Art Rental: Try Before You Buy and Support BC Artists

Freshen up your decor and enjoy art in your home affordably with art rental.

Credit: North Vancouver Community Arts Council

Art rental is getting popular in BC. Why not rent Progress by Roxsane Tiernan?

Art rental is the perfect option for art lovers, indecisive types and those who just like to mix it up a little

Are you renting an apartment temporarily but still want some colour in your life? Looking for something bright and bold for your home but scared you will get tired of it?  

Are you holding off on purchasing art because you’re likely to relocate or travel in the next few years? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then perhaps art rental is just the ticket.

Art rental, a service still unknown to many, is becoming increasingly popular in the art scene around BC. People living temporarily away from home, home owners who like to freshen up their space constantly, those who host special events as well as business owners looking to keep their office bright, and their staff happy, are all frequenting galleries, not looking to buy, but looking to rent.

Rent-to-buy and Add Some Art to Your Home

Alight by Alan Maples. Monthy Rental: $13 (Image: North Vancouver Community Arts Council)

Many art organizations and galleries in BC now offer art rentals. For galleries, art rental not only provides clients with a flexible and affordable option, it’s also a great way to introduce and showcase new local artists.

North Vancouer Community Arts Council has an extensive Art Rental Program with over 350 original artworks available for lease, while the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) has an outstanding selection of pieces for rent in a whole range of styles, sizes and media.

Mica Marsh, art rental & sales consultant for the AGGV says, “It’s extremely popular, we have ongoing contracts with certain corporate clients like the Victoria Conference Centre and Victoria Airport, but we also have a number of private individuals who are wanting to eventually purchase and try out different artworks on their walls. It keeps me very busy!”

Of course, in the age of communication, you don’t even have to go to a gallery to rent a piece of art. Organizations like Artistically Connected provide a wonderful service for locating original pieces for rent from all over Canada and BC. Its online gallery provides hundreds of pictures of paintings, prints and photographs and you can search by artists or location. They will then put you directly in touch with the artist to arrange the rental in a manner that best suits your needs.

An Affordable, Flexible Way to Enjoy Art

Tidal Zone by Sharon Quirke. Monthly Rental: $10 (Image: North Vancouver Community Arts Council) 

Art rental is extremely affordable, usually between $10 to $40 a week. The lease price is based on the value of the piece of artwork and is usually 3-10% of the actual cost of the piece.

If you fall in love with the piece and wish to purchase it, many artists will offer a decent discount. For example, at North Vancouver Community Arts Council, if you purchase the art, three months of rental fees will be deducted from the final price.

Marsh explains that art rental is perfect for adventurous, indecisive types: “It’s for people who just want to be adventurous and not make a commitment to a specific painting, because they’re not quite sure if it will work in their space, or they’ll grow tired of it.”

At the AGGV the minimum rental is one month for individuals. “It means that after a month, if they really don’t want to live with the painting anymore they can simply return it.” However, because the consultants work with clients closely to help them find a piece that works for them, she says it’s uncommon for pieces to be returned after just a month.

Show off Some Art in Your Own Home and Support BC Artisans

Ninth Ave Cyclist by Phyllis Schwartz. Monthly rental: $10 (Image: North Vancouver Community Arts Council).

When it comes to benefits for the artists Marsh says: “I can quite honestly say that it’s rare a day goes by that I don’t get a call from an artist who wants to get into art rental. They’re compensated when their work goes out on rental and along with the exposure they benefit from the commission when a work sells.”

Most artists rely heavily on word of mouth for advertising, so when you rent, hang a piece by a local artist and then show off the painting to your friends, you are providing valuable advertising and helping out a BC artist. So next time you see a piece you adore, but aren’t brave enough to just slap down the cash, why not enquire about art rental and try before you buy?

Lydia Millett hails from New Zealand and has recently moved to Canada. She has an English literature degree and a diploma in creative writing.