Monday, October 11, 2010

The BUSINESS of being an artist-Yet ANOTHER rant

I have to tell you I’m astonished, a bit disheartened but at the same time somehow not surprised at how provincial the world of the online entrepreneur seems to be.

When I launched (like literally at the speed of light) into the world of the DIGI stamp, I had no clue as to even what a Digi stamp was.

My friend Dee Moran, always eager to see other succeed, gave me a nudge in that direction and I donated some images to Operation Write Home a wonderful group of generous people who provide handmade greeting cards and envelopes to our Troops overseas so that when they need a card to send home it is neither in some foreign language or some random, generic greeting supplied by the local PX.

The participants send literally hundreds of cards that they make individually or at card making parties that are available at no cost to the troops-a well intentioned and fantastically supported endevour that I hope goes on so long as we have our men and women serving us in foreign lands.

But I digress…

With the establishment of my ETSY shoppe along came the offers to “sponsor” various contests and challenges on the many blogs and websites that further the cause of stamping, card making etc., etc.

I am pretty much overly generous (not tooting my own horn but parroting the comments of friends and acquaintances who are irritated by the fact that my generosity makes them look like misers).

I was raised on sharing is caring and what I donate furthers ME since any advertising (well placed) is good advertising.

My first encounter went incredibly smoothly, I sent a formal contract for the use of my images, it was digitally signed and returned and the contest went on-actually is going on as we speak.

Business as I am used to business being done-with formal agreements and contracts so everyone knows what the terms and agreements are and how the event will play out.
Perhaps it’s because I started in the art business on the correct foot.

Years ago when I was approached to license my art work I took the contract I was presented to a wonderful art lawyer named (as I remember) Alan Ziff over on Wilshire Blvd-nice guy, very supportive and helpful.

For whatever his one hour fee was, he sat me down and explained law, copyright and many other “contractual-isms” that I would need to know to survive in the shark filled waters of art licensing and contracts in general.

Money, exceedingly well spent.

Of late, when I established the ETSY shoppe I asked several people whose opinions I value to take a look and give me feedback and they did-my brother-in-law the high powered accountant and an art friend, Linda Marino (a very intelligent and straight forward woman) at the top of the list for comments and suggestions quickly put into practical application.

So I am a person-an artist-who has put to one side the long hair and ripped blue jeans of my hippie days in favor of doing it the right way from the inception.
Do it right FIRST and you won’t have to tap dance when called to the carpet later, it will all be on some notarized document and thus no one can argue a misunderstanding.

Contracts, if you understand them and the concept that they can’t be one sided, they must protect equally all parties, are a GOOD thing (thank you Martha).

So along comes contest number two and I never thought there could be a problem since the first one had gone so smoothly.

I did the designs for the event and then asked for a signature on the agreement-well you would have thought I was asking for a million dollars in bond money instead of simple due diligence and an understanding of the agreement and terms for use of my artwork.

I, after all, am the one handing over several hundreds of dollars worth of goods in exchange for their use in YOUR contest-what is your “I am giving you nothing except some advertising that costs me NOTHING” problem?????

We are a litigious society.

We “sue” each other for little or no reason because the courts allow it and that’s why the courts are full of “dismissed” verdicts and hallway agreements before the claim is dropped in lieu of settlement.

A CONTRACT, however flimsy the ether upon which it is written, can side rail such litigation and save you problems-that’s why I LIKE them.

I am always a bit suspicious of those who immediately get nervous when they read a simple “terms of agreement” contract written in simple language and find fault with signing it.

If you intend to do business above board and as you SAY you are going to do it you should have no problem protecting ME while in the pursuit of your enterprise.

I suppose I am a bit of a Pollyanna on some level and the “feed bag” agreements (or worse yet “he said, she said” verbal contract) are now the way to insure that there will be a problem and a court case and lawyers will ensue…a sad, inevitable, road to DRAMA which many prefer over doing things in the correct manner.

As with many things blogged, you can tell I am once again annoyed by my fellow artsy folk and their disdain for anything like “doing business” over “going with the flow”.
I don’t fight the current anymore than I must but (big BUT here) I refuse to be the willing victim in some bizarre scheme where my art work turns up on a candy tin in South Hampton and somehow I agreed to let the person use the design free of charge back in 1982 at an art fair on a street in a beach town the name of which escapes the manufacturer of said candy tin at the time.

IT HAPPENED…so artists and crafters beware- BEWARE – do it like a business, use contracts, pay a knowledgeable lawyer to read over agreements and show you HOW a good contract is written and what it should contain.

Such an agreement doesn’t have to be pages and pages of legalese it simply says I do this, you do that, that’s all there is the end by such and such a date.

As artists, we MUST be business people as well if we intend to do this AS A BUSINESS.
That means paper, record keeping, taxes etc-all the things we eschued at some point in favor of a cash based market.

We must now re-embrace those tenants of good business and face doing things the right way from the start damn the complications and extra effort.

We are none of us, stupid hence the more we prove that as creative individuals we also have a business side the more we will be respected and allowed to eat at the adult table on Holidays.

1 comment:

  1. THis is very well written and I can see exactly what you mean.


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