I have got a couple of problems with my Art Consultant. I am a designer maker and sell through an art consultant who sell art and applied arts for offices and interiors. It has been a really grey area and very confusing when interior designers and architects in a project are promoting or selling my work as an artist. I especially want to know what happens when you send larger work to an art consultant for client viewing and approval before purchase.
Q1: Whose responsibility is the cost of delivery and possible return to the maker?
Q2: When consequently sold to the client is the agent not obliged to notify the maker of the client’s name, even though the invoice was requested and made out to the agent?
Q3: Can the agent then add its own % without notifying the maker? Would this then be unprofessional, or is it common practice?
Q4: If the agent in effect has purchased the work and then sells it on, are royalties due to the maker, so long as it is within the selling price bracket which is applicable?
Expert advice provided for this specific problem by Susan Mumford of art consultancy Art Is Why I Get Up In The Morning and The Be Smart About Art Academy.
Susan works with art collectors to maintain & build art collections, she represents emerging contemporary artists and is excited to announce a new venture The Be Smart About Art Academy.
Whose responsibility is the cost of delivery and possible return to maker?
Susan: ‘This depends on the agreement between the two parties, which should be made in advance of initial delivery and should also incorporate return of work in the case that a work is unsold. Agreements can vary, largely depending on the situation for example shipping abroad versus delivering locally, or the size or weight of item(s) being delivered.
In my capacity as an adviser to commercial visual arts professionals, I recommend that the two parties split shipping 50/50. Should one party have a more competitive shipping option available, that party should pay upfront (if possible) to benefit the whole, and the other party reimburse 50% of the cost (incorporating packing materials).’
If the work is sold, is the agent obliged to notify the maker of the purchaser’s name?
Susan: ‘The agent is not obliged to provide the purchaser’s name / details.’
Can the agent add its own percentage without notifying the maker?
Susan: ‘In regards to an ‘agent’ adding a percentage without notifying the maker, this depends on the individual situation. There are two scenarios:
1) If an agent is selling on behalf of a maker, which means that the piece has been consigned to the agent, then a commission split should be arranged upfront. It is right that both the maker and agent receive fair amounts, and arrangements for percentages and commission amounts should be clearly communicated and recorded in advance of making any sales.
In this case, the best business practice is that nothing additional should be added on top without the maker’s knowledge. It is not common practice for an amount to be added without the maker’s understanding.
2) However, should an agent buy a work outright from a maker, there is no legal requirement to disclose selling price to the end purchaser.’
If the agent has purchased the work and then sold it on, are royalties due to the maker?
Susan: ‘This depends on the specific item in question. For works of fine art, the Artist’s Resale Right does not apply if the work was bought directly by the agent/dealer under 3 years before the sale of the work and the sale price does not exceed Euro 10,000.
Further advice on the Artist’s Resale Right may be sought from the Artists’ Collecting Society. Additionally, an expert legal opinion might be sought from a specialist intellectual property lawyer.’
Some take-away points:
Susan: ‘Clear communication and putting agreements in writing (including both parties giving consent) is absolutely essential in the maker – agent relationship. This is not only a protective measure, but furthermore serves as a good reference point for the long-term working relationship.
Contemporary fine artists should also be familiar with the Artist’s Resale Right and are encouraged to refer to the Artists’ Collecting Society for general information as well as specific questions in regards to the legislation (which is subject to change).’
What are your experiences with art agents? What would you suggest to this maker? Leave your comments below.