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Allworth Press

Twenty Years of Ideas and Solutions For the Creative Professional

In an article for the ASMP Bulletin’s Fall 2009 issue, Allworth Press publisher Tad Crawford shared the knowledge he has gained from twenty years of publishing business books for creative professionals. We asked about several of Allworth’s popular titles, and excerpts from this Q&A were published in print. Posted below is the Q&A in its entirety, as well as Tad’s complete bio.


Allworth Press publisher and founder Tad Crawford is an author, attorney and artists’ rights advocate. Born in New York City, Crawford grew up in the artists’ colony of Woodstock, New York. Interested in writing both fiction and nonfiction, he majored in economics at Tufts College and graduated from Columbia Law School in February 1971.


Crawford clerked for a judge of the New York Court of Appeals, then worked for a small general New York City law firm while writing and teaching at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). Learning of the need for materials to help artists understand their rights, Crawford wrote a book, which he used as a text for his “Law and the Visual Artist” course. Dealing with such legal matters as copyrights, contracts, income taxes, estate planning, how to get grants and other relevant issues, in 1977 Crawford published this volume as Legal Guide for the Visual Artist.


He followed this with The Writer’s Legal Guide in 1978 (which has been updated and reissued with The Authors Guild as co-publisher and Kay Murray, the General Counsel for the Authors Guild, as co-author). With Arie Kopelman he wrote Selling Your Photography in 1980 and Selling Your Graphic Design and Illustration in 1981. At the same time Crawford served as Chairman of the Board for the Foundation for the Community of Artists, legislative counsel for the Copyright Justice Coalition (which had many arts groups as members), and general counsel for the Graphic Artists Guild. In 1982 Crawford was asked to help publish books for some of the organizations that he had represented as an attorney. In response, he became publisher of Madison Square Press, which issued annuals for such artists’ organizations as the Society of Illustrators, the Society of Publication Designers, the Art Directors Club of New York, and the Art Directors Club of Los Angeles.


In 1988 he decided to strike out in a new direction, “to create a press that would offer the kind of information that was more like what I had taught, written about, and lobbied for.” Crawford saw the need for a publishing company that would provide practical information to creative professionals, such as artists, photographers, designers, and authors. He knew first-hand the issues faced every day by such creative people and could envision a spectrum of books to help them survive and prosper professionally.


In the fall of 1989, Crawford published Allworth Press’s first book, a revised edition of his classic Legal Guide for the Visual Artist. Ten more titles followed in 1990, offering information about marketing, promotion, pricing, copyright, contracts, health and safety, and much more. The first edition of Business and Legal Forms for Photographers was published in 1991. “The information in these books, “Crawford says, “can make all the difference in terms of success and prosperity.” Today Allworth Press has a backlist of more than 250 books, publishes 12-15 books annually, and employs a staff of six very talented people. Crawford’s last involvement as an active lobbyist was in 1986, and he’s given up active practice of the law to devote his energies to his publishing and his writing.


Q&A with Tad Crawford, President of Allworth Press

ASMP: Legal Guide for the Visual Artist has been updated four times since its first edition in 1977. Based on the information in this book, what do you feel are the most important elements that distinguish the business of photography from the other visual arts?


Tad Crawford: I’m currently revising Legal Guide for its fifth edition, which will be published in 2010. It came out of my teaching at New York’s School of Visual Arts, where I learned how unprepared the students in all disciplines would be for the business aspects of their careers. One crucial element that distinguishes the business of photography is that a photographer’s income is based on licensing rights, while a fine artist sells physical artworks. (Of course, photographers can also be fine artists, in which case it becomes significant to assure collectors that only a single or limited numbers of copies of a work exist). So, photographers are very interested in how to gain the maximum benefits from copyright. Also, photographers tend to have a substantial investment in equipment and, often, in studio space, and may also have a staff. This investment and overhead increases the level of risk and necessitates a businesslike approach. I should also point out that all visual artists in business share many concerns, such as how to deal effectively with contracts, how to avoid violating the rights of others (such as by invading someone’s privacy), and how to handle income taxes.


ASMP: Another one of your early books is The Secret Life of Money: How Money Can Be Food for the Soul (1996). Are there insights about dealing with money contained in this book that would be helpful to photographers?


TC: The Secret Life of Money contains insights about money that are intended to help everyone. The approach of this book uses stories, myths and psychology to gain an understanding of the hidden ways in which money affects us. The very word money comes from the Roman goddess Moneta who issued money from her temples. The early connection of money to the sacred is forgotten, but it can live in us today by making our responses to money issues irrational. To take another example, we no longer have debtor’s prisons in this country. But today’s subprime loans, exorbitant credit card fees and interest rates, and busted market speculations can create prisons of the emotions and mind. So can running a business badly. As Charles Dickens’ beloved father told him before going to the Marshalsea debtors’ prison, “to take warning by the Marshalsea, and to observe that if a man had twenty pounds a year and spent nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence, he would be happy; but a shilling spent the other way would make him wretched.”


ASMP: You have co-published titles with many different organizations, including the ASMP’s Professional Business Practices in Photography. Are there specific elements of co-publications that are appealing to you as a publisher? Do co-published titles offer particular advantages to the reader?


TC: The ASMP has also co-published my Business and Legal Forms for Photographers, which is about to be released in its fourth edition. The appealing aspect of co-publishing with a group like ASMP is that the organization lends its credibility to the book by the use of its name. It also is likely to increase the market for the book through its membership. The benefit to the organization is that the book is likely to reach potential members and reinforce the value of belonging to the organization. For the reader, the advantage is that the book has essentially been reviewed and approved twice — once by the publisher in the normal editorial process and again by the organization before it makes the decision to be a co-publisher.


