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What is an artist contract?

Artists are one of the most creative people we can find around considering their imaginative ability to come about with stunning ideas. Considering the shift in global employment and work methodologies, a lot of skilled persons now freelance including artists as they determine their pay and work schedule.

It feels great when you know you’re in charge of your time. You decide when to work without having a predetermined schedule by an employer. Owing to flexibility of work schedule in the freelance world, most people are damping their jobs to explore the benefits. What’s more? As a freelancer, you can determine how much you make, and so you don’t work with a fixed income at the end of the month.

Recent studies have shown that over 53 million Americans work as freelancers today changing the regular nine to five working hours schedule. As a freelance artist, beyond your creativity and giftings, there’s a place of keeping abreast with the current trends and the rapid shifts the industry experiences daily. Adding to your skills development, you know developing a professional artist contract is not negotiable to successfully handle your projects.

Like every other freelancer, you need to work with an artist contract template to safeguard your income. In most cases, freelancers disagree with clients over payment, and such issues may lead to termination and losses. Being a reputable freelance artist, you wouldn’t want such things to happen. Therefore, you should consider having an artist agreement template. Here, you define your scope of services and payment terms so that the client knows what they expect. 

If you’re creating an artist contract for the first time, you’ll find it challenging. However, you don’t need to worry as you can always get a free artist contract template to help you design one. Usually, an artist contract template is already formatted, and, therefore, you won’t struggle trying to place information in the right place, similar to how you might face difficulties when you calculate your freelance artist tax deductions.

Nevertheless, not every artist agreement template will contain all the necessary sections to make a complete contract. It’s up to you to choose the best free artist contract template from the ones available, and capture everything you mentioned in your artist proposal template within it. Of course, it’s quite daunting to get one, but knowing the nitty-gritty of a good artist contract template should make the task easier. Even better, you can check the artist agreement template PDFs that are commonly used by freelance artists.

Perhaps you are already staring at a golden opportunity, and all you need is a free artist contract template that will present you well before a client. But how then do you create an agreement if you are yet to formulate one?

Do you want to know how to write an art contract? You are at the right place!

An art contract is a simple outline of the terms and conditions by which a freelancer and client agree to work. Also, It may be a complex document with several pages, depending on the project involved. The purpose of a contract is to set agreements on the following terms of work, the scope of work, deadline, limitations, and many more. Putting these in writing will prevent misunderstanding and keep both parties' stress levels low. 

A contract is essential in the case of intellectual properties such as art. As a freelancer, whenever you sell your work is like you are selling your tangible properties like a car or a house. Also, with a contract, your mind will be at rest. You will have to worry about every single "what if." You can create your art contract by following our art contract template. You should adjust this template to suit your art services.

It becomes a challenge if you are yet to understand what it takes to make a good contract; and adding to the fact that new trends are emerging every day as clients also appreciate more bespoke agreements. If you find yourself in that situation, you may want to jump at every agreement you see.

But before you do that, let’s see what a artist agreement template is all about before we show you to identify a great artist contract template.

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It is not uncommon to see different books on business advice on the need for a contract to work with every client. But in real business, people let things slip through the cracks. Some even believe that only big projects require a contract making them skip some vital paperwork.

But it’s actually a little stuff you ignore that have the potential of causing expensive and time-consuming problems. A contract is an agreement either to do or not to do something; it is a legally binding document that clearly outlines an agreement between two parties so that the “object” is achieved while preventing disputes or litigation.

Whether you are skilled at creating art, specialized in some activity, or you do a freelance recording as an artist, you would need an artist agreement template because human relationships could be messy, and memories are imperfect. Although a contract may not prevent you from all complexities and probable ambiguity in communications, it can bring about clarity and consensus between you as a freelancer and your client.

In most cases, you’ll be meeting your client for the first time, and you can’t work with them on the basis of trust without a contract. An artist contract template defines your role as a freelancer and the client’s obligations. Simply put, the artist agreement template highlights the services the clients expect from you, and how much you’d like to receive for every task you complete. However, there are other sections such as termination clause, patent rights, etc., which are also included in the artist agreement template.

What makes a good artist contract?

A free artist contract template isn’t necessarily a bulky document with so much information. It could be just a simple outline of the terms and conditions of a project by which you, as a consultant and your client have agreed to work. It could also be a complex document depending on the level of  intricacies of the project and the number of elements involved.

