Yes, you probably had grander things in mind when you became an artist, but keeping up with paperwork and sending invoices is a key component to running your art business. In this installment of our How to Stay on Track & Get Paid series, we’ll cover everything invoices, from how to send an invoice to whether you need to send one at all. Read on below, or check out our complete article on ArtistsMarketOnline.com or in the 2015 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market.
Keep creating and good luck!
How to Send an Invoice
If you’re a designer or illustrator, you will be responsible for sending invoices for your services. Clients generally will not issue checks without them, so mail or fax an invoice as soon as you’ve completed the assignment. Illustrators are generally paid in full either upon receipt of illustration or upon publication. Most graphic designers arrange to be paid in thirds, billing the first third before starting the project, the second after the client approves the initial roughs, and the third upon completion of the project.
Standard invoice forms allow you to itemize your services. The more you spell out the charges, the easier it will be for your clients to understand what they’re paying for. Most freelancers charge extra for changes made after approval of the initial layout. Keep a separate form for change orders and attach it to your invoice.
If you’re an illustrator, your invoice can be much simpler, as you’ll generally be charging a flat fee. It’s helpful, in determining your quoted fee, to itemize charges according to time, materials, and expenses. (The client need not see this itemization; it is for your own purposes.) Most businesses require your Social Security number or tax ID number before they can cut a check, so include this information in your bill. Be sure to put a due date on each invoice; include the phrase “payable within 30 days” (or other preferred time frame) directly on your invoice. Most freelancers ask for payment within ten to thirty days. Sample invoices are featured in Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators and Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers, both by Tad Crawford (Allworth Press).
If you’re working with a gallery, you will not need to send invoices. The gallery should send you a check (generally within thirty days) each time one of your pieces is sold.
To ensure that you are paid in a timely manner, call the gallery periodically to touch base. Let the director or business manager know that you are keeping an eye on your work. When selling work independently of a gallery, give receipts to buyers and keep copies for your records.