Commissions for visual artists

A major part of visual artists’ income comes from creating works on commission. Commissions and assignments can be given by the government, the business world, private individuals or via intermediaries.


The government is an important party in granting commissions. Assignments are given for art in public places, artwork in government buildings and art in and at non-profit organizations.

The so-called percentage arrangement states that 0.5-2% of the building costs associated with new government buildings has to be spent on artwork in, or on the building. This arrangement is administered by the Centra Beeldende Kunst (Centres for the visual arts). Every province or big city has one of these. But the job of administering the arrangement is often given to other organizations such as the Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, or Stroom in The Hague.

Advisers of such organizations select an artist for a commission in different ways: through advertisements, by a directed request for documentation materials, and also by the name and popularity of an artist. An overview of all the governmental agencies dealing with art is published annually in the magazine BK-informatie (information).

Business world

More and more businesses make use of artists’ services. This is not only for the purpose of expanding their art collections, but also for decorating their buildings and for promotional gifts. The creative spirit of artists is used, to an increasing degree, to stimulate employees and managers.

Private individuals

The largest share of commissions for artists comes from the private sector, both in numbers and in volume.


Intermediaries connect companies and artists. They usually have a large data base of artistic works. When businesses want to acquire art or issue a commission, they can go to an intermediary. Examples of intermediaries are Onderneming & Kunst and ArtOlive.