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All posts for the month February, 2019

I AM AN ARTIST/WRITER SO WHY WOULD I NEED A LAWYER?

Published February 23, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

It seems never to occur to most writers and artists (with some notable exceptions) to have a lawyer look over the contract their agent, publishing house, new Gallery or licensing company wants them to sign. Why not? Well, a couple of reasons might be that the artist is just so thrilled to have an actual walk-in gallery or licensing firm offering to display or sell their work that the artist overlooks making sure their rights are protected, or that the artist simply can’t afford to hire an attorney.

There are several types of contracts an artist might be involved with.

A contract commissioning a piece of art.

A consignment contract with a gallery to sell your work,

A licensing agreement to sell prints, cards or commission work to be translated into other art forms (plates, tiles, textiles, etc.).

An agreement with an agent to sell or advertise your work.

An agreement with a venue (non-gallery) to display or sell your art.

Booth rental space at an event.

When are the times when you should have someone with legal experience take a look at what you are signing? Well, if you can afford it, anytime you want to be paid for your work, but if you are a starving artist, can you afford a $60/hour retainer? Probably not, however you dohave some other options. If you ever find yourself in need of legal representation, you can try Lawyers for the Arts. Most states have either a volunteer lawyers for the arts organization or regular lawyers for the arts who if you ask for it will sometimes give you a bro bono consultation to see want you need.

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts(VLA) is both a generic term for a number of legal service organizations located throughout the country. It is also the proper nameof an organization in New York City, Founded in 1969. That organization is the oldest VLA in the United States. Many states also have their own non-profit organizations: In California, Bay AreaLawyers for the Arts (BALA) was founded in 1971. When BALA expanded to Southern Californiajoining with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts–Los Angeles, it was renamed California Lawyers for the Arts. There are more than 30 VLA programs spread around the states. Lawyers for the arts is not a single organization, but a network joined by similar vocations providing a range of free or low-cost legal services and educational programs to tackle the needs of artists and arts associations for all genres of art and artists

Each organization functions independently. Most of them are nonprofits but some are affiliated with arts councils, arts service organizations, bar associationsor business for the arts programs.

Several of the platforms include

  • Legal services through referrals and sometimes on-site consultations;
  • Some host legal clinics; alternative dispute resolution including mediation and arbitration;
  • accounting services;
  • Law studentinternships who are usually a lot less expensive to use and can overlook contracts;
  • Educational programs on topics like contracts, copyright, estate planning, taxes and nonprofit incorporation;
  • Most of them also carry publications on a broad range of issues.

In CALIFORNIA, if you are looking for an attorney, you can also go to: http://www.CaliforniaAttorneyReferral.com,or you can try someone from the list below:

Please keep in mind that some of the address and phone numbers may have changed. Since I have never used any of these firms, I have no idea of their quality, fees or abilities.

Even if you don’t see the need to have legal advice on every little thing, there are some issues you need to make sure are covered in any contract you enter into.

  • If this is a commission sale, when is to be completed and how soon afterwards are you paid?
  • Is the Gallery or Agent requiring exclusive rights?
  • When are payments due from consignment sales?
  • How long does the consignment last?
  • If there is a reception who pays for it?
  • Who hangs the art?
  • If the hanging causes damage who pays for the repairs?
  • If the gallery or venue goes out of business make sure your art cannot be considered part of the gallery assets or they could be sold to pay business debts in which case you won’t receive any payment for your work.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is for general information purposes only; it is not intended to be tax or legal advice. Each situation is specific; consult your CPA or attorney to discuss your specific business questions.

 

DO I NEED INSURANCE?

Published February 16, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

If you have a professional studio or gallery outside your home you probably will need additional coverage for fire and theft for that space. If you have events (open gallery nights, art shows, classes, etc.) then you will probably also need liability insurance to cover anyone attending events there. You should discuss the amount of coverage you will need with your insurance carrier.

DO I NEED ADDITIONAL COVERAGE IF I AM WORKING OUT OF MY HOME? 

The answer to that is maybe. Unless your homeowners insurance has an exclusion forbidding you to work out of your home, you probably are covered for fire and theft since the art you create can be considered personal property. If you need to make a claim, the carrier will require documentation. That is why it is important to keep good records of what you painted. You should consult your insurance carrier as to how much they will cover for each art piece. Don’t make assumptions and get stuff in writing!

HOW DO YOU FIND AFFORDABLE ART INSURANCE COVERAGE?

