Selecting your Portrait Artist

Here are some thoughts which may help you think about how to choose your portrait artist.

Professional Work Ethics

Consider the artist’s ability to communicate clearly and efficiently both in writing and verbally. Computer skills such as email are very helpful. Equally important is the artist’s ability to schedule, plan and deliver on time and on budget. The artist’s working environment should be private, safe, comfortable and open by appointment for viewings or consultations. Conduct a studio visit and meet face-to-face with the artist if possible.

Painting and Personality Styles

View all works (past and recent) to see if the artist’s painting style is to your liking and if possible, see paintings in person by conducting a studio visit. If you aren’t sold on the style in which the artist paints, don’t expect their style to change in a major way with your portrait.

Make sure you are comfortable working with the artist. Personality style should be strongly considered: 1) when guidance, creative interpretation, and collaboration, are most important to you or, 2) when you desire an independent thinker – when you need the artist to take the ball and run with it.

Most personality styles should be flexible enough to truly accept your input while exchanging best practice advice with you. Ask for references if you have a concern.

Technical Competency

Portraiture is one of the most demanding of the fine arts. Technical competencies to look for include the artist’s ability to draw from nature accurately. Composition, design, color and paint handling abilities also fall into this category – do their paintings capture a believable likeness? Can you connect to energy in their work?


Fees varies greatly in my opinion, from being based on number of years doing exceptional work in the business to how well known they have become through teaching, book writing, marketing and gallery exposure. Good portraiture requires skill and dedication. If you fulfill the work ethics, painting/personality styles and technical competency criteria first, use the price factor to help finalize your decision.