What is a Graphic Design Contract?

A graphic design contract is a formal written document presenting an agreement between a client and a professional graphics designer or a graphic design agency which provides several kinds of graphic design services. This document is an important tool in establishing the terms and conditions for the business transaction concerning the development and execution of a graphic design project. It is usually created by a person who is skilled in creating graphic design projects such as arts and illustration design, environmental design, marketing and advertising design, motion graphics or visual effects, packaging, publication design, infographics design, user interface design, visual identity design, and many more.

According to a statistical study, 80% of small business owners consider the design of their logos, products, marketing materials, websites, and other branding tools either “very important or “important”to the achievements and breakthroughs of their business firms. While only 3% indicated design is “not important.”  Thus, if you need to start working on a particular graphic design project for your prospective client, the first thing you need to accomplish is preparing a basic graphic design contract for your potential design project.

Different Types of Graphic Design Contracts

The book Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers stated that all contracts, whether the graphic designer’s or someone else’s, can be changed as the graphic designer should consider reviewing the contracts with the help of his or her attorney. Also, the graphic designer should try to envision how the shape of the contract will affect the future business relationship with the other party. However, there are a wide array of graphic design contracts that you can choose from depending on what you will work on. Below are different types of graphic design contracts:

1. Arts and Illustration Graphic Design Contract

Jessica Walsh, Lotta Nieminen, Dana Tanamachi, Rodrigo Corral, Cass Deller, Shaivalini Kumar, Ari, Kim Hyung Tae, Dan Matutina, Miki Katoh, and Jamsan are some of the well-known illustrators, concept artists, and graphic designers from different countries around the world. If you want to work on designing album art, book covers, concept illustration, graphic novels, picture books, or video games,  You can create different kinds of visually-appealing compositions to convey important messages to the public and deal with certain issues through your original artworks and illustrations. Developing a simple and structured graphic design contract for arts and illustration is an essential method to properly negotiate your artwork and design services to your prospective client. 

2. Brand and Visual Identity Design Contract

David Airey wrote in the book Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding that the verbal side of a brand is as much a part of things as the visual. Graphic designers who focus on developing brands exert their much effort on tone of voice and creative messaging to allow their clients come away with several powerful phrases that converse to their target audiences in the most convenient way. Writing a clear design contract for your brand and visual identity design projects will assist you in setting up an amicable relationship with your potential client.

3. Environmental Graphic Design Contract

Do you want to enhance the user experience through visually translating certain ideas and thoughts in an established place? An environmental graphic design is one of the disciplines of graphic design, as well as art, architecture, lighting, and landscape that aims on applying various techniques in developing the shape of a signage, identity, art installations, and color strategy. Working on this type of design is helpful in providing a layered experience in which identity, imagery, and sense of place are elevated through emotional triggers and touchpoints within a spatial experience. So, we suggest that you structure a compelling contract for your environmental graphics design project. In this way, you can appropriately discuss matters and make an agreement with some prospective clients. 

4. Packaging Graphic Design Contract

Saatchi & Saatchi, Pentagram, Superunion, Together Design, Beardwood & Co, Prompt Design, Pigeon Brands Inc, Hatch Design, Pepsico Design & Innovation, Lin Shaobin Design, Shenzhen Oracle Creative Design Co, and Spazio Di Paolo are some of the famous and critically-acclaimed design agencies and firms that specialize in designing packages for several products like wine and champagne, beer, soft drinks, savory snacks, oils and sauces, etc. for brands and other companies.  If you are a packaging designer, you need to create a simple and appealing contract for your packaging design work. 

5. Publication Graphic Design Proposal

Based on the book PDW:Publication Design Workbook, publications are extended applications of text and image as designers need to concentrate on issues that derive from extended reading such as crafting the typography to make the magazine or brochure comfortably readable over many pages yet lively enough to continually engage the reader, organizing enormous volumes of content into related parcels of information, structuring the parts and sections of pages to accommodate a wide spectrum of content, and many other aspects. Thus, it is important that you also create an effective contract for your publication graphic design project for your client. 

6. User Interface (UI) Design Proposal

Jam Miksovsky said: “The moment a user sees your UI, it communicates where they have arrived, what they can do, and how they should do it. The user receives this message from every aspect of your design: graphical and textual, silent and audible, static and moving, intentional and accidental. Figure out what you want that message to be, then do everything you can to ensure the message your UI sends is as close as possible to the one you intended.” If you have an expertise in designing on-screen graphical elements for various apps, softwares, and websites, then it is crucial that you create wonderful contracts for your UI design projects.

Benefits of Writing a Graphic Design Contract

Whether you are working as a contractual, full-time, or freelance graphic designer, it is essential that you negotiate contract terms and conditions very carefully, specifically when it comes to legal liability in the design process and execution of the project for the prospective client. So, what are the benefits of writing a graphic design contract for several design projects and business work? Below are some of the benefits of writing a graphic design contract:

1. Clear Negotiation

By knowing and understanding why a specific provision has been included and what it fulfills, the graphic designer is able to establish a clear negotiation when introduced with someone else’s contract. Also, the designer is aware of what is and is not worthwhile. When graphic design contracts are presented to a client, changes may be requested. The negotiation doesn’t need to be adversarial. The graphic designer and the client may disagree on some areas, but the basic transaction is something that both prefer. That’s why this bigger framework of agreement should be kept in mind at all times when negotiating, and negotiation demands the adequate attention and complete readiness on the part of the graphic designer.

3. Emphasizing Credibility

A graphic design contract also plays a significant role in emphasizing credibility. It should convey the prospective client that the graphic designer is reliable and effective in finishing the entire graphic design project and accomplishing expectations. So, make sure that you indicate possible risks or complications in the graphic design project contract and explain thoroughly on how you would win over those problems and obstacles that block your journey in graphics design. 

