As an artist, you are entitled to earn a livelihood from your work.
Artists receive commissions for their work because their art is valued. Artists are entitled to financial compensation for their work. Being offered visibility, the chance to get your foot in the door or even just free coffee and snacks cannot compensate for all your hours of work and unique expertise.
You should not be afraid to negotiate and price your work realistically. Visibility seldom leads to paid commissions, even for the most distinguished artists, as long as the structures that enable unpaid work are maintained within the arts. Demanding pay is also fair towards other artists, as it improves working conditions within the entire sector.
Creative work cannot be performed 24/7, but the income earned by artists has to be sufficient to support them throughout the year. Therefore, price your art relative to the actual amount of work and number of days that went into it.
How to promote fair practices as an artist:
- Bring up the subject of money right from the start or make an offer immediately.
- Draw up an agreement in writing specifying responsibilities and remuneration, such as fees, travel and accommodation expenses, and compensation for other related expenses.
- If you are to be paid using your tax card, check whether you will be paid in the form of wages or trade income. If you are paid in the form of trade income, you are responsible for paying pension and insurance contributions.
- If you are invoicing for your work, include in the total the costs of materials, overheads, wage-related expenses, such as pension and insurance contributions, the share of annual and possible sick leave days, and VAT.
To help you commission work from artists, we have included links on this page to pay and fee recommendations for different fields of the arts, as well as agreement templates.
Recommendations are always base prices and indicative. The price should take into account the amount of preparation work, the duration of the performance/presentation, all the props that are required, the number of people involved, the location, the size of the audience, special requirements, and the length and merits of the artist’s professional career.
- Visual arts
- Performing arts
- Copyright issues
- Art for social services and healthcare
- Artists as guest speakers
If you are commissioned to create a work of art, make an agreement already before the initial planning phase and agree to a fee for the preliminary design. Making a draft, sketch or model involves demanding and time-consuming creative work. Once the preliminary design has been approved, a separate agreement is made for the final version. The agreement should stipulate the schedule and responsibilities, as well as your artist’s fee, materials and other costs.
Working on commissions may require you to invoice. For this you will need your own Business ID as a private trader, another business form or belonging to a cooperative, for example. You should choose the business form carefully based on your other income.
Price your work realistically taking into consideration any risks. If you expect the project to take a long time, it is possible that material costs could increase. Include in the price your overhead costs (rent, electricity), equipment and material costs, pension insurance and VAT. Make sure transportation, installation and other related costs are included in the agreement.
If you sell your art through a gallery, art lending service or other agent, include their commission in the price. VAT should also be taken into consideration, especially if you become subject to VAT in the middle of the project.
For illustrations, agree in detail about copyrights and price accordingly, taking into consideration also the demands and duration of the work.
The remuneration you receive should be enough to cover also your days off and annual leave. If your art is selected for inclusion in an exhibition, you are entitled to an exhibition fee. An exhibition fee is paid through the copyright society Kuvasto for displaying the work.
You can also negotiate an exhibition payment. An exhibition payment is compensation paid by a museum to the artist for preparing the art for the exhibition in accordance with the exhibition agreement. This work may include planning the exhibition, hanging the works, transporting the work, and participating in communications, marketing and events related to the exhibition, such as artist meetings.
- Artists` Association of Finland:
How to make a living in the visual arts
- Guidelines for pricing
- Information about exhibition fees and payments, plus examples of exhibition payments in other countries:
- Exhibition (copyright) fee pricelist (Kuvasto)
- Exhibition payment recommendations (UK)
- Exhibition payment recommendations (Netherlands)
- Exhibition payment recommendations (Sweden)
- Commissioning art for public spaces (in finnish)
Guidelines for graphic design and illustrations:
- Pricing guidelines by Grafia, the Association of Visual Communication Designers in Finland (in finnish)
- Guidelines for purchasing graphic design and illustrations by Grafia (in finnish)
The most important agreement for literary work is the publishing contract. The Union of Finnish Writers provides comprehensive guidelines for publishing and other contracts for writers.
