By Veronica Baxter, Guest Blogger - Visual artists must be prepared when negotiating a contract with an art gallery. This article will discuss how to prepare for the contract negotiation. Whether you are a new artist looking to get your work noticed, or an established artist trying to break into a new space, you will find valuable tips to secure a lucrative contract in an art gallery.

Have a List of Requirements and Questions Well Ahead of the Negotiation

Regardless of the industry, you should always know what you want during a negotiation. You need to confidently articulate what you want out of the business relationship to be taken seriously from a business perspective.

This means you’ll need to ask many questions.

Questions to Ask During a Contract Negotiation With an Art Gallery

The goal of asking questions is to get a concrete understanding of the business relationship from start to finish. Your questions should be designed so that the answers clearly define your responsibilities and those of the art gallery. Your questions should range across a wide variety of topics -- from marketing to logistics and beyond.

 

Marketing questions to consider:

  • What will the art gallery do to promote and market your work?
  • What do you need to do in regards to promotion and marketing?
  • Will you need to create new exclusive pieces for the gallery?
  • Do exclusive pieces need their contracts to determine the duration of exclusivity?
  • How much will be allocated for a marketing budget?

Logistical Questions to consider:

  • Will my work be exhibited elsewhere or rotated out on a tour?
  • Who pays for shipping, handling, and insurance?
  • If I make a sale instead of the gallery, do I get the commission?
  • How are the selling prices determined?
  • What are the commission fees and what goes into calculating commission fees?

Display Questions to Consider:

  • How much gallery space will you need vs. how much they are willing to give?
  • Do I have a say in how my art is displayed?
  • Do I get to restrict who I share my gallery space with?
  • How often will I need to present and discuss my work on-site?
  • Do I need to produce work on-site?

Arm Yourself With Knowledge of the Contract Negotiation Process

The artist with their head in the clouds is a frustrating yet persistent stereotype. Yet, there are plenty of successful artists who possess strong business acumen. The artist who can advocate on their own behalf during negotiations will be able to dodge this negative stereotype more easily and secure a better contract as a result.

Here are some must-know contractual tips:

Try To Get an Escape Clause

Escape clauses are essential in contracts with an art gallery. They allow either party to nullify the contract when a clearly defined term or condition is not met. Escape clauses are not to be confused with breach-of-contract clauses.

The difference is that both parties can agree to nullify a yearlong contract if, say, there are no sales after six months. In this example, neither party breached the contract; however, a specific condition was not met. Therefore, it is in the interest of both parties to nullify the agreement.

Push For an Arbitration/Mediation Clause

This clause stipulates that before either party resorts to a lawsuit, a mediator must be brought in to settle any contractual disputes. Both parties must hire a mediator. These clauses are important to bring up in negotiations because they are intended to prevent a costly lawsuit.

Make Sure the Indemnification Clause Works Both Ways

Indemnification clauses are designed so that if one party misrepresents themselves, their work, or if one party breaches part of the contract, then the offending party is responsible for the legal fees associated with any ensuing litigation. Sometimes these are one-sided and apply only when the artist breaches the contract. Negotiate so that the indemnification clause applies to both sides.

Come to the Negotiation Table Prepared

This article is far from exhaustive, but it is intended to get you thinking about the negotiation process in the way a lawyer would. You must ask questions to lay out the responsibilities of both parties clearly. The more detail, the better the deal. You also need to familiarize yourself with specific clauses and legalese that will lead to a fair and lucrative contract.

Veronica Baxter is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant operating out of the greater Philadelphia area. She writes for Yao Law, an entertainment and immigration lawyer in New Jersey.

The New Year is a time for artists to look ahead to how they can grow and advance their art careers. Although 2020 is technically behind us, there are still some challenges to overcome as the world continues to work its way out of a terrible pandemic. This has been enormously difficult for everyone but artists and the arts community has been hit particularly hard. However, with the release of vaccines, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel and it is time for artists to look forward.

At the beginning of every New Year, we post an article with ideas and suggestions for how artists can to make plans for how to kick-start and best to tackle your art career goals in 2020.

Have you set up your art marketing goals for the New Year? If not, the following are 5 things you can do to kick start 2021 and improve your chances of success.   

Many of these ideas have been offered up in previous “kick-start” posts but they are elementary and consistently implementing them is not.  They are critical for artists if they are to market themselves and their art successfully.

Evaluate & Update Your Website

While the past year has given some artists the time and opportunity to either create or update their websites, for many it has been difficult to concentrate amid the worry of the ongoing pandemic. However, in today’s art world, particularly with all its changes, in order to be taken seriously, it is essential for artists to have a modern, professional, up-to-date website to display their art.

The annual cost to purchase or renew a website domain is typically less than $20. The cost of basic website hosting can be as low as $3-$4 per month. A website is an investment artists need to make a priority in order to be taken seriously.

For those of you who already have websites, if you haven’t reviewed it in a while, now is the time. When was the last time that you went page by page and link by link through it? We all need to do this to find broken links, pages that do not load quickly, graphics, images and other items that have moved, along with pages with misspelled words and similar issues.

The presentation of your art is as important as creating it. Take some time to review your site and make any necessary changes and corrections. Make sure all of the images on your website are sized properly and have a low resolution (a resolution of 72 helps your site load more quickly and protects your art from being copied by unscrupulous people).  The images should also be color corrected if necessary, as some cameras and lighting do no always capture an artwork’s true colors. There are many free programs on the internet for this.

Also, do you have better images or graphics to replace what now exists on your website?  Do you have new artwork that you just have not had time to photograph and add to your website? Do it. 

