How to work with Interior Designers to commission art

Yes you found it! Finally an article for you on how to work with Interior Designers to commission Art for their projects. Once an Interior Designer realizes the amazing value and impact of original art they don’t go back to mass produced prints.  This is a no brainer how-to-guide for commissioning art for Interior Designers.  If you are an artist this is how to work with Interior Designers.  Their amazing clients will be delighted by your art and the designer will love your professionalism.

As an Interior Designer and artist I am lucky to be on both sides of the equation.  If you want to level the playing field and learn how Artist and Interior Designers work together.  This is the guide to create the amazing magic that only original art can do.

 Roadblocks Interior Designer’s and Artist have when commissioning art

  1. Clients tend to be apprehensive to buy original artwork if they haven’t before. 
  2. Clients may find art gallery’s to be intimidating and even limiting. 
  3. Artist don’t understand how to work with Interior Designers.
  4. Artist have Bias and are hesitant to pursue marketing their products. 
  5. As an artist it’s a goal to be “found” by a gallery.
  6. Interior designers require lots of time to search websites.
  7. Interior Designers have limited time to learn personalities before writing a check for a deposit.

Here is the free from me version of how work with Interior Designers to commission art. 

I am sure there will be someone selling this in a course for $200.00 some day, but you heard it here first.

Struggles between designers and artist can work together beautifully when each is willing to understand the others business.   Three or four artists in each city have found the sweet spot selling items out of their studio to designers.  I am ONE of those people and let me CLEARLY explain why I do things differently and how it works.

Selling art is a business model.  Interior Design is a business model.

Businesses have different systems profit models, just like some have different business aesthetics.  Artist who enjoy serving designers will work with and fit well with design constraints. For that they get paid well for it and are seen in magazines. 

magazine cover

Imagine my surprise when a friend found this.

Interior Designers  have a  steady stream of work

When you can the favor of an Interior Designer they can sell to more than one client over the years of their career.  An artist builds the CV with prices selling at high price points that warrant their work to be shown in a gallery.

Embrace the avenues groups call “sell out”

In the true art scene there is a term “sell out” its a criticism for not being true to your authentic self.  I look at art as a hobby if it doesn’t sell out. I love to sell out of the work in my inventory.  So be careful what you don’t want. The aversion to selling out can hold back the ability to sell out your art and make new collections.  Say the words: I want to sell out.  How does that feel?  How about: I want to sell out of all of my work often. Feel free to think I am a sell out. I sell art and I sell it out the door. 

Words an Interior Designer uses to commission art:

  • I need this size.  (—-Designers are not going to want stock sized pieces- I’ll explain later.)
  • I need these colors.
  • My client likes this look.

Did I just destroy your creative juices? then feel free to look away. 

For the few artist who are still reading let’s talk about the benefits of working with Designers:

  • celebrity clients,
  • people who actively need art, usually  a few pieces.
  • prequalified budgets
  • magazine photography
  • publication placement
  • Social media exposure
  • Top it off with relationships that generate sales year after year.

If you have picked up a home decor magazine,  you are greeted by large living rooms with multi-story living spaces. The budget is already there and Interior Designers need art to complete the space. 

Designers need to have a professional experience and one that garners equal respect. 

How many artist are sitting on a few options of appropriately sized art and correct colors laying around their studio?  Those eye popping spaces require commissions and they bring a pay day. If you can create large installs in a timely fashion.  Why not be the option?

But as I said above if hearing the words:  I would like that in a different size or a different color makes you cringe then. Well, don’t work with designers. Don’t sell out.

Starter art for designers.  Starter relationship for artist.

Are you are sitting back waiting to be “found” by a gallery for your big break?   Are they reaching out? Is that plan going well?  How about going directly to their clientele?

Wait? You are asking yourself.

  • The galleries clientele is their connections
  •      previous collectors. 
  • It’s their email list and it’s qualified buyers.

That is correct.  Guess who galleries clientele is? I’ll wait.

Galleries market heavily to  Interior Designers and offer a discount if they sell art to the designers client.

