Sign-up for the 100 Portraits eBook

Page content

Portrait painting business

Portrait painting business

Portrait painting business: Above an image from long time ago when I just started my career as a commissioned portrait painter.

For those who would love to do portrait painting on a commission basis, once again, I want to give some advice. The most important thing I must say is: Make sure you’re good enough.

Portrait painting as a business. Some advice by Ben Lustenhouwer.

One of my first commissions

Portrait painting quality

  • Study portrait painting as much as possible from live model.
  • Take some portrait painters as examples and examine their art. Try to discover why their work is so good. Not only for techniques but also the visual quality of the work.
  • Don´t be satisfied with your own result too quickly! Do not think you’re good when people around you find your work fantastic.
  • Realize that you should be able to bring to fruition a portrait under any circumstances. Provide the perfect photography, if you’re going to work on that basis.

Make yourself known

  • When you think your level is good enough, spend a lot of time and energy on painting some good sample-portraits.
  • Show them to the world. Today there is Facebook, Instagram, own websites etc etc. Make good use of them. Show only your best work!


  • Try to find out what artists of a similar level as you charge for a portrait. Work out your own pricing list, divided  into categories: head, head and shoulders, mid-size, three quarters, full figure.
  • If one asks you for an indication of prices, send this list. Never answer or negotiate verbally on request. Haggling over a price is more appropriate for a second hand car dealer.


  • Be professional at all times, as always comply with agreements. Some customers can be very demanding or tricky. If you can not handle it, do not start this profession.
  • Keep the customer informed of the painting’s progress.

Mission Impossible

  • Do not accept orders which are unachievable. For example, a commission based on a bad picture of a loved one.


  • Obtain a good reproduction of your art work and save it well. (See this video.)
  • Use these examples for your publicity.

Find a good gallery


  • Give the very, very best of your talent!

Related post.

Portrait painting as a business. Some advice by Ben Lustenhouwer.

Another commission from the beginning

Or leave a message

Comment Section

One thought on “Portrait painting business

By Sandiv Art Gallery on 12 February 2018

Very useful article. I am damn sure, this will help the newbies in painting business! As you said the proper research should done to come to know why it is being popular.

Thank you!

Leave a Reply