Contracting With an Artist

Expect Professionalism

Be sure to plan your project carefully and communicate thoroughly with the artist every step of the way. The more expensive the project is, the more important it is to ask the artist for some preliminary designs in advance. All artists charge a design fee, even if they have not been hired for the project yet. So ask for designs from your top choice first, then work down the list if you need to. If you are unhappy with the first designs, do not continue working with that artist. If you are happy, then you're ready to formalize a contract.

Now is the time to be very specific. Discuss the budget and the turn around time with the artist and make sure this information is included in the contract. You don't want any possible misunderstandings to arise later when the work has been started and you are facing deadlines. Once you have agreed to the particulars of the project, you cannot come back later and change the agreement without the artist's agreement.

Putting a Contract in Writing

If the project is expensive, get an attorney involved from the beginning. It's much less costly to do that then pay one to untangle a mess later on. A signed contract or letter of agreement forces the artist to complete the work to your specifications and time frame. Conversely, it protects the artist and ensures the artist will receive the right compensation at the right time.

Make the contract specific to the project. It should describe the art in detail: size, color, style, material to be used, weight, and so forth.

Typically the artist is the one responsible for the design, production, shipping and installation of the work. If someone else is going to do the installation, be sure that is addressed in the contract and who will be responsible for paying for the installation. You and the artist should also include in the contract any foreseeable events that might delay the completion of the project. It should be agreed upon in advance what the repercussions might be if a delay is caused by the artist or by your company.

If the project is really complex and time consuming, it is customary that payments be made periodically at specified checkpoints. This ensures to the company that the work is progressing on time and within budget. Expect to make a deposit at the beginning, a payment midway and a final payment upon completion.

If there is a delay in installation because the building is not ready (for new construction), the artist should be paid upon completion of the project but still responsible for installation when the building is ready. If a commission is cancelled, the artist should keep all monies paid for services to that date. If there are expensive materials involved, expect to pay those early in the process.

A professional art consultant can help with securing an artist as well as contract arrangements. A consultant can help with making certain that communication between the artist and client is clear and complete. If you feel that the whole process of commissioning art is too overwhelming, know that most artists have a collection of work that is already completed and available for sale. If you find something already in their inventory, buy it. It will still be a unique, original work of art that will reflect your company's good taste and aesthetic sense.

How to Become a Corporate Art Consultant

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