Art Rental Agencies: Should You Rent Out Your Art?

    Art Rental

    Art rentals help collectors overcome what is possibly the #1 barrier to purchasing art: commitment. Purchasing art can be a difficult process – a collector may love love love your artwork, but will it fit in their space? Will the size work? Will the colors change in different lighting?

    Art Rentals can be an important component in diversifying your art business because they can act as both marketing and revenue. Art rental agencies specialize in helping collectors say yes to the art. Rented art lowers the required commitment necessary to purchase. Many agencies will apply some or all of the rent payments to the purchase of the art. Artists can earn a small royalty income on rentals, and also earn a commission on the sale. Alternatively, artists can rent their art out directly, and create residual income.

    This article answers the following questions:

    What are Art Rental Agencies?

    Art rental Agencies around the world are helping collectors take the guesswork out of purchasing artwork. They’re actually a little more popular than you might think.

    Art rental agencies solve a very common, but unique problem. Many buyers wish to own artwork, but may not have the confidence or commitment level required for a large purchase.  Art rentals solves this problem because it allows buyers to try a piece out. 

    In some cases, the buyer will move forward with purchasing the artwork after they’ve lived with it for a while. In other cases, the buyers wish to rotate their art collection for the seasons or various events.

    Who Rents Art?

    Art renters come in all shapes and sizes:

    Individual collectors rent art for their home or apartment. Renting art allows the collector to try out a piece of art before committing. This allows the class collector to take on during choices instead of “playing it safe.“ It also allows the collector to live with art they might not otherwise be able to afford.

    Restaurants, hotels, and resorts also rent art. Pairing local fine art with food and entertainment is a fantastic complement to their guests experience. Renting the Art allows these businesses to change the mood and feeling of their space with their changing trends and menus.

    Art is regularly rented for the entertainment industry. Producers rent art for movie sets, music videos, television shows, and commercials. Producers need to create detailed sets, but only for a limited time. Art rentals are ideal for this purpose and also become an accolade to the feature artist.

    Business owners are great candidates for art rentals. Original art creates the look and feel of a successful business. Art is welcoming to visitors, good for starting conversations, and reinforces the business’ professional identity or corporate culture. As a bonus, businesses can Write off the cost of the art rental as a business expense on their taxes.

    Home staging is another industry that regularly utilizes art rentals. New home developments and luxury homes are staged with art and decor so that buyers can visualize the space and its full potential. Staging a home for sale increases its Perceived value and chances of selling exponentially. To see examples of home staging, stop into the nearest subdivision being built near you and check out the model homes.

    How do Art Rental Agencies Work with Artists?

    Art rental agencies find artists through trade shows, online research, And galleries. However, many art rental agencies also accept applications directly from artists on their websites. Below is a list of our rental agencies currently taking applications.

    When your art has been selected for representation by an art rental agency, you will need to provide the agency with a catalog with information about your available work.

    Many art rental agencies will have an onboarding system as part of their website and you will be responsible for uploading details about your art including photography, descriptions, measurements, and display details such as stands and hanging options.

    Once your artwork has been onboarded, the Art rental agency will proceed with marketing your artwork alongside the other art they rent. In the beginning, artists should not expect immediate art rentals unless there is already a high demand for work.

    The best part is when the work is rented. At this point, you will begin to receive royalty payments according to the terms of your artist contract. Some contracts call for earning a minimum threshold of royalties before payment is made (usually $50.) 

    The artwork will remain on rent for the term of the rental contract. When it’s returned undamaged, the artwork becomes available to rent to another potential buyer. On the other hand, if during the rental term the buyer wishes to purchase the artwork, most art rental agencies will credit the purchase price. Some apply all of the rent payments to the purchase price and some apply only a portion.

    How Much Do Artists Make Renting Out Their Art?

    Royalties on art rentals range anywhere from 10 to 40% of the rental fees earned. In addition, commissions on sales range from 40 to 50% of the retail purchase price.  

    For example, a $1200 painting may rent for $100 a month, earning the artist a $30 monthly royalty (30%).  If, after four months, the collector chooses to buy it. A portion of the $120 royalties may be deducted from the $600 sales commission. 

    In this same scenario, an artist would have to have several paintings rented out in order to create a significant passive income.

    Pricing Structures are Not the Same

    The pricing structure differs from agency to agency. Many agencies do not reveal the artist pricing structure until they have verified that they are interested in the artist’s work. This is understandable, because their pricing structure is considered a trade secret. They will not want to reveal too much information only to help their competitors.

    This is why you should apply to several art rental agencies. Even if you are accepted into more than one agency, you will want to compare the terms offered to you to make sure that you are getting the most out of your work before choosing the best agency for you

    Unintended Side Benefits of Renting out Your Art

    Although the side income from using an art rental agency may seem low, there are a few unintended benefits from renting your art:

    1. If your art is rented for a high-profile project, the rental can bring some level of stature to your art career. As an example, if an artwork is rented to be part of a set for a high-profile television show, the artist can promote it by highlighting it “as seen on TV” and hosting online “watch parties.”
    2. Storing lots of art can be its own challenge. Some artists even pay expensive storage fees to account for the climate control needed to care for the art. An artist need only have a few pieces rented to cover the cost of storing other artworks.
    3. Many rentals lead to sales. Art rental agencies have figured out that renting a piece is likely to lead to the sale of an artwork. Renting your art is an excellent promotional tool.
    4. Art rental services are a great way to get your art seen by qualified buyers.

    What are Art Rental Agencies Looking for?

