Regularly Asked Questions
Nineteen groups across Northern Ireland have been awarded grants totalling £141,000 from the Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Culture for All programme. This small grants funding programme enables communities to play a part in Derry~Londonderry City of Culture 2013.
Application forms and guidance notes are available to download now at: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/northernireland
Professional Recognition (Members only)
Registration on the Visual Artists Ireland database and access to our discount scheme as well as free or reduced rates on our services and those of our partner organisations.
Advice (Members & Non-Members)
Visual Artists Ireland provides members with a high-quality, free, independent, impartial and confidential advice and information service. Our team of experienced professionals offer advice on a wide range of topics such as: contracts, commissions, copyright, licensing, materials sourcing, social welfare, and other areas of concern to visual artists.
Help desk (Members & Non-Members)
The help-desk is branded as one of the central services of the organisation. Issues dealt with include – public art commissioning, sourcing artists, artists’ rights, costing proposals, insurance etc. Those requesting information include members, professional artists, local authorities, the public, commissioners and arts co-ordinators.
Clinics (Members & Non-Members)
Our clinics take place on a regular basis across Ireland. Each clinic is hosted by a representative of Visual Artists Ireland. The purpose of the clinics is to provide a space for artists to come and meet each other, chat about various experiences or find help on potential issues that they are experiencing.
Professional Development (Members receive 50% discount on VAI workshops, and discounted rates on partner workshops)
Visual Artists Ireland’s Professional Development Workshops are a result of many years of experience in the field of training and knowledge sharing through conferences, workshops and discussion groups. Aimed at professional visual artists of all levels of experience, the workshops focus on an interactive, face-to-face, and hands-on approach that enables participants to gain valuable skills. The workshops take place in easily accessible locations.
Student Pack (Free to Student Members)
This pack has been put together for the benefit of visual and applied arts students and recent graduates making the transition into professional practice.
Members Contact Area (Members only)
Membership entitles you to inclusion on the Members Contact Area – publish you contact details and description of your practice on our website.
Discount Scheme (Members only)
Our discount scheme for members is constantly expanding. With a wide range of services and supports being provided by organisations across Ireland, the discount scheme offers our members preferential rates and services.
Equipment & Facility Hire (Members only)
There are times when artists require pieces of equipment such as projectors, cameras, etc. to complete their work, but the costs of buying or commercially hiring are prohibitive. VAI’s rates are aimed directly as being affordable and of good value.
Insurance (Members only)
Visual Artists Ireland has negotiated with O’Driscoll O’Neil special rates on insurance cover to protect your art practice. Insurance covered includes, public liability, goods in transit, employers liability, equipment, property damage and more.
eBulletin (Members & Non-Members)
The eBulletin is the primary email news service for the visual arts in all of Ireland. The service is free to members and non-members, and contains information on jobs, opportunities, events, and exhibitions both locally and internationally.
Visual Artists News Sheet (Members receive it direct to their door!)
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet is the industry standard newspaper. It contains articles, commentary as well as listings for events, exhibitions, and opportunities for artists, as well as operating a rotating regional focus on organisations and groups around the country. The VAN also contains a critique section that looks at exhibitions and events that are taking place in Ireland.
Peer 2 Peer Studio Exchange (Members only)
This service allows visual artists, across the world, to safely and securely negotiate studio and apartment exchanges online.
Visual Artists Ireland Online (Members & Non-Members)
The Visual Artists News Sheet Archive; Printed Project Archive; The Common Room Social Network for the Visual Arts; The Visual Artists Ireland Daily; Twitter: VisArtsIreland; Facebook.
Visual Artists Ireland Area Contacts (Members & Non-Members)
Our area contacts’ role is to keep us informed of events, to assist our members locally and to increase the profile of visual artists in Northern Ireland. They assist us by advising us how to support our members as we roll out new support services that address local and national needs.