Since we have several templates online, it’s essential to know what makes a good free artist contract template before choosing one.Since we have several templates online, it’s essential to know what makes a good free artist contract template before choosing one.

Artist Contract Template Sample
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The following are essential elements in a good artist contract that would protect a freelance agent and his client.

2.1. Client information in the artist contract template

You should have relevant information about your client on your artist contract as well as data about yourself as a freelancer. The agreement should detail or describe the parties clearly. All information provided should be with the consent of the parties involved.

Keep in mind that the agreement should protect the interest of both parties, and, therefore, before including client information in the free artist contract template, seek permission from the client to know what they’d like you to include in the contract.

2.2. Detail your services in the artist contract template

Artists are creative and magical, and as such, your free artist contract template should spell out the services you would render to the prospective client. It could also give an overview of the goal, outlining the chunk of activities that would be seen in the end product.

The client is hiring you to offer specific services, and you must live up to this if you’d like them to pay you. They wouldn’t want to spend on services that don’t add value to their business. That’s why your free artist contract template should exhaustively cover the services you’ll be offering and how much they cost. Be as clear and precise as possible when drafting this section.

2.3. Payment method and schedule section of an artist contract template

The payment plan of your client is a critical part of your artist contract. Freelancing is a risky business, and as such, there should be a clear definition of a milestone arrangement that would trigger the final payment for the project. The payment schedule can be weekly, bi-monthly or in any frequency agreed upon. After completing the assigned task, you want the client to deliver the payment first before you proceed to the next task.

As a freelance artist, you don’t want the client to pay you anytime they wish. That’s why your free artist contract template should highlight the payment timeline so that the client delivers your dues on time. Even then, don’t make the deadlines too tight for the client. Remember, sometime they’ll delay the payment due to genuine reasons. So give an allowance for such circumstances.

2.4. Intellectual property and copyrights in your artist contract template

There needs to be an agreement on who owns the intellectual property you create. Should you reserve the right to the intellectual properties, you should come up with a license that permits its use to your clients, and the license expiry date should be stated if there is any.

2.5. Dispute resolution covered by an artist contract template

Should in case a party breaches the agreement, your artist contract should carry the medium of resolution; which may include arbitration, mediation, or court resolution.

2.6. Revisions and alterations of any artist contract template

You should give room for review and revisions of project in your proposal. However, you should beware of unlimited revisions by applying some clause that would prevent such happening. In doing this, answer questions on how alterations should be done, and at what point would you charge additional fees for the project. Through it all, a good relationship with your client would go a long way in making changes to your project with ease.

Other elements that your free artist contract template should capture include warranties, confidentiality/NDA, and Non-compete clause.

Artist Contract Template Example
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What should be included in the artist contract template?

3. Client information in an art contract template

In this section, you should provide details about your client, such as the name of your client, organization, email address, address, and phone number. 

4. Project information covered by your art contract template

State the freelancing service you are offering for such a client. For example, Artwork will be designed to improve the body copy provided by the client and laid for a full-color brochure. All Artwork will be done to meet the client specifications and use the client supplied graphics. The project will be designed using some combination of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign. Then the final Artwork will be in a file format suitable for printing press production. 

5. Project pricing details section of the art contract template

The project price is quoted based on a negotiated package price of $200 for the entire project. The price quote does not include a 10% sales tax. Additionally, if you both agreed to use PayPal as your form of payment, there is a computer-based service charge on the total fee. You should either include or exclude the service charge in the final invoice. Make sure to include all such details on your art contract.

6. Final payment terms of the art contract template

You should state the final payment terms in your art contract. For instance, within three days of project completion, before the final delivery, an itemized invoice will be delivered to the client.

Besides those, you should include the percentage deposit made before the project commenced. And the Final payment when the job is completed. Also, you should state that all final files will be delivered after the Checks are cleared. 

7. Revisions of an art contract template

The total price paid for the project does not include unlimited revisions. I want to be sure you are satisfied with the final product. We have experienced that excellent communication between a freelancer and client can limit the revision to small corrections rather than total do-overs. Do-overs are a result of improper communication.

8. Ownership of artwork established by an art contract template

Include that your freelancing service agency retains ownership of all files until full payment has been made. Thus, upon full payment, the original artwork or fine becomes the client's property. This implies that the client will take all necessary credit for usage of the project by the unauthorized body.

