Having a solid contract ready to go for commission work is such an immensely important part of running your art business that getting started can feel overwhelming. How do you make sure you’ve included all the necessary verbiage, and haven’t left anything out that’s going to make the difference between a successful transaction and a huge mess?
We can’t write your contract for you, but we have a lot of resources to share that will help you write a solid artist contract that will serve you well, protect your business and keep your clients happy.
When Do I Need a Contract?
Any time you enter into an agreement in which you will produce work in exchange for money, goods, or something else of value, you need a contract in place. This post on contract law from the U.S. Small Business Administration breaks it down very simply.
Basically, in order for a contract to be legally binding:
- Both parties must be in agreement
- Something of value must be exchanged
Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of situations in which you would need a contract:
- Signing with a gallery
- Speaking engagements
- Teaching workshops or classes
- Private commissions
- Licensing your art
- Commissions from a business or nonprofit
- Commissions from a government/public entity
- Commissions from friends/family
- Showing at an art fair or other exhibition
Note: If “contract” feels too formal or stiff for your business or you’re concerned about how your clients will react to signing a contract, just call it an “artist agreement” “commission agreement”, or something similar.
Resources for Writing Artist Contracts
*Asterisk denotes affiliate link
Writing a contract
Reviewing a contract
Negotiating a contract
Do you have a contract template ready to go? What have you found are the most important elements to include? Let us know in the comments!