    Art rental agencies are always on the look for fresh and new designs. The nature of their business is to present interesting and new works. Therefore, art rental agencies are looking for artists with a  well-developed body of work, but also artists that are producing new works regularly. 

    How to Apply to an Art Rental Agency

    First, do your research. Make sure that you review the art rental agencies website and represented artist to make sure that your work both fits into the overall aesthetic, but also retains a unique quality. Art rental agencies need to find new and fresh work that goes along with their offerings, but at the same time, they do not want to undercut the artists they already represent.

    Art rental agencies run the gamut. They represent well-known artists to emerging artists. Don’t assume that you need a particular level of art education or experience to apply to an art rental agency. Of course, knowing your artistic accomplishments will help your art rental agency represent you, so don’t be shy about pointing them out.

    Once you have found an art rental agency you think you might like to work with, read the fine print. Make sure you follow all of the instructions on the application.

    You can expect to provide high-quality images of your artwork, well-written descriptions, and a statement about you and/or your work. Also, be prepared to describe the work you currently have on hand as well as how many pieces you usually make each year. The art rental agency will want to know how productive you are.

    What Can You Expect After Applying to an Art Rental Agency?

    Art rental agencies also act as sales consultants. They receive hundreds of artist applications a year. Because of this, you can expect a delay in receiving a response to your application. In fact, some art rental agencies may not respond at all if they are not interested in the artwork.

    If accepted, you can expect the onboarding process to take several weeks. It will take quite a bit of effort on your part, or on the part of agency staff, to create a portfolio of your work on their website. Also, you shouldn’t expect the agency to invest in print materials on your behalf until your work has generated some interest online.

    Questions You Should Ask the Art Rental Agency Once Accepted

    Once accepted to an art rental agency, you should receive a written contract that sets forth the terms of your relationship. Read the contract carefully and make sure it addresses all of your concerns. Contract terms to look for include:

    1. How much artwork needs to be on hand?
    2. Are you prohibited from selling the same art in other venues or engaging other art rental agencies?
    3. Who will pay for the cost of shipping to the client? Also, who will pay the cost of shipping to return the artwork if it’s not purchased during the rental period?
    4. Is the artwork insured for damage? Does the insurance cover shipping damage? Does the insurance cover the full retail value of the artwork? Is there a deductible?
    5. Does the agency assist in hanging the artwork? What information does the client require to hang the artwork properly?
    6. How long until you can expect payment? Is the payment schedule clear?
    7. How does the art rental agency do to promote your work?
    8. What happens if the artwork goes missing while it’s being rented?

    Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions. If your artwork has already been approved, your art rental agency is interested in representing you. You will do yourself (and the agency) a huge favor to make sure you understand how the entire process works. It sounds cliche, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    List of Art Rental Agencies that are Accepting Artist Applications

    Art on 30th is an arts community based in San Diego. They provide many services, one of which is art rental. They are looking for local artists.

    Art Pic 2000 is a Hollywood art rental agency and gallery. They offer modern work of all styles to the film and television industry as well as collectors. They have a 5000 square foot showroom. Artist submission instructions are located at the very bottom of this page.

    Curina is a New York art rental agency that offers subscription-based art plans nationwide. Rental can turn to sales, and many styles are represented. Artist Submission Information is here.

    Get Art Up is a California start-up that is as easy as 1-2-3. Renters find the art, and rent based on a subscription. Renters apply a portion of their rent towards a purchase if the artworks out. Artists can apply here.

    Hang Art is located in the famous Fort Mason in Northern California. They represent almost all styles from landscapes to abstracts. Hang Art is specifically looking for Bay Area Artists. Here are the submission guidelines.

    I Paint My Mind rents artwork in the great Chicago area. When companies rent art from I Paint My Mind, a portion of the proceeds goes to schools, libraries, and youth services in underserved areas. I Paint My Mind is a nonprofit, with all the feel-goods. Here’s their call to artists.

    Rise Art is an art gallery and art rental agency based in the United Kingdom. They represent paintings, drawings and prints. Styles range from Modern, to minimal to pop art. Check out the submission guidelines.

    Partial is a Toronto-based art gallery featuring a wide array of artworks. Their website is artist-friendly, meaning they lay out their terms and provide a lot of information to artists before application (sweet!). Apply here.

    Can You Rent Your Art Without an Agency?

    Using an Art Rental Agency can take a lot of work out of the logistics renting your art. But let’s face it – the profit is marginal. It’s absolutely possible to rent your work to possible buyers. And also a very good marketing tool.

    One of the biggest hurdles artists face in selling their art is convincing their potential buyer that the art will fit into their home. And art rental solves this issue beautifully.

    If you choose to rent your art on your own, make sure you consider the following:

    1. Start locally. You may want to visit and help hang the art. And also be available if the renter has any issues. It is difficult to check-up on art that is far away.
    2. Create a strong contract that clearly states the length of the rental, the cost, and if the rental payments will be applied to the purchase price. Make sure the contract accurately describes the artwork being rented, as well as the retail price. The contract should also describe what will happen if the artwork is damaged – will the renter be responsible for purchasing it?
    3. Contact your insurance carrier and make sure that your artwork will be insured for damage or loss while in a client’s home. Also, make sure that your art is insured for liability should the artwork cause injury due to improper installation.

    Take Away

    Art rental can be a good business alternative for artists who are seeking to extend their reach. Renting art can help collectors overcome uncertainty before committing to a purchase. There are many galleries and art rental agencies that assist artists with the process, but it is also possible for an artist to manage rentals on their own.