Tag Archive - signed contract

Studio Rules


Years ago, a friend of mine mentioned that her family, who are all artists, have family studio rules. I thought this was a good idea to implement for myself and I’m sharing in case you find them helpful as well.

Here are my basic rules. Let me know what additional rules you may have below.

1. No work is started without a signed contract. Even if they are a friend, and I know them well.

2. 50% deposit is required at beginning of work, even if they are a friend and I know them. (Yes even good friends can be flakey.)

3. Contract states exactly what is expected for the piece, and any big changes create a change order (and additional money).

4. Anyone who wastes my time with phantom shows/events that fall through at the last minute does not get a second chance.

5. All work left anywhere has at minimum a consignment sheet, with agreed to price, inventory number if applicable, and sales fees stated, signed by the owner before the artwork is left.

6. Collect sales tax on all in-state purchases. Because not collecting tax equates to giving someone an additional 9% discount, as I then have to pay the sales tax myself. (Some artists simply factor this into their pricing. I however find it a little messy to try and back out the tax after a sale, and prefer to simply add that onto the sale at the end.)

I have found that besides saving me a lot of headaches and frustration, having studio rules is an easy way to make things less personal. By that I mean, if you tell someone No, they can get upset. But when you let them No, you have a set of basic business rules, that apply to all clients, there is less chance for a client or potential client to take this personally.

What are some of your studio rules? I’d love to hear from you below. Thanks!

The Value Of A Signed Contract For Artists

A few days ago my manager went to pick up art from a hotel who had called to say that after a few months, nothing had sold. When he went to pick up the art, he discovered that 1/4 of my work had actually sold. Which, given the limited amount of time my work had been hanging in the hotel during the off season, was in line with other spaces my work was selling at in the same area.

The hotel manager tried to argue with my manager and insisted that all that work had been stolen. And was trying to not pay for any of it. Even though the art was in a restricted area that was not easily accessible to non employees. If I had not made sure to give my manager the paperwork from when he dropped the work off, that clearly stated the name of the hotel, the manager’s signature, and a detailed list of the work and the commission I would not have gotten paid.

My advice to everyone is, next time before you drop off work anywhere, make sure you have in writing a detailed list of what you are dropping off, how much it costs and what you expect to get back. This takes maybe 1/2 an hour of time, but is so worth the extra effort should something go wrong. I also generally have a legal contract associated with my work. But for smaller, non original limited edition work I sometimes decide to not scare people off with a legal contract as well. (Which is a risk I weigh individually.)

Because I’m not an attorney, I ordered a legal documents book for artists I found at my local book store called The Visual Artist’s Business and Legal Guide by Gregory T. Victroff. I have since easily modified my documents based on that book. And I will say that in the ten years or so that I have been leaving art somewhere, this is the first time I have had an issue. But I was very glad I had developed this practice when my manager returned with both my art and a check for the sold work. If you don’t have a local art store that caries these types of legal books, you can also order one from Amazon. Here’s a link for the book I use and a few others.

How about you? Have you even been really glad you had a contract?

For more about showing art see An Art Show Is Never just About the Show