new ideas and want to be challenged.
They enjoy being given a chance to show their work in a new way or in an unexpected context, and many look for ways to express themselves creatively.
DO look at the artist’s previous work.
The best way to determine if an artist’s style is right for you is to check out their portfolio.
If your favorite piece of theirs looks nothing like the style you want for your commission, then it probably isn’t going to be a good fit.
On the other hand, if their artwork aligns with what you have in mind, it makes sense to contact them about doing business together.
DON’T count on getting your art delivered by a specific date.
-Don’t count on getting your art delivered by a specific date. You’ll have to be flexible with this; unfortunately, it’s out of our control as artists. We will give you an estimated delivery date, but this is not a guarantee—it could change due to any number of reasons, including:
-The artist has another commission or project in the pipeline that needs their attention and focuses before yours.
-They are waiting for their suppliers’ supplies or materials to arrive, or They’re sick. (This is probably one of the most common reasons for the delay.)
DO have some artistic ideas in mind of what you want the piece to look like, but let the artist decide what they think is best.
Just as you should trust your artist to do their job, you should also trust that they know what they’re doing.
Artists are skilled at their craft and will be able to give you the advice and guidance you need if needed.
There is a difference between being open-minded about what an artwork could look like and handing over all decision-making power to an artist.
Both parties must be clear about their roles: the artist will create the artwork based on your instructions or inspiration (or lack thereof), and then it’s up to you whether or not you want them to proceed with creating another work of art.
If there is one thing I’ve learned throughout my career, it’s this: artists do not mind readers.
If we were, in fact, able to read minds, then feedback wouldn’t be necessary–we would already be aware of everything our clients want us to do before they even say anything out loud.
When is it OK to ask an art gallery for a discount on the artwork?
You can ask for a discount if:
You are buying multiple pieces from the artist or this gallery. This is the number one reason why galleries give discounts, and they want to increase sales and keep their artists happy.
You’re purchasing artwork for charity. The more money they raise, the better.
You’re buying artwork for your home or office, not as an investment piece. This includes all kinds of art: paintings, sculptures, photographs, and even digital prints on canvas (which tend to be less expensive than traditional paintings).
You can also ask for a discount if you buy multiple pieces from the artist or this gallery. This is the number one reason why galleries give discounts, and they want to increase sales and keep their artists happy.
You’re purchasing artwork for charity. You can ask for a discount if you buy multiple pieces from the artist or gallery, which is why galleries give discounts.
You’re buying artwork for your home or office, not as an investment piece. This includes all kinds of art: paintings, sculptures, photographs, and even digital prints on canvas (which tend to be less expensive than traditional paintings). You can also ask for a discount if you buy multiple pieces from the artist or this gallery.
This is the number one reason why galleries give discounts, and they want to increase sales and keep their artists happy.
How much say do I have when I commission an artwork? Can I be involved in the creative process?
You can offer suggestions and changes to the work. If you’re working with an artist who is open to collaboration, you may be able to influence the creation of your art.
You may be able to ask for a discount on commission work. An artist might give you a deal if they think they’ll have trouble selling your piece later or don’t think it’s worth what they’re charging in commissions right now (if it’s a slow season).
You may be able to ask for a refund if something goes wrong with your commissioned artwork or a commission deal after delivery has occurred.
Examples include: The artist doesn’t complete the piece; The piece arrives damaged; The artwork doesn’t match its description (and even if it does check its report precisely, buyers should still inspect their purchases before signing off on them); etc.
This is why it’s essential to be clear on what you’re agreeing to and get everything in writing. If you want to buy a piece of art, but aren’t sure how much it costs, ask the artist for an estimate.
If they don’t give one or charge by the hour instead of the finished product, that might be a red flag.
How much say do I have when I commission an artwork? Can I be involved in the creative process?
You will be involved in the process when you commission artwork from a professional artist. This can happen in several ways:
You can suggest what medium the artist uses and what size the artwork should be.
You can provide information about your vision for the piece that will help guide its creation.
You can request changes to specific elements of an existing work that’s already been created.
If these options sound appealing, consider asking your artist if they’re willing to take on a commission before purchasing any materials or paying any money upfront.
Suppose they are open to this collaboration and see value in it. In that case, it could save both parties time and money by ensuring everyone has clarity around their expectations at every step.
Once you’re ready to move forward with a commission, ask your artist about their payment structure.
Are they willing to take on a project for free in exchange for being able to use the finished product as part of their portfolio?
How much do they charge per hour? Some artists work on a commission-only basis and will not sell their work unless it’s been specifically requested by someone else.
The thing about art is that it’s personal and individual, and you can’t define it or quantify it for someone else.
You have to see it with your own eyes, experience it your way, and decide what something means to you personally.
That’s why we’re so passionate about helping people find their next piece of artwork—whether they’re purchasing directly from an artist or commissioning one through a gallery.