Six Creative Commons License Options

Creative Commons is a form of copyright with many options for creators who want to share their work. For most it also includes a requirement to give credit for the work. But there are a number of options when deciding how to create a creative commons license that many artists are not aware of. Be aware of the differences in these licenses so that you use these images responsibly.

These definitions are from the Creative Commons Website, so for more details and specifics, see their details.

This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Creative Commons also provides tools that work in the “all rights granted” space of the public domain. Their CC0 tool allows licensors to waive all rights and place a work in the public domain, and our Public Domain Mark allows any web user to “mark” a work as being in the public domain.

So whether you are using another artists image, or want to tag your own images with a Creative Commons License, these tips will help you choose the right option.

For detailed Copyright Information go to



Bookkeeping Checklist for Artists

Things to Check Every Day:

            Check your cash on hand

            Know what is in your bank accounts and check for fraud

            Be aware of expenses and income for today

Things to Check Every Week:

            Record customer billings and payments

            Pay vendors

            Record payroll and or contract labor hours

            Check To Do List for purchases needed for studio work

            Send any invoices to keep cash flowing

Things to Check Every Month:

            Balance your checkbook(s)

            Review any past due payments

            Check inventory for sales if needed

            Add new artworks and prices to your art inventory system (ie. GYSTPro)

            Check in with your gallery or retail outlets re: inventory, sales, etc

            Review cash flow

File or scan all receipts and paperwork

Review month end balance sheet

Things to Check Quarterly:

            Review annual profit and loss estimates (review against last year)

            Make quarterly payroll payments if needed

            Make quarterly sales tax payments if needed

            Make any income tax payments if needed

            Review inventory and update inventory system

Things to Check Annually:

            Review any aged receivables and invoice if needed

            Year end status review

            Pay IRS and state taxes

            Pay sales taxes for the year (if you have not paid quarterly)

            Create full year Financial Reports and review

            Review your tax returns before sending to your accountant

 Review your prices and change if needed

            Create a budget for the coming yea

Useful Words for Artist Statements

Useful Words for Artist Statements

Useful Words for Artist Statements

Writing an Artist Statement is often tough for artists, and one of the reasons is trying to be articulate about their practice. Often-used words tend to sound like everyone else, so here are a few active words that might give you some inspiration that can use used instead of "looks" or "seems like" (which you should never use). You want to say something definitive like you know what you are doing. For instance, in a sentence where you are telling the reader what you work does, use one of these words that make sense to your practice.

My work:


























































Got more suggestions? Please add them to the comments.

GYST Audit Update 9-22-14

The audit of GYST and us personally is now somewhat complete, so I thought I would update you on what has been taking place.

I found out that my initial report of 100 new auditors hired by the IRS was incorrect, they actually hired 2000 new auditors to look at Schedule C returns (those who run a small business). Not only did we find that out, but we also found out that the auditor that we were assigned to is still in graduate school and has not even graduated. This explains some of the questions that we were asked, as I don't think she knows fully what she is doing. At least it explains why our auditor was less informed that I expected an IRS auditor to be.

We were continually barraged with additional questions such as what is the markup of the software we sell? We kept telling her that we don't buy and sell a product so there is no markup as she suggested. She badgered our accountant so much that he finally just made up a number just to get her off our backs.

What we did find out though, is that our accountant made an error in our 2012 tax returns. It had to do with a loan we took out. This resulted in us having to come up with a little less than $3000 that we owe the IRS. That in addition to the penalties, which our accountant agreed to pay since it was their error. This is a sign of a good accountant.

Not only did our account spend over $5000 in labor, but we also "spent" countless hours doing this, at least $3000. So in some respects, we are all out a lot of money. We will have to take out a loan in order to pay off the IRS, since they give you only 30 days to come up with the funds (or else).

So our options were to continue to fight with them, since we also had a number of items we could refile and claim that we had never taken off our taxes, such as a home office etc. or stop the madness and pay up. I was always told that a home office is a red flag for the IRS, but I believe I will take that expense off my taxes every year.

There is also no recourse when you get a badly informed auditor, as everyone knows you can't piss off the IRS. I can say that this was one of the most unprofessional experiences I have had with anyone associated with accounting in my long career. I mean, who hires people who are still getting a degree? It seems they hired a bunch of them.

