Have you ever dealt with an upset buyer who refuses to pay you? Or, you receive a call from your new gallery representation saying your pieces were due in yesterday, but you could have sworn you had another week?
With so much going on in your art business, things can get confusing. Your reputation and livelihood are put on the line, and when misunderstandings happen, it’s usually your art business that takes the hit.
But, there's a way to protect your art and business from these kinds of problems.
The solution? A contract. Whether it’s a gallery showing, commission, consignment, or licensing deal, a contract helps everyone understand their responsibilities. Plus, it’s something official you can turn to if anything goes wrong.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the more clear and concise the contract is, the better! To help you get started, take a look at a few basic components to include in your contract so you can better protect your art business.
1. Client Info
Begin your contract with each parties' name, business, address, email, and phone number to make it clear who is involved and how you can get in touch.
2. Project Info and Terms
Next, explain exactly what the project is and what each person is responsible for. Whether it’s a contract for new gallery representation or a commissioned piece, this is where it pays to be extremely clear and detailed.
Think about every aspect of the project from start to finish, and answer these questions: What is involved? Who will be in charge of getting it done? When? How?
Dig deeper to determine exact details like:
Who is responsible for the costs and actions of shipping, framing, insuring, and storing the artwork? Who pays for damaged work?
How involved can the client be in the commission process? What is the process for revisions? How many times do you need to meet with the client?
If you’re working with a gallery, who determines prices and how are records kept of your sales? How many pieces does a show require, who determines the layout, and who will physically be setting up the displays?
Who is responsible for marketing your pieces or gallery show? Does this restrict what you can post on social media or online? Who has the right to use images of your art?
Is the art being consigned? What is a gallery or retailer allowed to sell and for how long? Do they have exclusive selling rights? How long will your art be in their possession before you can reclaim it?
TIP: These questions are a great starting point, but should not be used as a complete list. Make sure you really think through the terms for your specific art business project and consider consulting a lawyer.
3. Project Timeline
Whether you create an entire section dedicated to the project’s timeline or include it in the terms above, it’s important to spell out the time expectations for the project.
Both parties will have duties that need to be completed by a certain time or date in order for the project to be finished successfully. This section of the contract should also state the ramifications if one party fails to deliver.
An artist, for instance, shouldn’t be held accountable for a delayed finish date on a commission if the client did not provide the agreed-upon feedback in time. But, neither can a gallery, if an artist does not deliver their work on time.
4. Costs and Payment Terms
Include a section where you name the price and costs of the project. Be sure to pinpoint who is responsible for paying what, including any hidden fees or taxes, and set specific due dates and processes for the payment.
Will you require a deposit up front, payments throughout, and a final payment? Will you accept credit, cash, or check? What percentages will wholesalers, galleries, or other agents take?
Cover the money-related terms extensively early on, so you can focus on the art process.
It may not be necessary for every contract, but if you are consigning your artwork to a gallery or retailer, you will want to go the extra mile to protect your art business by including an itemized list of the pieces you’ll be turning over to them.
This list can include images and details like title, dimension, medium, description, price, and so on. And, you can easily make a professional-looking list for your clients with Artwork Archive. Just select what pieces and details you are including from your inventory, and voilà!
6. Artist’s Rights
This section doesn’t have to be extensive, it can be a simple statement about retaining the copyrights to your artwork.
7. Cancellation Terms
As an added protection, include who is responsible if the contract is canceled and what the next steps would be. So as not to be left without payment for the time and effort you spent before the project was canceled, consider making your client’s initial deposit non-refundable.
8. Acceptance of Agreement
To finalize the contract, include an agreed upon statement that includes the terms of the contract, followed by the names, signatures, and the date to be signed by both parties.
Protect your art business.
When it comes to an effective art business contract, the devil is in the details. There can be so many responsibilities to keep track of that it just makes sense to spell out who’s in charge of what and when. In the end, you’ll avoid any misunderstandings, help the process go more smoothly, and protect your art business with a solid contract to look back on.
*Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this article should not be construed as legal advice, and Artwork Archive will not be held responsible for any legal activity resulting from reading this article. To develop a complete contract for your specific needs, please consult an attorney.