ASMP: In addition to photography titles, you publish books for many other creative businesses. How does the evolution of your photography book list compare with the evolution of these other subjects? Are there any particular trends you’ve noticed?


TC: Yes, there are trends. It may be because my earliest exposure was to visual artists (as a teacher, general counsel to the Graphic Artists Guild, and lobbyist for ASMP and other groups about copyright), but our books for designers, illustrators, fine artists, and photographers are our best performing. These lists consistently do well, and of these lists the photography list is our strongest. In most of the other areas, such as personal finance, writing and publishing, film and TV, and the performing arts, we tend to get some titles that perform well but the categories are inconsistent. For this reason, we are now focusing on the visual arts categories.


ASMP: You have published many books on branding, including one of your best selling titles Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People. What aspects of branding do you feel are most important for photographers to consider in running their business?


TC: Emotional Branding has just been revised for a 2010 release. It covers many important issues for photographers as well as other businesses. Basically, the photographer must position his or her business to make an emotional connection to the client that transcends the normal business interaction. One way to do this is by being charitable or adopting green practices. Whatever the special branding message that emotionally connects the photographer to the larger world, it has to be followed consistently in the photographer’s actions, on his or her Web site, in social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and so on.


ASMP: You have also published several books on legal issues and taxes, such as Estate Planning and Administration: How to Maximize Assets and Protect Loved Ones (2nd Edition). At what point in one’s life and business should an independent photographer start thinking about estate planning? What are the first steps?


TC: Estate planning should be done far earlier than most people would imagine. Even if you have a small amount of assets and are single, you should have a simple trust so that your estate can be settled easily and with minimal contact with the court system. Certainly once you have substantial assets or children, you should do more sophisticated estate planning to make sure the assets go to the people whom you would want to have them and that children are provided for and have appropriate guardians. We’ll be publishing an excellent introduction to this topic in 2010, the primer Living Trusts for Everyone. The problem is that people don’t want to think about their mortality and put off doing the necessary planning to protect loved ones. Also, with artists such as photographers, what to do with the art can be governed by the estate plan instead of being left to chance.


ASMP: One of your 2009 titles is Documentary Superstars: How Today’s Filmmakers are Reinventing the Form, featuring interviews with 15 renowned filmmakers. What insights about visual storytelling might photographers find in this book?


TC: In this title, the leading documentary filmmakers discuss their works, their processes, and the way in which the filmmakers play roles in their films that can make them “superstars.” There is a great deal about visual storytelling that I can give a flavor of by some brief quotations.


“I don’t start the script until I have visualized the entire film.”
—Werner Herzog


“I have this style of letting people talk, of not having a specific agenda, not knowing what you’re going to hear.”
—Errol Morris


“Ultimately, it all comes down to storytelling and it all comes down to having characters who are interesting and have depth and ambiguity, and aren’t just obvious clich├ęs.”
—Kevin Macdonald


ASMP: The title Corporate Creativity: Developing an Innovative Organization is also new in 2009, co-published with the Design Management Institute. Since this book is written by and for corporate managers, are there particular sections or aspects of this book that might help photographers to better understand the thought process of a client?


TC: Corporate Creativity is a fascinating exploration of how to bring creativity, collaboration, and innovation to corporate culture and the brands by which corporations portray their motivations and goals both within the company and to the larger world. The book isn’t aimed at photographers, but it does offer an interesting view of how certain clients might relate to creative talent like photographers while serving the design imperatives of the organization. Photographers reading this collection of essays would gain insight into what makes a dynamically creative culture within a client corporation, how to work within and contribute to that culture and what types of managerial direction might be expected in that context.


ASMP: Given your range of experience as both an attorney and publisher, what issues do you feel photographers should be particularly attentive to moving forward?


TC: The most important issue for photographers is protecting their rights. This has taken many forms — the use of fair and carefully drafted contracts, the fight against work for hire, the recent struggle over orphan works. Whenever there are large aggregations of capital (whether Getty, Google, or other media powers), the temptation will be present to monopolize. But photographers as “authors” already have a monopoly under the Constitution and the copyright law, and they have to fight the good fight to prevent large entities from taking control. That’s where an organization like ASMP is invaluable.


ASMP: You recently announced a new distribution agreement with Random House Publisher Services. In what ways will this benefit you as a publisher and also your audience?


TC: Random House Publisher Services is one of the leading distributors to the book trade. We have already seen that they are capable of a deeper penetration of the marketplace than our prior distributors. This will help us by allowing us to sell more books and maintain better margins and profitability. Random House is also taking the lead in such areas as e-books and green (i.e., nonpaper) catalogs, and we will benefit from this as well. The benefit to our audience will be in the greater accessibility of our books, whether in stores or as downloadable e-books available on all platforms.


ASMP: ASMP members can take advantage of a Membership Discount Program for book purchases. What are the details and how much of a discount does this entail?


TC: The ASMP’s book, Professional Business Practices in Photography, is available to ASMP members for $20 plus shipping, and ASMP members are eligible for a 32 percent discount on all other titles from the Allworth Web site ( To claim the discount, log onto the ASMP Web site and visit the member benefit page and the book page to get the coupon codes for the respective discounts.


ASMP: Are there any specific books now in planning or production that photographers can look forward to in the next year or two?


TC: We are revising a number of our best photography books to update and expand the information that they contain. My Business and Legal Forms for Photographers will be published in its fourth edition in 2009. Then, in 2010, we will publish the third edition of The Law (in Plain English) for Photographers by Leonard D. DuBoff, the fourth edition of The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion by Maria Piscopo, and the fifth edition of my Legal Guide for the Visual Artist. A new title, The Art and Business of Photography by Susan Carr, will be published in 2011. And we expect to sign up one additional new title for each of 2010 and 2011 based on proposals that are now in house.