Advice for Artists from an Interior Designer

by Carolyn Edlund

Are you interested in working with interior designers to sell your artwork for corporate and residential environments? I recently spoke with designer Carole Marcotte of Form & Function, who shares her insights on the subject.


Artwork in a living room environment. Read our interview with Carol Marcotte at

Room design by Carol Marcotte. Photo credit: Cat Nguyen


AS:  What do you believe artists need to know in order to be successful when working with interior designers?

CM:  I think artists need to understand that sometimes designers are trying to coordinate with their client’s interiors, so they may be more concerned with color than subject matter or inspiration. I think a successful artist will not be offended by this, but understand the opportunity of developing a long-term relationship with a designer who will bring them clients.

There also may be opportunities for commission work to reflect the colors in the décor or to create the right scale piece to fit a site in a particular part of a client’s home. I recently had an artist turn down a commission because she cannot work that way – her art comes to her organically and she didn’t want to worry about pleasing a client who may not like the final outcome. I have, however, done several successful commissions over the years with artists who enjoy that as an option.

I myself do not try to match interiors to art, but rather encourage clients to buy what they love. This has a much more enduring quality than trying to match only and specifically to your current living room.


Room filled with art in a Bohemian style, designed by Carol Marcotte. Read her interview at

Room design by Carol Marcotte. Photo credit: Cat Nguyen


AS:  If you met with an artist you are considering working with, what do you look for?

CM:  Primarily portfolio – it needs to sing for me or be the right piece for a client. I have purchased art at street shows from young artists just starting out who exhibited great talent to established artists who were in corporate collections. It really depends largely on their portfolio, and if it fits the client. It is an added bonus if they have a website or can send digital photographs to present to the client in our Design Board presentations. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but having something tangible to show is helpful.


Dining room setting with art. Design by Carol Marcotte. See her interview at

Room design by Carol Marcotte. Photo credit: Cat Nguyen


AS:  What are your best suggestions for artists who want to work with a designer?

CM:  It is a challenge for all of us creative sorts to maintain the business side of things. Having representations of the work (digital photos as referenced above, for example), providing a proper receipt, following up after something has been commissioned, and a thank you note are all good things from the business perspective. Or best of all, having someone else handle all these things for you!


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  1. I found this helpful to see the “other” side of the art market. I can also see there are possibilities if one is willing to move from the “organic” paintings to those more contrived, for lack of a better word. I suppose it’s easier to match clients with paintings if there is a dialogue regarding what it is they’re looking for – this narrows down the search and hopefully results in happy artist, happy consumer. I think of it like someone looking for a new dog, wandering the city hoping to find a stray that matches their needs, instead of going to a shelter or breeder where the choices are more in line with what they’re looking for. That said, from articles and pictures I’ve seen, it seems that most clients look for very large paintings, is this true?

    • Thanks, Patricia for the comment! I think large scale commissions are a large part of it, no pun intended😊 I I think this is simply because large walls are hard for customers to wrap their head around and find the right piece for that type of area. That said, I also like to alternatively curate a collection of smaller pieces to create a gallery wall for clients. Each client is different!

  2. People think that they have to spend a lot of money to buy a work of art for their home, just because it has a ‘famous’ name behind it, when it really looks awful in their home. I’ve gone to flea markets and found items there that work perfectly well with the rest of the decor in our rooms. You don’t need a fancy name, but it does need to look good!

  3. Carole, how do you find “your” artists that you use? Is it helpful to have artists send you information about their art, like a website ? I would imagine interior designers get a lot of this and time constraints happen? Local artists would be plus as well, hard with shipping back and forth if a piece is not the right fit when placed in the home?

  4. I started showing my work with a design firm last year and am thrilled with the results — my work shows gorgeously in the beautiful interiors created by the firm. Now I’d just like to develop MORE relationships like this, but am not sure how to find and connect with the right designers…any advice on that end is welcome!

  5. Great info, I work with several designers and this is spot on.

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