Become an Artist >> Browse Articles >> Dealing with Clients

Become an Artist >> Browse Articles >> Contracts & Agreements


Protect Yourself with a Beefy Client Contract

Protect Yourself with a Beefy Client Contract

Thomas James | Escape from Illustration Island

Today I’d like to go into a little more detail about your best chance at protecting yourself, your Illustration work, and your freelance business: your contract.

If you’re not already, you should start taking your contract very seriously, because it’s your first line of defense if things go sour. A bad situation is made immeasurably worse when there is no contract to turn to when it comes to settling differences with a troublesome client. I have posted a sample contract for those who are interested, and I have also outlined some essential features below.

Here are some things that you should consider including in your contract:

Project Details

Don’t skimp on the details when getting things in writing, because everything that happens from start to finish should be based on what is stated in the contract.

You should include such things as the number, size, and medium of the Illustrations, the project’s name, and the intended use of the artwork. You should also clearly define the milestones/deadlines of each stage of the project and how many revisions are available to the client.

By outlining these details, you will be able to justify added fees when the client requests something above and beyond the original agreement.


In addition to your overall fee, you should clearly outline the process of payment. For example, you may require half of the total price up front and a fraction of the remainder upon the delivery of each stage of the project. It can also be helpful to state that your artwork cannot be used by the client until the balance is paid in full. If these details aren’t in writing, you won’t be able to enforce them, and you might as well be doing spec work.

Next: The Kill Fee →

Find the right campus or online art or design program for you!