While selling your art either through a gallery or through your studio is likely your top goal for building your art business, there are other ways of creating revenue with your artwork. Art rentals is a burgeoning business, and the benefits for artists are numerous. It gets your art in front of potential buyers, and sometimes renters become buyers themselves. In “New Age Art Rentals,” artist John A. Parks explains how art rentals work. You can read an excerpt below, or read the complete art rentals article in the 2015 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market or on ArtistsMarketOnline.com.
Keep creating and good luck!
New Age Art Rentals by John A. Parks
For most artists the accepted business model is to make a painting and then try to sell it through a gallery or out of the studio. Further business might come through commissions directly from clients. There appears to be a new way to create a revenue stream in the form of art rentals.
The Home Market
While for many years there’s been money to be made in renting art for commercial spaces, some companies have recently started to tap the home market by using the Internet rather than a gallery as a focal point. It generally works like this. The rental business selects a number of artists and presents their work in an online catalogue. Clients rent the artwork at a fixed fee. Usually they have the option to buy the work and apply their rental payments toward the final sale. Artists receive royalties for their rentals, along with a sizeable slice of the payment if the art is purchased.
Benefits for All
All the rental businesses I looked at charge no up-front fee to the artist and pay for shipping and insurance, so in a sense there’s nothing to be lost other than the time and trouble of obtaining good digital photographs of the artwork and uploading them to the company website. On the face of it, this seems like a good deal for the artist, providing the opportunity to reach new clients at little cost and to make some money from art that might otherwise languish.
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A Marketing Tool
But renting, it turns out, is only part of the picture. “More often than not, our clients decide to purchase artworks after experiencing them day to day through the rental program,” says Spadaro. “And our clients’ friends and colleagues discover our artists for themselves.” In other words, simply getting a painting out—and hanging on a wall—is a great marketing tool.
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Promotion and Community
All the art rental businesses I checked into were aware of the importance of promoting their artists over time and encouraging them to raise their profile in traditional ways as well. “Hang Art discovers local, emerging artists and nurtures their careers by providing ongoing dialogue in the studio and beyond,” says Piero Spadaro. “This sense of studio support and dedication fosters both artists and collectors.”
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Just how much money might an artist hope to make? “Some of my artists make thousands of dollars a month from rentals,” says Piero Spadaro. “Every artist is different and there are variables. My artists receive 50 percent of sales and rentals. For example, if an artist rented six pieces that retail at $5,000 each, the rental would be $2,910 plus tax for the client for a three-month period. The artist would receive $1,455. This is a fairly frequent return. On an annual level, I know many artists for whom rental income matches their sales income, which results in a very solid salary.”
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Not everyone in the rental business is so sure that marketing directly to individuals works. Joyce Creiger is the owner of Boston Art Rentals and has more than forty years’ experience in the art business as a gallery owner, art consultant, and rental specialist. Almost all of her business involves renting to corporate clients. “Individuals often want to rent art for the short term, for an event or dinner party,” she says. “A corporation will rent for the whole year and will also rent more art.” To serve her clients, Creiger maintains a large collection of artwork that she herself owns. She regularly buys new art for her collection and will occasionally commission work if clients show an interest in a particular artist.
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Regardless of how art rentals are managed, it seems that they’re an increasingly popular way for people to enjoy art. All the representatives I talked to reported that the market is growing. “Absolutely,” agrees Scott Phillips. “The rentals model is something that’s unique and fun. It makes collecting art accessible for the masses while helping artists increase their earnings.”
John A. Parks is a painter and writer based in New York City, where he teaches painting at the School of Visual Arts. He’s represented by 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel in New York’s Chelsea district.
Excerpted from the August 2013 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Used with the kind permission of The Artist’s Magazine, a publication of F+W, a Content + eCommerce Company. Visit www.theartistsmagazine.com to subscribe.