By downloading this agreement, you agree not to distribute the agreement as a blank legal form or to create a download link directly to the agreement.
“I love your work,” a customer tells you at a crafts fair, “but could you make it in mauve with green trim?” Assuming you’re willing to prepare the work according to the customer’s specs, the best method of following up on the sale is with a commission agreement (also known as special or custom order).
Prior to pulling out any paperwork, you’ll need to agree on the basic terms, that is, set an agreed-upon estimate, schedule and payment plan. Sometimes a custom order will cost more than the pieces you’re currently selling, for example, if it involves a limited production method or more expensive raw materials. Crafts artists often must explain how a work is made in order for a buyer to understand custom order prices. Once you’ve agreed on that, you should sign an agreement similar to the sample Commission Agreement that can be downloaded above.
Explanation for Commission Agreement
Here is an explanation for each of the provisions in the commission agreement.
Basic information. Include the names of the parties (you and the buyer), the relevant job information (delivery dates and fee) and a description of the job.
Payment. Choose the method of payment that you have agreed upon with the buyer. Sometimes, in the case of larger, more expensive commissions, a buyer may spread the payment over several installments and also insist upon the right to approve the progress of the work at each stage.
Additional Expenses. If you are to be paid for additional expenses that you incur in filling this custom order, insert the supplies and services for which you seek compensation. If the buyer is to pay for shipping, include that information here. Also included is a reference to repayment of sales tax.
Credit. If the work will be shown and you wish to be credited, insert the appropriate statement. Although it is not mandatory to include any notice, the use of a copyright notice may provide some benefits in the event you are involved in an infringement lawsuit.
Termination; Cancellation Fee. If you wish to give the buyer the opportunity to terminate after making the order, insert an amount that is equitable, usually one-fourth or more of the amount for the total job.
Liability. This “legalese” section limits the amounts that buyer and artist would have to pay if a dispute arises under the agreement. With this provision, the only amounts due in the event of a breach would be the sum that would correct the problem, usually the fee paid for the artwork.
Reservation of Rights; Ownership of Original. This provision makes it clear that you own the copyright in the work. If the buyer wants to own the copyright, that is a fundamental change to the agreement that can only be accomplished by adding an assignment provision or, if the work qualifies, making it a work made for hire.
No Destruction or Alteration. In the case of certain high-ticket, one-of-a-kind crafts works, the artist may choose this optional provision that establishes that the works cannot be destroyed or modified. For some crafts works, this right may also be acquired without the contract under some federal or state laws.