We finally decided that we were not going to save much money and continue to be dogged by this auditor no matter what we did. It seemed easier to just pay the fine and the back taxes at this point, as neither our accountant or us ourselves could stand it much longer. There is only so much crap that you can take. Since the person assigned to our audit as part of our accountants staff was also in school with the IRS auditor, they could not talk to each other.

We wish the saga would end there, but now we find out that this is the federal taxes, and we will automatically be audited by the State of California.

I will add another chapter once that happens if there is anything interesting. Meanwhile, keep up the good work artists, and don't quit working. Thanks for listening.

GYSTInk announces first Twitter Contest - Write Your Artist Statement in 140 characters

Join us on Twitter, and send us your artist statement in this limited format (140 characters) for a chance to win a free GYSTPro software package for you or a friend. Deadline is September 16th to be eligible to win. Feel free to be as serious or funny as you'd like. Please share!

GYST Audit Update - 7-23-2014

An update to the ongoing saga of an IRS audit.

We last left you with the report on all the questions we needed to answer and report to the IRS.

We got a response that we had to prove that we took out a loan, and provide documentation. In other words, they didn't believe us. So another hour of work to get the "correct" proof for the IRS.

To add insult to injury, the City of Los Angeles sent GYST a form with estimated business taxes for 2013. They estimated that GYST made almost 2,000,000 (yes, count those zeros) in 2013. Which left the estimated tax at almost 3,500.00. I almost had a heart attach until I noticed that it was an estimate, and that the estimate was so blown out of proportion it would have been laughable, had it not been me.

This required that I go down to the City of Los Angeles Office of Finance. So, an extra three hours and found a parking structure that only charged $8 instead of the $27.00 and something max for the official city parking lot.

I was lucky to get a government worker who was really great. He explained some things I thought I would share with you.

First, even though I had sent in the form with the amount we owed in taxes, it was not recorded in the master city database, and it has been months. Hence the estimated form. We were supposed to get a card in the mail, but we never received it.

He also said that if you pay your business taxes online, they don't tell you this, but you will never get a snail mail notice in the mail again. Which was an issue for us. We attempted to login to the city to renew the license as well as fill out the tax forms but none of the passwords or logins that we were given when we initially signed up were working. Contacting them was even worse. No phone number with a person, and no email. So by the time we got the correct info the payment date was past.

For you creatives in Los Angeles who take the creative business exemption, if you send in your taxes even a day late, YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE any longer to claim this exemption. Something no one tells you.

So always mark the due dates for things on your calendar, and never wait until that date in case your login and/or password does not work.

The same thing goes for the State Board of Equalization, the office you send your sales taxes to. As of now, when you collect sales tax, you are no longer allowed to send in pre-payments unless you make over $100,000 a year. So you need to keep track of all your sales taxes and NOT spend it, so you have the money at the end of the year. Sometimes a hard thing to do if you need the cash. Just don't spend it.....

The IRS agent was supposed to meet with out accountant last Thursday, but she called and cancelled. She said she thinks she has everything she needs. No other additional information about when she would get back to us, so we are "cooling our jets" until we know the next move.

Feel free to ask any questions.

Written by Karen Atkinson, GYST Founder



GYST Teaching Manual is HERE!

The companion to the GYST Artist Manual on all things professional practices is our Second Edition of the GYST Teaching Manual. In addition to everything the GYST Artist Manual has to offer, we have also included a 13 week syllabus, a chapter on how to start a professional practices class or workshop for your school or organization, and each chapter has Objectives, Class Projects/Discussions, Homework and Evaluation.

We have added lots of forms and checklists, and updated every chapter. So if you are thinking of teaching a professional practices class, or workshop, or you need some additional information for the classes you teach, check out our preview.

To purchase and get more information, find it here.


Bookstores and Vendors welcome. Contact us.

GYST Audit Update - 7-2-14

Since our last update, we have answered all 27 questions for the IRS, and submitted multiple additional materials. These items have been sent to our accountant. The next meeting with the IRS is scheduled for July 19th.

Since these questions were asked in a generic way (most of them were not addressed to one of us), we needed to answer them for each of us and our businesses. So each question was answered with the following: (see previous post)





This means each question had up to four answers.

Estimated time: 6 hours. 24 pages of "new information". AND, each of them needed to be created as a pdf since most accountants use PC's.

For those of you who have commented on various sites and groups, thanks for your input.

