One of the most exciting times in a young art career is delivering your art to an exhibition venue for the first time.
You comply with all of the preparation rules, but don’t really know what to expect when you arrive at the venue.
Here’s how this scene should go down.
- Someone (someone nice!) is there to greet you and give you instructions for where to place your art.
- Art should handled by people who know what they’re doing. Preferably, these people should be wearing white cotton gloves.
- Art shouldn’t be stacked directly on top of other art — whether it’s flat or leaning against the wall. If space is a consideration, art should always be separated by large sheets of cardboard to protect against rubbing or scratching.
- Often the floor is the only place to put art. This is fine as long as the floor is clean and protected. We used to place cardboard underneath each piece of art on the floor.
- The nice greeter-person should check your art to see that it complies with their installation requirements. They should also look at it to see that all of your information is with the piece and that the piece is in good condition. If anything is banged up or broken, the nice greeter-person (called a “registrar” at museums and places that actually have such titles) should make note of it on a loan form.
- That’s right! You need a loan agreement. Never leave your art in anyone’s care without a piece of paper.
What’s on a Loan Agreement
Whether it’s called a loan agreement, exhibit contract, or anything else, the piece of paper you sign should state your name (check spelling!) as well as the title, dimensions, and value of each piece you’re leaving in someone else’s care.
Your agreement should be clear that you retain ownership and copyright and that the venue agrees to insure the work while they have it in their possession. The art should not leave that venue without your written consent.
You get bonus points if you go to the venue with a photo printout of your art that you can attach to the agreement.
The agreement should be signed by both you and a representative for the venue.
If the Venue Doesn’t Have an Agreement
So, this is the ideal scenario, although I’ve certainly left out a step or two. But what if you get to the drop-off place and no one hands you a piece of paper to sign?
It’s for instances like this that you carry your own loan agreements with you. You’ll need 2 copies: 1 for you and another for the borrower. If you print these out at home, you can add an image of the work to the document.
You should also have a copy of Tad Crawford’s Legal Guide for the Visual Artist on your shelf.
If there is no paper, you didn’t bring your own agreement, and you still want to leave your art there, I suggest getting a photo of an official venue representative with your art. I’m not an attorney, so this isn’t legal advice, but at least you’d have evidence that you left the piece in their care.
Just know: Your art is your responsibility. Treat your art as you would like others to.