Ethics & Fair Practices

Understanding and practicing fair business standards is in the best interests of artists individually and our profession as a whole. The following guidelines are here to help artists recognize standards of common ways of doing business and for the arts community to be aware of accepted recommendations for dealing with artists.

Click on a topic to read in more detail:

Sales & Compensation
Suggestions for pricing your artwork for gallery display, corporate buyers, interior designers, and art fairs.

Gallery/Artist Relationship
The gallery/artist relationship is a business relationship. Each party has responsibilities that need to be clearly defined and understood. Issues include:

  1. How does the relationship work?
  2. What is the gallery policy regarding exclusive representation?
  3. How will the gallery promote the artists work and career?
  4. Pricing your artwork
  5. Exhibiting your work
  6. Insuring the work
  7. Mounting an exhibition
  8. Third party sales

Alternative Spaces
What are alternative spaces and how should artists go about utilizing them to their advantage?

  1. Consider the location
  2. Free exposure?
  3. Who buys work at alternative spaces?
  4. What percentage of sales do alternative spaces take?
  5. Should I sign a contract or agreement?
  6. Questions to ask
  7. Declining gracefully if asked
  8. Alternative ideas to offer alternative spaces

Donating Artwork
It is up to emerging artists and established artists to think through the wisdom of donating artwork to raise money for not-for-profits. There are mutually beneficial options. Donations of art are not tax deductible for the artist – only the cost of materials.

It is recommended that terms for commissions be agreed upon in writing in the form of a contract. Sample contracts will be made available. Several points to consider for inclusion are included here.

Juried Shows

National Artists Equity is unalterably opposed to artists bearing the cost of exhibitions in the form of entry fees. Furthermore, Equity expects exhibiting sponsors will provide insurance and adequate security while juried work is in sponsors’ possession.

  1. Points to consider before entering art contests, competitions, and juried exhibitions
  2. How can artists entering juried art shows or fine art competitions protect themselves from scams?
  3. Consider what you want to get out of entering juried shows

Art Fairs

  1. What should an artist look for when searching for an art fair that fits them/their career?
  2. What is too much to ask for (from the artist e.g. too much money, time, booth preparation, etc.)
  3. What are some warning signs that this particular art fair may not be worth the money or time?

Several good web sources are listed. Summaries of topics covered here include:

  1. What does copyright protect?
  2. How is a copyright different from a patent or a trademark?
  3. When is my work protected?
  4. Do I have to register to be protected?
  5. Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
  6. Is there really a “poor man’s copyright”?
  7. Is my copyright good in other countries?

Declaration of Artists’ Rights from The National Artists Equity Association
“…the following nine problems have been selected and a line of solution has been indicated for each. National Artists Equity realizes that many of those proposed solutions can become accepted only if the artists work together in their own behalf.”

  1. Business Practice with Art Dealers
  2. Freedom of Expression
  3. Guidelines for Juried Exhibitions
  4. Clear Documentation of Artworks
  5. One Percent for Art in Building
  6. Artist Representation on Boards of Art Institutions
  7. Media Coverage of the Arts
  8. Restore Tax Deductions for Artists’ Gifts
  9. Fair Estate Tax Policies for Artists

Art Succession Planning
An insightful article by Paul Klein:
“…I’ve been thinking about  collectors and their relationships to their collections, and by extension,  artists and the art they have and keep.  Ars longa, vita breva  (Art is long, life is short).  The simple fact that our art outlives us  suggests some real responsibilities and corresponding opportunities.
So I wrote a new ArtLetter <>   about what I’m seeing and thinking.”