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Working Successfully with Clients: A Class for Illustrators and Designers

Lesson 10 of 19

Navigating Contracts

Lisa Congdon

Working Successfully with Clients: A Class for Illustrators and Designers

Lisa Congdon

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Lesson Info

10. Navigating Contracts

Lesson Info

Navigating Contracts

All right, the contract. So once you've settled on creative direction, a timeline that both you and the client agreed on, and a fee that meets your bottom line, you want to write all of those things down into an agreement. I'm gonna use the words agreement and contract interchangeably. They're essentially the same thing, so any written agreement. Contract sounds more formal, but a written agreement is really basically a contract. In some ways emails are contracts because they're written communication between people, but you really want to have a separate contract and we're gonna talk about contracts now. As I mentioned, I read a book called Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist. And this book has a whole section on contracts and goes into a little bit more language and depth around contracts, but we're gonna cover them now and what should go in them. So why, why are contracts important? Why do we care if we have a contract or not? It keeps you and your wor...

k protected? Yeah, it keeps you and your work protected. You... It also stipulates everything you're responsible for delivering and by when. So the terms of the contract, the language, the rights, how much the client is required to pay you and by when. They also, as she said, protect you legally so that the client is obligate to pay you. They are your protection, okay? 99% of the folks who reach out to you and hire you are legitimate businesses with fantastic ethical practices, but you may engage with a client who disappears. This has happened to people I know, or attempts not to pay you. In these rare but real cases, the contract is your legal protection. Even with your best, most ethical clients, your contract is your legal protection, 'kay? So you always want to sign a contract before you begin a job, always. You also want to prepare you own contract or written agreement in the case the client doesn't have one. So most of the time, your client will have a contract for you to sign. I'd be a little cautious if they don't, but in some cases you're working with small businesses, right? Who've never hired an, a artist or a photographer or a designer to do anything before. So most corporate clients at a certain level will have a contract or understand the importance of contracts, and so it's sort of like not an issue, because they're going to expect you to sign one, they're gonna expect you to ask to sign one. Where contracts are sometimes more important with those sort of medium size to small businesses, who maybe this is the first time they've ever worked with an illustrator. They don't even understand what rights they're entitled to, what rights you're entitled to. So writing all those things down is especially important when you're working with a client who's, who's never really done this, worked with an artist or a photographer or designer before. So the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook to Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, also has a section that has boilerplate contracts in it. The contract that I used for my own illustration work is derived from a boiler plate contract in the handbook and I sort of took it, and took out the parts that I felt like were the most important and simplified them and put them into my own agreement. So whenever the client doesn't have a contract, I make sure that I have one.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers. 

Establishing yourself as a professional illustrator or designer requires a lot of dedication to building skill, brand and visibility. Equally important, yet often underestimated, is the development of client interaction skills. Working with clients takes practice! It’s not easy and it’s not always intuitive. Knowing how to communicate with clients clearly and effectively is a skill that will ultimately set you apart as a professional illustrator.

Fine artist, illustrator and author Lisa Congdon has worked with over 75 clients around the world, including MoMA, REI Co-op, Harvard University, Martha Stewart Living, Chronicle Books, and Random House Publishing, among many others. In this class she will share the knowledge she has acquired during her successful career, highlighting time-proven strategies for working effectively with clients. She will also discuss common mistakes to avoid when dealing with clients.

Lisa will teach you the skills you need to enter into client relationships with clarity and confidence.

In this class you will learn:

  • How to communicate effectively and professionally with potential clients.
  • What questions to ask when being approached by a potential client
  • What to look for in a creative brief
  • How to consider phases and deliverables of a project
  • How to consider fee negotiation.
  • How to read through a contract.
  • How to address change of project scope with a client.
  • And so much more...


Caroline Fidelaire

Great class packed very useful tips for entrepreneurs in illustration and design and great email examples on how to: - respectfully and gratefully communicate with clients in the diverse phases of the production line - negotiate a contract and your fees - how to proceed to bidding for a work contract Lisa is a wonderful speaker. A wonderful class well worth its 3 hours length.

Scavenger Annie

Right from the start of class Lisa offers up her pearls of wisdom. Absolutely jam-packed with information on working with clients, illustration agents & art directors in the commercial world. All very relevant to other careers in the creative realm too, especially when Lisa talks about the language & negotiation of contracts. Clear, concise teaching & my fingers are burning from typing so fast as I made notes! A wonderful class that has motivated me to pursue commercial illustration with my brand Northern Bird Designs. Thank you for the top guidance & inspiration Lisa! Looking forward to the next class on managing workflows.

Neelam Kaur

Lisa has immense knowledge about the industry and she shares the same with Artist Community in the form of Books, E-courses, Workshops. This class is jam-packed with great information which as an Freelance or as an New Illustrator we struggle and feel we had someone to help us understand. And I must say, the Skillshare & CreativeBug Classes other than Creative Live Classes, she focuses it all from an artist standpoint. As a Freelance Illustrator Artist I struggled managing the other aspects of my Art Business which I feel so confident after this class. And most of all I know my worth! Thank you Lisa!