Beginners Guide to Buying Custom and Commissioned Art

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israel “Izzy Inks” Garcia  Mandela gate mural art

The custom and commissioned art market has evolved, with sales shifting online and making it easier to discover and invest in emerging artists. And it’s not just canvas paintings. Custom art is produced on any agreeable surface imaginable, from interior and exterior walls to furnishings, glass bottles, body tattoos, sneakers and apparel, skateboards, and so much more.

Tag Art by Ton One, TPA

Are your home all day staring at blank walls? Are co-workers peeping over your shoulder on zoom calls, passing judgement on your lifestyle?  It might be time to invest in a cool piece of custom art.       

Having produced thousands of custom and original artworks for private  and corporate clients including,  Converse, Brooklyn Nets, Verizon and our beloved patrons who visited the former Hip Hop USA pop-up shop in New York City, Global Artists Coalition (GAC) is here to help.

GAC Limited Edition sneaker art produced for Converse
Hip Hop USA store with custom artist, Shadow customizing a sneaker for a shop patron.
RIP Legendary NYC graffiti artist, Shadow.

Here’s GAC’s top 5 things to consider when buying custom and commissioned art.

1) Begin the journey of discovering your new favorite custom artists by searching online

Before there were handcrafted and custom merchandise websites like Etsy, artists were limited to how, when and where they could sell their art. There were no websites to sell artwork. If you wanted to show your art to potential buyers, you had to either connect in person or pay an agent to have your art displayed in galleries, expensive art shows, or maybe luck-up on a coffee shop that likes your work. Or, you could try to do-it-yourself, selling to friends and family or on street corners. Definitely not much fun in winter and the risk of arrest and the confiscation of your art for selling without a street vendor license may not be worth it.

Above, Skatetrain artwork by New York City Urban Legend. George “SEN-1” Morillo. Below Skatetrain artwork by Leslie “Ton One” Nelson and Israel “Izzy Inks” Garcia

Custom artwork not only make the haters hate, but energizes your space and brightens your mood. The question is… Where to begin?

Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier for artists to share their work and offer their creative services online. But make no mistake, the internet has also made the custom art market highly competitive, and for a novice buyer, commissioning custom art can be a real challenge. Why? Because more often than not, when it’s done it’s done and neither the  custom art buyer or the artist wants to be disappointed.

Ton One and Sen-1 creating custom sneaker art for Rita Ora

Global Artists Coalition (GAC) has been working with talented emerging artists, street artists, legendary New York City graffiti artists and custom art kings since 2005.

Hip Hop USA Sneaker Trains featuring legendary New York City Subway train graffiti artists.
Ton One, TPA is a legendary graffiti artist from New York City and featured in  A Brief History of Graffiti Exhibition and Artist Talk at City University of New York.

Ton’s feature on the 5Pointz art complex is not without controversy.  He was not included in the lawsuit victory for reasons that have yet to be explained.


Ton’ s tag viewed from the 7 train subway line
Limited edition custom sneaker art by Ton One, TPA for Brooklyn Nets

2) Reach out to the artist to see if they are taking commissions

Don’t be too disappointed if an artist refuses the job.  Not all artists can do the type of work your looking for. Some artists have also had awful experiences with commissions in the past, currently working on other projects, or they may feel they are not a good fit for your project. It may put an artist’s mind at ease if you ask about the medium’s they can use, price and timeline upfront.

New York City Urban Legend. George “SEN-1” Morillo produces custom art sneaker for Hip Hop artist, Fabolous.

3) Get to know the artist

Some artists are more like professional singers that can hit every note you request. Others are vocalist that can only give you their own unique sound. A professional custom artists can often recreate the clients vision to a letter on any surface.  Both style of artist is equally as good but you need to recognize the difference to get what you want.

NYC Artist Giannina Gutierrez

4) Have a written signed contract

You should have a contract in place between you and the artist before work begins. The contract should include the price, with all applicable expenses associated with creating the piece, and payment terms. Many artists will also ask for fifty-percent up front or some sort of deposit.

The contract should also include a timeline detailing when certain aspects of the work will be completed so that you know when to check in with them. The timeline should also include the date of completion and approval process. The contract will also be the place to include what rights you and the artist have for using the work.

DON’T assume that terms, price, and timelines will work themselves out on their own or develop along the way.

A formal contract keeps the process of commissioning an artwork as professional as possible by setting clear expectations for the project.

Some artists have had awful experiences with commissions in the past, are currently working on other projects, or they may feel they are not a good fit for your project. It may put an artist’s mind at ease if you ask about the medium’s they can use, price and timeline upfront.

5) Don’t wait until the work has started to discuss important details

The artist will need to know in detail what your looking to have created and what materials will be needed to produce the piece you want.  Providing reference images is a great way to communicate with them about what you are looking for.

Israel “Izzy Inks” Garcia creating custom Biggie T-shirt for patron
israel “Izzy Inks” Garcia skatetrain Art

In general, expect 4 weeks lead time with rush orders  potentially doubling or even tripling the cost.

To learn more about GAC artist commissions and custom art contact us:













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