If you’re an artist, there are various ways to make money from your artwork. One potentially lucrative way is commissioned: when someone hires you to create something specifically for them in exchange for payment.
While this can be an exciting source of income and recognition, it is essential to remember that each commission should have a written contract outlining the agreed-upon terms between you and the buyer. Having an official agreement helps everyone understand the expectations and limits of the project, preventing potential issues down the road.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss why writing contracts for commissioned work is essential and provide tips on crafting one that benefits both parties.
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What Is A Contract For Artist
A commission contract states the terms and conditions in detail for an artist creating a painting or a drawing for a customer.
A commission contract usually specify:
- Project start date
- Project finish date
- Project cost
- Payment schedule
- Project requirements
- Project constraints
When Should An Artist Use A Commission Contract
When asked to create a unique piece of art for a client, an artist should write an art commission agreement.
Whether the commission project is of high value, low value, for an individual, or a business, a contract is necessary to complete the project without any miscommunications.
The artist contract will clearly define the expectations of the project and keep both parties accountable for the project.
The contract will also protect your brand’s reputation by having a written document stating what is required. The agreement will not allow a client to say that you said you would provide something you didn’t state.
Keeping all formal timelines and detailed conditions of every project in writing is essential for operating an art business.
How Does A Written Agreement Protect An Artist And Client
A complete contract provides a written promise of how much an artist will be paid for a project and when they should receive payment.
The contract will also be a written document of what the artist is supposed to produce for the project. This written information will protect the artist in case the buyer states the artist was supposed to provide a different product.
The contract will also produce a timeframe for when the project is to be completed. This documentation will prevent the buyer from stating the project was supposed to be completed before the due date.
The contract will also be a written document on delivering the product and any return policy information if there is a return policy.
How Does A Commission Contract Protect The Buyer
A commission contract protects a buyer just like it protects the artist.
The contract protects a buy by:
- Having the total price of the project documented so an artist can not change the prices during the project
- Completion date and delivery date
- Delivery information, such as who is responsible for delivering the artist’s work.
- Refund policy
How To Write An Art Commission Contract
Here are the key elements an artist agreement should have:
- Buyers name
- Artists name
- Date of when the project will start
- Date when the project will be completed
- Detailed information about the project including the size, medium, colors, and subject.
- Details on how the job will be completed
- The total price of the project
- If a down payment required
- When the downpayment is expected
- When the final payment is expected
- What happens if the buyer does not complete the payment
Include a price list of your existing artwork as a point of reference.
Explain why prices might be higher or lower than your existing artwork.
Tell new clients any information on expected price increases for the future.
If someone wants to commission a project in the next few months, it is good business to lock them in the existing price structure with a downpayment.
Who Owns The Rights
Explain in detail who owns the rights to the finished product and any reproduction rights, if any.
Explain the terms of terminating the project by the artist and the commissioner.
Include Extra Details Of The Commission Project
The more details you document, the better your relationship with the commissioner.
Include information like:
- Who will be responsible for reference images, if any
- Explain what happens if you can not work with the images due to poor quality.
- If you will provide a rough sketch of the subject before painting or drawing the finished piece
- If you will allow viewings of the art in progress
- If you will enable revisions of the artwork
- Products you will use for the project
Sometimes, a client might not be happy with the finished commissioned artwork.
If you cannot get the job done as explained in the contract, you might want to refund the client’s down payment.
You will lose more than a down payment if your art business gets terrible reviews.
On the other hand, if you were providing progress reviews and the client was happy with the progress but then changed their mind, you should retain the down payment and the rights to sell the final piece,
This information should also be included in the contract and verbally agreed upon.
Wrapping Up The Commission Project
The last step is to document when the final payment is due and arrangements for shipping the product or pick-up date and location.
Signing The Contract
The last step is to make sure that the party understands everything that the contract covers.
If the party excepts the contract, both you and the client must sign and date the agreement.
You and the client must retain an original copy of the agreement.
Commissioned art Contract Templates
Here is a list of sites that offer art commission terms and an artist contract template.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Artist Contract Templates
Using artist contract templates can be a handy tool for any artistic endeavor. Artist contract templates provide a great resource to easily create and understand the details of any agreement between two parties, making it much easier for both parties involved to agree quickly.
Aside from professionally structuring your contracts and helping protect the rights of all involved, artist contract templates also ensure that all expectations are clearly outlined. With a good, detailed template, all the necessary details are laid out in an easy-to-understand format, saving time and potential confusion or disagreement.
By having a well-drafted legal document in place at the outset, artists can rest assured that their projects are well protected throughout their duration, ensuring everything runs as smoothly as possible while protecting both parties’ interests.
Final Thoughts On How To Write A Contract For Commission Artwork
Commission projects are an excellent way to supplement your income while waiting for original artwork to sell.
However, both the artist and the client must agree on the conditions of the project.
A written contract will protect both the artist and the buyer.
Keep a file for the contract for commission artwork for future reference.
Art Contracts – Protect Your Art Business
10 Art Commissions Tips For More Sales