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Due to Covid-19, we have released a new article, ‘Selling art during the coronavirus lockdown‘ which provides more up to date information that reflects the current situation.
When arranging for a buyer to collect an artwork, an artist will usually arrange the meeting at their studio or at a public place, such as a cafe.
If arranging to deliver the artwork, there are several options available. You can take your work to the post office or arrange a courier collection from your house or studio. Make sure you select enough insurance cover from the courier company to ensure you are protected should your artwork be lost or damaged by the courier company. Always request a signature on delivery so that you can make sure that you have proof of delivery and a name, in case the buyer claims not to have received it. Be sure to package the items carefully and as agreed – if you have stated the price for your artwork includes a frame or mount, then these must be included, or otherwise renegotiate the price with the buyer. Usually artists specify that deliveries of their artwork will be unframed, and canvas paintings are usually taken off the wooden stretcher and sent without it to be re-stretched and framed by the buyer. In this instance, oil paintings and artworks on paper, are usually best sent in postal tubes as there is less likelihood of damage when sent by this method. A stretched canvas, and mounted or framed paintings, are more difficult to package safely and are more likely to be damaged in transit. They will also cost more to send due to their size and weight, although not as much as it will likely cost the buyer to get the painting re-stretched and framed.
For high value artwork, or heavy/large sculptural items, the artist may decide it easier and safer to deliver the artwork themselves, but there are plenty of courier companies equipped to deal with bulky items and willing to deliver for you.
There are various methods of arranging payment for the sale of artwork:
Find out more information about various selling methods in our ‘Selling your artwork’ article.
Never send or release your artwork without payment first.
You should supply terms and conditions to the customer before the transaction is complete. This can just be given as a statement in an email communication – it doesn’t need to be formal but does need to be clear so that there is no misunderstanding. This will outline a return period (if returns are accepted at all), who will pay what in the event of a return (i.e. will you pay the return postage of the item, will you expect the customer to arrange a courier and will you stipulate how the artwork is returned – packaging, insuring the item, returning the item in a particular time frame etc).
You will need to ensure the customer has your full contact details in the event there is a problem with the artwork upon delivery, such as being damaged in transit by the courier. Supplying false information can be seen as fraudulent and not in the interest of the customer’s rights.
You should supply the customer with a receipt for the transaction. This is the customer’s assurance that the transaction happened and payment was made. You can buy paper receipts from many stationers, or you can create your own on your computer. This will also serve as your receipt for your own accounts.
You should supply a certificate of authenticity, which certifies that the artwork is an original piece. It may also explain any care information on how to look after the painting. See our ‘Certificate of Authenticity Guide’
Be careful about what information you offer people. If someone contacts you asking for you to validate yourself as a genuine trustworthy seller be careful you do not give too much away. A prospective buyer does not need to know your date of birth, previous addresses or any financial information. If selling the art directly yourself, your name and address and perhaps a contact telephone number or email address will need to be provided during your communications with the buyer and if the buyer requires an invoice after the sale, but no more than this should be necessary. If you accept payment by bank transfer then you’ll need to provide your sort code and account number, but no other financial data will be necessary and you should be suspicious of anyone asking for more data than is necessary to carry out the transaction. It may seem obvious to not part with personal information that isn’t necessary for the sale, but it can be easy to let your guard down for a second when put on the spot and when someone sounds so polite and perfectly harmless. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity fraud you need to tell the relevant authority, which might depend on what data you feel has been stolen and how it might have been used. If you’re not sure who to call first, you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 who will be able to advise.
Never ask for financial details from your customers by email. This information might not be encrypted and could be intercepted and stolen. You have a duty to protect the personal data of any customers you deal with and it is important that you only record personal data if it’s necessary (for your accounts for example) and only keep them for as long as necessary and no longer. This allows greater safety and security for the buyer and reduced liability to yourself. You can find out everything you need to know about data protection from the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) at https://ico.org.uk/
Don’t accept a cheque, or banker’s draft, from someone unless you know and trust them, or at least make sure the cheque has cleared before releasing any goods. Be especially wary when accepting a high-value cheque.
If you do accept a cheque, pay it in promptly – if you leave it longer than six months there is a possibility that the cheque will be returned unpaid.
Be aware that until a cheque has been “cleared for fate” at the end of the 6th day after you have paid the cheque in to your account, there is a risk that the money could be reclaimed if the cheque turns out to be stolen, fraudulently altered or counterfeit.
It is safer to ask for payment for high-value items to be made by other means – an internet or phone banking payment or a CHAPS payment. There is a charge for a CHAPS payment but it is a guaranteed same-day value payment.
Be aware that a banker’s draft or building society cheque is not necessarily safe from fraud. They can be stolen or altered like any other cheque, and if altered, stolen or counterfeit they will not be honoured. If you receive a banker’s draft in payment for goods you should wait until you have certainty of fate at the end of the 6th working day after you’ve paid the cheque in to your account before releasing the goods. If you’re not sure when day 6 has passed you should check with your bank.