Although general guidelines do not exist for pricing fictional works commissioned from writers, such as a poem or short story for a specific purpose, the guidelines of the Association of Freelance Journalists in Finland can be applied. In addition, you can refer to statistics compiled by the Union of Finnish Writers (in finnish) regarding fees typically paid to writers. When pricing your work, estimate the amount of time required for the assignment realistically.
For the pricing of articles and editorials, the guidelines of the Association of Freelance Journalists in Finland are applicable.
The Union of Finnish Writers provides guidelines for pricing the work of writers, as well as statistics for the average fees paid to writers.
The Union of Finnish Writers also offers legal assistance for contractual issues, which is available also to non-members.
The Finnish literary copyright society Sanasto provides information about licensing and fees for the use of existing works.
For author visits, the fees charged by the Finnish Reading Centre (in finnish) can be used as a guideline. Alternatively, you can ask the customer to order the author visit through the Finnish Reading Centre.
When pricing author visits, take into consideration the amount of time required for preparations and agree also to travel compensation.
- Freelancer Journalists:
- Guidelines of Freelance Pricing
- The Union of Finnish Writers:
- About contracts, income, social security and taxation
- Statistics regarding fees typically paid (in finnish)
- Finnish literary copyright society Sanasto:
- Licensing and fees for use of existing work (only briefly in english)
- Copyright Fees (in finnish)
- Finnish Reading Centre:
- Guideline fees for author visits (in finnish)
Performing arts (music, dance, circus, theatre)
Do not be afraid to negotiate your fee and make an agreement in writing. It is also important to come to an agreement about the framework conditions for the performance: the space for the performance, safety, technical aspects, audience numbers, the amount of time needed to set up for the performance, and so on. The website of the Trade Union for Theatre and Media Finland (TEME) lists its own recommendations for theatre and media professionals, including dancers, circus artists, directors, sound and light designers, and dramaturges. The Musicians’ Union has its own recommendations for professional musicians. Actors in turn are represented by the Finnish Actors’ Union.
The amount of remuneration should be based on the above recommendations while also taking into consideration the total amount of hours required for planning and rehearsals, the artistic and other work required for the entire production, material expenses, wage-related expenses and so on.
For invoicing purposes, you will need your own Business ID as a private trader, another business form or belonging to a cooperative, for example. You should choose the business form carefully in order to secure your future livelihood and ensure pension, unemployment and insurance benefits. Assistance is available from the Finnish Enterprise Agencies.
Theatre and Media professionals,
- Teme (only briefly in english)
- Pay recommendations for:
- puppet theatres, theatre educators, famateur theatres, directors and dramaturges, sound and light designers, stage managers and costume managers, dance professionals
- (in finnish)
- Freelance and other independent dance artists are also served by the Finnish Network of Regional Dance Centres.
- Pay recommendations of the Finnish Actors’ Union (in finnish)
- Finnish Musicians’ Union:
- Audition recomentation and tariffs
- Pay list for musicians (in finnish)
- Tariff list for concerts in clubs and restaurants (in finnish)
- Tariff list for livestreams and recordings (in finnish)
- Agreement templates (in finnish)
- Collective agreements and pay recommendations of the Art and Culture Professionals’ Trade Union TAKU
- TEME recommendations for event producers (in finnish)
TEME agreement templates:
- TEME agreement templates (in finnish)
If you plan to use an image, piece of music, visual material or written material, you have to make a copyright agreement regarding a licence (user rights) and copyright fees. Copyright organisations exist in specific fields of the art and can help with copyright issues.
Artists as guest speakers
Artists have to spend a lot of time preparing for lectures, discussion panels and workshops. At these types of events, artists apply their own knowledge, pedagogical skills and expertise in various methods, for example.
If the assignment requires expertise in more than one subject, it should be reflected in the level of remuneration.
Artists are usually highly educated experts in their chosen field.