Why You Should ALWAYS Guarantee Your Art

By Aletta de Wal in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice

Any time I buy a higher-priced item, I first do my research—I compare different versions of the product with my criteria and remove any supplier without highly-rated customer service to get a short list of places to buy.

I’m not just thinking about the cost; I also value my time and energy. When I buy something and it doesn’t work out, or fails to live up to my expectations, I lose time while I can’t use the item and expend energy in order to find a replacement.

If it’s something I need for work, I may also lose clients because of that delay. The item and vendor are now loaded with all of my feelings about those interruptions.

So, when I see or hear money back guarantee, I let my breath out. Do you?

My first thought is “someone’s got my back on this.” They believe enough in their offer and care enough about their clients to stand by both. If something is wrong, the vendor will make it right.

I’ve noticed that vendors who already build quality into their products and integrity into their service almost always offer a written guarantee, even though they rarely have to make good on it.

You already build quality into your art and integrity into your business, so why not offer a guarantee as well? It will have the same effect on your buyers as a good guarantee has on you!

So what makes up a good guarantee?

Look at any product you’ve bought recently and you’ll find a description of how the provider will make repairs or replacements to the item, if needed. They may describe which potential issues are covered, and how they’ll go about repairing or replacing it if problems arise.

There is often an additional requirement to register online to verify the basic information at purchase. (That’s a good way to keep track of, and market to, past buyers for future sales as well.)

Your guarantee should feature prominently on your website and can also be included in your sales receipt, in your art purchase policy, and in your Certificate of Authenticity.

The exact words you use are your choice, but I suggest they match your satisfied customers’ view of your art and your brand. Check out these examples:


(I have no connection to these companies. I just like unstuffy guarantees that make me feel like a person not a wallet.)

What can you guarantee about your art?

1. Archival quality
Use only archival quality materials and you’ve solved most of this problem. Make sure to note all information about substrate origins and quality in your inventory records in case you notice any changes in work on hand. That way you can notify your collectors and live up to your guarantee.

2. Credibility
Museum or gallery representation warrant that your work is of professional quality. If they display and sell it, then the individual collector must be safe. Exhibition history and collector profiles are another way to show that your work is in demand and sales worthy—in other words, that you are a credible, collectible artist.

3. Copyright and moral rights
Registering your copyright provides you with a legal framework as well as verified documentation that you are in fact the creator of the work and own all copyright, including rights to any derivative work.

For some sales, the buyer may also want assurance that no licenses for display reproduction exist. In all cases, make sure to include a note that no rights of others have knowingly been infringed; and how any claims would be handled. There are some differences between countries worth noting:


4. Price
If your pricing is consistent between all platforms, representatives, and distributors, you won’t have the problem of a buyer seeing a similar work of yours elsewhere for less than they paid.

Remember that when most people buy a work of art from you, they are making an emotional purchase, one that often involves the opinions of others. If a friend, spouse, or some other artist tells them the piece isn’t great or that they paid too much, they may begin to have regrets and need reassurance.

That’s another way a guarantee can help—it shows you stand by your work, and have no qualms about it’s quality. That may be enough to keep a buyer happy. But it also offers a solution for an unhappy buyer if that problem comes up. Left unaddressed, “buyer’s remorse” can easily begin to affect your reputation.

If you are skittish about offering full refunds or returns, a conditional guarantee is a good middle ground. For example, you might exclude returns resulting from improper care of the piece, as described by you in the sales documents.

The most effective artist guarantee is a full one that reassures the potential buyer that you will address anything. For an extra layer of reassurance, describe how issues will be addressed. Then stick to that unequivocally.

For someone on the fence about buying a piece of your art, a guarantee just might make all the difference in the world!

Want more insight on selling your art? Check out the links below for the rest of Aletta de Wal’s articles in this series:

A – A is for Audience

B – Channeling your Inner “Buyer”

C – Connecting, Communicating, and Completing Conversations

D – Seeing the Decision Making Process As it Happens

E – How our Expectations Directly Affect our Success in Art

F – 5 Ways to Get Past Art Sales “Failure”


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