How to Create an Invoice for Artwork

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Whether you run a gallery or sell your own art, an invoice may be your last connection with a buyer. Choosing a format that coordinates with your letterhead and supports your brand image turns your invoices into marketing tools that leave a good impression. You can customize templates found in word processing and dedicated invoicing software, or create your own. Your layout, however, should result in a clean, easy-to-read document that groups related information together.

Create Numbering Systems

Develop a job or project numbering system to organize client information, track expenses and identify work sent to printers, frame shops and other vendors on behalf of your clients. Creative Public recommends a system that incorporates a number and brief description. For example, 15-003-05-Ceramic-Smith, could be the third project you had in May 2015 for a client named Smith. Under this system, you would assign 15-067-09-ArtFest to your 67th project in September 2015.

Create a separate numbering system to identify your invoices. Numbering invoices makes year-end tax preparation and tracking payments easier, and gives client accounting departments needed reference numbers. Choose a year-sequential number combination as suggested by Smashing Magazine, such as 2015015 for the 15th invoice written in 2015, or a client reference plus a sequential number for that client, such as TA025, for Time Advertising's 25th project with you.

Assign a job number and an invoice number for the work you want to bill.

Prepare the Heading

Type the word "INVOICE" at the top of the page, if your template doesn't already have it.

Group your logo, gallery/studio name or your name and address, plus key contact information such as your telephone number, email address and website URL together in one section.

Enter your client's information including the company name, the name of the individual who purchased the work, as well as their address and telephone numbers.

Enter Transaction Details

Devote one section in the upper half of the page to note the date, invoice number, client purchase order number, if available and the job number you assigned to the work

Add the amount due and your payment terms, such as "Payable Upon Receipt" or "framed canvas delivered once payment received," when delivery is contingent upon satisfying the amount due.

Describe the rights the client is purchasing -- for digital works -- such as "One-time use only. All reprint and other rights revert to the artist after 30 days." Art legal firm Stropheus recommends noting that you retain the right of first refusal should the buyer want to resell your work.

Provide your federal EIN -- employer identification number -- or your Social Security number as galleries, museums and corporate clients need this information for tax reporting.

List the payment options you offer, such as check, PayPal, Square or credit card, and provide any account details needed for the client to pay you.

Complete Section for Charges

Begin this section with a phrase such as "Services rendered as follows:".

Describe the assignment with enough detail that the description will be understood by others later. For example, instead of "Training Art," write "10 pen and ink illustrations for the wheel loader service manual."

Note your fee structure as either a flat or hourly rate plus the corresponding dollar amount. Be sure to include the number of billable hours when pricing by the hour. Add the total creative charge for this section.

List any expenses for which you request reimbursement. Include enough description so that the client can match each line item with supporting receipts you provide. Add a total for the expense category.

Indicate any deposits or advances the client made.

Note the total amount due, less any payments received to date. Kutztown University of Pennsylvania recommends using numbers and words, such as "Total due: $750. Seven hundred and fifty dollars."

Follow Freshbooks' advice and add "Thank You for Your Business!" at the bottom of the page to increase your chances of prompt payment.


  • Using a number other than 001 for your first invoice implies your business is more established.

    Ask clients to pay you under your given name, unless you have a business checking account in your company name or a "Doing Business As" account with your bank to avoid check-cashing problems.



About the Author

Trudy Brunot began writing in 1992. Her work has appeared in "Quarterly," "Pennsylvania Health & You," "Constructor" and the "Tribune-Review" newspaper. Her domestic and international experience includes human resources, advertising, marketing, product and retail management positions. She holds a master's degree in international business administration from the University of South Carolina.

Photo Credits

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