Outline of project, purpose/goal:
Commission Contract
Harriete Estel Berman, a jeweler and prolific craft business blogger is requesting $400 to develop a form COMMISSION CONTRACT for inclusion in the Professional Guidelines* for Artists and Crafters.

In a time of increasing demand for custom work, a Commission Contract developed in collaboration with the Crafthaus community would fill a community need. While several sample commission contracts can be found online and in print, none is designed specifically for the crafts community. In addition, many are dated and fail to address issues of vital importance to contemporary makers. 

Examples issues include:

  • The maker’s and client’s rights to use images of the work on the internet and elsewhere;
  • The client’s rights related to resale of the work;
  • The importance of professional photography of commissioned work;
  • Negotiating who pays for the professional photography expense;
  • Responsibility for the taxes due with final payment;
  • Pre-payment clause for the proposal initial drawings;
  • A payment schedule based on approval of the proposal, and milestone payments and review during the fabrication process.

This project will use a blog on Crafthaus to engage the Crafthaus community in developing scenarios to be addressed in the Commission Contract.  The depth of experience within this community means that typical commission experiences and practical considerations could be combined into one cohesive Commission Contract document with multiple OPTIONS that could be selected by the user depending on the circumstance. An overview section will explain the purpose of each segment of the Contract, and could be linked to the relevant blog discussions.

The format of the Commission Contract will be similar to that of the Consignment Contract.  The contract is written in ‘plain English’ and prioritizes the issues in the order of importance to the artist.  “Legalities” are placed at the end rather than in the beginning of the contract.

All Crafthaus members who contribute their opinions and experience will be acknowledged for their contributions to the Commission Contract. This will be in addition to members of the crafts community who have allowed us to borrow their commission contracts for review. The sponsorship of Crafthaus to this project will also be acknowledged.    

Start date of project and duration:
September 2013 to April 2014

Location of project:
All the work will be available online.  The finished Commission Contract will be posted online with the Professional Guidelines website. http://www.harriete-estel-berman.info/profguidelines/profguide.html
A unique aspect of the Commission Contract development will be blog posts and discussion on each segment of the Commission Contract. 

The Crafthaus community will be tapping into the experience which will enable  the arts and crafts community to use the content for their own business development.

Requested funding amount:

$200 for Harriete Estel Berman          

$200 for Gabrielle Lessard for Legal Review

Gabrielle Lessard will provide 4 hours of time to the project at a discounted rate of $50/hour. Specifically Lessard will review, and edit the final versions of the commission contract for legal compliance.
It is understood, that the recipient must provide documentation for funding claim (receipts) or other form of documentation of proposed costs together with the proposal. Gabrielle Lessard, JD: 437 Montclair Ave, Oakland, CA 94606

Other information, e.g. images or other relevant (visual) documentation to further illustrate project:


Harriete Estel Berman has developed the Professional Guidelines as a reference to help the arts and crafts community learn how to handle common but important situations.   These documents are basic tools for improved and equitable business practices leading toward more standard professional practices.   

The Professional Guidelines include three form contracts for adaptation and use by artists and crafters:
An Exhibition Contract
A Model Release Form
A Consignment Contract

The Consignment Contract is the most frequently accessed document in the Professional Guidelines, a testament to users’ need for such a document.  

In addition, Berman has 30+ years as an artist and maker with extensive exhibition experience.

Gabrielle Lessard has over 20 years of experience as an attorney, focusing primarily on contract and compliance issues for nonprofit organizations.  She was previously the Legal Director of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, where she drafted publications and conducted a statewide program of technical assistance and training for Legal Services attorneys.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, she taught a Legal Drafting course at U.C. Berkeley School of Law.    

We believe that a Commission Contract developed with the Crafthaus community would benefit the Craft Community.

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Replies to This Discussion

The purpose of this proposal is to offer a flexible contract relevant to the current.craft community in the digital age.

For this Commission Contract proposal the final contract will have multiple options you can select based on your circumstances.

The brainstorming process on Crafthaus will ask the community about their experiences with commissions, so that the options are relevant to real life scenarios.

I won't be starting from scratch for this process. For several years, I have been collecting  Commission Contracts  for comparison.

Several books include commission contracts, but in 2010 (when I was working on this  commission  (shown below) for Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco,   I realized there were several missing elements in all Commission Contracts currently available.

Millennium of Pursuit     

Over the next few days, I will share information about Commission Contract issues that I think are important to consider. 

In 2007 the SNAG Professional Development Seminar sponsored a program about Commissions.

Speakers included John Medeweff, public sculpture;

Cynthia Eid, silver commissions

Todd Reed also spoke about working with his clients.

There is a fabulous handout....http://www.harriete-estel-berman.info/profguidelines/PDScommissions...

John Medeweff handout spoke about the "The Do’s & Don’ts of Public Art & Private Commissions"

Cynthia Eid offered information about commissions including topics:

  • Getting Commissions
  • Designing Commissions
  • Working with the Client
  • Working with a Committee
  • Pricing
  • Tactics for Making Large Sculpture in a Jewelry Studio
  • Preparing for Installation
  • Documentation and Photography

All of this information is available....but most people aren't aware of this great resource.
Check it out. Save this resources for your reference

It would be a great foundation of information for this Commission Contract Grant Proposal.


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