The Business of Art

Jun 14 2011

"September 3rd sketch" by jon_a_ross on Flickr

"September 3rd sketch" by jon_a_ross on Flickr

I pay artists. If you’re an artist, and you’re charging money for your work, please read this post.

I love artists. But they’re often, well, frustrating to deal with. I’ve had to terminate my relationship with too many artists. Here’s how to avoid that for your clients:

Figure out what you will and won’t do. Communicate that. This is obviously important for taboos like sex or violence towards children. But it also applies to the business side of things: Will you sell art for commercial use? Can customers re-purpose your art? Re-sell it?

Make sure you communicate this to each customer, too. It’s great if these restrictions are posted somewhere on your website, but don’t assume that every customer has read them.

Figure out a schedule for your work. Communicate that. How long until the work’s complete? I don’t need a specific date that’s graven in stone; just a rough estimate in weeks.

This works even better if you can subdivide that schedule into a few deliverables: a rough sketch in two weeks, then the complete drawing two weeks after that, for example. If I have to wait three months and then all I get is the final piece, that leaves no room for resolving problems. And there are always problems.

Communicate changes. If your mother gets sick and delays your work for a week, that’s perfectly okay, as long as you tell me when it happens. If you wait until after the deadline and then tell me about delays that occurred weeks ago, that’s not okay. Let me know.

That’s it. Just figure out your boundaries and a rough schedule, and communicate often. That’s all I ask. Please.

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