Art Consignment Agreements: A Success Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. What is an Art Consignment Agreement?
  2. Why an Art Consignment Agreement matters
  3. Key elements of an Art Consignment Agreement
  4. How to negotiate your Art Consignment Agreement
  5. Sample Art Consignment Agreement
  6. How to ensure success with your Art Consignment Agreement

Have you ever wondered how an artist's work ends up showcased in a gallery? The magic behind it all is an art consignment agreement. This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of art consignment agreements and partnerships, giving you the tools you need to navigate this critical aspect of the art world. It's not as complicated as it seems, so let's dive in!

What is an Art Consignment Agreement?

A fundamental part of the art world, an art consignment agreement is a contract that links an artist with a gallery. But it's not just any contract—it outlines key terms and conditions about how the artist's work will be sold. Like a map guiding a treasure hunt, it identifies both parties' roles and how the profits from sold artwork will be split.

Understanding the Basics

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it's helpful to understand the basic terms. The artist, or the one who creates the art, is known as the "consignor". The gallery, or the one who sells the artwork, is the "consignee". The art consignment agreement outlines the partnership between these two parties, detailing their responsibilities and how they'll share the profits from sold artwork.

  • Consignor: This is you, the artist. You're entrusting your artwork to the gallery with the hope it will be sold.
  • Consignee: This is the gallery. They'll exhibit your work and make the sales.

The Art of the Deal

Art consignment agreements and partnerships aren't just about selling art—they're about ensuring fair play. The agreement details the split of the sale profits. Typically, the gallery gets a percentage of the sale, while the rest goes to the artist. This split can vary, but it's usually around 50/50 or 60/40 in favor of the artist.

The Safety Net

An art consignment agreement also serves as a safety net for both the artist and the gallery. It outlines what happens if things don't go as planned—like if the artwork isn't sold, gets damaged, or is stolen. It's like an insurance policy, providing protection and peace of mind for both parties.

Why an Art Consignment Agreement Matters

Now that we know what an art consignment agreement is, let's talk about why it's such a big deal. Think of it as a friendship bracelet between you and the gallery—except this bracelet is a contract that can significantly impact your career as an artist.

It's Your Money, Honey!

First things first—your art consignment agreement determines how much money you'll make from your art sales. The agreement outlines the profit split between you and the gallery, so it's crucial to understand it fully. Without this agreement, you could end up with less than you deserve for your work.

No Surprises

Art consignment agreements and partnerships help avoid unpleasant surprises. The agreement details all the conditions about how your art will be handled, displayed, and sold. It's like a rulebook, making sure everyone knows the game plan and sticks to it.

Reduces Risk

Let's face it—there's a bit of risk involved when you hand over your precious artwork to a gallery. What if your piece gets damaged or isn't returned? That's where an art consignment agreement steps in. It ensures you're covered in case of unfortunate events. It's your safety net, so you can focus on what you do best—creating art.

Relationship Builder

Finally, an art consignment agreement helps build a strong and transparent relationship between you and the gallery. It's the foundation of your partnership, setting clear expectations for both sides. When both parties understand their roles, it leads to better collaboration and ultimately, success in selling your art.

Key Elements of an Art Consignment Agreement

Now that we know why art consignment agreements and partnerships are so crucial, let's break down the main elements that should be in your agreement. It's like a recipe for success—each ingredient plays a vital role.

Identification of the Artwork

Your agreement should clearly describe each piece of work. It's not enough to say "my painting" or "my sculpture". Be specific—include the title, dimensions, medium, and year of creation. This way, there's no confusion about what artwork the agreement covers.

Price and Commission

Here's the meat of the agreement—how much your art will be sold for and what percentage the gallery will take as commission. Make sure this section is clear and easy to understand. You don't want any misunderstandings when it comes to money, right?

Insurance and Responsibility

Who's responsible if your artwork gets damaged or lost? What insurance coverage is provided by the gallery? These are crucial questions that need to be addressed in your agreement. It's like an insurance policy for your art—making sure you're covered no matter what.

Duration and Termination

How long will the agreement last? How can it be terminated? These are also important details to include in your art consignment agreement. It defines the timeline of your partnership with the gallery—like a calendar for your collaboration.

Dispute Resolution

Lastly, you should have a process outlined for resolving any disagreements that might arise. This could include mediation or arbitration clauses. It's like a guide for navigating rough waters—making sure any bumps in the road don't turn into major roadblocks.

