Exhibiting your Art in a Gallery

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Some artists are shy about showing their work to the public. Others jump at any opportunity to share their art with the world. Regardless of which category you fit into, if you have the chance to have your artwork exhibited, it may be wise to conclude an agreement with the gallery to ensure that your rights and obligations are clearly spelled out.
Here are a few things to consider when concluding an agreement to have your work exhibited in an art gallery.

Consignment vs. sale to the gallery
Quite often a gallery will enter into a consignment agreement to exhibit an artist’s work. This means that the gallery will take possession of the artwork and display it for sale while the artist remains the owner of the artwork until it is sold. In this scenario, the artist only gets paid if and when the art sells.
Other art galleries will buy the art outright from the artist and then resell it in the gallery. In this case, ownership of the piece of art transfers to the gallery. The wording of the agreement between the artist and the gallery will determine whether the artist retains or transfers the copyright in the art at that point. This is important because the holder of the copyright controls under what terms and conditions the artwork can be copied or reproduced in the future.
A high-profile gallery may require exclusivity from the artist meaning that, for a given period of time, the artist will not be permitted to exhibit and sell the work on his own behalf or have the work exhibited or sold by another gallery. As an artist, you must determine if you are comfortable putting all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak.

Costs and payment terms
Sometimes, the gallery will shoulder all the costs of exhibiting the artist’s work. However, the gallery will sometimes require that the artist bear a portion of the expenses associated with displaying the artwork. These costs may include promotional materials, framing, installation, transport and even insurance. This should be addressed in the agreement.
It is also important to address payment terms for artwork sold. If the gallery purchases the work outright from the artist, then the artist may simply be paid at the time of the sale and the gallery will be free to keep any profits made when it resells the art to a customer. However, if the gallery takes the artwork on consignment, the agreement may state that, once a customer buys the art, the gallery will be entitled to a commission as well as the reimbursement of any expenses. The artist’s compensation will often be the balance remaining after the commission and expenses have been paid.
For assistance preparing your agreement, you may contact Kelly Francis at (514) 802-7736 or at info@kellyfrancisavocate.com.
Disclaimer: This article merely gives readers an overview of the issues discussed therein and is not legal advice. Please do not take action based on this article alone without first seeking the legal counsel appropriate for your specific situation!