Skip to main content

Negotiating Contracts

Lesson 12 from: Working Successfully with Clients: A Class for Illustrators and Designers

Lisa Congdon

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

12. Negotiating Contracts

Lesson Info

Negotiating Contracts

All right, negotiating the contract. Most of the time, the basic terms will have been worked out over email. So, as we discussed earlier, you're getting to the nitty-gritty about timeline and a fee, and art direction, and all of that stuff is in the back and forth of this collegial email with the client. But you should always read every line of the contract, and make sure that everything you did discuss over email, or text, or social media, direct message, is included in the contract. Don't ever assume. So you want to both make sure everything you discussed is included, but you also want to make sure that there's not stuff in there that is irrelevant or that you didn't discuss, okay? So make sure that everything's agreed to. Make sure there is nothing odd that seems out of place. Know that you have the right to negotiate terms before you sign, so if anyone is ever pressuring you to sign a contract, and you're not, you know, they're not open to your questions, that's a big red flag. Ask...

about any legalese you do not understand, and I'm gonna talk more about legalese in a second. Know that you have the right to negotiate terms before you sign. Okay, boilerplate, so this is a term that we use to describe a contract. A boilerplate contract is basically a standard contract that a company uses for almost everything under the sun, when they're hiring a freelancer, okay? And usually these contracts include a lot of legalese, which is basically legal language that is really hard to understand. How many of you have ever read a contract and been like, I have no idea what this really means? All of us, it's so common. So if there's anything in the contract that you do not understand, or doesn't make sense to you, my first strategy is to ask the client what does this mean? I noticed this clause, and maybe there's a few things. Make a bulleted list, like you know, line 15 says this. I'm not sure what that means, can you explain it? And sometimes they'll come back and say oh, yeah, that just means that blank, blank, blank and blank. And so you can actually say can we rewrite it to say what it actually means, or maybe you know, the legalese is acceptable to you once it's been explained to you. Sometimes they'll say oh, that's part of our boilerplate contract, that doesn't apply to this job. Then you want to make sure it gets stricken, and by stricken it just means that it's crossed out and initialed by somebody at the company, okay? You don't want any extraneous stuff in there, 'cause sometimes it's not even like the client is legally trying to pull the wool over your eyes and get you to sign something. It's just that they're not even aware of everything that's in the contract. A lot of times they'll say oh, that's in there for when we hire photographers, but you're an illustrator, so that doesn't apply to you. Make sure it's stricken, okay? If the client can't tell you what it means or doesn't answer your questions, a, that's a red flag, but b, you want to make sure you get legal help. Now, legal help is, I'm gonna talk more about this in a second, but it's especially important if you're signing a contract for a job that's on the larger side, right? Like, if you're just doing an illustration for a magazine or you know, a cover, or one book illustration, or a kind of smallish job, you can usually, the contracts are usually fairly simple and you can get to the bottom of things pretty quickly. But some contracts are really unwieldy, and literary contracts are an example of that. That's why people have literary agents, just to help them negotiate literary contracts. But you want to make sure that you understand everything, and so getting legal help, especially when the contract is long and covers a lot of things, like let's say you're making a lot of work for somebody around a big campaign or a big product launch, or a big book, whatever, make sure you understand all of it, and sometimes that requires getting legal help. There are lawyers out in the world who specifically will, you pay them a little bit of money for them to read your contract and give you advice on what's fair and what's not fair. And in the long run, especially if you're being paid a decent amount of money, paying a lawyer a few hundred dollars or even a couple thousand dollars to help you with the contract is worth your time in the long run.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Questions to Ask

Ratings and Reviews

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!

Student Work