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Old 11-09-2017, 04:49 AM
Zenica Zenica is offline
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Christchurch, New Zealand
 
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Question Painting Commissions and Legalese

Hi all,

I have a question regarding my (and my husband's) start-up business. I've recently begun to sell my works of art and take commissions again but this time I'm trying to be more professional about it. We started a business and filed the necessary paperwork with the NZ govt so all of that is squared away but now we're looking at drawing up some sort of agreements to protect ourselves in case a commission goes really sour. Do any of you have experience with documents like that? Will prospective buyers and those who are asking for specific commissions sign such things? How "plain" of english do they need to be?

To give an example - our main document covers us by stating that the buyer must agree to cover some costs (materials for instance) up front and then payments made at reasonable times thereafter until the work is completed. I don't think anyone would have an issue with that as cost of materials is quite expensive (in NZ) but what do you think? What is the normal procedure for this?

We're also uncertain of what happens if they're not happy with the work even after corrections are made... (I'm not referring to workmanship or quality here but more like "it doesn't look like so and so") how do you normally deal with that?

Thanks!
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Old 11-09-2017, 12:48 PM
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artbymdp artbymdp is offline
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Re: Painting Commissions and Legalese

I have worked on several commissions. My most important aspects of a commission agreement are: 1. Describing the artwork to be commissioned, material and subject. 2. Identifying the total cost for the commission (remember Shipping and Handling) as well as a payment schedule 3.Protect your copyright in accordance with the laws of your land 4. Identify by date a work schedule start/review/completion 5.Identify the artist and the customer (this may seem obvious but sometimes the artist is the studio and not the individual and sometimes the customer is a company and not the individual with whom you are working...) These are general and will have sub categories. The most important part of any commission is a clear path of communication between you and your customer. Each customer is different but you as the artist stays the same. You need to control the process in a way that works best for you.
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Old 11-09-2017, 02:04 PM
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virgil carter virgil carter is offline
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Boerne, TX USA
 
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Re: Painting Commissions and Legalese

Good advice from artbymdp, above.

In my experience, commissions may be challenging because of the difference in desires and judgment of the commissioner and the artistic perceptions and directions of the artist. That is, commissioners often hand the artist a photograph, and may even want additional items added to the photograph/painting for sentimental reasons.

As artists, many of us know that seldom do photographs make strong paintings. It always takes editing--deleting, adding and moving--to have strong painting design and composition.

The commissioner wants a painting often for sentimental reasons. The artist wants to make a strong and memorable painting which is a credit to her/his reputation.

So what to do? And what about the situation where the commissioner rejects the painting, either in-process or at completion?

Here's what I say about commissions on my web site:

"Commissioned work may be up to 22" X 30", unmatted and unframed. Style of the final painting will be that generally shown in my Portfolio."

"You may provide photographs, or at your option, I will go to your location to photograph and sketch the actual subject. With this option, I will provide several pencil sketches for your review and selection for the final painting. At your option, I will also paint several smaller full-color studies for you to select for the final painting. Expenses for these optional pre-painting activities are non-refundable."

"Prices vary with size of the final painting. A non-refundable deposit is required. Any desired pre-painting options, such as on-site photographs, sketches and studio options such as full-color studies are additional expenses, including any extended travel beyond 15 miles from Boerne, TX. Options of your choosing are a fixed fee for each that you may choose and non-refundable."

"I reserve the right to make the artistic and aesthetic decisions about the final painting. As with all my work, however, your satisfaction is guaranteed, and if the final painting is unsatisfactory for any reason, I will retain the painting and use for my purposes. Your only obligation will be for the initial deposit, your desired pre-painting and studio options, and/or extended travel expenses incurred, if any."

Hope this helps.

Sling paint,
Virgil
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Old 11-10-2017, 01:16 PM
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RobinZ RobinZ is offline
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Almost Philadelphia
 
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Re: Painting Commissions and Legalese

I've painted nearly 1,000 commissions and have never used a contract.

I DO restate everything agreed upon in an email just to make sure we are totally in agreement.

I get my money upfront almost all the time. Occasionally, I'll do a 50% down, 50% upon completion. I don't show works in progress or ask for or even suggest they might want to tell me to change things.

I guarantee 100%. That has worked for me.
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Old 11-10-2017, 03:43 PM
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artbymdp artbymdp is offline
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Re: Painting Commissions and Legalese

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinZ
I've painted nearly 1,000 commissions and have never used a contract.

I DO restate everything agreed upon in an email just to make sure we are totally in agreement.

I get my money upfront almost all the time. Occasionally, I'll do a 50% down, 50% upon completion. I don't show works in progress or ask for or even suggest they might want to tell me to change things.

I guarantee 100%. That has worked for me.
Technically, if you present your terms online and a customer orders a piece, a contract has been made for terms you list online. Furthermore if you reiterate your terms in an email and your customer accepts them then you have again entered into a legal contract. Contracts take many forms. I also use email to identify my terms as contract for custom orders. That really simplifies day to day orders. I typically use formal extended contracts for commissions that deviate from my standard custom order terms and definitely for any commission that exceeds $1500.
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Old 11-10-2017, 07:23 PM
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RobinZ RobinZ is offline
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Re: Painting Commissions and Legalese

Quote:
Originally Posted by artbymdp
Technically, if you present your terms online and a customer orders a piece, a contract has been made for terms you list online. Furthermore if you reiterate your terms in an email and your customer accepts them then you have again entered into a legal contract. Contracts take many forms. I also use email to identify my terms as contract for custom orders. That really simplifies day to day orders. I typically use formal extended contracts for commissions that deviate from my standard custom order terms and definitely for any commission that exceeds $1500.

Yes, it suits me fine for my paintings of every price point. I don't use formal contracts for commissions over $1,500 either. The only commissions I would not refund are "event" paintings ordered by event planners and I do make that clear before they order/pay.
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