Art Agreements...A Necessity

Over the last 4 years of being an artist, I have been taught many things that were thrown my way. Running a successful art business is definitely not for the faint of heart. One important thing you must do is to keep yourself and your art protected. Find an Art Agreement that suits your need and your business.

The main one that I use in my business is an agreement with my client who wants a commission piece of artwork. Now, for close friends and family, you may not need to use one, but that is for you to decided.

So, what is in an art agreement? Great question! A basic art agreement will cover information regarding: price of commission, payment breakdown (if a deposit system is being used), materials used for said artwork and completion date. Those are the pretty basic. However, many art agreement formats have included more legal categories that can be scary looking but it will save your ass!! Things like: Rights Trasnferred - stating that the art will be solely owned by the Client. If the Artist wants to use the artwork for a reproduction, then a new agreement must be made with the Client with permission to do so; Termination/Kill Fee - if the Client cancels the commission, they must pay the Artist if they are partially or fully completed the artwork; other important factors, Release of Liability and Copyright. OH FUN!

But wait....THERE IS MORE! Let the paranoia kick in! There are other agreements you can look into, but they are more geared toward businesses who want to license your art design for merchandise like cards, napkins, mugs etc. One can be so lucky. At this point, there are are agreements that discuss your payment structure in different formats. I won’t go through them with a fine tooth comb for you, but just so you know what is out there:

All Rights for Limited Purpose - this is where the artist gives the Client exclusive right to publish, print, employ, advertise in a limited way for a set price.

All Right for Limited Time and Purpose - the same as above, but it has a date of expiration where the ownership will then go back to the Artist.

All Right for Limited Time - The artwork can be used in any way, shape or form, but with a date of expiration.

One-Time Rights - use of artwork is ONLY used for one set purpose. A date of expiration can be used for this as well.

Complicated, right?! Oh...it just gets better. Start learning about what you are worth. When it comes to working with Clients that want to use your artwork, start talking about $$$$$$! Most artists just want to have one price given to them and then they walk away. Well, keep yourself covered. Is your art going to be used on merchandise or in publication? How about getting your fair share? That is right! I am talking about getting royalties! There are many ways to go about doing this, but do your research with the company and how they will be producing your art, quantity-wise. If it is a short-run term, then a lump sum of money will be the best way to go. However, if it is a long-term production with no limited time set, then ask for a royalty (5-7%). Do some research online and find out more or ask questions within your art community.

Knowledge of your business is key. It is not always all about creating, but about being a smart business person as well. 

Don’t be a starving artist.... BE A THRIVING ARTIST!!! Now go create and make some money knowing that you are covered!!

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