While checking your images, make sure that they are labeled and tagged properly with good image descriptions.  Search engines will only index your images if they have descriptions.  By doing this, your images will show up in the image search results and when the images are viewed, viewers will be directed to your art website.

Rewrite/ Update your Artists Bio and Statement

A well-written biography and/or artist statement is also essential for artists and now is the time to review and update them.  An artist does not have to be an accomplished writer to create a well-written biography and artist statement, but it is necessary for an artist to have at least one. It is also important to know the difference between a biography and artist statement as many artists mistake one for the other. Please read our article “Comparing an Artist’s Biography to an Artist’s Statement” for clarification.

Also, update your CV by adding any exhibitions, new publications or other pertinent information that has taken place since the last time it was updated.

Use Social Media

Social media has become a part of our everyday lives and is an important platform for all artists to employ in order to help market themselves and their art. Why is this? In our opinion, it is easy to identify and connect with the art community when using social media.

It is also an effective medium because it is a visual and simple way in which to present your art. Particularly now, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram and even Twitter provide artists with opportunities (if targeted properly) to reach viewers who were previously unreachable.

Read our articles “Top 10 Reasons Why Artists Fail with Social Media”, “Using the 70-20-10 Rule to Succeed at Social Media Marketing” by guest blogger James Baxter, and “How to Write Social Media Posts That Sell Art” by guest blogger Frank Hamilton, along with various other social media articles on the LST website, for further advice and instruction on how best to use social media to grow your audience reach.

Press Release Marketing

Press release marketing is a low-cost way artists can market their artwork to a wider range of potential viewers. There are many “Free” press release websites, which take, publish and market an artist’s press release copy.  One such site is PRLog.org. PRLog’s free press release submission includes a PDF version to send to your mailing list, a search engine optimized page, hyperlinks in the content, and the option to select location/industry and tag listings. In addition, companies like Star One Public Relations offers press release distribution services for as low as $10.00 for distribution to 70+ press outlets.  Read our article “Successful Press Release Marketing for Artists” and 6 Benefits for Press Releases for Artists to help guide you in these efforts.  Also check out our article “5 Ways Artists Can Promote Their Art Online” for more ideas.

Start a Blog

Artists should seriously consider starting an art blog as a way to attract and direct additional interested viewers to their art websites. An art blog is a great way to expand an artist’s target audience. It is also an effective platform to help artists market their art.

Read our articles “Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Have an Art Blog” and “How Artists Can Attract Readers to an Art Blog” in order to fully understand the power of a well-executed art blog.

In 2021, we hope you will make at least some, if not all, of these suggestions part of your art marketing efforts. By implementing these recommendations, artists can experience increased traffic to their websites, find more people interested in their art and ultimately, sell more of their work. 

However, as with any marketing program, it is important to focus your efforts. All artists should view the marketing of their art to be as important as the creation of it and an art-marketing plan needs to be well planned and performed consistently in order to be successful.  Check out our article “5 Tips for Creating an Effective Art Marketing Strategy” by guest blogger Wendy Dessler, for more suggestions.

Good luck and have a creative, successful and prosperous 2021!

 

This article was originally posted in 2010 but has been updated and revised as of June 2020.

Steven Covey’s early 1990’s, best-selling book entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” provided a holistic and principled approach to problem-solving, living and adapting to change by seeing opportunities rather than problems.

The book became a huge bestseller and still sells well today, even almost 30 years later. This is because the advice offered in the book still resonates. In that helpful spirit, below we have highlighted seven habits which we believe artists should follow to become highly effective and successful. Although we are detailing only seven habits, the readers of this article may have ideas on other successful “habits” as well.

The seven habits of highly effective and successful artists are:

  1.  Having a passion for your art: First, artists must have a passion for their art and everything that is associated with being an artist. Why is this? It is because there will be problems, barriers, and challenges to being an artist. However, if you are passionate about what you do, these issues will be perceived as detours to success, rather than “problems”.
  2. Being focused on your art: Successful artists will not be distracted from their art and their commitment to achieving their goals. To be successful, most things requires a focus and a “singleness of purpose”. Successful artists have this focus, as their art is a priority in their lives.
  3. Having a vision of your success: Artists who are successful had a vision and saw themselves achieving great things in their chosen profession. Despite any roadblocks, problems or defeats, their vision kept them working towards their goal. Even after artists have achieved their goals, the successful ones will create new goals and new visions to be achieved.
  4. Being persistent in the face of adversity: Most people in the face of adversity quit. People who got past the adversity did so because they persisted on towards their goal. Persistence is the difference between a successful artists and artists who quits. The quitters lose focus and their vision.
  5.  Professionalism in all dealings: Successful artists are professional in all of their dealings with the public, gallery owners, art reps and with suppliers. It is simple, if they were not professional, then they would not be successful for very long.
  6. Ready to maximize opportunities: Successful artists are prepared and ready to maximize and leverage any opportunities that come their way. Whether it is to fill in quickly for another artist at a gallery, give an interview, write an article for a blog or to give a speech to a group, successful artists see that as an opportunity to network, promote and brand their artwork. Unsuccessful artists see those not as opportunities but rather something that interrupts what they were doing! The artist who is engaged and ready to capitalize on opportunities when they come along will be or become successful.
  7. Understanding that art is a business: Successful artists see themselves as business people. They understand that other people, who they are connected to within the art world, are also business people and they conduct themselves in that manner too. Now more than ever in today’s marketplace art is a business. Art is a competitive business and artists must learn how to successfully operate it or they will eventually fail.

There are certainly other habits and traits of successful artists beyond what we have outlined above. However, if artists are talented and apply these 7 habits to their craft, they will be more likely to be successful.

After reading this article, please feel free to share with us any of your habits that you feel have made you more effective and successful in your art and career.

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