4. Illustrate Design Process

Forming a graphic design contract for your design services appears to be beneficial in illustrating the design process, demonstrating that you have a tangible plan in order to develop and fully execute your graphic design project. If you notice that there is a green light from your prospective clients, this design contract will be utilized in resource scheduling along with the project timelines, budget, etc.

5. Clarify the Goals and Objectives

When you write your graphic design contract, clarify the goals and objectives of your design project. Then, you can also explain the reason why you or your graphic design studio wants to complete a specific design project. In this way, you will also help yourself and your respective members to clearly discern and concentrate on the direction according to what has been written in the contract and graphic design proposal. Plus, it will motivate the graphic designer and his or her team to pursue meaningful goals in creating several kinds of designs.

Basic Features of a Graphic Design Contract

In this section, you will learn how to construct a remarkably written and simple graphic design contract. However, a graphic design contract has different features. Include the following elements for you to create an simple yet structured piece of writing:

Title: One of the basic features of a graphic design contract is the title. It is an appealing line of the document which provides the main topic, or subject of the design contract for your professional design project or work in your design agency. It is typically set in a size larger than other remaining text elements in the page. Basic Information of Graphic Designer or Graphic Design Firm, and Client: This section simply presents the basic information of the graphic designer or graphic design firm, and the prospective client such as the complete legal names, work position, company name, etc. Scope of the Project: Identify the precise flow of activities involved in the graphic design project. Make the project scope clear to the other party. Write the important areas and functions that must be done in this section such as responsibilities, project deliverables, etc. Project Timeline and Financial Budget: In this part, you need to determine the fee amounts, production costs, and the approximate amount of time required for each stage of the design work. This will help you in identifying how the complexity and scale of the design project will affect each task. Then, include the financial budget for the design project. Terms and Conditions:: It is very crucial to include the terms and conditions of the graphic design project that you will be working on in order to prevent misunderstandings that can easily arise between the graphic designer and the client. For instance, knowing who owns what in terms of the project deliverables offered by the graphic designer is exceptionally important for both parties.

How to Create a Graphic Design Contract

While creating a graphic design contract, each party provides something of great value to the other party. This is referred to as the exchange of consideration which can take many forms which includes the giving of money or an artwork or the promise to develop a design or pay for a specific type of illustration in the future. In this matter, we suggest that you follow the simple steps below while freely using one of our free graphic design contract templates in this article:

Step 1: Indicate the basic information of the agreement

The first step is to indicate the basic information of the agreement established by the professional graphic designer, or graphic design firm. Include the names of the graphic design services provider and the client. Also, you need to avoid typographical errors, especially in the spelling of the personal information of both parties. So, verify the details in the contract to prevent you from having unexpected issues like legal contract problems. 

Step 2: Explain the Scope of the Graphic Design Project

One of the integral parts of the contract is the scope of the graphic design project. So, explain thoroughly the entire scope of the design project to the client such as the innovative solutions, concept ideas, inspiration, methodology, and other aspects that will help in fully creating the design for the client.

Step 3: Write the Specific Dates of Agreement

The third step is you should write the specific dates in the graphic design contract together with other significant dates to take note. For instance, the start and end dates of responsibilities for a specific design project.

Step 4: Provide the Project Timeline and Budget

Break down every stage of the graphic design project into its separate components and outline the project timeline. Create an estimate of the financial budget of the graphic design project that you need in order to start the production of the project. Provide a run-down of the cost for the graphic design project including printing fees, production costs, manufacturing costs, and other miscellaneous fees. 

Step 5: Use Clear and Concise Terms and Phrases

When it comes to writing contracts for business and other legal issues, you need to apply clarity, and conciseness through the words, terms, and phrases that you will place in the document. Avoid the use of ambiguous words. Instead, use words that can be easily comprehend by the readers.

Step 6: Prepare the Final Draft

Last but not the least, prepare the final draft of your graphic design contract. We recommend that you attach any supporting documents as well.  Schedule a meeting with the members of your graphic design firm and/or the prospective client or company who will receive your graphic design contract. Also, you may ask for some assistance from editors and proofreaders or use some editing and revising tools for much needed proofreading and revision of your document.


What are the essential methods of creating a graphic design project for a company?

The essential methods of creating a graphic design project for a company are brand identity and logo design, packaging design, web and mobile design, layout and print design .

What are the basic features of the graphic design contract?

When preparing your graphic design contract, you should indicate the complete names of the designer and the prospective client. Then, include a simple and concise overview that contains the pricing, timeline, deliverables, and terms and conditions of the design service that you will provide. Explain the inclusions and other terms and conditions. 

What are different kinds of graphic design projects?

The different kinds of graphic design projects are art and illustration for graphic design, environmental graphic design, marketing and advertising graphic design, motion graphic design, packaging graphic design, publication graphic design, user interface graphic design, and visual identity graphic design. 

What are some common types of designers?

Some common types of designer are graphic designer, animation designer, brand and product designer, motion graphics designer, user interface (UI) designer, user experience (UX) designer, web designer, interior designer, industrial designer, and many more. 

A study stated that 49% of marketers agreed that visual content plays a very important role in their marketing strategy. This means that graphic design along with its other elements is fundamental in various marketing and advertising agencies. So, writing a clear and effective contract for your graphic design project is a useful tool to reach your goal in assisting people and business firms that greatly need your design prowess. Before you gain the respect and recognition from other people because of your designs, please follow the aforementioned tips and steps here so that you are able to craft a graphic design contract. Plus, download our free graphic design contract samples here today!