Biz Features

Sample Contract for Designers (One-off Projects)

by . June 24th, 2014


Sample Contract for Designer-Contractors 

This is sample contract first appeared in a slightly different form in a previous post. We realized pretty early we kind of goofed a bit since few readers ever got to it, as it was immediately after a fairly long read. We suggest you read that after you skim through this.

Having a contract ready to to a client you’ve concluded verbal negotiations with can help you cover your bases and appear professional all at once.

This is heavily based AIGA’s Standard Agreement and Tad Crawford’s Legal Guide for The Visual Artist and Docracy’s Independent Contractor/Designer Template, and Speider Schneider’s own standard form.

Consult a qualified legal expert for your contracts. Copy directly at your own risk:

YouTheEntrepreneur Sample Contract

Primary Contact:
Secondary Contact:
Project Name:
Project Description:
Date of Project:
Project Deadline:
Purchase Order #:
Your Name:
Invoice #:
Project Briefs/Creative briefs/Overviews,etc:
Compensation Package:

        • Terms of the exchange/sale
        • Rates
        •  Estimated hours
        •  Rights to be sold or transferred
        •  Number of revisions
        •  Rates for revisions
        •  Overtime, if applicable
        •  Other Perks

1. Payment

All invoices are payable within ____ business days of receipt. A $____ service charge is payable on all overdue balances for reissuing each invoice at 45, 60, 75 and 90 days from the date of original invoice. The grant of any license or right of copyright is conditioned on receipt of agreed compensation.

2. Default in payment

The Client shall assume responsibility for costs incurred by Contractor/Designer in all collections of unpaid fees and of legal fees necessitated by default in payment. Invoices in default will include but are not limited to fees for collection and legal expenses.

3. Estimates

The fee will be ________ per hour and the Contractor/Designer shall keep the client apprised of a tally of hours within a reasonable period of time. The fees and expenses shown are minimum estimates only unless an alternate compensation package or hourly fee is agreed upon. Final fees and expenses shall be shown when invoice is presented. The fees and expenses shown are minimum estimates only unless the quote and/or invoice is clearly marked Firm Quote, otherwise the below stated hourly fee will be payable on all time over that which was quoted _____ minute increments.

4. Changes

The Client must assume that all revisions in content, layout or process changes requested by the customer will alter the time and cost. The Client shall offer the Contractor/Designer the first opportunity to make any changes.

5. Expenses

The Client shall reimburse the Contractor/Designer for all expenses arising from this project, including the payment of any sales taxes due on this project, and shall advance the Contractor/Designer for payment of said expenses, including but not limited to materials needed for the project.

6. Cancellation

In the event of cancellation of this project, ownership of all copyrights and the original work shall be retained by the Contractor/Designer, and a cancellation fee for work completed, and expenses already incurred, shall be paid by the Client. Cancellation fee is based on the hours submitted, if the project is on an hourly basis or a percentage based on the time estimate for the entire job. A ___% cancellation fee is due once the project has been finished, whether delivered to the client or not. If the project is on an hourly basis and the project is canceled by the client, the client agrees to pay no less than 100% of the hours already billed for the project at the time of cancellation plus a flat fee of $____ or ____% of the remaining hours that were expected to be completed on the project, whichever is greater.

7. Ownership and return of work

The Contractor/Designer retains ownership of all original work, whether preliminary or final, and the Client shall return such work within ____ days of use unless indicated otherwise below. If transfer of ownership of all rights is desired, the rates may be increased. If the Client wishes the ownership of the rights to a specific design or concept, these may be purchased at any time for a recalculation of the hourly rate on the time billed or the entire project cost.

8. Credit Lines

The Contractor/Designer and any other creators shall receive a credit line with any editorial usage. If similar credit lines are to be given with other types of usage, it must be so indicated here.

9. Releases

The Client shall indemnify the Contractor/Designer against all claims and expenses, including attorney’s fees, due to the uses for which no release was requested in writing or for uses that exceed authority granted by a release.

10. Modifications

Modifications of the terms of this contract must be written and authorized by both parties, involving the implementation of a new version of the contract as a whole following standard procedures of documentation and approval.

11. Uniform commercial code

The above terms incorporate Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code.

12. Code of fair practice
The Client and the Contractor/Designer agree to comply with the provisions of the Code of Fair Practice.

13. Code of fair practice

The Contractor/Designer warrants and represents that, to the best of his/her knowledge, the work assigned hereunder is original and has not been previously published, or that consent to use has been obtained on an unlimited basis; that all work or portions thereof obtained through the undersigned from third parties is original or, if previously published, that consent to use has been obtained on an unlimited basis; that the Contractor/Designer has full authority to make this agreement; and that the work prepared by the Contractor/Designer does not contain any scandalous, libelous, or unlawful matter. This warranty does not extend to any uses that the Client or others may make of the Contractor/Designer’s product that may infringe on the rights of others. Client expressly agrees that it will hold the Contractor/Designer harmless for all liability caused by the Client’s use of the Contractor/Designer’s product to the extent such use infringes on the rights of others.

14. Limitation of liability

Client agrees that it shall not hold the Contractor/Designer or his/her agents or employees liable for any incidental or consequential damages that arise from the Contractor/Designer’s failure to perform any aspect of the project in a timely manner, regardless of whether such failure was caused by intentional or negligent acts or omissions of the Contractor/Designer or Client, any client representatives or employees, or a third-party.

15. Dispute Resolution

Any disputes in excess of the maximum limit for small-claims court arising out of this Agreement shall be submitted to binding arbitration before a mutually agreed-upon arbitrator pursuant to the rules of the American Arbitration Association. The Arbitrator’s award shall be final, and judgment may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof. The client shall pay all arbitration and court cost, reasonable attorney’s fees, and legal interest on any award of judgment in favor of the Contractor/Designer. All actions, whether brought by client or by Contractor/Designer will be filed in the Contractor/Designer’s state/county of business/residence.

16. Acceptance of terms

The signature of both parties shall evidence acceptance of these terms.

Contractor/Designer: __________________

Date: _____________________

Client: _____________________

Date: ______________________

16a. Acceptance of terms

The action of the sending and receipt of this agreement via electronic method will hold both parties in acceptance of these terms. The Contractor/Designer as sender and the client as recipient will acknowledge acceptance of these terms either through an e-mail noting acceptance or acceptance is acknowledged at the beginning of any work on said project. Electronic signatures shall be considered legal and binding.

This contract is held accountable to the legal system of ____________ and any applicable statutes held therein.

Again, we must re-emphasize that this sample contract is only for educational purposes, and we cannot be held responsible for anything illegal or untoward that will happen if you use it.

Check laws in your particular jurisdiction as well as all others under which your project will be subject.

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Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.