Artist Contract Template PDF
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A good contract does not have to be a thick document with lots of legal terms. A contract must be written in a simple language that both client and freelancer must understand clearly. You can use our art contract template to draft your own template.

Artist contract template FAQs

Do you have more questions about artist contract templates? Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions:

1. What are the benefits of using artist contract templates?

The major benefit of using an artist contract template for any new project is to protect your work and make sure you get paid on time, and to agree in writing with the client on the project scope and steps for resolving the problem

2. How do I create a artist contract template?

An artist contract template can be created either by starting from a sample, and editing it for the project's individual requirements, or by using Bonsai to draft and download one in just minutes. Sign up a the free trial today!

3. When do I draft and send the artist contract template?

An artist contract template is drafted and sent for signature whenever you start a new project.

Use this template

The simplest way to create a legally sound contract. Check out an example below

Artist Contract Template

This Contract is between Sample Client (the "Client") and John Doe (the "Artist").

The Contract is dated [the date both parties sign].


1.1 Project. The Client is hiring the Artist to do the following: The Artist will assist the Client with artistic services.

1.2 Schedule. The Artist will begin work on August 21, 2020 and the work is ongoing. This Contract can be ended by either Client or Artist at any time, pursuant to the terms of Section 6, Term and Termination.

1.3 Payment. The Client will pay the Artist a rate of $50.00 (USD) per hour. Of this, the Client will pay the Artist $150.00 (USD) before work begins.

1.4 Expenses. The Client will reimburse the Artist's expenses. Expenses do not need to be pre-approved by the Client.

1.5 Invoices. The Artist will invoice the Client weekly. The Client agrees to pay the amount owed within 15 days of receiving the invoice. Payment after that date will incur a late fee of 5.0% per month on the outstanding amount.

1.6 Support. The Artist will not provide support for any deliverable once the Client accepts it, unless otherwise agreed in writing.


2.1 Client Owns All Work Product. As part of this job, the Artist is creating “work product” for the Client. To avoid confusion, work product is the finished product, as well as drafts, notes, materials, mockups, hardware, designs, inventions, patents, code, and anything else that the Artist works on—that is, conceives, creates, designs, develops, invents, works on, or reduces to practice—as part of this project, whether before the date of this Contract or after. The Artist hereby gives the Client this work product once the Client pays for it in full. This means the Artist is giving the Client all of its rights, titles, and interests in and to the work product (including intellectual property rights), and the Client will be the sole owner of it. The Client can use the work product however it wants or it can decide not to use the work product at all. The Client, for example, can modify, destroy, or sell it, as it sees fit.

2.2 Artist's Use Of Work Product. Once the Artist gives the work product to the Client, the Artist does not have any rights to it, except those that the Client explicitly gives the Artist here. The Client gives the Artist permission to use the work product as part of the Artist's portfolio and websites, in galleries, and in other media, so long as it is to showcase the Artist's work and not for any other purpose. The Artist is not allowed to sell or otherwise use the work product to make money or for any other commercial use. The Client is not allowed to take back this license, even after the Contract ends.

2.3 Artist's Help Securing Ownership. In the future, the Client may need the Artist's help to show that the Client owns the work product or to complete the transfer. The Artist agrees to help with that. For example, the Artist may have to sign a patent application. The Client will pay any required expenses for this. If the Client can’t find the Artist, the Artist agrees that the Client can act on the Artist's behalf to accomplish the same thing. The following language gives the Client that right: if the Client can’t find the Artist after spending reasonable effort trying to do so, the Artist hereby irrevocably designates and appoints the Client as the Artist's agent and attorney-in-fact, which appointment is coupled with an interest, to act for the Artist and on the Artist's behalf to execute, verify, and file the required documents and to take any other legal action to accomplish the purposes of paragraph 2.1 (Client Owns All Work Product).

2.4 Artist's IP That Is Not Work Product. During the course of this project, the Artist might use intellectual property that the Artist owns or has licensed from a third party, but that does not qualify as “work product.” This is called “background IP.” Possible examples of background IP are pre-existing code, type fonts, properly-licensed stock photos, and web application tools. The Artist is not giving the Client this background IP. But, as part of the Contract, the Artist is giving the Client a right to use and license (with the right to sublicense) the background IP to develop, market, sell, and support the Client’s products and services. The Client may use this background IP worldwide and free of charge, but it cannot transfer its rights to the background IP (except as allowed in Section 11.1 (Assignment)). The Client cannot sell or license the background IP separately from its products or services. The Artist cannot take back this grant, and this grant does not end when the Contract is over.