Your regular carrier might not have contacts in this area; However, Local art groups have to carry event insurance for their art shows. Get in touch with them and ask for a referral to their insurance carrier. The carrier they are using may be a lot less expensive than someone unfamiliar with this type of coverage.

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE CARRIER

What protection do I as a vendor need for my art and my possessions?  What protection do I need if someone is hurt within my stall? What protection does the venue carry for fire, theft, personal liability? What about fire or other damage caused by an accident in another person’s booth that then adversely affects mine? Ask all the “what if” questions you can think of and then make your own determination about participating. Also, check into whether there is an insurance contract and what the terms of the contract may be before signing and have your own insurance agent look it over first as well as an attorney if there are things you don’t understand. Never assume, always ask for clarifications and get them in writing.

If you are displaying your art someplace like a restaurant, gallery or other space, most likely you will need to make arrangements with the owner regarding theft or damage to your art. My carrier won’t cover my art outside my home unless I want to pay big bucks, which I can’t afford. A lot of art shows carry riders to this effect also.

INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR BOOTH EVENTS:

Questions concerning the actual amount and type of insurance you might need for a booth event (art fair, etc.) cannot be answered by anyone other than your insurance carrier. At a minimum you probably want some sort of theft and personal liability coverage but I don’t have any knowledge of what California requires or recommends. The venue holding the event may have requirements for coverage also; they may want a rider from your company naming them as an additional insured for the day of the event. Whatever their requirements are—get it in writing!

Dealing With Negative Comments

Published February 2, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

What response do you make when some person posts a negative opinion of you or your work on your website or a social network site? Want some tips on what you can do about this without starting a major public feud and how to turn a negative into a positive action?

Congratulations. You now have a brand new web-site (or blog site). You have spent hours designing it and putting into it everything you think will help you make it popular. Whether you created this site in the hopes of developing an audience for your writing, selling your art, promoting a non-profit organization, business or for some other reason your new site is precious to you and you need to share it with the world at large. There are so many ways to do this beginning with sending e-mails to friends and family, advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google AdWords, etc.

Most of these sites have suggestions as to how to reach other members to tell them about your new site. After you have followed instructions from these sites to publicize your work,  in a couple of days when you call up your site to see if anyone has actually looked at it, and among the positive comments posted, you discover that someone has written something ugly either about the site, your work or you and posted it on yoursite. This is a little like having someone kick your baby and you are justifiably offended. The question is what do you do now?

In answering this I’m going to make a couple of assumptions: 1) you haven’t done anything to the negative poster to make them want to embarrass you by publicly posting ugly comments to your site, and 2) this isn’t someone you know well because obviously if you were well acquainted with them you wouldn’t have sent an invitation in the first place.  If you are like me your first impulse would be to slap back at this person. This is entirely a normal reaction and it is a perfectly understandable, human impulse to strike out at what injures us. However, I urge you not to give in to this impulse. If you start an insult slinging match by posting a nasty response to the negative comment on your site it will only increase the adverse impression of your site with potential customers and visitors that this person has created. It also will make you look unprofessional and probably detract from your sites message which should be about the work or ideas you have presented there.

You cantake positive action when this happens, but first you need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Your first action should be to find out a little about who this person is and how they came to visit your site. When you do find out this information I advise you to resist the itch to retaliate by posting something ugly in return on theirsite. I understand you would like them to know how you felt but this will only escalate matters, so don’t do it! Once you know who they are, simply remove the comment from your site and if the site offers this feature, arrange to moderate any future comments posted. If the person posted the comment using Facebook or Twitter, you may need to change those settings also to require comments to have your approval before being posted.

You should realize that if this person received an invitation to view your site the invitation may have come from you, especially if you were innocently following suggestions to increase your circle of influence put out by LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google. All of these sites encourage members to make new connections by checking out other members who are interested in the same things, belong to the same groups, follow the same companies, etc. and send out invitations to connect. These suggestions are not necessarily bad; in fact you may make some valuable acquaintances and good friends by using them. Please be aware however that the old adage about kissing frogs also applies; you may also have unintentionally reached out to some people who practice behavior my mother used to call “rude, crude, and socially unacceptable”. You won’t be able to screen these folks out ahead of time because this kind of character reference does notget posted on their self-created profiles! Hateful people exist and they just love to spread their discord and repulsive behavior onto others. The positive thing you can do I mentioned? Sometimes it helps to visualize yourself blowing a big, noisy, fat raspberry at this person, and then start a “Do Not Send” list and check it before you send out invitations to view your work. Good luck!

Gail

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