Of course, these are just the basic elements. Depending on your specific situation, there may be other items you want to include in your art consignment agreement. But remember—the goal is to create a clear, fair agreement that benefits both you and the gallery. Happy partnering!

How to Negotiate Your Art Consignment Agreement

Now that we've gone through the key elements, let's talk about how to negotiate your art consignment agreement. After all, getting the best deal requires more than just filling in the blanks. It's a delicate dance, and you need to know the steps.

Know Your Worth

First off, understand the value of your artwork and your standing as an artist. This will be your guiding light when discussing price and commission. If you're unsure, consider getting your art professionally appraised. After all, you can't negotiate effectively if you don't know what you bring to the table.

Do Your Research

Next, familiarize yourself with standard practices in art consignment agreements and partnerships. This includes the typical commission rate, insurance responsibilities, and other key elements. The more informed you are, the better you can spot any terms that are not in your favor.

Open Communication

Remember, this is a partnership. Open, honest communication is key. Clearly express your needs and concerns. And listen to what the gallery has to say. It's a two-way street, and both parties need to feel heard and valued.

Don't Rush

Lastly, don't feel pressured to sign the agreement right away. Take your time to review the terms, and don't hesitate to seek legal advice if you're unsure about anything. Remember, it's better to spend a little more time now, than to regret it later.

With these strategies, you'll be well-equipped to negotiate an art consignment agreement that works for you. It's all about finding that sweet spot where both you and the gallery feel satisfied and excited to work together.

Sample Art Consignment Agreement

Now that we've discussed the what, why, and how of art consignment agreements, let's look at a sample agreement. This will give you a clearer picture of what such an agreement might look like in practice. However, please note that this is just a basic framework. Each agreement is unique and should be tailored to fit the specific circumstances of the artist and the gallery.

Identification of Parties

The agreement should start by clearly identifying the parties involved: the artist and the gallery. This includes full names and contact information. This section sets the stage and leaves no doubt about who is bound by the agreement.

Description of Artwork

Next up is a detailed description of the artwork being consigned. This should include the title, medium, dimensions, and any other identifying features. This makes clear what exactly the agreement covers.

Terms of Consignment

This section outlines the rules of the game. It covers the length of the consignment, the commission percentage, the responsibilities for insurance and repairs, and other key details. This is the heart of the agreement and should be read carefully.

Payment and Pricing

Here, the agreement specifies how and when the artist will be paid, and how the price of the artwork is determined. This ensures that both parties are on the same page about how the financial side of the partnership will work.

Termination Clause

Finally, the agreement should include a section on how it can be ended. This could be a set end date, or conditions under which either party can terminate the agreement. This provides a clear exit strategy if things don't go as planned.

This is just a sample, but it gives a good idea of what an art consignment agreement might look like. Of course, each agreement will vary based on the specific needs and circumstances of the partnership.

How to ensure success with your Art Consignment Agreement

Art consignment agreements and partnerships can be a great way to get your work out there. But like anything else, it's not just about getting the agreement in place — it's about making sure it works for you. Let's go over some tips to ensure you make the most out of your art consignment agreement.

Establish Clear Communication

Open and transparent dialogue is the key to any successful partnership. Remember, this isn't just a business transaction; it's a relationship. Regularly check in with your gallery partner, discuss your expectations, and address any concerns promptly. Clear communication can help you avoid misunderstandings and keep your partnership on track.

Know Your Rights

As an artist, it's important to understand your rights under the agreement. This includes things like who has the authority to set the selling price, when you'll get paid, and what happens if the artwork is damaged. Knowing your rights can help you navigate any potential issues that come up.

Stay Organized

Keep track of all the details. Maintain a record of which pieces are consigned, the terms of the agreement, and any payments received. This helps you stay on top of things and makes it easier to handle any disputes or questions that arise.

Be Flexible

Finally, keep in mind that not everything will always go according to plan. Be open to adjustments and willing to negotiate changes to the agreement if it benefits both parties. Flexibility can make your art consignment partnership a more positive and productive experience.

With these strategies in mind, you're well-equipped to make the most of your art consignment agreements and partnerships. Remember, success is not just about making a sale; it's about building a relationship that benefits you and your art career in the long run.

If you found our blog post on "Art Consignment Agreements: A Success Guide" helpful and want to dive deeper into the world of contracts for creatives, we highly recommend checking out the workshop 'A Contract For All Creatives' by Harry Vincent. This workshop will equip you with the knowledge and confidence you need to navigate contracts and protect your creative work.