by Carolyn Edlund
Leasing artwork can be lucrative for the artist … and a good deal for the customer too.
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, putting him 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, while 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, meaning 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, and 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.
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.