Do Freelance Artists Need a Business License?

Let’s talk about the question, ‘Do freelance artists need a business license?’

The term “Freelancer” refers to different types of work situations. Generally, it refers to someone who does not work under normal conditions of employment. The self-employed can be an independent contractor, a part-time worker, an on-call person, and temporary workers.

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Do Freelance Artists Need a Business License? 1

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Depending on the type of work being done and where a freelancer may require a business license.

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Freelance Business Licensing What Artists Know

If you sell your artwork, the answer is yes. The city and state where you live grant you a business license. You may also need a sales privilege license to collect sales tax and an employer identification number (EIN) to file your business taxes. Additional licenses may be required when selling artwork at art festivals and shows. We have summed up some different considerations below:

Job Considerations

If you are a graphic designer, freelance artist, or technical writer, you may not need a business license. Similarly, if you make extra money walking dogs around the neighborhood, giving people car details, or performing other services that are not considered professional, you may not need a license. If you advertise under a particular trade name, you will need a license. If you work under your own name, your state may not require a license. However, even if your name is in the company name, you will need a license.

Locality Considerations

Depending on where you live, you may need a license to do business. Some cities, counties, or state governments may have regulations on business licensing. Check with your county clerk’s office or business planner to determine your legal liability.


Galleries accept work on consignment. They sell to the customer and reimburse the artist on a pre-agreed basis. The work of art does not belong to the gallery, the artist is still the owner. Once the sale is made, ownership is transferred from the artist to the gallery, as it is illegal to sell something that you do not own. Since the artist does not sell directly to the public, it is not necessary to obtain a sales privilege license but you may need to speak to an accountant about your taxes.

Arts and crafts shows

If you set up a booth and sell your artwork directly to the public, you need a business license and a sales privilege license. You may need a license from the city where the arts and crafts show will be held. The program promoter should be able to tell you if you do but contact the city directly. Some cities ask to see the vendors’ licenses at the fair. If you don’t have one, you could be fined. If the promoter of the program takes the money of the clients then you may not need an additional license.

Special Commissions

A commissioned artwork is work that you create specifically for someone else based on their direction. That direction can be general, depending on your artistic abilities, or very detailed. The artwork is about the person who paid you to create it. You may or may not own the copyright to the artwork, depending on whether the artwork was created as a rental. If you were hired as an employee to create the art, you don’t need a business license.

Before you go, I hope this above article do freelance artists need a business license is helpful and informational for you.

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