Freelance Graphic Design Contract

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Freelance Graphic Design Contract

A freelance graphic design contract is a legal document which outlines the details of the job to be performed by a freelance graphic artist and the client. The agreement documents in detail the work put in by the freelance graphic designer and the breakup of all the charges on either a per task or hourly basis billed to the client. Not only does a freelance contract define the job but it also protects the interests of freelance graphic designers. The freelance design contract along with an online portfolio gives you a professional impression and the client more confidence to do business with you.

The agreement will include among other things the deadline for the job and provision for extension in specific cases. Freelance designer rates depend on a great extent to way the freelance contracts are drafted. Like every other agreement, there has to be a termination clause and the conditions which lead to termination.

Who Takes the Freelance Graphic Design – People Involved

A freelance graphic design contract is taken by freelance designers in the graphic design profession and their clients. The clients provide the graphic designer with a brief who then decides to execute the brief for a mutually agreed fee. The contract ensures that all terms and conditions discussed verbally are documented.

Purpose of the Freelance Graphic Design – Why Do You Need It

A freelance graphic design contract is primarily required to protect the interest of the freelance designer in the graphic design profession because they are not part of a company which has an HR or legal department to take legal action against the client in the event of nonpayment of dues. A graphic design expert spends hours on projects and when a client defaults in payment all that effort goes to waste.

Though the interest of the client is protected as well, the graphic designer working on a freelance basis needs greater protection.

Such an agreement would include a detailed description of the project being undertaken by the designer like logos to be created by freelance logo designers. The client would also approve the brief and this would be mentioned in the agreement so that there is no dispute in this regard later on.

The agreement would also contain the deadlines for the jobs including provisions for an extension under exceptional circumstances.

The basis of charging fees by the graphic designer should be mentioned, whether it would project wise or hourly. However, this would depend on the project.

There should be a clause on intellectual property where it should be specified that the designer could use the logo for promotional purposes.

[Also Read: Corporate Contract]

Contents of the Freelance Graphic Design – Inclusions

A freelance graphic design contract should include, first and foremost, the names of the graphic designer and the client.

Apart from this, the agreement should include:

  • Date of contract: The effective date on which the agreement is signed should be mentioned
  • Work details: The agreement should incorporate the project brief in detail. The client should provide these so that there is no dispute later on regarding the brief. If a logo is required as part of a branding project, then the designer should provide options to the client who can then select one. The information required from the client should be stated here
  • Deliverable deadlines: Every agreement needs to have the specific date by which the job or project needs to be delivered, including any intermediate deadlines if any. This helps ensuring that the project does not go off track.
  • Payment options: The payment basis will depend on the project and it could be either on a project basis or an hourly basis. When it comes to a simple job like business cards, an hourly basis makes sense. The client should make a down-payment for the project and pay the balance at the completion of the project. The number of free changes should also be mentioned
  • Intellectual property: It would be advisable to include this clause and mention that the client should not modify the logo in any way. You should also have the liberty to use the logo for promotional purposes.
  • Termination clause: In most agreements, both parties to the agreement have the right to terminate the project at any time. However, depending on the stage of the project, the client needs to pay in full

How to Draft the Freelance Graphic Design

Points to Consider While Preparing the Agreement

While drafting a freelance graphic design contract, the following points need to be kept in mind:

  • Parties to the agreement: The names of the parties to the agreement and the relationship between them needs to be mentioned.
  • Project description: The details of the project or the client brief should be mentioned in detail. The client should provide these details so that there is total clarity and no problems with deliverables on the part of the graphic designer. Not only should the agreement mention what is to be delivered to the client but also what will be required from the client
  • Delivery deadlines: The contract should clearly mention the deadline for delivery of the project, including the stage-wise delivery. The dates should be stated keeping in mind any changes required by the client
  • Basis of charge: When it comes to the basis of charging fees, it will differ from project to project. It is better to go for an hourly basis for simple projects like logos for business cards. There should be a provision of making part payment upfront and the balance on completion of the project
  • Intellectual property: The designer should include a clause that the design may not be modified and that the designer can use the design for promotions

Negotiation Strategy

Before entering into a freelance graphic design contract, the designer should negotiate the fee with the client which would depend on the project. The mode of payment, whether it would be on an hourly basis or project wise, should clearly be mentioned in the agreement. The upfront payment percentage should also be incorporated.

Benefits & Drawbacks of the Freelance Graphic Design

The benefits of having a freelance graphic design contract are:

  • Protection of interest: Since this is an individual freelancing contract, the graphic designer will have a difficult time recovering payment from an errant client as they don’t have the required legal or human resources. The entire effort of the graphic designer goes to waste if the client defaults. This agreement will ensure that the interest of the designer is protected and in case of default, the designer can take the client to court.
  • Delivery benchmark: There is total clarity regarding the client brief as the client specifies what is required. The client now is assured that the task will be performed according to the brief and at the required quality. The graphic designer knows that if he or she delivers the job at the required quality then the client will make the payment.
  • Flexibility in rates: Both the graphic designer and the client decide before hand the rate for the job and the basis of charge. The basis of charge depends on the project and it could be on an hourly basis or project basis.

The drawbacks of having a freelance graphic design contract are:

  • There is a clause in this contract where both the designer and the client can terminate the project at any time. When the client withdraws midway in the project, all the effort goes in vain.

What Happens in Case of Violation

When a clause in a freelance graphic design contract is violated, both the aggrieved parties, can take the other to court.

If the client has violated the contract by defaulting in payment even though the job has been delivered to them within the given deadline and maintaining the required quality, then the client is liable to a penalty according to the laws applicable to such contracts in the state where this violation has taken place. The client is bound to pay the graphic designer the fees agreed as well as any penal amount decided by the court.

It is, however, important for the designer to ensure that the reason for which the client is being taken to court is valid and there is substantial documentation from the client’s end to prove that the job was not substandard.

As far as the client is concerned, if there is a violation(1) of any clause by the graphic designer, then the client can demand a compensation from the graphic designer for deficiency of service.

The onus lies with the client to prove which specific part of the brief has been missed out or the delivery date that was not adhered to before taking the designer to court.

A freelance graphic design contract is extremely essential when a freelance designer is working with a client. The reason for this is very simple, freelance workers don’t have a proper legal setup to take legal action against the client.

The designer will have completed the job but when the client defaults, recovering payments is extremely difficult.

It is for this reason that this kind of a contract is recommended for graphic designers working on a freelance basis. This agreement will ensure that the client brief mentions all details of the work, the possibility of alterations in the design, the basis of payment as well as the deadline for the job.

If the client is not satisfied with the quality of the design or the design has not been delivered as per the delivery guidelines in the agreement, then the graphic designer will face legal consequences.

The same holds good for the graphic designer. If the graphic designer has delivered the task according to the satisfaction of the client and within the delivery deadline, the client must pay or face legal action.