For you to create those connections and  offer designers value. You have to be honest with yourself. here are some very important questions AND DO THE RESEARCH:

  • Are you are creating art that is designer level?
    • First, get to know the designer before you reach out. Otherwise there are so many reasons for your rejection.
      • What colors do they use?
      • Do they use certain types of art, representational, abstract, high contrast, vibrant, polarizing.
      • Do you only see live laugh love prints then don’t waste your time.
      • Designers portfolio demonstrates they are comfortable selling certain types of art, sizes and within a certain style. 
      • Can you provide the level of service and experience to meet the price point range.
      • Low price points mean the lower the service, profit for the designer and  profit for the artist
      • Do you have the enthusiasm to complete the job?

Now that you are aware of what you are getting into.  Reach out to a designer via mail. Snail mail is the best way to spark interest and get a designer to deeply understand your art. 

What do you send? a sample piece of art and info on your work.

Now that you know galleries offer a discount off of the gallery price you too should mark product that is publicly priced to allow for a discount for the designer. If they can’t make a profit chances are they won’t n choose to work with you.

This is a business relationship, establish pricing to work with their design business.  Design offices work like a gallery and resell the artwork to the client. You determine  the prices shown on your site.  The is where an Artist allows for discount flexibility. Do your research. Designers can get 20%-30% off at a gallery. Plan to provide the same if you are working one-on-one.

Clients need a starter step

to buy their first commission:

Just like Artist have a bias toward Interior Designers wanting a discount.  The client has a bias about Artist.  Clients believe: Artist have personal issues making custom art and the work process is difficult.  As an artist I make this easier on the Designer.  I paint a $150.00 sample. (A sample painting is a loss leader). The sample painting is marketing

This baby step lets you know fast if they don’t want it, and if they are good relationship.  Low risk on both parts and it’s a test drive for both the interior designer and Artist to see how they work together. Once the sample is made and I can show it in the space to gain approval for the commission.

mock up painting

Small but Powerful

Time is Money for Interior Designers.

  • Have a timeline you know you can stick to
  • Do you have a resource that can make a large canvas.
  • Do you finish the sides?
  • Do your pieces smell and off-gas and for how long?
  • Be forth coming about what they should expect for dry time and delivery
  • Who will install the piece?

Provide exceptional service:

Be willing to photograph the piece and make changes before you are done. We call this a wedding dress fitting. Because it’s a similar experience. It’s custom, it costs about the same, and you get a chance to make a change before the big delivery day.

Placing the piece into the space with a visual also helps finalize things with the designer.

My program Design Appy:

  1. Uses images in your camera roll of your inventory
  2. then place them into a space while standing in a clients home. Video How to click here.

Demystify the Art Gallery’s relationship with Interior Designers:

  • Art galleries market to Designers often with events and mail out brochures and postcards.
  • Designers are some of the galleries better clients.
  • Galleries give discounts to Interior designers.
  • Galleries select artist to get commissions for custom work that do it well.
  • Galleries loan out artwork for photoshoots.
  • Galleries loan out artwork for Show houses (not models, specific short term, insured and published Show houses)
  • Galleries let items go out on approval to designers.

Getting into a gallery is great but if you provide the same services as the galleries then designers are a great market for your your artwork. Remember Interior designers want o commission art. they want spaces filled with original art.  If you can make it easy for them and provide the same service level as a gallery you can know exactly how to work with Interior designers to commission art.

My canvas is made by a local Master craftsman and costs more than a printed piece of art.

watercolor painting

Original big art is good art

  1. Such an interesting post on how designers and artists can work together and benefit everyone. Art is such an important and personal part of design and custom art commissions are the perfect finish for many spaces!

  2. This was a very informative post.

  3. Suzi Rugg says:

    Yes big art and custom art is better art! So informative!

  4. Very interesting post. I am also on both sides of the equation but produce digital art that is then created by others so works a little differently for me. Learned alot about how it works for your medium and business model:) Look forward to seeing the piece you create for this!

  5. Shan Fannin says:

    Thank you so much for writing this wonderful article. It really helped me with the next step in my career.

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