Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Example of Consignment Agreement for Visual Artists

"Melina's Rose"
©Joanne Licsko
12"x9" oil on canvas

I admit I have somewhat moved on from wanting to think about consignment agreements, but I said I would, and who knows maybe it will help a fellow artist.  I'll try to make it brief.

First, I have included a copy of my personal contract.  I am concerned that the format may be altered when trying to publish it on blogspot.  Sorry if that happens. I work in the old Mac Appleworks application and it is clearly outdated and clumsy.  I plan to change when I have the time to learn a new and improved one. The "drawing" format allows me to include a thumbnail photo of my painting. This is very important! Things happen.  A photo allows everyone to know exactly which painting is missing, etc.
About copyright, the law requires one to claim one's copyright and having an image floating around cyberspace or anywhere else is risky.  Insist that it is included always.

Number 5 is essential. It helps to protect you should the gallery sell your work and not pay you. That's a big help if the gallery goes bankrupt.
The rest is self explanatory.  

This contract has been developed by me over many years of dealing with galleries, and private dealers.  My attorney would like it to be many pages longer, but I have found that when I have presented small businesses like galleries with too much to read it turns them off (as it would me).  This small and simple agreement covers all the issues that have come up over the years, and not one gallery has refused it. 

By publishing this example of my personal consignment agreement I am not saying it is all that you need.  Please take the initiative and customise one for yourself.  It is meant as a sample of what I have found works for me, and in no way will I take responsibility if it isn't enough to protect your circumstances.  It is meant as an example of the minimum requirements for me.  I clearly state I have no legal background

                              __YOUR NAME HERE___ CONSIGNMENT AGREEMENT

                                   It is agreed between  artist _your name here__and the undersigned that  the    ________  Gallery accepts the following  _your name here______ works of art as consigned for sale:

                             Title                      Medium             Size         Wholesale     + Frame                                                                                                                                                   ______________________________________________Price________Cost 

 photo here            “title here"       ”  ? on canvas      ?”x?”       $0000 .          + $???.

 photo here            “title here”         ? on canvas       ?”x?”        $0000.       unframed


Terms of consignment:

  1. Gallery will pay the artist __your name here___ 100% of the wholesale price within __days after sale has been agreed upon and gallery has received payment.    If gallery chooses to accept partial or layaway payments, gallery will pay artist 100% of the wholesale price within 30 days of initial sale agreement.  
  2. Gallery acknowledges that the artwork(s) were received in good condition, and will insure the artworks listed above until either the artwork is returned to the artist or the artist has been paid in full.
  3. Gallery will not discount work without artist’s permission on each individual piece.
  4. Gallery will affix ©_your name here__ to all publication of artist’s work ( especially anything electronic).
  5. Gallery acknowledges that it is receiving each artwork on consignment only and will not acquire title to the works.  Title of artworks will pass directly from __your name here___ to the purchaser upon the artist’s receipt of payment in accordance with this agreement.
  6. Artwork will be hung prominently in gallery at all times while on consignment with the exception of specified times when the gallery is showcasing another artist.   
  7. The artwork listed above will be on consignment for a time limited to________ months, beginning from the date of this signed agreement, at which time both parties will either renew agreement or return the unsold artworks to _your name here_____ in the same good condition as when its was delivered.
  8. Gallery agrees to pay for the repair or replacement of artwork or consigned frame if damaged during consignment.  

    _Your name here____ and _________Gallery hereby execute this agreement in their respective names and by their duly authorized officers, effective as of the date of the latter acceptance below:


                      YOUR NAME HERE                                              GALLERY


                  __________________________                 By:_____________________

                Date: ______________________                Title:_gallery director or??__

                                                                                       Date: ___________________

Sunday, May 3, 2009

10 Tips for Artist's Consignment Agreements

"Poetry in Red"
©J Licsko
12"x9" oil on canvas
(lost but not forgotten)

All four members of my immediate family are professional artists, but sometimes we are unprofessional where it matters most.  Just recently, we had a scare when we thought perhaps a gallery might have sold a work and neglected to tell us.  Our first thought was that our consignment agreement would back us up.  That comfort faded quickly when we couldn't find the agreement for that one painting.  
Under these circumstances, what does the artist do?  Well, in our case, we have had a long term, friendly, and profitable relationship with our dealer, and it turns out that the painting is still in the gallery. All is well. 
Well, no it isn't.  There is a lesson here.  Sloppy records and filing of those records, can cost thousands of dollars, and leave a bitter taste in one's mouth.
Two years ago, I took several paintings to a well known gallery in Carmel, Ca. that had been in business for over 20 years.  An agent had taken my work there initially. My relationship with the agent had ended, and I went to the gallery  to establish a more personal relationship with the director and sales staff.  It was my intention to deliver some originals, and verify the inventory of the prints they still had in stock.  It turned out that they were a disorganized group, and together we made some errors.  I will accept responsibility for the error, because after all, it was my art, and my money.  I thought I had been careful, but the one painting "Poetry in Red", that I was so proud to put in the gallery was not entered onto the final consignment contract
Living  about a two hour drive away from the gallery, I did not go often to check on the status of my paintings and prints. I relied on emails to keep me up to date.  The gallery was mostly a print gallery, and the originals were not selling.  Nearly a year later, I decided to take them out, and was quite surprised that my favorite  painting,   "Poetry in Red" was not in the gallery.  They, in fact, told me that they had no record of ever having the painting.  Of course, I referred to my consignment agreement; my heart sunk as I saw it was not listed.  I had been so focused on proper display, relationships, being perceived as an "easy to work with" artist, etc., I forgot to include the painting in the consignment agreement.  
The gallery staff appeared to be very concerned and helpful in finding the painting no one could remember, but it has never been found.  The gallery has since closed it's doors and the painting is lost to me forever.
I am pretty sure I know who has the painting.  Just a gut feeling, that's all I have.  All I can say is I hope it gives them pleasure.  It would be sad to think that it was locked in a drawer some where and it would never be seen.

So,  I offer some tips to all my fellow artists:  
  1. Accept that every so often, we must take off our arty beret, and wear a business hat.  During that time we must be very organized. It is just as important as creating the painting.  
  2. Create a personal consignment sheet matrix that covers what is important to you and use it each time, only having to add the specific information such as gallery name, art work title, date, length of consignment and so on. 
  3. Get everything organized before your meeting, and make a check list of what must be accomplished before you leave the gallery.
  4. Visit your gallery often, getting to know you helps them educate  potential clients about you and your work.  Seeing you often keeps you in mind, and tells them you are keeping track of your business.
  5. Immediately after your appointment,  file your signed copy of your consignment agreement in a file created for each gallery.
  6. And/or, keep a hard copy of each consignment agreement in a three ringed binder.
  7. As fences make good neighbors, a well worded consignment sheet protects both gallery and the artist, and your relationship.
  8. If a gallery won't sign your consignment agreement, reconsider the value of your relationship with them. Make a counter offer on the details that concern to you.
  9. Don't sign a consignment agreement created by the dealer without taking sufficient time to read it, and paying full attention to how the details might affect you the artist during a dispute. Go have a coffee and read it.
  10. You do not have to accept what might be called "a standard contract". Everything should be negotiable.
Next post, I will list the points I think are essential to an artist's consignment contract.