How to

- by Always Art Staff

As an artist, when you make a sale, you are handing over an asset in exchange for payment. Because these exchanges are business exchanges, it is important to handle them with legal parameters in mind and protect yourself by using Certificates of Authenticity (COAs), ensuring you get paid upfront, being careful about the images you share online, and being diligent with contracts.

Certificates of Authenticity (COA)

A COA is a document that guarantees the authenticity of your work. This is important because it will help to prevent copies or fakes from being made and sold. Furthermore, the certificate plays a crucial role in establishing the provenance of your work for future sales, exhibitions, or loans. Each COA should include the following:

  • Name, date, description, dimensions, and materials of the piece
  • Name and signature of the artist
  • Number of prints made
  • Any extra details

You should include a COA with each work, and rather than working to produce your own legal documents, you can use Always Art COAs to ensure you have a streamlined and thorough document that you can track and file away.

Payment before file delivery

In the case of work that involves digital files, it is essential to receive payment before you deliver the files to ensure you do not get scammed. If you don’t receive payment upfront, you risk the buyer never sending the payment and essentially stealing your work directly from you. To ensure payment upfront, you can use online payment processing platforms that accept card payments like PayPal, Square, Stripe, and others.

Image sharing

Be mindful when sharing images online, as there are risks involved with sharing high-resolution images. With high-res images, people may be able to download the image and create high-quality prints to reproduce the work or distribute the images claimed as their own work. You can mitigate these risks by protecting your artwork. Follow these best practices:

  • Watermark your images so they cannot be reproduced anonymously.
  • Upload low-res photos that cannot be exploited.
  • Include copyright info in the image metadata to protect yourself legally.


Using contracts is an important part of your artist career to guarantee your rights. Hence, the need to consult an attorney whenever you want to play it safe. Even though a lawyer will charge you a fee, it will be worth it in the long run, as the risk of being taken advantage of is much worse.

Additionally, you can use Chat GPT 4 to analyze the document and suggest where the risks may be. If it notices issues, you can ask to renegotiate the contract terms. Chat GPT 4 has proven to perform well on law exams, so it is an excellent first step before consulting a lawyer.

Before entering a contract agreement, understand what risks and conditions you are or are not willing to accept, and learn from your experiences. Then make sure your contract doesn’t break your boundaries, as it will set up the tone and structure of your relationship with this client moving forward.


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