Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Getting Paid for Your Art / Part I

Creating art is what most committed artists enjoy doing, and we also enjoy selling our work - some with aspirations of being a professional artist, and some who are already at that level.  However, the business of art can be ridden with financial pitfalls, from buyers who are slow in paying to organizations who want to own an artist's work without paying anything.  Invariably, these type of buyers prey on an artist's desire for exposure and their need to sell their work.  There are some precautions that serious artists can take to ensure getting paid at the time they sell their work.

In order to establish a track record through exposure, emerging artists tend to participate in almost any venue that is offered, including vendor shows, street fairs and group exhibitions.  They are often quite eager to accept commissions, as well.  It is important that proper forms are available and signed before an artist participates in any venue.

After being "burned" several times (in various ways)by not getting paid on time, I drew up every conceivable type of form to have on hand for selling my art.  Some of these forms included contracts, commission agreements, blank itemized bills, reminder notes, installment agreements and exhibition agreements, to name a few.  Even though art dealers and other art business people have their own forms, I wanted to make sure that all their forms covered all variables.

Other ways that artists can make sure they get paid is by establishing a business policy for selling their work and stick to it.  Again, put it in writing! This policy should include:  How, What, Where, When and Who regarding the exchange of art for the exchange of cash.  It should also include whether you plan to be paid in full or in installments.  An artist should always include any variables pertaining to special circumstances regarding their particular work.
For example, if an organization asks you to freely donate a piece of art with the understanding that they pay no percentage, agree to donate but state your percentage policy if you expect to be paid.  Make sure you either have a form or draw up a form for this type of exchange.  Gaining exposure is always good, but artists must get paid for their hard work.

In Part II of this series, I will share some of my experiences regarding this subject.