How to Commission Art – The Paintru Guide

Posted by Benjamin Strusnik on

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Abigail Pfriem

There isn't anything quite like owning your own piece of fine artwork, and why artwork can be so seemingly priceless. How do you begin this journey to find an artist to create your masterpiece? Learn more about the options and how to commission artwork in our guide.

First, let's begin with defining what it means to commission artwork–

To commission artwork is to reach an agreement with an artist, or artists, whereby the artist will create a custom work of art for you, as the buyer. 

A Step-by-Step Commissioning Art Guide from Paintru
Custom Renoir-style Paintru artwork commission.

There are many reasons to, and why, people commission custom artwork

You have a vision–an idea, maybe a photo–that you would like artistically brought to life. Maybe you've found an incredible artist and would like one of your own custom masterpieces by their creation. Or, you've moved into a new home and looking for the perfect statement piece that is entirely yours.

People often commission custom artwork for home decor, office spaces, gifts, or for professional applications such as to support a home staging, or photographers looking to offer an elevated alternative to traditional photo prints. 

Commissioning is perfect for an interior designer who is looking for a specific color scheme or style  compliment, while a business owner might want to “brand” the piece with their company colors, to complement their visual identity.

Other times, a piece of art may be large or too expensive for a buyer's preference or need. In this case, it's sometimes possible to request a smaller or more affordable piece. Or, a customer needs a piece in a different color than the original artwork. These are also considered as an art commission. 

The Art of Commissioning

Whatever the reason, commissions are common across art and decor aficionados alike, and many artists will be happy to create a piece according to your own wants and needs for your indoor decor. 

We know that commissioning art can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. That’s why we’ve created a simple and streamlined process to bringing your moments & photos to life through fine art.

We'll cover the traditional process of how to commission art in this blog, as well as commissioning a custom painting with Paintru.

Insights and Advice from Commissioning  Paintru 

How to commission art: the general process

Step 1: Decide on a painting style and medium that will best bring to life your vision

When commissioning a piece of art, it's important to decide whether you're envisioning something that is based on an existing piece, or a completely custom work of art.

Remember, anything can be art–whether it's a portrait, landscape of a favorite place, or something completely constructed within your imagination.

Step 2: Decide on a painting size

Once deciding your style and medium next is picking the size of the artwork. Before commissioning, unless it's a gift, we recommend visualizing where you want the piece to go. Make room on your gallery wall, or create a space in your home for the new art to be the stand out piece. It can be helpful to photograph the space and review it with the artist.

Step 3: Finalize a contract with the artist

Ask for a couple of references and examples of previous work from the artist. Then, finalize the contract and ensure it contains pricing, timelines, revisions, contact information, and a copyright/liability agreement. Send the artist a picture to give more insight into what you're looking for.

You also deserve to know you're getting what you paid for. In the revisions portion of the contract make sure your artist will send a picture of the completed work before shipping the art piece. 

See more on contracts below >

Step 4: Collaborate on your creation

Collaborate with the artist on a clear idea of what you want. Does your artist need more images or materials for reference? By communicating clearly any concerns or questions to the artist you can both put doubts aside and be excited about the project.

Step 5: Receive your painting 

Most artists utilize galleries for their knowledge about shipping options, additional costs, and are more than happy to take care of all shipping arrangements. Some shipping timelines take 3-4 weeks while other months. Ensure in the timeline portion of the contract that the artist clarifies the anticipated time to create and ship the artwork.

Important: Ensure you have a good commission contract with your artist

Within a discussion on how to commission art, it's essential to discuss the details. We cannot stress enough the importance of establishing a contract to set and agree on expectations for the art commission project.

Don't expect the artist to have one, as often, commissioning paintings won't be core to an artist's business.

Every art commission contract should include:

A description of the project:

The contract should start with a description of everything you discussed and agreed on (the size, colors, materials, subject matter, and other details of the composition).

Payment agreement:

Most artists will request you to pay 50% upfront and the rest when the artwork is finished. Paying in advance helps the artist cover their initial expenses for materials.

Creative process:

This is where the artists should detail their requirements. For example, if you want a portrait of your dog, the artist may ask you to send several clear images of the pet. Also, this is when to arrange how often you’ll receive visual updates (drafts, progress photos, etc.).


Even when you've purchased a piece of artwork, artists still retain legal rights. If there’s a reason why you don’t want the art piece to be featured on their website (for example because it’s a very private portrait of your loved one or a portrait of your house) make sure to state that in the contract.

Shipping strategy:

Now that you have an artwork completed, you need to get it delivered. It is important to explore shipping options and ensure that the artwork you ordered arrives safely to its location. In this part of the contract, you’ll see who is arranging the shipment: you as the client, or the commissioned artist. 

