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. That amount, 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, 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 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 known risk I weigh each time I enter into an agreement.)

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.  And have then easily modified my documents based on that.  (This book is not in print (you can get it used), but you can get it used. There are also other books available on Amazon or your local library that offer similar templates.) 

And I will say that in the twenty years or so that I have been leaving art somewhere, I have had an issue at some point in those relationships only 3 times.  And in this instance, I was very glad I had developed this practice when my manager returned with both my art, and a check for the sold work.  

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