This question is asked over and over again across the internet because it is an important one.
“How much does a custom portrait cost?”
Most people recognize the significance of a completely custom painting and portrait. They understand how priceless it is to give someone else or yourself a gift that will last not only a lifetime, but a lifetime and beyond. Whatever your reason for thinking about commissioning a custom portrait, you have probably considered how much it will cost you financially. To help you with this, I have created this handy outline of the most commonly quoted prices.
Prices for Custom Portraits
$50-$750 - In this range, it is possible to get custom portraits created from sites where you upload your photo and wait for it to arrive at your home. These paintings are created in a realistic style and will look almost identical to your photo. The art may be done digitally or by hand. At this price point, these paintings are typically smaller in size. For more than 1-2 subjects, most “upload and go” sites charge a certain percentage (typically 15-20%) extra for each additional subject. Most websites charge 100% of the cost up-front.
$750-$1500 - This price point is sometimes offered by “paint my photo” websites, and sometimes offered by artists you can speak with who are in the beginning of their career. Most portraits done in this price range are smaller in size, include 1-2 subjects and are typically created with charcoal, pencils, or pastels. Some artists quote by size, others by number of subjects. In this price range, you can expect to be offered a number of edits before the final product is sent to you, as well as a satisfaction guarantee.
$1500-$5000 - In this price range, work quality tends to increase, as you are most likely working 1:1 with an artist with a bit more experience. It is possible to commission bigger works in this price range, however, giant paintings will probably land on the higher end of this scale. Artists in this price range will probably still work off of photos, however, the work will be done in his or her own signature style. At this price point, you should expect to be able to speak directly with the artist who will be creating your work. Custom artwork that is quoted in this price is most often completed in acrylic or oil paint. Most artists in this price range charge a percentage of the total cost to start the project, and the remaining amount upon completion. At this price point you should expect to be offered unlimited edits and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
$5000-$20000 - At this range, artists typically no longer work off of photos. Some portrait artists in this category will come out and take your photos, while others will ask you to sit for live portrait sessions. Part of what you are paying for is this additional time. Of course in this range you should be able to commission very large portraits and portraits of multiple people or subjects at a time. You should also expect to pay a portion of the price up front, and the rest upon completion. When working with an artist in this price range, you should expect to receive a free consultation and unlimited edits.
$20000+ - At this price point, you should expect to be working with an extremely established artist with decades of experience. This price point is typically reserved for artists who work with politicians or other corporate clients.
Other Factors that May Impact Portrait Prices
The reason such a great variance exists is so much of art prices depend on the artists’ places in their careers, styles and processes. While a watercolor artist may be able to create a custom nude or custom portrait in one sitting, it could take an oil painter multiple weeks to complete a work of the same size. It also depends on the size of the operation. Giant corporations who manage hundreds of artists are able to complete projects at a faster rate than single artists completing each work on their own.
At the end of the day, custom artwork is one of those things where it is best to let your heart (not wallet) decide.