Legal Issues with Galleries

Just got this email promotion from Tad Crawford, owner of Allworth Press. It contained, as all of his stuff does, good info.

Contracts with galleries can vary from a simple consignment of one piece of work to an ongoing representation arrangement, under which the gallery has certain rights to represent more of the artist’s work. . . .

One danger facing the artist is the possibility that the gallery may go bankrupt. If this happens, creditors of the gallery may have a right to seize consigned artwork. Many states have enacted laws to protect the artist from such seizures. However, the artist must check on a state-by-state basis to determine the status of the law. One way to do this is to contact the nearest group of volunteer lawyers for the arts. Insofar as possible, the artist must verify that the gallery is stable financially. Of course, it can be difficult to know what goes on behind the scenes at an apparently successful enterprise. But late payments to other artists or suppliers certainly suggest economic difficulty. In any case, one might want to obtain a security interest in the work in order to have a right to the work even if the gallery does go bankrupt.

Mr. Crawford’s book Legal Guide for the Visual Artist should be on every artist’s shelf. He also has Business and Legal forms for Fine Artists–way cool because it includes a CD with all of the forms on it! He really makes it easy.

Both can also be found with my Amazon link.

(All proceeds from my affiliate links go to the Craft Emergency Relief Fund.)

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2 comments to Legal Issues with Galleries

  • Having “lost” seven pieces of art to a gallery in NJ (owner refuses to communicate in any way as to the whereabouts of the paintings nor have I been paid), I now have a new rule: I will check any prospective gallery’s credit score. For $10 – $40, anyone can buy a business credit report that gives a pretty good picture of a gallery’s financial situation along with a risk assessment (how likely are you to get paid?). I use by Experian (one of the big three credit reporting agencies), but they all offer a similar service. If I had known I could do this a few years ago, I wouldn’t have touched the NJ gallery with a ten foot pole. Of the three galleries I’ve searched for on two are listed. The third is only about four years old and quite small, so perhaps doesn’t “qualify” yet. I’m sure it’s not foolproof, but it’s better than just sending my work off into the unknown. Another lesson I’ve learned from this is that you can’t necessarily rely on other artists’ opinions of a gallery. I don’t care how glowing the reports are, in the future I’m also going to check the gallery’s credit score. (See ten foot pole comment above.)

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