GeneralI approached a gallery, and they told me they don't know what CARFAC is or what its fees are, what do I do?
Self-advocate. Explain how you are a member of CARFAC BC, which has established guidelines and fee structures for visual artists. Remember, if you don't believe in yourself, or your craft, no one else will. Also, we're here to back you up if you run into problems.
GrantsHow do you access grant money?
To access grant money, you must apply to a funding organization. Here are two websites for organizations that provide funding: Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council. Read the criteria, talk to the staff to make sure you meet the criteria and then make your application. The staff will help you with filling out the application forms.
There are other organizations that provide grants to artists. The Assembly of BC Arts Councils has produced a book called the Arts Resource Book. Within this book are guidelines for applying for grants. To obtain their address, please make use of their website: www.assemblybcartscouncils.ca.
CopyrightI was ripped-off by the publisher. What can I do?
Situation: There is a painter who also sometimes publishes work on post cards, etc. A publisher's client is a large retailer who has used these images on various knick-knacks manufactured and sold by them. Unfortunately, they did this without permission or the artist's knowledge until noticed by the artist that the items were for sale in a particular store. Apparently, this has been going on for some time. Any credit that may have appeared on the original artwork had been removed. Now the manufacturer is saying that line has been discontinued but it is still an obvious violation of copyright law.
There is a copyright violation. Did the artist get any samples of the pirated work when in the store? It might be handy down the road.
It is recommended that the artist join both CARFAC BC (See our membership page) and the CARFAC Copyright Collective. The Collective will negotiate licenses or fees on behalf of members at no charge. It also offers a low-cost design registration service.
It's also possible that in a situation like this artist's, the Copyright Collective Administrator might write a letter to the retailer on the artist?s behalf, which might lead to some kind of compensation. Legal action can be costly, so it's worth trying a low-key approach first.
How long does an organization have a right to use an artist's image on a greeting card?
Situation: A few years ago, Amnesty International printed cards from some artist's paintings with their agreement, some verbal and some under contract. No money was paid to the artists, though the cards sold extremely well. Since some of the artists did not sign a contract, a number of these artists were wondering when they can have their own cards printed from the same paintings and sell them themselves, either to a greeting card company, or on their own?
Note disclaimer at the bottom of this page. CARFAC recommends that artists always have a contract when licensing their images for uses like this. That contract would spell out the parameters and, therefore, answer all these questions.
Some of those artists, who did this under contract, worked out an arrangement to be given a box of each of the designs used, most likely at cost, which then could be sold by the artists.
Those artists, who did not use a contract, still own the copyright to these images (unless it was specifically sold or assigned). Therefore, those artists are free to reproduce them any time. An option is, if the artist was happy with Amnesty's colour reproduction, to ask them for a copy of the original scans. That would save a bit of money.
Exhibition FeesWhat should artists consider when offered show space?
Situation: An artist has been offered free exhibition space and some promotion for a group show and opening event. The idea is to make a fairly quiet commercial space seem more inviting to prospective tenants. The artist/organizer has asked the company offering the space to provide security and insurance. The artist / organizer wants to make sure that all the artists' works are safe in the event of bankruptcy or disappearance of the company making the offer.
There is available advisory notes written for artists. These notes cover a wide range of subjects as per the list at There is a nominal fee of ¢50 for these advisory notes to members and at a $2.50 charge for non-members.
CARFAC BC are not lawyers and recommends that all artists, if unsure of the contract terms, should consult qualified legal counsel.
Contract IssuesWhat protection for artists is there in the event a gallery goes under and assets are seized and/or sold off?
CARFAC recommends that when consigning works to a gallery, you have a written agreement with the gallery. If the gallery does not have an agreement, be prepared with your own and know which clauses you consider negotiable. The following are some sample clauses which could be included in such an agreement:
All works are the property of the artist; further works may be attached as schedule A.
- Insolvency and Artist's Property - All borrowed or consigned works remain the property of the Artist. If the Borrower becomes insolvent, all the Artist's works shall be returned to the Artist together with any monies owning to the Artist, and this agreement shall terminate.
- Assignment - The Borrower shall not assign this agreement to another party. ("Party" here means either a company or a person who is not a signatory to this agreement.)
- Payment - All monies collected from sales from the artist's work shall be held in a separate trust account on their behalf until they are remunerated as per the agreement. [it would be good to also have a payment schedule] *This is a key issue, separating your money from the dealer's
- Make sure the contract covers damage and insurance, and that the person signing it has signing authority.
Shipping and Insurance
Where can I get insurance to cover my artwork, art supplies and home office equipment?
To find an insurer, check with a local credit union, or look in the Yellow Pages. At the very least, all artists should have a tenant's insurance package or home owner’s insurance package. This covers your household belongings and, depending on the agency and package you purchase, a certain amount for business related supplies and equipment.
Through CARFAC BC’s membership in the Alliance for Arts and Culture, insurance is available at a fairly reasonable price from Parsons Brown in Vancouver. The policy is for replacement value of belongings, e.g., camera, computer, etc. Ask to make sure you understand what is covered by your policy.
Additional riders for specific purposes are available and at a cost. It's sometimes possible to have a rider that will cover work that leaves a studio, in case a gallery is not covered. Check with an insurance agent about that. It may even require an appraisal of the work. Talk to a number of agents or brokers, as well as artists who might have coverage, to find out what makes most sense.
In terms of recovering from a potential disaster, a backup set of portfolio slides kept in a separate location is a worthwhile investment.
Shipping to the USA
Situation: Artists have a difficult time finding a suitable way of packaging and sending large items to the USA. When each item exceeds the courier’s allowable dimensions, artists look for other avenues available.
First, Consider the maximum size that UPS will ship is described as follows: weight maximum 150 lbs. or size maximum of 130 inches calculated as length plus twice the width plus twice the depth. An example is an item with packaging that weighs not more than 150 lbs and is not greater than 50 inches x 20 inches by 20 inches.
Packaging should be such that the item could take a beating. If there is glass, i.e., for a watercolour, try to find out if glass can be inserted at the other end rather than ship it. A wooden box or a wood-framed cardboard box would be ideal, filled around the piece with styrophone chips, bubble wrap or other reliable padding or combination.
If the funds are available, a company, such as Denbigh Design Ltd. (phone 604-876-3303 fax 604-876-3303), will do door to door service for larger pieces and provide the packaging and insurance, if you are willing to pay for it. They use a reliable delivery service that functions worldwide and employ customs brokers to alleviate that problem for the artist. Denbigh Design has no size limits and will ship anywhere. As the variables are so different for each shipment causing costs also to vary greatly, ask for an estimate before you ship.
If the artist must do it themselves, be sure to get the appropriate forms from a customs broker, some of whom may answer questions. In order to not pay GST should the piece be returned, CARFAC recommends the use of the Certificate of Canadian Origin.
Other How do Arts Councils help artists?
Arts councils vary in their focus and nature from place to place, so you should check with your local Community Arts Council and find out what they have to offer. The Assembly of BC Arts Councils provides a number of services.