Guide to Purchasing Original Art and Commissions

Posted September 4, 2013 by Mario Miranda in Comic Books

This is a question that gets asked frequently on forums, websites, facebook groups etc so I thought I’d shed some light on the subject. The overall message is going to be though, do your research. I’ll start off with purchasing original art:

untitledTodd McFarlane Original Art

So lets say you picked up the latest issue of your favorite book or there’s a page you fell in love with from a classic storyline, so you think you’d like to own the page and put it up on your wall. Ultiimately, in my opinion, its better to search by the artist and see if the artwork is for sale. A lot of high profile artists have art dealers that sell off published and unpublished art for them, so it’s a good idea to find these dealers based on the artist. For exampe, lets you wanted a page from Gotham Central; now that book was published about 10 years ago so chances are the pages are sold but your best bet would be to look up who sells Michael Lark’s art. A quick google search reveals that, run by Mark Hay, is Michael Lark’s art dealer. This is the same way I would recommend going about purchasing any original published art. Also, it is worth noting that there are plenty of communities out there for people that collect original art, and in these communities you gain a lot of knowledge from people who have been doing this for years. Most also do have sections for art for sale by the private owneres as well as art for sale by dealers or the artist themselves. My suggestion would be, when I first became interested in buying original art I stumbled upon this site and I found some really friendly people that were kind enough to share pointers and explain the process as well as introduce me to some dealers. Research is key to properly control expectations, I’ve seen plenty of people who decide the price of art before doing any research and are immediately turned off by the high prices. Some pages are as low as $80 and as high as $5,000 and covers can vary from as low as $500 to as much as $20,000+.



Esad Ribic Commission

Next up is getting commissions; this is slightly different as some artists offer commissions year round and others offer commissions for specific conventions/events. For anyone wondering what exactly a commission is, it is when you pay an artist to create a piece of art that is based on your request. The character, background, pose, attire etc, is up to you. (If applicable) Some artists go through their art dealer to book commisions while other have their own website with an area to submit a request for a commission. Your best bet would be to get on facebook, twitter and all the other social media sites and follow creators, a lot will announce when they will be visiting your area and when they will be taking commissions via social media. Of course the next question is pricing, how mcuh do commissions usually cost? Research is absolutely necessary to properly gauge how much commissions cost. Prices vary wildly from artist to artist and from style to style and the more popular or high profile the artist is, the more expensive it’ll be. Keep in mind that when you’re paying an artist for a commission¬† you’re paying for his/her time, materials, research and quality. As I mentioned with original art, too many times have I seen people decide how much commissions cost without any research and are shocked to see how much they can cost and are turned off. If you’re looking to get a commission from a very high profile artist such as Alex Ross, Alex Maleev, Paulo Rivera etc. be prepared to pay over $2,000 for a cover quality piece, most do however have options for more simple watercolor or pencil sketch pieces for much lower prices.

When it comes to commissions done at conventions, typically the artist has a certain amount of commissions they will accept for the entire weekend. Make sure to show up early and get your spot. Also, its very important to bring reference material for your character(s), backgrounds or anyting else. You may be familiar with the character but the artist might not be.


The last thing I want to touch on is something that does not get addressed too often, framing. Realize that the bigger the piece is, the more it’ll cost to get it custom framed or if the paper size is an irregular shape, there might not be any readily available frames and you will have to get a custom frame. Custom frames can be very expensive, with prices ranging from $200-300 for a 11 x 17 piece to $600-$1000 for larger irregular sized pieces.

About the Author

Mario Miranda

I live my life a quarter mile at a time.