How To Prepare A Certificate of Authenticity

The COA is an essential document you must provide in the event of a sale of your artwork.

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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!

Agora Artist Cynthia Evers (left) posing with her sold artwork during the opening reception.

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.

Useful Article: How To Take Great Photos Of Your Artwork

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.

COA for one of Fariba Baghi’s artworks.

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.

  1. Artist name. This should be located within the headline of the document.
  2. Title of the work.
  3. Year of completion.
  4. Dimensions.
  5. Medium.
  6. Edition number, if applicable.
  7. Special instructions. Make sure, if necessary, to include any special instructions regarding the condition of your work, installation instructions, etc.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

As a promotional gallery, we take pride in the diverse group of artists from across the globe that we represent. Visit our Gallery Representation and Artist Promotion page for more information about how we promote our artists.

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.

This post is also available in: Spanish

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19 comments

  • Hello! Thanks for this tutorial. I am just wondering if the date of authentication should be the same with the date the work was done/finished. This is the first time I am going to sell my artworks and some of them were done a or two years ago. So this is also the first time I am going to hand out certificates (though, I have given friends my works before and they have not asked for COAs as they were gifts.). Thanks again.

    • Hi Reina,

      Yes, the date in the CoA should be the one when the artwork was completed.

  • I read somewhere that COAs should be signed in pencil rather than pen because it’s irreplicable. What is your advice on this?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Cheryl,
      You should sign your CoA with whatever is more convenient for you.

  • I have a Thomas Kinkade painting that I have no coa for it and I want to auction. What can I do

    • Hi Robert,
      If you bought the painting, you should contact the seller. Or, if that is not possible, an official authority that would certify the authenticity of the painting.

  • Should “prints” of one’s work be accompanied by a COA?

  • thanks for the superb post!

  • Love your Tutorials. Thanks!

  • You can also buy the hahnemuehle hologram certificate of authenticity.
    https://www.hahnemuehle.com/en/digital-fineart/certificate-of-authenticity.html

  • Do you recommend the COA for sculptures / carvings as well as for paintings / photographs?

  • Very useful information, especially the real life example. Thanks!

    Jurjen

  • Hi! My name is Dhimitra Chano . Im new artist painter and is very helpful to me too assisting me with my Gallery. Thank you

    • Hi Dhimitra! We’re glad to be of use. If there are any other articles you’d like to read on our blog, please let us know.

  • Would love to attend one of the conference and teachings. I believe it’s very helpful & would go a long way to assisting me with the day to day activities of my Gallery.
    #My Heritage Contemporary Art Gallery
    Thanks