How to create a Certificate of Authenticity for your art
Being an artist and selling your artwork comes with certain obligations to protect you and your work. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is one of those and it is important to provide one with every artwork you create. Providing a certificate of authenticity with the sale of every artwork shows professionalism and indicates that your work has value.
Not sure how to create a COA? Not to worry, the following article includes everything you need to know including some free downloadable templates for you to customize.
Common questions about a certificate of authenticity for your artwork answered:
What is a Certificate of Authenticity?
A Certificate of authenticity is an official document that proves that the artwork sold is genuine and authentic. It includes technical details of the artwork and is signed by the artist. It is important to provide your customers and collectors with a COA to prove that the work has been produced by you specifically and is of high quality. It is a physical document that should accompany any and all artwork produced, sold or not, and also any artwork given to a gallery or art show in case the artwork is sold by them.
A certificate of authenticity is predominantly used for original artwork such as paintings, drawing sculptures, etc. but you can also use them for limited edition or open edition prints. If you are providing a certificate of authenticity with your prints this will also show your customers that your fine art prints are professional and are high quality.
Why do you need a Certificate of Authenticity?
In some jurisdictions a certificate of authenticity is legally required, such as in Italy according to ‘Code of Cultural Heritage and Landscape‘, Legislative Decree no. 42 of 22 January 2004, article 64, states the following:
“Whosoever conducts activities of sale to the public, … for the purpose of selling works of painting, sculpture, graphic art or of antique objects … must provide the buyer with documentation certifying authenticity.”
As well as proving that the artwork was created by you, a certificate of authenticity can also act as a sales receipt and ensure an easy transaction between you and the buyer. As an artist, your artwork may become more valuable over time so the certificate of authenticity can help to prevent fraud and track the provenance of your work.
If you want to build a successful career as an artist then you must create an archive of your work. Stay organized and create a certificate of authenticity for every artwork you produce, therefore when it comes to selling your artwork you have your COA to hand. Document every sale of work, including delivery confirmation where applicable.
What is included on a certificate of authenticity?
When you provide a certificate of authenticity with your artwork you need to include the following information. This will all help in the identification of the artwork and track the provenance:
1. Statement of Authenticity
This is a short statement declaring the authenticity of your work, as well as a statement that your work is copyrighted by you, and you alone. It is also worth mentioning contact details in case the artwork’s value or validity needs to be confirmed at a later date.
2. Title of the Work
This is the title of the artwork.
3. Artist Name
This is your name as the artist.
These are the dimensions of the artwork. Remember to specify the units of measurement.
5. Date Produced
This is the date or year, you completed the artwork.
6. Medium & Materials
The materials and mediums you used to produced the stated artwork. If this certificate is for a print then state the paper and ink used to create the print.
7. Artwork Image
Your certificate of authenticity can also include a high-resolution image of your work but this is not necessary. Including it will make it easier for you and your buyer for archival and identification reasons.
8. Artist’s Signature
This is where you, the artist, would sign using your artist’s signature. This is the same signature used on the artwork itself.
9. Date Signed
State the date you officially signed this document.
10. Edition number
State the edition number of your artwork or limited edition print.
11. Special instructions
Include any special instructions regarding the condition of your work, installation instructions, etc.
How to create your own certificate of authenticity.
This is the fun part! When it comes to creating your certificate of authenticity you should think bout your art brand. Your certificate of authenticity should be an extension of that brand and match your aesthetic and style. It also needs to look professional so it is worth investing in nice printing paper or having them professionally printed. Websites like printed.com, moo.com, and vistaprint.com can do just that.
Certificates of authenticity should be created by the artist themselves or the artist representative, like an agent or publisher. If not created by the artist then the relationship to the artist should be stated on the COA with up-to-date contact information.
Make them stand out with embossed logos, golden wafers, or foiled designs. This is your chance to create something individual and professional.
Size doesn’t matter. As long as the information on the certificate is easy to see and legible then there is no standard size that a certificate should be. This also means that you should use easy-to-read fonts if you are creating the certificate yourself.
You can use the following materials to create your own certificate of authenticity:
Don’t be afraid to change your design over time as your artistic brand and style develops. Here is how pet portrait artist Sema Martin’s certificates have changed over the course of her career:
Certificate of authenticity examples and downloads.
Get inspired by the following certificates of authenticity created by artists in the Art Is My Career community. Click on the image to be taken to their website.
Download any of the following Microsoft Word templates and edit them to fit your own creative aesthetic. There are three types to choose from, The first is a certificate of authenticity that includes a picture of your artwork. Replace the artwork image as your own and even include your logo, if you have one.
The second is a COA which does not include an image of your artwork.
The third is a COA that can be used for limited and open edition fine art prints. Make sure to fill in the blanks before printing your certificate.
We hope this article has answered your questions about certificates of authenticity and has given you the inspiration and the guidance to create your own.
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