2.5 Artist's Right To Use Client IP. The Artist may need to use the Client’s intellectual property to do its job. For example, if the Client is hiring the Artist to build a website, the Artist may have to use the Client’s logo. The Client agrees to let the Artist use the Client’s intellectual property and other intellectual property that the Client controls to the extent reasonably necessary to do the Artist's job. Beyond that, the Client is not giving the Artist any intellectual property rights, unless specifically stated otherwise in this Contract.

3. COMPETITIVE ENGAGEMENTS. The Artist won’t work for a competitor of the Client until this Contract ends. To avoid confusion, a competitor is any third party that develops, manufactures, promotes, sells, licenses, distributes, or provides products or services that are substantially similar to the Client’s products or services. A competitor is also a third party that plans to do any of those things. The one exception to this restriction is if the Artist asks for permission beforehand and the Client agrees to it in writing. If the Artist uses employees or subcontractors, the Artist must make sure they follow the obligations in this paragraph, as well.

4. NON-SOLICITATION. Until this Contract ends, the Artist won’t: (a) encourage Client employees or service providers to stop working for the Client; (b) encourage Client customers or clients to stop doing business with the Client; or (c) hire anyone who worked for the Client over the 12-month period before the Contract ended. The one exception is if the Artist puts out a general ad and someone who happened to work for the Client responds. In that case, the Artist may hire that candidate. The Artist promises that it won’t do anything in this paragraph on behalf of itself or a third party.


5.1 Overview. This section contains important promises between the parties.

5.2 Authority To Sign. Each party promises to the other party that it has the authority to enter into this Contract and to perform all of its obligations under this Contract.

5.3 Artist Has Right To Give Client Work Product. The Artist promises that it owns the work product, that the Artist is able to give the work product to the Client, and that no other party will claim that it owns the work product. If the Artist uses employees or subcontractors, the Artist also promises that these employees and subcontractors have signed contracts with the Artist giving the Artist any rights that the employees or subcontractors have related to the Artist's background IP and work product.

5.4 Artist Will Comply With Laws. The Artist promises that the manner it does this job, its work product, and any background IP it uses comply with applicable U.S. and foreign laws and regulations.

5.5 Work Product Does Not Infringe. The Artist promises that its work product does not and will not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights, that the Artist has the right to let the Client use the background IP, and that this Contract does not and will not violate any contract that the Artist has entered into or will enter into with someone else.

5.6 Client Will Review Work. The Client promises to review the work product, to be reasonably available to the Artist if the Artist has questions regarding this project, and to provide timely feedback and decisions.

5.7 Client-Supplied Material Does Not Infringe. If the Client provides the Artist with material to incorporate into the work product, the Client promises that this material does not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights.

6. TERM AND TERMINATION. This Contract is ongoing, until ended by the Client or the Artist. Either party may end this Contract for any reason by sending an email or letter to the other party, informing the recipient that the sender is ending the Contract and that the Contract will end in 7 days. The Contract officially ends once that time has passed. The party that is ending the Contract must provide notice by taking the steps explained in Section 11.4. The Artist must immediately stop working as soon as it receives this notice, unless the notice says otherwise. The Client will pay the Artist for the work done up until when the Contract ends and will reimburse the Artist for any agreed-upon, non-cancellable expenses. The following sections don’t end even after the Contract ends: 2 (Ownership and Licenses); 3 (Competitive Engagements); 4 (Non-Solicitation); 5 (Representations); 8 (Confidential Information); 9 (Limitation of Liability); 10 (Indemnity); and 11 (General).

7. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR. The Client is hiring the Artist as an independent contractor. The following statements accurately reflect their relationship:

- The Artist will use its own equipment, tools, and material to do the work.- The Client will not control how the job is performed on a day-to-day basis. Rather, the Artist is responsible for determining when, where, and how it will carry out the work.- The Client will not provide the Artist with any training.- The Client and the Artist do not have a partnership or employer-employee relationship.- The Artist cannot enter into contracts, make promises, or act on behalf of the Client.- The Artist is not entitled to the Client’s benefits (e.g., group insurance, retirement benefits, retirement plans, vacation days).- The Artist is responsible for its own taxes.- The Client will not withhold social security and Medicare taxes or make payments for disability insurance, unemployment insurance, or workers compensation for the Artist or any of the Artist's employees or subcontractors.


