What Do Legal Matters Have to Do with My Art?

“My life has been a chorus of ‘How can you call that art?’” – Carl Andre

“I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist” – Andy Warhol

Action in the legal sphere may appear to be an anomaly for the artist involved with creative work. Perhaps, as Carl Andre suggests, the artist should seek to withdraw from the art world and the dangers of success. Yet the artist seeking to earn his or her living from an art career must focus on art as commerce, what Andy Warhol calls being “a business artist.”

All artists, whether they agree with Carl Andre or Andy Warhol, must be capable of resolving business and legal issues. In this respect, a greater familiarity with art law and other sources of support will help the helpless, or victimized. Legal and business considerations exist from the moment an artist conceives a work or receives an assignment. While no handbook can solve the unique problems of each artist, the artist’s increased awareness of the general legal issues pertaining to art will aid in avoiding risks and gaining benefits that might otherwise pass unnoticed.

This has been adapted from  Legal Guide for the Visual Artist, 5th edition.

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