For artists who undertake commissioned work, establishing clear terms and protecting their interests is of utmost importance. Contracts and deposits play a crucial role in this process, ensuring that both the artist and the client have a mutual understanding of the project's scope, expectations, and financial arrangements. This article highlights why artists must have contracts and deposits before starting commissions and outlines best practices for requesting deposits, determining rates, and structuring commission contracts.
Establishing Clear Expectations: A commission contract serves as a blueprint for the project, outlining the client's requirements, deadlines, and any specific details regarding the artwork. By having a contract in place, both parties can ensure they are aligned in terms of the project's goals, size, complexity, medium, and other important factors.
Securing Commitment with Deposits: Requiring a deposit before initiating a commission helps protect the artist's time, effort, and materials. It demonstrates the client's commitment to the project and provides the artist with some financial security. The deposit acts as a safeguard against potential cancellations or changes to the scope of the commission.
Determining Deposit Amounts: The deposit amount varies depending on the artist's preference and the scope of the commission. A common practice is to ask for a percentage of the total commission price as a deposit. Typically, a deposit of 30-50% is customary, with the remaining balance due upon completion or delivery of the artwork.
Communicating Rates and Pricing: Clearly communicating your rates to clients is essential for avoiding misunderstandings and ensuring a fair exchange. Consider factors such as the size, complexity, medium, and estimated time required for the commission. Research industry standards and factor in your experience, skill level, and demand for your work when determining your rates.
Structuring a Comprehensive Commission Contract: A commission contract should cover essential elements to protect both the artist and the client. Here are some key components to include:
a. Project Details: Specify the scope, medium, size, and any specific requirements or preferences discussed with the client.
b. Payment Terms: Clearly state the deposit amount, total commission price, payment schedule, and accepted payment methods.
c. Timeline: Establish a realistic timeline for the project, including milestones or deadlines for client feedback and approvals.
d. Revisions and Changes: Outline the number of revisions or changes included in the commission, along with any additional fees for exceeding the agreed-upon number.
e. Ownership and Usage Rights: Clarify who will own the final artwork and the client's rights to reproduce, display, or sell the artwork.
f. Cancellation and Refunds: Specify the conditions under which either party can cancel the project and outline any refund policies.
g. Dispute Resolution: Include a section on dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, to address any conflicts that may arise.
Collaboration and Communication: Maintain open and transparent communication with clients throughout the commission process. Regular updates, sharing progress images, and seeking feedback will help ensure the client's satisfaction and minimize the likelihood of misunderstandings.
Artists undertaking commissions should never overlook the importance of contracts and deposits. These safeguards establish clear expectations, protect the artist's time and effort, and provide financial security. By requesting a deposit, communicating rates effectively, and structuring a comprehensive commission contract, artists can ensure a professional and mutually beneficial relationship with clients. Emphasize the significance of these practices to foster trust, protect your artistry, and create a seamless commission experience for both parties involved.