Visual Artists Ireland Smart Phone App (Members & Non-Members)
In partnership with Mayo Co Council Public Art Office, a smart phone app that will allow you to find resources and events in your area and in locations around the country.
VAI@DAS (Members only)
The new competition for professional visual artists to win a residency at DAS, Northern Ireland’s leading new media organisation for the arts. The award is part of the new partnership programme between Visual Artists Ireland and DAS.
Visual Artists Ireland is the all Ireland membership organisation for professional visual artists.
Becoming a member of Visual Artists Ireland provides a formal recognition of your status as a visual artist, offers you a wide range of professional supports, and allows you to contribute to the greater good of the visual arts sector.
We experience a constant increase in people asking for our support. We have also seen success in terms of our lobbying both of government and media concerning the rights of visual artists. Looking forward we can see more and more call on these services.
Our work with individual artists occupies a huge amount of time for our help desk facility. Issues that are a constant subject for us are problems with revenue and social welfare, advice on contracts, finding the best deals on insurance, advice on how to proceed with commissions, setting up a studio, professional development, mediation, and also recently we have been dealing with cases of artists that have suffered from fraud and misrepresentation.
It is also worth noting that VAI has advertised over 3.75 million Euro’s worth of opportunities in the past 12 month period. Added to these are the free information services that we offer, including the eBulletin, The Visual Artists News Sheet, Twitter, Facebook, RSS Feeds and our own social network for visual artists http://www.thecommonroom.net. All of these allow artists to not only know what is going on, but also to publicise their own activities. Already we have in excess of 1600 people signed up to The Common Room, and recently have started an international advertising campaign to make people aware of the artists who are registered on it. With over 9,500 subscribers to the eBulletin added to the extremely high number of visitors to our website, we can now say that we are the primary comprehensive source of information for the visual arts in Ireland.
There are many other benefits to artist members such as the Supplier discount scheme, delivery of The Visual Artists News Sheet direct to your door, equipment hire, the use of VAI facilities and also 50% on all of Visual Artists Ireland’s education and discussion group programmes. In fact, attendance on one workshop usually repays most of the membership fee. Our Education Officer is always gathering an understanding of what current needs that artists have in this area, and has delivered a wide variety of topics in all parts of the country.
By joining Visual Artists Ireland you become part of a larger representative body supporting and promoting the rights and status of individual artists. The larger the membership the greater the mandate the organisation has to represent the interests of individual artists and the art sector.
Further details on how to join are on our website at http://visualartists.ie/join-us/become-a-member-2/
Our help desk have a number of questions that are constantly asked by our members. In this section we outline our advice under the following headings.
If you have a query you would like answered please contact our help desk by telephone or at email@example.com
Why should I become a member of Visual Artists Ireland?
What are the benefits of being a member of Visual Artists Ireland?
What should I look for in an exhibition contract?
Tax & Self-Employment
I wish to apply for the Artists’ Tax Exemption. How do I go about it?
I am an artist registered as self-employed. Please would you advise me regarding preparing my annual tax returns.
How do I attract professional critics and curators to my exhibition?
I am considering using an agent to help me promote and sell my work. Where can I find one?
Pricing & Costings
I have won a commission to design a corporate Christmas card for a commercial company. Would you advise me as to the going rate for this type of work?
I have been approached by a person who wishes to one of my images on an album cover. Can you advise me on the copyright implications of such an exchange?
I have completed a commission for a local authority. What are the implications of ownership and copyright with regard to public art commissions?
I need to get insurance for my studio – can you advise?
Visual Artists Ireland recommends the insurance brokers O’Driscoll O’Neil to artists in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Several agencies offer different forms of insurance, however we recommend that you speak to an expert who is fully aware of the artists’ needs.
O’Driscoll O’Neil can provide insurance cover to protect your art practice. Insurance covered includes, public liability, goods in transit, employers liability, equipment, property damage and more..
