Legal Issues

Sometimes, what may seem like a small issue that’s easy to overlook can later become a large legal issue that puts a business and career at risk. These resources help artists be better prepared on the legal front while also offering some options when legal conflicts arise. Use the links above to view the various categories of legal issues.

Note: The resources on these pages are listed by priority, with top-rated items appearing first. For more information on the listings and how to submit recommendations for listings, please see the note at the end of Artists' Career Resources.

View: All Legal Issues | General Legal Issues | Intellectual Property | Estate Planning | Emergency Recovery Legal Issues

Dealing with Post-Disaster Legal Issues

External Link


When faced with a disaster situation, you may find yourself in need of a lawyer to answer questions and just generally have your back. Here are some guidelines to help you determine when you need to seek professional advice and if so, whom you should call.

Ask Harriete: Artist Professional Guidelines Q&A

External Link | Harriete Estel Berman, metalsmith

An astute business and tech savvy blog from metalsmith Harriete Estel Berman. This blog has a wealth of information on all aspects of an artist's business, including a set of professional guidelines developed by a stellar committee of craft professionals for the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG).

American Bar Association: Find Legal Help

External Link | American Bar Assoication

Consumers' Guide to Legal Help is part of the American Bar Association. This site helps you find legal services, some at no cost, in your area.

A Visual Artist’s Guide to Estate Planning

External Link | The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation

A downloadable pdf book and updates resulting from a Visual Artists Estate Planning Conference sponsored by the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation and the Judith Rothschild Foundation.

Consigning Your Arts and Crafts

External Link

| NOLO Law for All

A concise discussion of the legal issues surrounding consignment and how to keep your work from being sold to satisfy creditors in case a gallery goes bankrupt.

Senior Artists Initiative

External Link | Senior Artists Initiative

Estate planning information-SAI is a nonprofit organization that assists senior artists in understanding the need for and processes involved in organizing their life's work and by developing programs that provide recognition for senior artists.The site contains several useful articles about how to help assure a favorable disposal of your artworks after death that are compiled in a pdf "Guidelines for Senior Artists;" http://www.seniorartists.org/images/Guidelines.PDF

Artist Trust: Professional Development Resources and Articles

External Link | Artist Trust

Articles on a variety of professional developments and topics, plus resource listings. Artist Trust also has grants and other resources for artists from Washington state.

Nolo Self-Help Law Center

External Link | Nolo

Nolo publishes books, software, and forms, and offers a website to help people handle their own everyday legal matters. The site contains articles and tips explaining a variety of legal issues.


External Link | Alan Bamberger, art consultant

A no-frills site of useful articles, tips, and product reviews for both artists and collectors from art consultant Alan Bamberger

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA)

External Link | Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA)

Many states have a Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts organization that provides free legal advice to qualifying artists. In addition many of these organizations present workshops on legal issues facing artists. This online directory will help you locate an organizaton near you. In addition, this website from NY VLA lists many resources for legal information and information on programs in New York.

Consider Your Loved Ones - In Case You Should Ever Die

Studio Protector Link


As artists focused on creating, we all plan on living (and working) forever. However, IF we should ever die, it would be comforting to know that we had taken some measures to make things easier for those we leave behind. This Studio Protector Tip of the Month has some tips to help you get started

Ways that Craft Artists Can Create New Opportunities



How can craft artists take a fresh new look – at the work they can produce, at the business and marketing opportunities they can find, or at both?  This article from CERF News: Issue 9: August 2003, talks about how various artists have refreshed their outlook about their work.

Joan Mitchell Foundation’s CALL Resources for Artists - Estate Planning Guide

External Link

| Joan Mitchell Foundation

CALL (Creating a Living Legacy) Resources includes an Estate Planning Workbook for Visual Artists. This guide is designed to be a practical tool for artists and/or their supporters to use when carefully assessing and identifying the unique estate planning needs and concerns specific to the visual arts. CALL Resources also includes a career documentation guide described elsewhere in these listings. CALL is an initiative of the Joan Mitchell Foundation begun in 2007.

Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville

External Link

| Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville

The Arts & Business Council (ABC) of Greater Nashville has a listing of legal and business resources for artists and is the parent organization for Nashville's Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts. ABC has an excellent series of business and legal seminars for artists that is especially strong on intellectual property issues.

Craft Artists' Legal Guide

External Link

| NOLO Law for All

This book from law self-help company, NOLO, is a primer on law for craft artists' businesses. It covers a wide variety of legal issues confronting craft artists including intellectual property, insurance, consignments, zoning, leases, and more. It is part of a suite of publications from NOLO on artists' business law.

Publications: Allworth Press Business Books for Artists

External Link | Allworth Press

Allworth Press provides practical information books for the creative community.


External Link | ArtHome

ArtHome helps artists build assets and equity through financial literacy and home-ownership. Online tools include a home buyer's guide and home budgeting information.

Artists Rights Society (ARS)

External Link | Artists Rights Society

The Artists Rights Society is a copyright, licensing, and monitoring organization for visual artists in the United States. Included at their website is information on copyright basics for artists. Of particular interest are these discussions of artists' intellectual property rights: http://www.arsny.com/basics.html, http://www.arsny.com/other.html.


External Link | Lloyd J. Jassin, attorney

This site from an intellectual property attorney contains a number of free articles and forms dealing with a variety of intellectual property issues, as well as a bookstore of titles on copyrights.

Artist Help Network

External Link | Artist Help Network

A listing of artists' resources including free and for purchase publications on a variety of art business-related topics.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

External Link | U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

US Patent and Trademark Office offers information on patents and trademarks.

U.S. Copyright Office

External Link | U.S. Copyright Office

The US Copyright Office offers information on copyright issues and law as well as information on obtaining a copyright.


External Link | Artscams.com

Despite putting Google ads up front, this site has some good tips on how to recognize an art scam, and first steps to take if you are a victim. The site also has a listing of related web resources.