Legal / Startup Life

Contracts …. The Sticky Parts

Last month we discussed the basics of what you as a business owner should be looking for in a contract with your designer. This month we are going to take a deeper look at a few parts of the contract that can be unique to the design field.

The Ownership/Copyrights of the Artwork:

Read very carefully what the terms are under this section of your contract so that you understand what the files you receive from your designer will be. Many designers will maintain the rights to the originals and give you copies of the files but those copies may or may not be fully editable or the highest resolution. This is not because the designers are trying to cheat you out of something, but it is because they have invested a lot of time into the product they are making for you. Much of the time you can negotiate for the original files but be prepared to pay for them.


I mentioned in one of my previous posts about the potential costs of fonts, graphics and pictures. Good fonts usually cost money. Sure you can go on free font sites and find all sorts of fancy fonts that may look beautiful but beware. First of all, you may see one font you love, but you need to take into consideration the letters in the name of your company when you look at the font. This sounds elementary but I find myself forgetting to do this when searching for fonts for clients. A font can look amazing on a site but with the letters of the business name look completely different and loose it’s pizazz. Secondly, look very carefully at the copyright information of a font before you set your heart on it. It may very well be free for personal use only. A good designer will not use a free for personal use only font. Why? Because it is stealing. Sorry to be blunt but that is the truth. If you have your heart set on specific fonts, graphic or pictures be ready to pay above and beyond the cost of the hourly fee to your designer.


Every designer is at their own discretion on this issue, but make sure you know how many revisions you are allowed without additional cost after you receive your initial proofs. If your contract said you would receive three logo looks and you ask for a whole new direction, not just adjustments, you are asking your designer to do more work, so it is considerate to expect to be billed for additional hours.

The Kill Fee:

This fee protects you and your designer. If you have received proofs and one revision and you are not liking the direction of the project, do not be afraid to use the kill fee. Why? Simply put you and your designer may not be a good fit and it will save you money and headaches in the long run if you cut your losses and search for another designer.

What are you thoughts regarding these parts of the contract? Have you had issues with contracts in the past?

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