Graphic design contracts are important to protect the designer and clearly spell out the terms of an agreement and project. Below is a list of what to include in a graphic design contract. It is important to remember that this list is not exhaustive and parts of a contract may vary from project to project, so always consult a lawyer when completing a new agreement to use in your design business.
Part of the purpose of a graphic design contract is to describe, in as much detail as possible, the work to be done. This way both parties are in agreement regarding what is included for the cost of the job. Include any information gathered in preliminary meetings, such as:
- Type of job
- Size of the final piece
- Number of pages
- Sections and features of a website
Source of Materials
List the materials that will be supplied by the client that are needed to complete the job, such as:
- Final, edited copy
- Corporate logo
Credit and Promotion
A great way to promote your business is to have your credit line on as much work as possible, so include it in your graphic design contract. You should discuss this with a client first, as sometimes they will be opposed to a credit line or it may not apply (like on a business card). Along with the credit line, state in your contract that you have the right to use the project information for self-promotion after completion, unless it is confidential.
Fees and Schedule
Set up a payment schedule that corresponds to milestones in the design process. This insures you get paid during the design process, and gives the client a project completion date. For example:
- Oct 1, 2007: Start of project – 25% due
- Oct 7, 2007: Concepts presented – 25% due
- Oct 14, 2007: First round designs presented – 25% due
- Oct 21, 2007: Project completion – 25% due
Be sure to also mention any additional costs not included in a rate in your graphic design contract, such as:
- Stock photography
- Web hosting
- Updates (with hourly rates) beyond the scope of the agreement
- The cancellation fee (also called a “kill fee”)
If applicable, include in your graphic design contract guidelines for the use of the work, including where it can and cannot be used, how long it can be used for, and in what ways it can be used. This is important because the more a work is used, the more valuable it is. An illustration created for the cover of one issue of a magazine is worth less than one to be used in every issue of the year.
Legal issues need to be addressed in case a dispute should arise, such as indemnity (protecting you or the client from third-party lawsuits) and the responsibility of legal costs. Consult a lawyer for help in writing these portions of a graphic design contract.
Today, people often rely on email for communication. However, a graphic design contract is most effective if actually signed by you and your client. If you cannot see the client in person, fax or mail a signed copy and asked for a signed copy in return. This will insure that you contract will serve its purpose of protecting you and your work.
“The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.” Eleventh Edition. Graphic Artists Guild, Inc. 2003.