Interior Design App tile drawing


ORC Week 4: How to work with Interior Designers to commission art

Once you realize the amazing value and impact of original art you can never go back to mass produced prints.  This is my no brainer how to guide for commissioning art for Interior Designers.  If you are an artist this is how to work with Interior Designers.. because their amazing clients will buy your art.

I am lucky to be on both sides of the equation so I wanted to level the playing field and explain to both Artist and Interior Designers how to work together to create the amazing magic that only original art can do.

Maria painting large

Hey There!

These are the large roadblocks that limit Interior Designer’s and artist from working together:

  1. Clients tend to be apprehensive to buy original artwork if they haven’t before. 
  2. Art gallery’s can be intimidating and may even feel limiting. 
  3. Artist don’t understand how to work with Interior Designers, have preconceived notions and are hesitant to pursue marketing their products. 
  4. As an artist it’s “appropriate” to be “found” by a gallery and Interior designer’s don’t have time to search websites and learn personalities before writing a check for a deposit.

Here is the free from me version of how to do it.  I am sure there will be someone selling this in a course for $200.00 some day, but you heard it here first.

Even though there are struggles between designers and artist,  they can work together beautifully.   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. 

Some people have different business models just like some have different business aesthetics.  Just like me,  artist serving designers fit well with design constraints, they get paid well for it and are seen in magazines. 

magazine cover

Imagine my surprise when a friend found this…

They also have a  steady stream of work and if they play their cards right they can show a CV with prices selling at high price points that warrant their work to be shown in a gallery. In the true art scene there is a term “sell out” and I am going to tell you. I love to sell out of all of the work in my inventory.  So be careful what you don’t want….. I want to sell out. 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. I also have software I have designed- (which this blog is attached to)

What words a designer uses when talking about 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 lots of it.
  • prequalified budgets
  • magazine photography
  • publication placement.
  • Top it off with relationships that generate sales year after year.

If you have picked up a home decor magazine and seen a large room with a large sofa and a two story living space. There are rarely artist with a few options of that size art laying around.  Those eye popping spaces require commissions and they bring a pay day… If you can create installs,  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 and don’t sell out often.

Starter art for designers.  Starter relationship for artist.

Ask yourself these very important questions AND DO THE RESEARCH:

  • Are you are creating art that is designer level?
    • First, get to know the designer. 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.
      • if you only see live laugh love prints then don’t waste your time.
      • Designers are comfortable selling certain types of art, sizes and within a certain style. 
      • There will also be a price point range that should equal the level of service and experience. Low price points mean the lower the service, profit for the designer and the artist enthusiasm to do the job.

Second reach out to a designer  via mail…..and send them a sample piece of art and info on your work so you can begin a relationship.

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 can determine prices that are shown on your site allow for this type of fleixbility. Do your research. Designers can get 20%-30% off at a gallery so provide the same if you are working one on one.

Clients need additional help to get over buying their first commission:

As an artist I make this easier on the Designer.  I paint a $150.00 sample ( aka my sample painting/ also known as a loss leader) of the art for the space. If they don’t want it. then ok.  Low risk on both our parts and also it’s a test drive for both the interior designer and me to see how we 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 in this business.

  • Have a  time line you know you can stick to and 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. This is going into someones house and and they live there.

Provide exceptional service:

Be willing to photograph the piece and make changes in the “almost done” part of the piece. 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.

Check out my app: Design Appy has a place to store images of your inventory then place them into a space while standing in a clients home. Video How to click here.

Demistify 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 Showhouses (not models, specific published Showhouses)
  • Galleries let items go out on approval to designers.

So as we mentioned before getting into a gallery is great but if you can too provide the same services for your business above you can gain a handle on the Art Business model.


For my space I decided I was going to create a special art piece that would warrant being in my photography.

I selected the color palette and inspiration from the finish for the room.

I ordered a 60″ Round canvas for the piece.

Big art is better art

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


Not to give away too much but I am super excited about this piece. I think you will love it too.   

watercolor painting

Original big art is good art

Check out some of the other One room challenge posts in this link. Click here


How to sell custom art to Interior Designers

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  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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