The process of receiving payment when selling any product, not just art, has evolved significantly and especially in recent years. Artists now have an array of options to choose from, catering to both their convenience and the preferences of their clients.

From traditional methods like cash and checks to modern solutions like peer-to-peer payment platforms, let's delve into the various ways artists like you can accept payment for your valuable artwork. Choose the options that are best for you whether you are selling online or at an in-person event such as an exhibition, market or art fair.

how to accept payments for your artwork

1. Cash and Checks: Cash and checks still have a place in the realm of art transactions even though they are not as common as they were before. For local sales or in-person events, these options provide a direct and straightforward way for artists to receive payment. Just remember to have a small reserve of cash on hand so that you can give change as needed.

That said, payments by check can lack the security and record-keeping features that alternatives offer. Always be very careful when a potential client you've only been in touch with online offers to pay via a check. Common art scams begin this way, and are prevalent on social media platforms. Many artists now simply refuse to accept checks from unknown clients because of this so it's up to you whether you feel the customer is trustworthy. One of the biggest red flags is if the client is unwilling to be flexible and use another form of payment. If they truly loved the work of art, they likely wouldn't mind making a credit card payment instead.

2. Invoices: Invoicing is a professional and organized approach to payment, especially for larger purchases and commissioned projects. Artists should send detailed invoices that outline the artwork's description, price, and payment terms. I have a free invoice template for artists that you can use as a guide. All you need to do is fill in your client's information and any terms you've agreed to (e.g. who retains rights to the image, who is in charge of shipping/insurance, when will the artwork ship, etc). This method also facilitates transparency and accountability, helping both parties track the transaction.

3. Credit Cards: Accepting credit card payments is easier than ever even when selling on your own with the growth of art e-commerce. Artists can buy simple payment processors that allow clients to pay with their credit cards securely. This provides a quick and seamless purchasing experience for customers when you're selling your work in person. One thing to note is that each company will charge a small fee for the use of their system so you may want to compare them to find the best deal. A few examples are Stripe & Square.

4. Online Shops: Online marketplaces and personal artist websites open up new avenues for selling artwork. Artists can integrate payment gateways into their websites, enabling clients to browse, select, and purchase artwork with just a few clicks. This convenience encourages impulse buying and global accessibility. Not to mention, it makes the sales process more hands-off for you and gives buyers the flexibility to make a purchase 24/7.

The same holds true if you partner with an online gallery or sell your art via a marketplace like Saatchi, Etsy, ArtFinder, Altamira, etc. Since there are many options of third-party platforms, however, remember to compare the commission rates each takes and also what kind of visibility you're likely to receive. Some platforms may show the work of thousands of artists or more, and if that is the case, it may be difficult for new clients to discover you.

options for artist payments

5. Payment Plans: Recognizing that art purchases can be significant investments, many artists now offer flexible payment plans. This allows buyers to acquire artwork in smaller, more manageable installments rather than a lump-sum payment. Payment plans can broaden your customer base and make your work more attainable. If you already have an e-commerce capable website, it's likely they offer a payment plan option that you can integrate into your store (e.g. ShopPay, AfterPay). If not, you can also set up payment plans via PayPal. Otherwise, you can always do this manually via invoicing, but it is then up to you to track all payments and balances.

Note! When a client pays via a payment plan, the standard agreement is that they will not receive the artwork until the balance is paid in full.

6. PayPal, Venmo or Zelle: Peer-to-peer payment platforms have gained traction as quick and convenient ways to send and receive money. Artists can leverage these platforms for sales, often eliminating transaction fees associated with other methods. However, you should be careful to track the payments you receive this way so that you're prepared when tax season rolls around.

7. Bank Transfers: Direct bank transfers provide a secure and direct means of payment. Artists can share their bank details with buyers, who then initiate transfers online or through their banking apps. While this method may require a certain level of trust between parties, it eliminates the need for intermediaries. This is most common for large artwork purchases or if a company is purchasing a work of art from you.

8. Digital Wallets and Cryptocurrencies: The emergence of digital wallets and cryptocurrencies is the newest approach to art transactions. Some artists and platforms accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, catering to a tech-savvy clientele. However, the volatility and complexity of cryptocurrencies can present challenges so 'enter at your own risk'.

In the contemporary art landscape, adapting to various payment methods has become essential for artists seeking to maximize their sales potential. The choice of payment method depends on factors such as your comfort level with the different payment options, your buyers' preferences, and the nature of the transaction. Although considering these factors is important, also keep in mind that being flexible and allowing customers to pay you in multiple ways will likely broaden your audience and increase sales.

As the digital age continues to shape commerce, artists have the opportunity to explore innovative ways of receiving payment while upholding professionalism and security. Whether it's the practicality of credit cards or the convenience of online platforms, the diverse array of options empowers artists to connect with their buyers on their terms. By embracing these diverse avenues, you can both foster meaningful relationships with your clients while ensuring your artwork reaches the hands of those who appreciate it most.

Happy selling!

Found this article helpful? You'll also enjoy our affordable business course for artists The Smartist School, or our book The Complete Smartist Guide.


Alicia Puig has been a contributing writer for Create! Magazine since 2017. Find more of her work at