Make It Legal - 4 Steps to an Official Art Business

Signing a document

If you are an artist in the U.S., take these for steps for turning your hobby into a legal art business. 1) Obtain your Federal Employer Identification Number. Don’t scatter your Social Security Number around! Get this free ID number from the Federal government for your art business. The Federal EIN Application takes 5 minutes and is FREE. Beware of sites that want to charge you for this service!

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Take a Sales Tax Class

Collecting sales taxes is one of the most confusing parts of running a business. And you should be collecting sales taxes if you sell a physical product – like art. But your life will be a lot easier if you take a class. Or two. Or three.

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Legal Resources for Starting an Art Business in the U.S.

Just because you’ve started selling your art doesn’t mean you have a legitimate business. You have to get some things in order, including registering with your department of state. Here’s a list for starting out.

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Add a Copyright Symbol © to Your Credit Line

How to Add a Copyright Symbol to Your Art

How to add a copyright © symbol on your PC or Mac.

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Artist Contracts: She Broke the Rules

Next time you run into a difficult situation, don’t be afraid to take action and be the “maverick.” Use your best judgment along with carefully justified reasoning to determine your course. And always live up to your agreements while continuing to communicate all the way.

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What to Put on a Gift Certificate for Your Art

Geri Dunn gift certificate

Artist Geri Dunn was stunned when someone purchased a gift certificate of hers at a silent auction and then wanted to either 1) redeem it for cash or 2) commission an original drawing for the amount on the certificate ($150). People really do ask/demand the darndest things!

Let’s look at the situation and start with the gift certificate itself, pictured here.

The small lettering on the bottom row consists of these three components.

The artist’s contact information–phone and email. The certificate number, expiration date (12/31/2010), and the words “Not redeemable for cash.” Having an expiration date is important! And the “not redeemable” phrase proved key when the recipient tried to cash it in. Geri was able to point to this language and quickly put an end to that discussion. The words “No Cash Value” could also be used or

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Deep Thought Thursday: Stealing your ideas

Deep thoughts happen even on Christmas Eve!

How do you handle it when you think another artist is “stealing” your ideas?

Caroline Douglas, The Chariot Race. Ceramic sculpture. ©The Artist

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Free call about how one artist is fighting to protect artists’ rights


Artist John T. Unger is getting an unwanted education in copyright law. His court case could have far-reaching intellectual property implications for the original work created by other artists and creative entrepreneurs.

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Using other artists’ images on your blog

Picture 22

When it’s okay to use someone else’s artwork on your site, how to do it, and when it’s probably best to ask ahead of time. Also, how to deal with someone who has swiped one of your images without crediting you AND how to credit images on your blog.

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Don’t leave your artwork without a piece of paper

Let’s say you take your work to a venue (gallery, home, business, etc.) because someone has asked to see it in person. After you arrive, you’re asked to leave your art at the venue so that other people can see it. It’s fine to do this as long as you have something in writing.

Always get your art business transactions in writing! In this scenario, while you didn’t exchange money, you did agree to leave a valuable asset in the care of someone else.

The piece of paper (which might be called a loan agreement) you draw up should state your name, the title, dimensions, and value of each piece you’re leaving. Your agreement should also be clear that you retain ownership and copyright and that the venue agrees to insure the work while they have it in their possession.

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