I thought I would post on something that I have been doing for quite a few years now and that I think adds a bit of validity to selling paintings. I had seen certificates of authenticity done by professional artists as a matter of course and thought that it would be a good idea to start doing this myself as I was selling a fair few paintings and this would show that I was serious about being a professional artist and not only that it would give the buyer some peace of mind that they were buying something genuine and worthy of them spending their money.
Added to that, the certificate of authenticity I use also incorporates a copyright notice and advises the buyer of the fact that I remain the owner of the copyright with the right to print copies of the original if I choose to do so.
Also on the certificate is the catalog number which makes it easy for me to refer back to which painting it is that the person has bought if I ever need to (of course this means that you need to catalog your paintings too!). I have an excel spreadsheet listing all of my paintings and when and where they were sold just in case I need to refer to it.
I stick my certificate of authenticity on the back of the canvas of each painting I create (except any really small ones). After prior experience I have learned that the best way to apply it is with a quality spray glue like the one below (US and UK products are shown). I started off using PVA but soon discovered that this can show through on the front of the painting if there is no texture on the painting to disguise it! You can get cheaper spray glues from stationery shops but I found to my cost that some of them are pretty useless so I figured it is better to get a good quality one like the 3M adhesive.
I have the certificate of authenticity in a Word file so I have created a similar blank one that you can download if you don’t already have one and feel free to change it to suit your own needs – it is based on a free template so there is no problem using it. Hopefully attaching the document below will work!
I wrote this article a few years ago and thought it might be interesting to visitors of this site.
Art Copyright – What To Do
Many artists wonder what they need to do in order to keep the copyright of their artwork so in this article I will attempt to explain exactly that.
Firstly I will say that I am not a lawyer but an artist but I wanted to share some information that I have learnt about copyright and art so feel free to add more info or comments if there is something I have missed.
If you work as a photographer, artist, sculptor etc then one key thing that you will want to do once you have created your work of art is to ensure that nobody copies it. There is nothing more annoying than having taken a long time and a lot of effort to create a work of art, only to see it reproduced elsewhere without your permission.
In order to keep the copyright to a painting or a photograph you actually don’t have to do too much at all as there are laws in place to protect your work. In fact it is really easy.
In fact in theory you don’t actually have to do anything to retain the copyright as the right to reproduction of the artwork belongs by law to the creator of that work (barring exceptions listed below). So, for example, if you do want to make prints of an original work that you have created then you are free to do so.
Art Copyright – Adding the Copyright Symbol
However, it can be a good idea to make sure that people know that the rights to your painting, photograph etc belong with you the artist. So in order to make it obvious that you have the art copyright on your work you would be advised to add the copyright symbol, plus your name and the year of creation, to the artwork itself.
An easy way to do this is a method that a lot of artists use. Personally, I have a certificate of authenticity that I put on the back of my paintings that says that I hold the reproduction rights and has the copyright symbol plus other information like the catalogue number and date of completion. I print this off, sign it and stick it to the back of the canvas with a spray on adhesive (other glues can show through the canvas to the painting). You can get proforma certificates of authenticity on the internet.
If you add the copyright symbol to a painting then you do not actually need to register the copyright anywhere in order for this to be effective. Once a work of art is completed and it is a unique piece created by you then you automatically own the copyright.
When Does Art Copyright Expire?
Well there are different rules around the world’s legal systems but in general it might be fair to say that a copyright will expire 70 years after the death of the creator. In some countries this may only be 50 years and there is also a 25 year rule for particular cases. Check out the rules for your particular country if you need to know more.
Some Art Copyright Exceptions
There are, as with everything else, exceptions to the rule. In particular, for a work of art, if you are commissioned to create a painting, sculpture or whatever and the person who gives you the commission gives you detailed instructions about what they want you to create then they may subsequently own the copyright to that work of art.
What you need to do if this may be the case, is to draw up an agreement beforehand that specifies that you will retain the art copyright and all reproduction rights to that work. Unless you do this you may be in trouble if you subsequently want to produce prints or reproductions of the work.
This can be the case particularly when someone specifically pays you to create the work. Or perhaps they are paying you as part of your job. In this case you need to ascertain with them who will own the copyright to the work once it is finished.