Making Prints of Commissioned Artwork

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Original Post


When someone commissions a painting from you, do you make prints of that painting to sell to others (if the subject is marketable, of course)? Or do you create the commission with the understanding that there will be no prints made?


If you commission a painting from an artist, how do you feel about the artist selling prints of that image? (I'm assuming the commission is not something of a very personal nature)


When an artist commissions a painting, the rights to the image do not transfer to the client unless it is written that way. So legally, the artist can sell prints of it. But how do you feel about it? Just curious, as I recently finished a commission and many people would like prints of it.

Posted at 1:31pm Jul 11, 2010 EDT


More than likely, I would want there to be only one of the piece of artwork, so that the piece I am paying for is unique. I would definitely want to know ahead of time if prints of the original were to be sold so that I could decide not to go ahead if that is what I wanted. Alternatively, I would expect a cheaper price if the artist was going to sell prints of the original

Posted at 1:45pm Jul 11, 2010 EDT

artisticle says

I sell prints of commissioned pieces. The client is only purchasing the original, not an exclusive license to the rights of my art. (that would cost more...way more) I still own the design, so it is mine to do whatever I want with it.

Posted at 1:56pm Jul 11, 2010 EDT

I have done a lot of commission work, but rarely make that into prints. If you have a commission that you think might appeal to a lot of other people, then personally, I would ask the person I made the original for if they mind. If they don't mind I would go right ahead.

You don't have to, it is your image now to do what you want with, but I think it's nice for most customers to have something that is special to them.

Posted at 1:58pm Jul 11, 2010 EDT

For me it depends on the price I paid. If I had to pay extra for my purchase because it was a special order than I may be irked if they're reselling "my" design that I paid extra for. If I paid the same as the artist charges for other similar styles they sell then I wouldn't be upset if they sold prints.

Posted at 1:59pm Jul 11, 2010 EDT

I would think, if you are commissioned to create a specific work of art, there would be no prints--or at least before the artist would make a print, they would ask the buyer of the original piece of art work.

Posted at 1:59pm Jul 11, 2010 EDT

artisticle says

let me add: I only make prints of commissioned pieces like "I want a tiger" or "I need your circles in purple" not specific personal ones like "I want my kid" or "Can you draw my dog with a purple frame and blue circles" Personal ones stay personal. And I charge by size no matter what the subject is, so all prices are equal.

Posted at 2:04pm Jul 11, 2010 EDT

rtisan says

You are the artist and retain the rights to do anything you wish with your work. You do not need to ask the customer permission. It is your work.

Posted at 2:10pm Jul 11, 2010 EDT

Should be in the commission contract, basically, out of courtesy or at the very least verbally mentioned. So you can point out you could use it for prints (and for promotional materials, website, etc) or not. :)

Posted at 2:13pm Jul 11, 2010 EDT

I have made prints of commissioned pieces, but these were all pieces I painted for close friends and family. And even then, I asked for permission to make the prints.

I felt a bit of dis-ease even when making these prints because I didn't want to cheapen the original paintings I made as special gifts for people. But, I AM trying to make a living here, and when I do artwork for friends/family at little or no cost I feel like it's ok to make some prints and try to make some money that way ;).

I have not made prints of paintings commissioned by random clients and don't plan to. Although, my most recent commissioned piece (for a friend) I photographed halfway through the piece so that I could make prints that looked different from the final original piece. Does that make sense? Here it is:

and this was the final piece:

What do you all think about this idea?

Posted at 2:15pm Jul 11, 2010 EDT