Written by GYSTInk Founder, Karen Atkinson


GYST is Being Audited. How this works.

So, GYST along with myself and my full household are being audited. Since so many artists are being audited these days, I thought it might be useful to share the process so you can see what it is like to work with the IRS on an audit.

We were notified by the IRS with a letter as well as an email. We were asked to show up at a specific time (no choice of appointments) with a hand-full of paperwork. We were given a month to get all the following together.

2011 Tax return

2012 Tax return

2013 Tax return

All financial records, including bank statements, cancelled checks, receipts, the whole shebang.

So first, we contacted our Accountant, who happens to also know the laws regarding artists and creatives. He said that he would go to the first meeting with the IRS agent, but we would both need to sign a power of attorney. So we spent the next four weeks, gathering everything together. Luckily, we mostly have our sh*t together, so it was a matter of finding everything as well as printing out three years of accounting.

We signed a power of attorney, and our accountant went to the first meeting with the IRS.

We found out that recently, 100 people were hired at the IRS to look into business owners who used contracted labor. That means hiring another "business or business person" to do work for you. This is different than an employee. An employee works set hours, is required to be on site, and works regular hours for the business that hires them. An independent contractor is someone who has a business license and who works in their own office or home, and works on a contract to do a specific job. Over the years, GYST has hired other artists to work with us, as we usually have small jobs that don't require a full time person. We don't have enough work for a full time employee. (see the GYST website for more information on hiring at

The other reason, as a social business model and artist run art project, is that we train artists how to run their own businesses. We ask each artist who works with us to be self employed, have a business license, and invoice us for the hours worked, or the job as a whole. If we ever make enough money to hire someone full time, we would do that, but it is hard to find someone who actually knows every part of the business of business.

Things we hire artists for are editing, writing, programming, marketing, bookkeeping, teaching etc. We work as a team, but a team of independent artists.

So our accountant goes to the meeting armed with a big box of paperwork. We get an email from him yesterday that says we are required to answer the following questions for the IRS.

"The agent is going through her checklist of info questions to understand what you both do.  I thought I would email them to you to answer. Some items have been blacked out to protect the innocent and to keep some things private.

I am available to discuss these when you want.

1.       Did you record all sales receipts.

2.       Did you record all cash sales

3.       Do you have credit card receipts

4.       Do you receive checks  for payment.

5.       Do you transfer all paypal income to your  bank account as received. If not did you pick up all paypal income in then year received.

6.       Do you have anyone helping you with your bookkeeping?

7.       Can you explain what the individual people do ( the ones you 1099”ed)

8.       How long have you been working  at cal arts?

9.       How many hours a week do you work

10.   How many hours a week does ///  work.

11.   Did /// have anyone he 1099’ed

12.   Do you or /// invoice for your work . if not how do you let your customer know they owe you money

13.   What is the royality income from?

14.   Is Karen’s paycheck direct deposited?

15.   How long have you lived in your house

16.   Do you have more then two cars?

17.   Do either of you have a back ground in accounting?

18.   Do you pay your bills by check or credit cards? Or both . any cash payments

19.   Can you explain the what  following categories in Karen’s business are for ( brief description why you use these people ):

                     Accounting, marketing, programing.

20.   What is the income category “income provided”

21.   What do you mean when you call income  “resale Income”

22.   Karen can you resend the description of what GYST does. The one you sent did not come through.

23.   What was the expense diversified retirement of $/////// in 2012.

24.   If you or /// invoice can we get a copy of the invoice . also if you invoice how many invoices did you issue each in2012.

25.   How do you both market and get new business."

Of course, many of these answers were provided in the paperwork, if they had just looked at the accounting. And our accountant said this is the first time he has encountered all these questions.

The whole time I am thinking about all those corporations that are bleeding us dry and don't pay their share of taxes, and a tiny company of one artist and some helpers are getting audited. What is it about creatives that draws the IRS to audit us? We probably don't have any money to hire attorneys.

So far, we have spent over 20 hours, and that does not include answering questions. Time is money, so as a small company, the time is eating into our production, thereby making it harder for us to get things done.

I will keep you all posted as things go. We have one week to get these questions answered.

If anyone else has information on being audited, please share your stories. I think it is important to have some transparency as to how things work, which is the platform that GYSTInk is founded on. So sharing this information is part of the process of educating artists.

Written by GYSTInk Founder, Karen Atkinson