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Laura Pelick

The Stuff of Nightmares (Part II)

posted by marrael 2011-10-18 00:52:26

(Note: This is a post that, if the blog works right, will be posted automatically to the Flog during Janet's absence from Oct 15th to 20th. Comments posted to this entry will be moderated on her return.)

So maybe marketing isn't your weakest skill, and you've actually got lots of customers lined up for your art, hooray! Writing these posts, I was tempted to call art-freelancing "being your own boss", but we know that once you've got a client, sometimes that isn't the case; you've now got a customer to please, and we've all heard the saying that "the customer is always right". But is that true?

If you found yourself rolling your eyes a little at the old nugget, well, I can't blame you. In fact, this two-part post was inspired by the recent reminder that we get difficult clients sometimes, and often face ridiculous pre-conceptions about our chosen line of work. But luckily there are artist communities sharing information on especially tough clients who either stiff artists on money, or who ask for too much for too little money, or who break, or refuse to even sign on the simplest of artist-client contracts. I won't link to the communities here, suffice to say easy for artists to find and join, and they are usually moderated to prevent the offenders themselves barging in.

I find contracts a must when working with new clients, and even a description of the terms/your package in email in bulleted points can count as one, as long as it's in a form that your client can read and agree to in writing. Should an especially large project make you nervous, however, then by all means print up an agreement and get signatures on it--any refusal or reluctance on your client's part to do so should send up a red warning flag. (You can find templates online or in books at the library.) Know your rights as an artist, and know that while publishing rights can be negotiated, copyright is not something you give up without express writing and huge financial compensation. (Extra reading:  Creating Art on Commission Without Getting Burnt: A Short Guide for Artists)

Contracts and artists communities can't protect you 100% from nightmare gigs, of course, but knowing your rights (and the best ways to deal with tough clients) can make it easier to know when to walk away and how to cut your losses.

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