Dear designers: Don’t freelance without including these clauses in the agreement

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Designers who are inexperienced often provide services to their clients without any proper agreement. In the rush of getting the work and increasing the client base, there is a certain dilution that occurs when it comes to the contract .

Here are the must-have terms and conditions that freelance graphic designers should include in their agreement papers.

Ownership to the unused drafts

This is a very important clause specified to the freelance graphic designers. In the design finalization stages, you provide design options in regards to the different colors, shapes and images to the clients to choose from. But, there is a possibility that if the client doesn’t like them, you should include a clause that provides a provision platform to use those unused designs somewhere most worthy of.

Examples: Client requests Designer to create the final deliverable art and not any preliminary drafts or sketches.


According to AIGA, the professional association for design,

“Copyright is the exclusive right to control reproduction and commercial exploitation of your creative work.”

Copyrighting your work is a must as client will not have the possibility to escape without giving final payment and using your designs without permission. There are different copyright option available such as print rights, electronic rights and serial rights.

In general, designers own the copyrights to their creative work. But, in some instances, someone else will own the copyrights in cases like work made for hire and transfers of copyrights.

For more details on how to copyright your designs, click here

Cancellation clause

If the client decided to cancel the project due to not-so-good experience of the project or when the assignment is no longer valid, then the designer should make sure to include the cancellation clause.

The clause must include the following:

How much the client owes you?

How would you or the client go about terminating the project?

What should be done in that situation?

Cancellation clause not only about payment structure,but can also cover the returning of licensed images and other confidential design materials as well.


Confidentiality is one of the key factors to any successful design projects. It measure the trust factor between the client and the designer. Designers handle the company’s sensitive information regarding marketing strategies and product launches. Many clients provide their own confidentiality clauses included in the contract, but, designers must negotiate the exact terms and the content included in a way that they can enhance their portfolio.

Also, next time when client offers you a freelance job, please be ready with your agreement template details in hand.

Legal acts of god

if something unexpected happens like let’s say there is a flood incident in your apartment and all of your hardware and storage is completely compromised. Or your office space is burglarized. At this time, there may be a pending in the workflow process and as a designer, you may not fulfill to meet the deadline.

In this particular situation, some pro freelancers are comfortable forfeiting the second half of their payment, but when every job counts, this clause should request more time and, at minimum, protect the delivery of your payment. Talk to your client in detail about this clause.

As a final note, keep in mind that this content article is just another resource. When you have important questions about your contract , talk to your client and always consult a licensed legal professional.



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