Thank you everyone who has been tuning in weekly for my blog! This is now my 7th post and I'm very grateful! I hope to continue this blog for as long as I can, taking it to where ever it leads. It means a lot to have you all read these, so thank you!
Recently, Instagram has released information saying that they plan on moving the social platform towards more of an NFT (mainly focused on artists) platform - but not without screwing over artists first, of course. The process seems to be that Instagram will get NFT artists together, harvest their ideas for how the platform can progress and be attractive to an NFT market, and then have the artists sign an NDA while sent away a small one-time payment. The artist can’t use the experience as the NDA does not allow them to state they helped with the project nor do they get any “royalties” or the like as their ideas are taken and turned into profitable projects by these big company social platforms. There are more and more situations where the fine print isn’t read or quite possibly isn’t understood or communicated fairly. It is important to comprehend contracts and how to draft one yourself.
Before you sign up for any service, you are made to read a very lengthy legal document where you agree and acknowledge to the terms of the service. People usually scroll right through from the top to the bottom without giving it a glance. Surprise! You just signed over your first born child to the government. Kidding…but how would you know? (I’m kidding!) All in all, it is important to have a contract in place so that you and your client are both able to have a fair exchange. More importantly, I think its key to know what a contract is complied of, not only for your client’s benefit but for your own if you ever have to sign one for yourself. Here are some tips on what you should include in any contract your draft for a commission.
What is the Timeline Here?
One thing that working in a law firm has shown me is that as a lawyer, you could have 20-30 active files going at once - which is great! For you, the lawyer, your focus is all of these files. But, the only file that is important to a client is the one that belongs to them. This goes for all client-based businesses. The best way to ensure that you make your clients feel like a priority is giving yourself enough time to do so. If you know you have a busy week ahead of you, whether it be your full time job or errands you may have to tend to, make sure you factor in your own schedule before make a promise you are not able to keep. Some clients will be mindful and request their commission much ahead of the time that they want it, so that there is no rushing on the job. Some clients will not be as mindful, asking you to finish a 16 x 20” portrait painting by the end of the week for their Mom’s birthday. At the end of the day, you need to think about your time and your energy for what you can handle. Over working yourself can lead to results that are not your best and more importantly, it can lead to your mental health not being the best either. Overwhelming yourself with too many commissions or not enough time for one can get to unmanageable levels. Telling a client that their commission they asked for two weeks ago is going to be another week past the deadline isn’t ideal either if you want a client base that keeps coming back.
How to include this in your contract: Keep the communication open with your client. Ensure you get a clear and ideal timeline from your client so that you know what you are working with. If it is a large project that will take a lot of time to complete, include “check in dates” – pick 2 – 3 dates within the time range of the commission to check in with the client so that they are in the loop for how their piece is coming along. Include these dates in the timetable on your contract. If it a short project, still inquire with your client if they would like a check in date, but if not, ensure you have a set and final due date. If you do feel the need to have a backup plan just in case, include a grace period clause in the contact that gives your 5-15 days after the due date to complete the commission if it hasn’t been completed yet.
The Devil Is In The Details.
Having the details of your client will ensure that you will be able to collect at the end of your commission. Not having the correct details, instructions or criteria from your client may lead to miscommunications that can easily be avoided. There are many contract templates online that are very helpful but these are the basics to cover in any contract for a commission:
Full name and contact information of the client;
Client’s expectations/details for the commission (i.e. size, medium, style, theme, etc.);
A set out timeline for things like a start date, first draft check-in, end date etc.;
A payment schedule and deposit terms;
Terms of the commission from the Artist’s end, for example:
Can the commission be used for commercial purposes?
Can the commission be reproduced on merchandise or other forms of reproduction?
Can the commission be resold?
Consequences if terms (from either side) are not met.
Deposits and Payment.
From my own experience, it became evident very quickly that people change their minds. This is just human nature and totally okay - in most cases. Sometimes when people change their minds and have no ties to the thing that they’ve changed their mind about, they tend to fly away like a balloon with no string. This is why deposits are important. Whenever completing any commission, I always request at least 30-50% of the total cost as a deposit. This is to not only to dedicate the client to paying the remainder upon the commission’s completion, but it is also to ensure that you have enough funds to start the commission in the first place. Its great if you already have the right supplies you need to start, but having the funds before hand will allow you to buy any supplies you may need for the commission to complete it.
How to include this in your contract: As always, keep the communication open with your client. Make sure you have a payment plan in place. A way to do this is to set a a date for a deposit, which then would trigger the start of the commission’s work. I tend to wait until a deposit is received before starting a project so as to not waste any time or energy. Setting a date confirms payment in this way. Another way to secure deposits and payment is to include in your contract that the commission is to be delivered the same day that any remaining balance is due so that the exchange is fair and upfront for both ends.
When To Say No
Just because someone commissions you to create something for them, does not mean you are obligated. It’s not always a yes ting, you know? You could say no for a number of reasons. You could say no because the requested commission is not your style. You could say no because the commission request isn’t in a medium that you create with. You could say no because the commission is not something you can fit in your schedule (nice job on following tip #1!) You can say no for any number of reasons, but the most important thing is to do if you can’t or do not want to do a commission– say no. Now, it’s easy to tell you why to say no, but he consequences of saying yes are much more educational. Saying yes to a commission you don’t want to do can result in a few things.
Firstly, your work will not be your best. Creating something that you really aren’t feeling to create can result in a lack of inspiration and motivation which will show in the final version of your piece. The client won’t be thrilled and you will be putting out work that doesn’t properly represent your passion or skill. Secondly, getting a reputation for saying yes to every commission that comes your way can be good but it can also be bad if your heart isn’t in every piece you’re creating. Your work is a representation of you, so always do your best to do your best. Lastly, you may lose interest in creating all together. You know what they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. In this case Jack is us, the artist. If you’re an artist that thrives off their own ideas and creates beautiful pieces from their own inspirations, it can become a bummer constantly creating ideas of other people – especially if the ideas do not resonate with you. Don’t lose yourself trying to please other people. That goes for all parts of life, not just artistically.
I hope these tips that I've learned from my experiences are able to assist in any way! Thank you for reading and stay ORANGEinal!