Graphic Design Contracts: Everything You Need to Know

Whether you're a freelance graphic designer or a brand identity designer, sooner or later you'll need to create a contract for your next project. Contracts protect both the client and the graphic designer, so it's important to get them right. In this blog post, we'll take a look at everything you need to know about graphic design and branding contracts.


We'll discuss what should be included in your proposal and contract, and how to get clients to sign on the dotted line every time! Let's get started.


↘️ Looking for a graphic design contract template for your project? Download Verô's Complete Contract and customize it with the details of your business.


  1. What is a graphic design contract and why do you need one?
  2. What should a graphic design contract include?
  3. How can you protect yourself and your business when working with clients online?
  4. What are some common issues that can arise during the course of a project and how should they be handled in the contract?
  5. How do you terminate a contract with a client, and what should you take into consideration before doing so?
  6. Graphic design contract template




What is a graphic design contract and why do you need one?

A contract is a set of terms and conditions that are agreed upon by the two parties, the graphic designer and the client, before work begins on the project.


In order to protect both the client and the designer, it is important to have a contract in place for any graphic design work that is conducted.


The contract should outline the specific expectations and requirements of both parties, as well as the project timeline and budget. It is also important to include any provisions that may be necessary in the event that problems or disputes should arise during the course of the project.




What should a graphic design contract include?

There are a few key items that should be included in a solid graphic design contract:

  • Project scope of work: This section should detail exactly what graphic design services you will be providing as well as what is not included in the project.
  • Project description:  Usually included in the proposal, but if you'd like to reiterate what the project is all about you can add it to your contract as well.
  • Project timeline: Make sure you note in your graphic design agreement the specific dates of project milestones up until the project's completion.
  • Client approval timeline: With specific dates and when you expect to hear from the client with their feedback or approval.
  • Payment terms and details: How and when will the client be paying for the services provided? The amount the project deposit you require and when the final payment will be.
  • Intellectual property & Ownership: It's important to note who owns the project once completed and that both you and the client are on the same page.
  • Termination: In some cases, it may also be beneficial to include an early termination clause in the contract. This would outline what penalties (if any) the client would have to pay if they terminated the agreement before it was completed.
  • Expenses reimbursement: Sometimes a project can have additional costs. It's important to note that you'll get the client's prior written consent if that happens.
  • Scope creep: Freelance designers know that it can happen–a client gets so excited they want to do *all the things* or there's additional feedback that wasn't accounted for during the original graphic design contract. Note that anything outside of the scope of work is considered scope creep and note how you'll charge or how the client can work with you to accomplish additional tasks.
  • Feedback rounds: Note in your freelance design contract how many feedback rounds are included in the project.
  • Non disclosure agreement: If there's confidential information involved to make the project, it's possible the client might request you to sign an NDA. This agreement allows the client to feel more comfortable sharing confidential internal information with outside hires and partners.




How can you protect yourself and your graphic design business when working with clients online?

When working with clients online as a graphic designer, it is important to protect yourself and your business. Here are a few ways to do that:


1. Make sure you have a solid graphic design contract in place.

A legally binding document will help to protect both you and the client in the event of any disagreements or misunderstandings. Ask for the signed contract before starting any work.


2. Use a secure payment system.

Such as PayPal, Stripe or Square to process payments. This will help to ensure that your financial information is protected as well as your client's.


3. Get paid upfront.

Don't start working until you've received payment and everything is signed off.


4. Keep good records of all communications and project milestones.

This will help to document the work that has been done and can be used as proof in the event of a dispute. You can use email or a tool like GoVisually.




What are some common issues that can arise during the course of a project and how to handle it

Graphic design projects can sometimes encounter issues that need to be handled in order to keep the project moving forward. Here are a few common issues and how to best handle them:


Client changes their mind about the project and wants something different

This can often happen partway through a project, when the client has a new idea or direction they want to go in. The key is to communicate with the client, find out what it is they want changed and make sure you're both on the same page before continuing.


Client doesn't approve of a mockup or design

If this happens, work with your client to understand why something isn't approved. It's important to get feedback as early on as possible and keep the project moving forward with intention.


Client misses a payment

One of the most important aspects of any contract is making sure that all payments are made on time. If the client misses a payment, you can usually work out a payment plan or penalty fee.


Project is delayed and/or outside of scope creep

If the project is delayed or if the client has requested additional work, it's usually considered scope creep. In this case, you would charge the client for the additional work done and sign an additional graphic design contract for the additional work.



↘️ If you're looking for a complete graphic design contract, check out Verô's free graphic design contract here. It includes everything that needs to be included in a contract, simply copy and customize it with the details of your business and project.




How do you terminate a freelance graphic design contract with a client, and what should you take into consideration before doing so?

When terminating a freelance graphic design contract with a client, it is important to consider a few things first.


First, make sure that you are in compliance with the terms of the contract. If you are not, the client may be able to take legal action against you. Second, always remember to act professionally and courteously when dealing with the client, even in difficult situations. Finally, try to reach a mutual agreement with the client on all outstanding issues before terminating the contract.




Graphic design contract template for a freelance graphic designer

A well-crafted graphic design contract is an essential part of any business relationship. By taking the time to include all the necessary information, you can avoid misunderstandings and protect your interests. If you’re in need of a graphic design contract template, I've got you covered. Just download Verô's Complete Contract here and customize it to fit your needs.



The 3 major branding mistakes small businesses make & how to fix them today.