by Ashlyn Gentile
In the fast-paced contemporary art world we are currently immersed in, selling a work of art can occur in the blink of an eye. The sale is an exciting, invigorating process, but it is extremely important to include the proper documentation, to ensure the validity of your transaction. Perhaps one of the most essential documents you should include in the event of a sale of your work is a certificate of authenticity or COA. Many artists wonder where to even begin in composing this crucial document. Luckily, this guide on composing a professional, genuine certificate has you covered!
What is a Certificate of Authenticity?
The Certificate is an official document that proves your work is genuine and authentic. It is a helpful tool in proving a work’s provenance, quality, and ensures the buyer that it is produced by you and no one else. Ideally, it should accompany every work of art you’ve constructed, regardless of whether it is sold or not. In the event of a sale, a certificate of authenticity is typically one of the first documents provided to the buyer.
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Why Do You Need a Certificate of Authenticity?
First and foremost, providing a physical document to the potential buyer or collector eases the transaction process because it assures the buyer that the work is your own.
In a similar vein, because we live in a digital world where forgery is unfortunately rather commonplace, this document aids in the prevention of counterfeit. In this day and age, it is essential to avoid as much risk as possible in selling your work, because you have invested your time, money, and creativity in your practice. COAs are a form of risk prevention.
A COA also acts as a sales receipt, ensuring a successful and smooth sale of your work between you and the buyer. Furthermore, in the event that your work increases in value over time, a COA acts as a physical document that tracks the provenance of your works, thus proving an increase in value.
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How to Write a Certificate of Authenticity
Now that you know the what and the why of a certificate of authenticity, it’s time to write one! Listed below is a step-by-step guide with all the information you must include in a COA.
- Artist name. This should be located within the headline of the document.
- Title of the work.
- Year of completion.
- Edition number, if applicable.
- Special instructions. Make sure, if necessary, to include any special instructions regarding the condition of your work, installation instructions, etc.
- Artwork Image. Ideally, your COA should include a high-resolution image of your work within the document. This ensures ease in archiving the document for both you and the buyer.
- Statement of Authenticity. This should consist of a short, one to two sentence statement declaring the authenticity of your work, as well as a statement that your work is copyrighted by you, and you alone.
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Make sure you’re professional and prepared by having a COA made for each of your completed artworks. Here you can view and download a sample Certificate of Authenticity.
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