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Art Business: Artist Rights & Legal Contracts

Great Glass Pumpkin Patch, Palo Alto, CA

Last month was full of orange and black in the San Francisco Bay area for Halloween and the world series baseball champion team the Giants. Both events gave people a reason to dress in costume.

You can't dress up a bad deal, but you can be a winner and take home the loot that belongs to you when it comes to the legal side of your art business.

Having a written contract won't prevent good business imposters, but you'll be in better shape to unmask them.
Here are three articles and a template to help your art and your rights as an artist.

Why Contract and Legal Documents are so important for Artists

In my time as an artist advisor, I've found that all too many artists ignore the need for legal documents and contracts in their business.

After all, you can sell your art on the strength of a handshake or write down a commission agreement on a napkin. . . but there really does come a time when well-written contracts are a necessity.

√ Decide to protect your rights.
Read the full article here:


Artist Contracts 101: Why You Should Always "Get it in Writing"

Now let's look at why you need to get it in writing and how to make sure you get what you need.

√ Document your rights so you can protect them.
Read the full article here:


How Artists Can Avoid Contract Insanity by Using Plain English

One of my favorite Marx Brothers skits is the contract negotiation skit in A Night at the Opera. Here's an excerpt:

Groucho Marx: All right. It says the first part of the party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the first part of the party of the first part -- look, why should we quarrel about a thing like this, we'll take it right out, eh?
Chico Marx: Yes, it's too long anyhow. Now what have we got left?
Groucho Marx: Well I've got about a foot and a half. Now what's the matter?
Chico Marx: I don't like the second party either.
Groucho Marx: Well, you should have come to the first party. We didn't get home till around four in the morning. I was blind for three days.

√ When you're done laughing, keep your sanity.
Read the full article and download the template here:

If you need more help understanding or writing a contract, let me know. I'd love to help. Just send an e-mail to and I'll get back to you with how I can help - in writing.



"I help artists make a better living from their art and still have a life."
Aletta de Wal, Artist Advisor at Artist Career Training inspires fine artists to make a better living making art in any economy. Aletta works with part-time, emerging and full-time artists who are serious about a career in fine arts.  Aletta makes make art marketing easier and the business of art simpler. Equal parts artist, educator and entrepreneur, Aletta has worked with over 4000  artists in groups and 400 individually. Her clients say that she inspires them to do the work to be successful, provides the detail to take specific action and supports them through the ups and downs of life and art.

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