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Artist commission contract explained

Artist commission contract explained

When you take on a commissioned project, you get into a legal relationship with your client. Below is a list of the key provisions for the artist commission contract that you can use to protect yourself.

To get our Agreement template (plus a comprehensive Agreement Checklist), take our live or on-demand Working on Commissioned Projects masterclass, so you can protect yourself and take on projects with confidence. You'll also get communication, negotiation, and mindset tips for successful work with clients (with examples).

The artist commission contract typically includes the following key terms, but is not limited to these few provisions:

  • Parties: This section specifies the parties of the contract (you and your client).

  • Date: This section specifies the effective date of the contract (the date it's created).

  • Location: If the project is performed at a specific location, this section specifies the location.

  • Project and services: This section describes the work that the artist will be doing for the client. It should be as specific as possible, so that there are no misunderstandings about what is expected.

  • Sketch fee: This section specifies the fee to be paid by the client for the Sketch (also known as design or rendering) of the project.

  • Sketch deadline: This section specifies the deadline for the sketch.

  • Revisions: This section sets out the number of revisions to the Sketch that the client is allowed to request. Any additional revisions will be subject to an additional fee.

  • Project timeline: This section specifies the project timeline.

  • Delivery: If the artwork is mobile and is to be delivered to the client, this section sets out the deadline for the artist to deliver the artwork to the client. It should also specify how the artwork will be delivered, and whether or not it will be framed and installed.

  • Project cost: This section specifies the project cost break-down.

  • Payment: This section outlines the payment terms for the commission. It should specify the amount of the fee, when payments are due, and what happens if the client fails to pay on time.

  • Copyright: This section determines who will own the copyright to the artwork. The artist will typically retain the copyright, but the client may acquire certain rights, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, and display the artwork.

  • Termination and cancellation: This section outlines the terms under which either party can terminate or cancel the contract. It should specify what happens to any payments that have already been made if the contract is terminated.

  • Governing Law: This section determines which state's laws will govern the contract.

  • Entire Agreement: This section states that the contract constitutes the entire agreement between the parties, and supersedes any prior or contemporaneous communications, representations, or agreements.

  • Signatures and dates: This section provides space for your and your client's signatures and dates when the contract is signed.

It is important to note that this is just a sample of key contract provisions, and you may need to modify it to fit your specific needs. You should also consult with an attorney to ensure that the contract is in your best interests.

For a more comprehensive list of provisions and a contract template, please consider taking our Working on Commissioned Projects masterclass.

I hope this helps you on your creative path!

We have created three masterclasses to help you break into the field of art commissions, so you can open this lucrative income stream for yourself:

1) Start off by taking our FREE masterclass, Pricing Commissioned Projects, to learn how to price commissioned projects.

2) Getting Commissioned Projects masterclass will teach you proven ways to position yourself online (without burning too many calories), so that clients can find you easily.

3) Working on Commissioned Projects masterclass will arm you with a Project Agreement template (plus an agreement checklist), so you can take on projects with confidence. You'll also get communication, negotiation, and mindset tips for successful work with clients (with examples).


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