Since shipping can be complicated, it might be better to leave it to the artists or their gallery. Most galleries are knowledgeable about shipping options and additional costs and will be more than happy to take care of all shipping arrangements.


The timeline should contain time estimates for every part of the creation process. It should include a payment schedule, deadlines for drafts and compositional previews, (and their approval­), and the time needed to complete and deliver the work. 

Expert Commissioning Custom Art  Advice from Paintru

The do's and don'ts of commissioning art

Follow along these do's and don'ts, so when you receive your custom piece you are happy with it and your artist will feel accomplished from the support received.

DO take care of important details specified in the initial contact 

Before you collaborate on an idea make sure to reach out to the artist to see if they are taking commissions and will accept the type of work you would like done. Many artists can be contacted by email or a gallery can help make the connection for you.

Who doesn't love a great first impression? So, make the initial contact professional and a pleasant one. Let the artist know why you chose them to create your specific piece.  

DON’T assume that every artist is available to accept your request

Don't wait until the work has started to discuss important details. There are many reasons an artist may turn down an offer, for example, the artist could be too busy working on other projects. Always ask about the medium's they can use, price and timeline upfront. This will put your mind and the artist's mind at ease. 

DO provide the artist with as many details about your ideas for the piece you want as possible

They will need to know what materials will be needed to produce the piece you want. Providing reference images is a great way to communicate with them about what you are looking for. If it's a portrait of your beloved mother and she has distinct dimples, make that known to the artist. Also, let the artist know where you plan to put the piece in your home to help the overall aesthetic. 

DON’T be vague about what you want or expect the artist to know exactly what you will like

If the artist accepts to work on the proposed piece without a clear idea of what you want, there is a good chance you might not be satisfied with the end result.

DO ensure to have a contract, and be prepared to make one

Before work begins, you should have a contract in place between you and the artist. The contract should include the subject of the project, terms, price, timeline, artist's rights, and signatures. 

DO communicate and have fun while working on a commissioned piece

Keep in touch with the artist to make sure the project is staying within the timeline you discussed. Also, see if they need anything from you. Do they need more reference images or input? By communicating clearly any concerns or questions can be resolved so you can both put doubts aside and be excited about the project. 

DON’T lose contact with the artist

Do not wait until the piece is close to being finished before you check in. If the artist is on the wrong track, big revisions could be expensive, timely, and compromise your relationship with the artist. Most artists will expect you to be reaching out and communicating pretty often — it should be part of the process. And, if it is done right you will create a long lasting relationship with the artist to commission more work with them or recommend the artist to friends and family. 

Helpful resources for your art commission project

Navigating Art Commissioning

Paintru: Commissioned Custom Art for the Modern Consumer

Now we know this all sounds a little complex, and not necessarily a "black and white" process. We agree! Simplifying and making the process of commissioning museum-quality custom works of art more accessible is core to Paintru's mission. Our streamlined process allows you to create a custom painting from a photograph (or even just an idea!).

A Guide to Commissioning Art

We envision a world where the modern consumer can curate collections of custom artwork, to bring memories, moments, places and people that matter to life.  This both allows more people to experience the magic of fine art, and supports independent, talented artists around the globe, giving them a platform to reach consumers and build awareness.

How to commission museum-quality fine art with Paintru

Paintru allows customers to buy custom artwork. This includes hand-painted portraits, landscapes, family portraits, pets, travel photos, and even abstract decor. 

Paintru streamlines the entire process of commissioning art–from start to finish.

Simply upload your photo, choose your style and framing and we select your artist. Plus, we offer free shipping on all orders and revisions. You can expect to receive your museum-quality painting in 3-4 weeks.                           

Expert Tips and Guidance from Paintru
See how the process works: one of our favorite hand-painted wedding portraits created from a photo of this special moment

Why work with Paintru to commission a custom painting?

  • Paintru Concierge is available to help, every step of the way to help each and every customer on their journey–whether it's deciding between photos or exploring painting styles
  • Your project is assigned to a leading Paintru artist who will hand-paint your photo to life
  • To make things simple, we offer a large selection of high-quality framing options through our partnership with Framebridge
  • When you commission a custom painting with Paintru, we provide you with our 100% satisfaction guarantee

Get in touch with Paintru Concierge

+1 (440) 290-6196

We're available on LIVE CHAT M-F 9:00-5:00 pm EST

Whether you are making your first steps in the world of art or at home in a gallery, we hope this guide on how to commission art has been helpful and sparked inspiration.

Advice from Paintru

Want a commissioned painting delivered right to your doorstep?

Upload your favorite photo and our artists get to work customizing the perfect art piece to completely transform any room's indoor decor. Start yours or gift to a loved one today.