Artrepreneur: Short-term Art Relationships

Do you dream of art you can’t afford to buy?

Maybe you can rent it.

I recently rented work to an office and to an individual. Quite a few people told me it was a novel idea they thought more people should know about.

Hoping they’re right, here’s a primer.

As far as I know, no organization in Whitehorse offers art rental services. The Yukon Art Society used to, and still has a few paintings rented out, but they don’t actively pursue renting art. If you go in and ask about it, you’ll likely get puzzled looks.

So it’s simple – if you want to rent art, ask the artist.

Finding artists in Whitehorse is easy. To paraphrase the storyteller Mike Burns, you can hardly huck a rock down Main Street without raising a lump on the forehead of one of them.

But that might not be the best way to open negotiations.

You can find artists’ contact information by consulting the Yukon Territorial Government’s Art Adventures on Yukon Time. Or check out Arts Underground’s Online Artist Directory:

Or find local artists in person, working their shifts at the Yukon Artists @ Work Cooperative.

Artists often have artwork in storage that they might be willing to rent.

Here are a few guidelines:

Moving the art in and installing constitutes most of the actual work of the transaction. Because of this, art rentals usually last at least six months before changeovers or removal. Establish who will do this.

Does your homeowner’s or business insurance cover artwork? Perish the thought, but knowing what will happen if the building burns down or the roof falls in from snow load can be useful for both parties. Some artists may be willing to rent regardless, and others won’t rent without it. It’s worth checking into.

Is it a straight art rental, or does some portion of the rent turn into art credit, a kind of rent-to-own situation? Depending on the amount of the art rental, that might be worth exploring.

Generally rent is set and paid monthly. Artists, you may need to provide an invoice to your clients.

What if the artist needs the piece back? Usually the artist agrees to replace it with a similar piece to fulfill the time of the rental.

If the work is to be displayed in a public place, what happens if it sells? Does the renter get a commission, or some free months of art rental?

Advantages to art rental include adding to the tone of your business or office and giving your clients something to look at while they’re waiting.

If you’re renting for your home, you can circulate art more often and have the thrill of a new piece on your wall every six months.

I’ve heard many people say that their walls are full. Reserving a wall for art rental is a way to continue treating yourself to the fun of buying new art.

If you’re someone who’s in the territory for just a couple of years, art rental can save you moving costs.

There are dangers, of course, as in any short-term relationship. You might fall in love with the piece that you’ve rented.

Then you’ll likely want to convert the agreement to something like rent-to-own pretty quickly.

But consider that, otherwise, you could be waiting to hang the artwork in your home till every payment has been made. With art rental, you can enjoy its company over your couch while you pay it off.

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