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How Much Does It Cost to Commission an Artist?

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So, you need to commission a talented artist to create something unique. Maybe it’s a graphic for your corporate brochure. It might be a sculpture for a new relaxation space or perhaps some digital creatives for a new gaming launch.

The big question is this: how much is it going to cost? Artist’s rates vary considerably, depending on a wide range of factors. Here we’ll explain the average US prices and help you pin down how much to pay an artist  for your project!

Freelance Artwork Commission Costs

The costs of a bespoke piece of artwork can swing from a small $25 budget, upwards to thousands of dollars. Your starting point is to establish where you are on that budgetary scale.

And we get it; professional artwork commissions aren’t something most businesses have much experience in! That said, you need to have a ballpark to work from. Nobody wants to approach a commission without any clue about what quotes to anticipate.

Indicative Pricing for a Freelance Artwork Project

While we can’t tell you what to budget down to the cent, we can provide some average costs:

  • Portrait paintings can run from $300 for a student’s work, to $15,000 for a quality piece of fine art by a respected industry professional.
  • Watercolors tend to start at about $400 for landscapes and can be many times that for a wall-sized oil painting.
  • Published creators will charge between $32 to $80 for a sketch and $150 to $300 for a full-body image.
  • Digital artworks usually begin at $35 an hour, with video game cover art costing from $500 to approximately $1,800.

Of course, all sorts of factors come into play when discussing pricing – the time requirement is possibly the most essential. However, you’re also going to want to think about materials since they can quickly ramp up the overall expense. As an obvious example, a clay sculpture will not hit your wallet anywhere near as hard as a solid gold commission!

Take your time to work through your specifications and be open to the artists’ suggestions if you want to minimize the cost.

How Can I Reduce the Price of Commissioning an Artist?

We’ve talked about different materials and how much time the project requires, but there’s a bit more to it.

Here are some factors to consider if you have a limited budget but want to get the best value for money:

  • Published artists with an established portfolio will charge at least double that of a junior counterpart. However, they will often work faster and be actively involved in developing your concept.
  • Meetings are billable hours. If you have a clear brief, exact project outline, and defined deadlines, it’s possible to minimize the amount of time you’ll need to pay for outside of the actual artwork production.
  • Finding a local artist is often more cost-effective. You cut extra costs for things like shipping, packing, and delivery (of course, not applicable to digital artwork, but a pretty big expense otherwise!).

You’ll also expect copyright ownership to be included in the project price. That’s usually a given if it’s a custom commission, but can be an additional cost if you’re developing something to fit your brand or for commercial use.

Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring a Professional Artist

Hopefully, the information above has helped clarify how much it costs to commission an artist! However, there are other formalities we’d recommend to ensure your artwork goes as planned.

Make Sure Your Commission Contract Is Watertight

Contracts or working agreements are essential when hiring a freelancer in any discipline. They’re also vital for security – both yours and your contractors!

Ensure the contract covers:

  • The agreed rate and terms of payment.
  • Split between deposit and final balance.
  • Timelines, including the approval process.

Communicate Throughout the Project

Artwork commissions are a tad different from your typical freelance role, so it’s wise to check in and keep up that flow of communication.

Being part of the creative process and giving your input as the concept evolves is a great way to ensure that the artwork meets your requirements.

Don’t Make Any Assumptions

We all have tastes and preferences, and they’re a factor in choosing the right artist for your commission. Never assume they’re going to ‘get’ what you want from a vague idea – be clear, show examples, discuss styles, and share inspiration, so you’re on the same page.

It’s worth hiring a freelance artist with a portfolio that aligns with the feel you’d like from your project in the first place, but never presume your finished art will replicate that style if you haven’t given any direction.

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