17/18 Herbert Place, Dublin 2
T: (01) 6395800
You can download a PDF guide to a recent presentation by O’Driscoll O’Neil here: ODON-Artists-Insurance-Policies.pdf
It is considered best practice for the commissioner to lay out details of ownership and copyright in the original commission brief or in the artists’ contract. I would advise you to review the original commission brief and your contract to see if these issues were addressed. If these issues were not addressed and you have not assigned your copyright to the commissioner then the copyright remains with you. Assigning rights mean someone else becomes the owner of the copyright as well as the work. Visual Artists Ireland recommends that artists never assign their copyright to anybody.
When it comes to commissioning the issue of ownership is a bit of a grey area especially if there is no agreement in place. When a commissioner commissions a piece of work for a specific purpose there is an implied contract that the commissioner will own the work (though not the copyright – again unless you assigned it to them). With no agreement, the issue of ownership is open to interpretation. Thus, artists are advised to spell out their position concerning ownership when the terms of the commission are agreed.
When a commissioner commissions a piece of work then they have the right to reproduce the work in a variety of ways – for example using an image of the work for promotional purposes, on a website or in brochures. This should be stated in a contract or in the commission brief. If it is not, then it is implied that the commission can use the commissioned work in a number of ways.
As part of your copyright, you have moral rights, one of which is the right to paternity. So if the commissioner uses the work in a publication or on a website, you have the right to be identified as the creator of the work in the publication or on the website. The commissioner is the only party entitled to publish the work. If another party wishes to publish the work, they need your permission because you are the copyright owner.
There are a few texts on the Info-Pool section of our website that address these issues in more detail:
The first entitled ‘Copyright and the Visual Artist’ written by Solicitor Linda Scales, explains copyright and how it works, ownership, assigning and licensing rights, moral rights and information on copyright infringement.
The second text is entitled ‘Handling Disputes’. Here, Linda Scales provides advice to artists on how to avoid professional disputes and manage those that do occur. The information includes a sample letter of complaint that deals with infringement of copyright.
Another entitled ‘Contracts’ explains the legalities of contracts and how they work. Here you will find sample contracts for use when undertaking a commission, exhibiting with a gallery or reproducing an artwork.
Unless you assigned your copyright to somebody else then you own the copyright. Assigning rights mean someone else becomes the owner of the copyright as well as the work. Visual Artists Ireland recommends that artists never assign their copyright to anybody. If you are the copyright owner then you have the right to use the work as you wish.
In this case, you should license your copyright to the person who wants to use your image on an album cover. Licensing means that another person can use the copyright material. There are a few ways of licensing copyright:
An exclusive license is a license, which is in writing and signed by you the copyright owner. Under an exclusive license, the licensee is the only person who can use the work in the way covered by the license. It is common in book publishing agreements, for example, for a writer to grant the publisher an exclusive license to print and publish the writer’s book. The writer is not then entitled to license another publisher to publish the same book during the period of the license.
Non-exclusive License: If you grant a non-exclusive license to do something with your work, you may continue to use your work in that way and you can also grant other people non-exclusive licenses to use your work in that way. You should negotiate and agree on the terms and conditions of the license. Discuss where the image will be used. Will it be used on the album cover exclusively or will it be used on flyers, brochures and websites for example. It is also important to state where the album will be distributed (locally or internationally) and the number of copies made. These are issues you need to discuss, agree on, put down in writing and have signed by both parties.
There are a few texts on the Info~Pool section of our website that you should find useful.
The first is entitled ‘Copyright and the Visual Artist’. Here solicitor Linda Scales presents an overview of copyright and how it works. She also advises artists on how to protect their copyright and what steps to take if copyright is infringed.
The second is ‘Contracts’. Here Linda Scales explains the legalities of contracts and how they work. She also provides sample contracts for use when undertaking a commission, exhibiting with a gallery or reproducing an artwork.
