Legal and Financial

What do artists need to know about legal and financial issues?

Artists, like any other creative professional, need to have a base knowledge of the pertinent legal and financial issues surrounding their practice. Luckily, there are plenty of ways for artists to educate themselves on these issues and get guidance when necessary. Learn more about legal and financial topics using the glossary below of key terms, and follow the external links to get further advice.

Key Terms To Know

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Contract

A contract is an agreement, whether oral or written, whereby two parties bind themselves to certain obligations. Contracts are recommended for business transactions artists make with galleries, commissioning entities, or private clients.

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Copyright

Copyright is a legal right, existing in many countries, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to determine whether, and under what conditions, this original work may be used by others.

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License

A license is an official permission or permit to use something. A license can be granted by a party to another party as part of an agreement. Artists sometimes license their work to be reproduced on a wide range of products in exchange for financial benefit.

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Artist Insurance

The cost of business insurance (also known as artist insurance) is not prohibitive; however, replacing a studio and not being able to work are. Having good coverage is one of the necessary costs of a professional art practice. There are easy ways to explore artist insurance plans that suit your needs.

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Recordkeeping

Keeping accurate and complete records of financial transactions and business expenses is an important part of being a successful artist. Learning how to keep records effectively makes managing taxes and overall finances much easier.

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Legal and Financial Services for Artists

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The Legal Artist

Gregory R. Kanaan 02/FAV is a RISD alum, attorney, and owner of The [Legal] Artist who has spoken at numerous RISD events. In his words, “My goal is to make the law simple to understand and useful to your business… to make every artist a legal artist.”

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Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

The VLA provides a broad range of free and low-cost legal services and educational programs addressing the needs of artists, small arts-related businesses and cultural organizations.

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Sunlight Tax

Founded by artist and enrolled agent Hannah Cole, Sunlight Tax provides tax services for artists, online tax workshops, and general advice.

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Artwork Archive

Artwork Archive provides artists and organizations with powerful software tools to manage their artwork inventory and track records.

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