Posted 01 Jul 2010 - 7 Gratefully received comments
A contract is a simple form of protection that any competent business person should have when starting a new project.
It’s an extension of the design brief in that it helps to inform both the client and the designer on what to expect of one another.
A simple design contract (I prefer the term agreement) will outline the basic non-design related elements of the project so everybody knows exactly what to expect for the duration.
This is the final stage of the ‘admin’ part of any project. So far we’ve met with the client, asked all the right questions, written and agreed a design brief. Now all that’s left to do is draw up and sign an agreement to cement the business relationship.
I must note that I’m not a solicitor so I have no idea if my agreement is legally binding, and I won’t vouch for it as such if you decided to use a version of it for yourself.
Rightly or wrongly, I work with clients on a basis of trust and I see the signing of a design brief and agreement as a way to make sure the lines of communication are completely clear. These are also very handy documents to refer back to during the course of a project if the expectations of the client or designer begin to change over time.
Below is my sample design agreement for a fictional client called The Swinging Penguins, a band looking for a new promotional identity.
Contact: Name: Dan Evans
Address: A Street, Ipswich, IP1 1IP
Telephone: 01473 444444
Outline of design Brief:
Create a fun and memorable brand for ‘The Swinging Penguins’ a local band about to embark on a tour. This will entail:
• A logo/logotype
• Illustrative representations of each band member
• A simple tour website
• Tour posters/leaflets
• Merchandise T-shirts
A full copy of the brief can be provided on request.
Commencement date of project: 1/7/2010
A payment of 50% of the total quoted price is payable before work commences.
Stage 1 – Research
Using sources and leads provided by the client as well as any additional research deemed necessary the designer will gather
information that will aid in ideas generation.
Completion Date: 20/7/2010
Stage 2 – Ideas Generation & Development
With the aid of research the designer will begin sketching out
possible ideas and begin developing any promising leads. The agreed design brief will be the main guiding factor in this stage.
Completion Date: 30/7/2010
Stage 3 – Artworking
A maximum of three logo ideas will be artworked for presentation to the client.
The illustration element of the branding will be proofed to the client in the early stages to define the required illustrative style.
Completion Date: 30/7/2010
Stage 4 – Presentation & Client Feedback
Artworked samples will be presented to the client for critique and feedback.
First Client Meeting: 31/7/2010
Stage 5 – Revisions
This stage is quite fluid as there may be numerous meetings and feedback before a final design is agreed.
Subsequent Client Meetings between: 5/8/2010 – 26/8/2010
Stage 6 – Final Artwork – Supplying Files
Once a design has been agreed final artwork will be made and handed over to the client.
Completion Date: 1/9/2010
The outstanding balance must be paid before any of the original artwork files are given to the client. The final invoice will be generated once the final artwork proofs have been signed off.
The client agrees to:
• Sign off on progressive artwork profs to indicate that milestones have been achieved.
• Pay in a timely manner on receipt of invoice(s)
• Own all rights to the artwork that has been produced after final payment.
• Allow the designer to display the artwork in personal & business portfolios.
The designer agrees to:
• Produce all artwork and products that have been agreed in the design brief.
• Finish the project within the timescale laid out in this agreement.
• Warn the client if the project might overrun the agreed timescale.
• Not disclose any information about the project until approved by the client.
• Work to the agreed budget.
• Warn the client if the budget runs the risk of being exceeded and seek permission before continuing.
• Send invoices at the appropriate times in the project.
At the end of the document make a provision for both the client and designer to sign it declaring that they agree to the terms of the agreement.
You can download a pdf version of this design agreement here, if you would like to see how I format it for the client.
This is what works for me, I believe the important bases are all covered:
It’s clear who the client is.
It’s clear what the designer is doing for the client (especially if it’s accompanied by a full brief.)
The design Process is explained.
The process is annotated by the expected timescales
The expected pay structure is explained
Finally I list any other details that might be expected of both parties.
I’d like to know how you handle design contracts. Do you use them? If not, why? If you do use contracts what is missing from mine?
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