I’m writing this post in response to an artist’s post in Florida.
Artists need legal contracts more than most business owners. Why? Because artists get taken advantage of more than most business owners. And because many artists don’t consider themselves business owners so they allow themselves to be taken advantage of. Notice I said “many”, not all artists.
One obstacle for many artists is that legal advice is expensive and they don’t know where to start to draft the legal agreements that they need. Nolo Press publishes a book called “Your Crafts Business” and it include basic advice and sample agreements. This is a good place to start but it is by no means the be all and end all.
You must know your terms before you ever engage another in business. In fairness to them and to you. For example, do you accept commissions? Does your patron have to pay up front? What happens if they write you a bad check? What happens if they think they own the copyright and they start printing your image on cheap tee shirts without your permission, or worse yet, without paying you?
Think of all the possible scenarios. Start with a sample agreement in “Your Crafts Business” and then list all the things that could go wrong. Plan like your getting married but also plan what you will do if you need to get a divorce.
Why? Because written agreements preserve relationships. They confirm each party’s understanding. Agreements around art are highly charged if they are not defined in writing because the product is so personal for both parties.
Once you have an agreement drafted you must have it reviewed by a business attorney, not a real estate attorney or a family law attorney, or a friend who happens to be an attorney. You don’t want to wear out your friendships or be consulting with an attorney outside their area of expertise. The law is too vast and you need the benefit of specific expertise in each area of law.
I use affordable Pre-Paid Legal services to review all of my business contracts. One of their copyright attorneys even coached me through a small claims court case that I filed because of my previous client’s copyright infringement. I won. And guess what? The client kept infringing! So I sued again and I won again. The second time, I think she got the message. I also received a nice settlement, twice. So the low monthly fee I’ve paid to Pre-Paid Legal has already been returned to me many times over.
In the interest of full transparency, PrePaid Legal is a multi-level marketing product. So when I was first presented with the service I cringed. However, it has been of such great value to me that I’m now an agent. I’m not planning on getting rich off of my ity bity Pre-Paid Legal sales commissions. But as an agent I’m in a better position to advise artists on the plans that fit them best. And I know I’m going to save several artists some serious grief and arm them with a vital tool they’ll need to success.
Click here to learn more and email my assistant Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like me to recommend a plan to you and or enroll you.