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How Much Should I Pay an Artist for a Portrait?

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Portraits stem from a European tradition of devotion and family dynasty, which later trickled down to the rest of society, and it’s still a common form of art today. Despite the rise of smartphones and selfies, portraits continue to be a valuable medium used to portray the likeness and essence of an individual–and now, you don’t need a crown and gold coins to afford one. You can find portrait artists for hire costing anywhere from $50 to upwards of $20,000 for a custom piece–the price depends on several factors including the size of the portrait, the medium of creation, and the artist’s experience.

What Does a Portrait Artist Do?

A portrait artist is a professional artist that captures the likeness, mood, or essence of a person via sketch, painting, sculpture, or another medium of fine art. They use pencils, paint, ink, or other materials to create their final product, and they may specialize in one or several types of portrait art such as religious portraits, historical portraits, or nude portraits.

Most people think the work of portrait artists is limited to the kinds of framed paintings you’d see in museums, but portrait artists work within the world of motion pictures, video game companies, newspapers, comic books, justice agencies, and forensics.  

How Much Does Hiring a Portrait Artist Cost?

One of the most important things you should know to hire a portrait artist is how much to expect these services to cost, as the price of getting a custom portrait varies greatly.

For between $50 and $750, you can get a custom portrait from an amateur or semi-experienced portrait artist. It would likely be done in a realistic style either digitally or by hand; this is also the price range you’ll typically see in online services where you can simply upload a photo of yourself to have a portrait done.

For between $750 and $2,500, you can get small portraits done by artists with whom you can collaborate. You can speak to them about how you would like the piece done, and may be offered several edits before the final version is sent to you. Portraits in this price range are typically crafted with charcoal, pencils, or pastels.

In the $2,500 to $10,000 range, you’ll see the quality of work increase and the creativity of the artist truly show itself. You can expect to work one-on-one with the artist and get unlimited edits with a satisfaction guarantee. Pieces in this price range are often completed in oil or acrylic, with the option to commission larger works on the more expensive end of the scale.

For between $10,000 and $20,000, artists may opt to work off of photos they take themselves or ask you to sit for a live portrait session. Within this range, you can commission larger portraits or have multiple subjects rendered–plus, you’ll typically receive a free consultation and unlimited edits.

Extremely established artists with decades of experience can charge upwards of $20,000. Usually, those who work at this price are commissioned by politicians, corporate clients, museums, or other fine arts organizations.

Factors That Affect the Price of Portrait Artists

Artist Experience

The more experienced and the more prominent an artist is, the more expensive their service will be. For example, portrait artists that you find through art directories or word-of-mouth referrals may be more costly versus freelance portrait artists that you find through freelancer hiring platforms like Guru.

Portrait Size

Many portrait artists offer quotes based on the size of the work and the number of subjects in the piece. The larger a portrait and the more people in it, the more expensive the piece.


Some mediums are more complex than others. You can expect portraits done in oil or acrylic, as well as sculptures, to come at a higher cost. In relation, the complexity of the piece also heavily affects the price tag.

Find the Best Portrait Artist for You

You don’t have to hire the next Rembrandt to have an exceptional portrait done–you can find some of the best portrait artists out there on Guru to help you preserve the essence of a person through art—these artists are professionals with experience and style who can deliver high-quality pieces at cost-effective rates.

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