There is no going rate for this type of work as such. Many artists focus on finding the right price for their work but this cannot be done in the absence of knowing how much it costs to make the work. A number of variables – such as your time, your profile and your expenses – need to be considered before you can come up with a fee or a price. Where the card is distributed and the number of copies made will also play a factor in the price you charge. For example, if your artwork is going to be used by a global multinational, your fee would be much higher than if it is to be used by a local community enterprise.
There is a text on the Info~Pool section of our website which we commissioned especially for artists that advises on how to go about pricing and costing artwork. Writer Annette Clancy provides practical advice on how to calculate and cost the labour time and overheads of your creative practice as well as guidance on how to price completed works and other artistic activity. View the text entitled ‘The Science and Art of Pricing and Costing Your Work’.
Another important thing to consider is drawing up a contract with the commissioner. You will need to give the commissioner a license to reproduce your artwork. Solicitor Linda Scales has written a text on Contracts tailored for artists. In it, she explains the legalities of contracts and how they work. She also provides sample contracts for use when undertaking a commission, exhibiting with a gallery or reproducing an artwork. You can view the text on Contracts here: See: http://www.visualartists.ie/sfr_infopool_ltg_con.html
There are very few, if any, agents in Ireland. It is more a case that galleries (commercial) act as agents on behalf of artists. To be represented by a gallery is not an easy task. Most commercial galleries do not like to receive unsolicited proposals. Generally speaking, it is the commercial gallery that approaches the artist with a view to representing them.
Thus, it is very important to keep pushing your practice and making sure your work is out there, exhibiting as much as possible so that you make it onto the radar of gallery owners and/or curators and that they are, at the very least, aware of your existence and where you are showing. There is no harm in send a polite email enquiring if they would be interested in viewing your portfolio and/or inviting them to your exhibition(s).
Do some research and find out who is who in the galleries that you think most suit to your work. Get acquainted with that person and make sure they are on your contact list. One of the most important aspects of being an artist is building and nurturing your contacts – be they art administrators, gallerists, buyers, curators etc. Develop a contact list, keep it up to date and send important people personal emails and invites to every show that you do have.
There are a few texts in our Info~Pool that may guide you with marketing your art practice.
‘Exhibiting with Galleries’,
‘Artists, Commercial Galleries and the International Art Market’,
Also, VAI runs workshops during the year the assist artists in presenting their work and practice. These are advertised through our eBulletin and in the Professional Development pages of our website.
There is no set way of attracting curators, critics or other art professionals to shows. For most artists getting a review is a result of building and nurturing relationships with art professionals over a long period. This can be summed up as networking – doing your research, finding out names of the professionals you wish to target, introducing yourself to them (in person or via email) and nurturing these relationships. Keep them informed of all your art activities, suggest that they drop by your studio, personally invite them to your shows and then invite them to write a review.
Of course, this rarely yields immediate results but the important thing is to make sure you are on their radar – that they know your name, a little bit about your work, and when you are showing. There are only a small number of writers and critic in Ireland but there are hundreds of shows around the country each week. Critics cannot possibly see everything so it really is up to you the artist to ensure that writers and critics are at least aware of what you are up to.
It is advisable to learn the art of writing press releases (if you are not represented by a gallery who will do this for you). The information you provide in the press release should be factual and clear, and have some sort of edge that will attract critics and press to the show.
When you have researched your lists of contacts, each should be sent a press release and a personal invite to the show. Tell them a little bit about it within the body of the email and invite them to meet you there for a glass of wine. You can follow this up with a phone call to remind them. It does not work most of the time but through persistence and dedication you should be lucky sometimes.
To develop a good contact list you should research all the major art publications, writers, press officers, gallerists, journalists etc in the country and get their personal contact details.
A good place to start is the Practical Listings section of our info~pool.
Here you will find contact details for all the galleries, arts organisations, media and promotional tools and also a list of Irish and International art publications.