Have You Considered Leasing Your Artwork?

by Carolyn Edlund

Leasing artwork can be lucrative for the artist … and a good deal for the customer too.


Artwork by Drew Beson

Artwork by Drew Beson


Over the years I’ve known some artists who developed an income stream from renting their work, but it was just recently that I looked into it in depth to see just how rewarding this market is.

I contacted Minnesota artist Drew Beson to find out how his business uses a leasing model to work with commercial and residential clients. What he revealed was fascinating.

Beson has a 4,800 square foot luxury gallery space in the heart of downtown Minneapolis His space is close to the banks, law firms and other potential customers who love his large-scale artwork.

Commercial clients love to lease artwork. Why?

“Tax savings” explains Beson, “Buying is a capital expense which would have to be depreciated over years. But leasing can be written off on a monthly basis as part of operating expenses. Leasing instead of buying frees up capital for organizations, and individuals, too.”

Most of his agreements are on a “lease to own” basis. This means that the artwork isn’t likely to come back to him. But it does offer the client the opportunity to live with the art to make sure they love the acquisition and want to keep it. Meanwhile, they can make affordable payments that don’t break the bank.

The typical lease period runs 3–4 years, and sometimes longer. A down payment is taken at the start of the lease. Monthly payments are made through auto-pay rather than go through the hassle of invoicing.

Sometimes Beson rents artwork for movie or TV sets, which are short-term deals. His art can be leased to make big impact in a conference room or for important meetings, sometimes even for only a day. He also provides art that is used in staging high-end homes for sale.

Delivery and installation are provided (at a charge), making leasing artwork a hands-free deal for the client.


Drew Beson artwork - luxury home tour

Drew Beson artwork shown on luxury home tour.


One of Beson’s favorite ways to use his art in temporary situations actually doesn’t involve a lease, but a trade. Minneapolis has ASID showcase homes and  luxury home tours, where interior designers will sometimes borrow his artwork to use in a room they have planned. The artwork, with price listed, which will be seen by hundreds of members of the public looking for decorating ideas. The barter involves lending his art in exchange for “in situ” photos taken in a professionally designed environment.

Although sales of original art and reproductions are mainstays of Beson’s art business, leasing is an important option that he offers as a service that clients appreciate.


Want to stay current on cutting edge business articles from Artsy Shark, plus artist features, and an invitation to the next Call for Artists? Click below to sign up for our twice-monthly email. You’ll get all this plus opportunities and special offers that you can’t get anywhere else!

Sign Up For Updates!


  1. Great idea! I do this through a firm in Boston, letting them handle the details, but I’d love to try this directly with clients too. I’m wondering if there are template art leasing agreements out there to use as guides?

  2. By the way, I forgot to mention… I love the paintings!

  3. This is sort of brilliant. I had no idea this was even done. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I just love this idea!

  5. I agree, and when I took a look at the amount of business Drew was doing with leasing his art, I knew I had to write about it. He indicated in our conversation that it is very helpful to have that gallery “showroom” right in the downtown area. Lots of local business professionals can walk right in and have a conversation about leasing for their own offices.

    • Absolutely Carolyn! The Gallery + Studio in downtown Minneapolis is a great place to show new artwork. It gives people a chance to see how the art looks in full scale and in a beautiful setting, where otherwise it might be difficult to visualize.

      Drew Beson

  6. This is an idea I had rambling around in my mind and just sorta discounted it thinking it would not work. Boy am I wrong. Sounds like it is alive and well and a viable business model for artists. Just wondering, still, it it works with fine art photography. Thank you for the article. It was very enlightening and fascinating to read about the new possibilities in the business of art.

    • Spencer- I think that the potential to have this work is even greater with photography. The limit is inventory, so replication in production makes this idea even more viable for you.

  7. Carolyn,

    Thank you for sharing with this info. I have the same question with Keith.
    “I’m wondering if there are template art leasing agreements out there to use as guides?

    Please share with me too if you have one.

    Thank you

  8. I also agree with Keith Dotson I’d like to see a sample contract. Thanks for sharing this business model.

  9. So what would you recommend as ways to get the ball rolling with this sort of thing? Should I start contacting interior designers, real estate agents, tv/movie producers?? What would be the ideal introductory inquiry if so?

    • Crystal-
      Having enough work to satisfy requests should be your first priority. After that, decide whether you want to find your own clients, or work with an art leasing company that has existing clients. If you choose the former, it is all about timing. Consistent contact with potential leasees (starting with your current network and outreach from there) is the best way to connect.

    • Nikki Wharton-Eby says

      One type of business to contact would be galleries. I leased my own art through galleries in Michigan prior to marrying and moving to. Ohio. I continued to receive checks for leased art works until final checks for purchase. I have not inquired into leasing my art for a long time, but now have renewed my interest. I will soon create a contract. ~Nikki

  10. This is a great idea specially in this economy. So many times I heard from people who love art and wants to own and they say , love it , but I can’t afford it. Here is the solution for the artist , the gallery and the buyer.
    Great deal.

  11. What do ask for the down payment – a flat fee, or a percentage of the painting, or something else?

  12. Who did you go through to set up auto pay payments?

  13. What an extraordinary concept! And the artwork is fabulous also!

  14. What percentage of the sale priced is usually used to calculate the monthly leasing fee. Or is another method used?

  15. Keitha Jones says

    You are a fabulous artist. I have been wanting to do this with not only my art, but my fellow local artists. There is a gentleman doing this here in my hometown, but he refuses to work with quite a few of our incredible local artists and told me he was looking for artists out of state. I believe in my friends and acquaintences artwork and want to attempt this on my own. Do you have any suggestions on where to start? I have looked at art lease templates and they somewhat make sense, but there is Soo much I don’t know. I am ready to try, want to jump in and take the risk.

  16. I had this idea, but haven’t pulled the trigger – it is so lovely and encouraging to read that it actually works and that there is desire/demand for this. I’m anxious to get this going. If you don’t mind me asking, would you share the income range that you have attained and/or potential? Do you market to potential clients in person vs. online or what is your primary method to connect?

  17. I’ve been leasing several of my extremely large paintings to Caesars Casino for about a year. They lease 2 or 3 on a rotation basis for their VIP banquet rooms. They prefer not to lease to purchase so they can have constant change. At 4% of my retail gallery price, it creates a lovely cash flow and frees up space in my studio.

  18. Congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing. It’s great to be among like-minded people as well. I’ve been exploring this leasing option to gain exposure and income but with photography. I am encouraged by everyone here.

  19. Have been asked to ‘borrow’ my artwork until my client decides to buy… Is there a rent to own contract available online that can be adapted easily for a clients needs?

  20. Leah Allen says

    Great article and very helpful. I knew there had to be something I could do with all these huge paintings I have stacked in my living room!

Speak Your Mind