How to Create an Art Commission Contract for Artists

By Milan Art Institute on May 10, 2024
How to Create an Art Commission Contract for Artists

Participating in public art commission opportunities and selling your art locally can be a rewarding way to connect directly with your collectors. You have heard of art commission scams and may have already encountered those trying to take advantage of your goodwill. It can be difficult as an artist on social media to spot the difference between a genuine opportunity and a scam. How can you find a public commission art opportunity if you are concerned about being taken advantage of? The initial step toward successfully embarking on any endeavor is safeguarding yourself and your artistic creations with a thorough, well-structured contract.

What is an Art Commission Contract?

An Art Commission contract will outline the agreement and expectations between you, the artist, and the client. You may have secured a project through an art commission website (such as or, local connections, or social media accounts. But before you start on any project and before there is an exchange of any money, you will need to address what is expected of you and what you expect from your client.

Many projects will already have a contract outlining art commission rules and expectations, but a little bit of knowledge will help you feel more secure going into the agreement.

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Why You Need an Art Commission Contract

Whether you are trying to get your art into galleries, do a collaborative mural in the center of your town, score an artist-in-residence in the Alps, or just starting to sell your art, you may need a contract to protect yourself. An artist agreement is beneficial to you and your clients. It will set clear expectations for both parties, set legal terms, and protect the rights of your work. Purchasing your work, even in digital form, does not grant permission for the reproduction of your art. Transparency will be crucial for ensuring the success of your project and to make sure you don’t get burned.

When considering a project, do your research first. Get savvy by vetting companies, Googling names with the word scam attached, look for their websites and legitimate emails, using, and asking for references. You can investigate opportunities and shows before signing up by asking another artist about their experience or joining vendor vetting groups on Facebook in your area. Galleries will rarely ever contact an artist directly to show their work. One of the most common scams artists are seeing are NFT offers. These opportunities should be avoided unless you have a direct connection to someone working in the NFT community. Never click links sent through email unless you are expecting it.

What to Include in an Art Commission Contract

There are some essential elements you will want to include in your contract:

  1. Scope of Work:
    • Description of the Work: This section provides a detailed overview of the project, including aspects such as the size of the artwork, materials used, subject matter, artistic style, and any specific requirements or preferences outlined by your client.
  2. Payment Terms:
    • Cost and Payment Schedule: Clearly outline the total cost of the project and specify the payment schedule, including any required deposits, how you will be paid, milestone payments, and the timing of final payments.
    • Cancellation Policy: Define the conditions under which either party can cancel the contract and detail any financial implications or penalties associated with the cancellation.
  3. Timeline/Duration/Expiration of Contract:
    • Start and End Dates: Establish the start and completion dates of the project, providing a clear timeline for all involved parties.
    • Penalties: Specify any penalties or consequences for delays in the project completion or any failures to adhere to agreed-upon deadlines.
  4. Revision Policy:
    • Number of Changes Allowed and Additional Charges: Clearly state the number of revisions or changes included in the scope of work and outline any additional charges that may apply for extra revisions beyond this limit.
  5. Delivery Arrangements:
    • Delivery and Installation: Detail the arrangements for delivering the completed artwork to the client, including any installation services, if applicable.
    • Pick-Up: Specify the process for the client to pick up the artwork if delivery arrangements are not provided.
  6. Copyright and Reproduction Rights:
    • Copyright Ownership: Define the ownership of the copyright for the artwork, clarifying whether it remains with the artist or is transferred to the client upon completion.
    • Reproduction Rights: Outline the client's rights to reproduce, distribute, or modify the artwork, if any, and specify any limitations or conditions. This includes prints made from the artist’s work.
    • Watermarking: Recommend or require the use of watermarks on digital images to help protect against unauthorized reproduction, particularly in the context of AI-generated art.
  7. Cancellation Policy and Financial Implications:
    • Cancellation Terms: Reiterate the cancellation policy outlined earlier in the contract, emphasizing any financial implications or penalties associated with cancellation by either party.
  8. Agreement of Terms Statement with Dates and Signatures:
    • Verification of Agreement: Conclude the contract with a statement affirming that both parties have read and agreed to the terms outlined in the contract.
    • Dates and Signatures: Provide space for the parties involved to sign and date the contract, thereby formalizing the agreement and making it legally binding.

By including these detailed sections in the contract, both parties can ensure clarity, accountability, and protection of their rights throughout the duration of the artistic project.

Art Commission Contract Template

Use templates as a starting point. There are many online examples of artists’ contracts. Use ChatGPT to generate and customize a contract or use for added safety. Here are a couple of sample contracts to get you started:



See a contract as up-leveling your professionalism; it is important to value you and your art and show transparency and honor to your client. Up-level your professionalism so you are the one they choose. Begin by offering something of value. It might be time to enhance your skills so you can create artwork that meets market demands and makes you proud. Enroll in a local art skills class or take the Milan Art Institute’s Mastery Program to grow your skills and understanding of a career as a professional artist.

Confidence is crucial when entering this market. The initial step for many art commission projects involves filling out an application. You will need to submit sample work or a portfolio. Develop a cohesive portfolio highlighting your distinct style and artistic voice. This clarity makes your work understandable to potential decision-makers. High-quality photographs of your artwork are crucial for promotional purposes and social media engagement. While photographing art might seem daunting, today's smartphones enable you to capture professional-grade images.

The process of filling out an application can be overwhelming, but having a strong brand, a professional website, and excellent photos of your work are fundamental steps for expanding into this new market. Make it easy to visualize how your art will serve their goals by having an online portfolio with pictures showcasing your art in public settings. Become trustworthy by creating high-quality work using high-quality materials, finish edges, frame your work, and include hanging mechanisms.

Create an artist statement, bio, and CV (a CV is a resume that includes dates of awards, commissions, shows, and work experience). To create one, look at what other artists have in their CVs or use ChatGPT to generate. Having these ready ahead of time will help you when it comes time to fill out applications.

True success requires hard work, commitment, long-term vision, skills, and growth. Your artist identity is that you are NOT desperate, flaky, waiting to be discovered, hoping for exposure, insecure, and starving. We teach artists to be in control of their destiny, be change agents, be culture shifters, be business owners, and have the potential for greatness! If you sign up, for the Waitlist for the Milan Art Institute’s Mastery Program, you will receive access to exclusive content for artists with no obligation to buy.


Milan Art Institute
Milan Art Institute

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