Expressions of interest

The first stage of a commission is when a commissioner approaches an artist for 'An expression of interest'.

What is an ‘expression of interest' and how do I respond?

This is just what it says.  A commissioner contacts an artist in the first instance with an idea or opportunity and asks if you are interested, you in return respond with ‘an expression of interest' - something in writing that states you are both interested in the opportunity and willing to develop it further.

The Commissioner will do the following:

  • Introduce to you an opportunity, project, or context for a new work to be made
  • Will have knowledge of you and your practice in order to make the contact
  • Enquire into your availability to do the project/work and discuss a realistic timeline
  • Commit to discussing an idea with you
  • Honestly discuss deliverability with you - is this achievable?
  • Ask you to respond to this initial idea in writing declaring your ‘expression of interest'

This initial conversation creates an intention to work together, a space to develop ideas.

As an Artist you should:

  • Consider honestly if this opportunity is interesting: Does it spark your imagination? Does it contribute or is it in keeping with your practice?
  • Consider carefully - do you have time, what is the budget?
  • Research context and site and make sure you have an independent knowledge of the project/opportunity
  • Discuss how specific the brief is and if there is room for development
  • Ask all questions to the Commissioner, no matter how small
  • Arrange a meeting with Commissioner to discuss further in person - never underestimate the value of meeting in person and establishing a solid working relationship
  • Put forward different ideas that create a space where you can work together
  • Look at what agendas there might be, clarify intentions and expectations of the commissioner, and of the project as a whole
This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material.
The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.
Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.