8.1 Overview. This Contract imposes special restrictions on how the Client and the Artist must handle confidential information. These obligations are explained in this section.

8.2 The Client’s Confidential Information. While working for the Client, the Artist may come across, or be given, Client information that is confidential. This is information like customer lists, business strategies, research & development notes, statistics about a website, and other information that is private. The Artist promises to treat this information as if it is the Artist's own confidential information. The Artist may use this information to do its job under this Contract, but not for anything else. For example, if the Client lets the Artist use a customer list to send out a newsletter, the Artist cannot use those email addresses for any other purpose. The one exception to this is if the Client gives the Artist written permission to use the information for another purpose, the Artist may use the information for that purpose, as well. When this Contract ends, the Artist must give back or destroy all confidential information, and confirm that it has done so. The Artist promises that it will not share confidential information with a third party, unless the Client gives the Artist written permission first. The Artist must continue to follow these obligations, even after the Contract ends. The Artist's responsibilities only stop if the Artist can show any of the following: (i) that the information was already public when the Artist came across it; (ii) the information became public after the Artist came across it, but not because of anything the Artist did or didn’t do; (iii) the Artist already knew the information when the Artist came across it and the Artist didn’t have any obligation to keep it secret; (iv) a third party provided the Artist with the information without requiring that the Artist keep it a secret; or (v) the Artist created the information on its own, without using anything belonging to the Client.

8.3 Third-Party Confidential Information. It’s possible the Client and the Artist each have access to confidential information that belongs to third parties. The Client and the Artist each promise that it will not share with the other party confidential information that belongs to third parties, unless it is allowed to do so. If the Client or the Artist is allowed to share confidential information with the other party and does so, the sharing party promises to tell the other party in writing of any special restrictions regarding that information.

9. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. Neither party is liable for breach-of-contract damages that the breaching party could not reasonably have foreseen when it entered this Contract.


10.1 Overview. This section transfers certain risks between the parties if a third party sues or goes after the Client or the Artist or both. For example, if the Client gets sued for something that the Artist did, then the Artist may promise to come to the Client’s defense or to reimburse the Client for any losses.

10.2 Client Indemnity. In this Contract, the Artist agrees to indemnify the Client (and its affiliates and its and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against all liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of: (i) the work the Artist has done under this Contract; (ii) a breach by the Artist of its obligations under this Contract; or (iii) a breach by the Artist of the promises it is making in Section 5 (Representations).

10.3 Artist Indemnity. In this Contract, the Client agrees to indemnify the Artist (and its affiliates and its and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of a breach by the Client of its obligations under this Contract.


11.1 Assignment. This Contract applies only to the Client and the Artist. The Artist cannot assign its rights or delegate its obligations under this Contract to a third-party (other than by will or intestate), without first receiving the Client’s written permission. In contrast, the Client may assign its rights and delegate its obligations under this Contract without the Artist's permission. This is necessary in case, for example, another Client buys out the Client or if the Client decides to sell the work product that results from this Contract.

11.2 Arbitration. As the exclusive means of initiating adversarial proceedings to resolve any dispute arising under this Contract, a party may demand that the dispute be resolved by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its commercial arbitration rules.

11.3 Modification; Waiver. To change anything in this Contract, the Client and the Artist must agree to that change in writing and sign a document showing their contract. Neither party can waive its rights under this Contract or release the other party from its obligations under this Contract, unless the waiving party acknowledges it is doing so in writing and signs a document that says so.

11.4 Notices.

(a) Over the course of this Contract, one party may need to send a notice to the other party. For the notice to be valid, it must be in writing and delivered in one of the following ways: personal delivery, email, or certified or registered mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested). The notice must be delivered to the party’s address listed at the end of this Contract or to another address that the party has provided in writing as an appropriate address to receive notice.

(b) The timing of when a notice is received can be very important. To avoid confusion, a valid notice is considered received as follows: (i) if delivered personally, it is considered received immediately; (ii) if delivered by email, it is considered received upon acknowledgement of receipt; (iii) if delivered by registered or certified mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested), it is considered received upon receipt as indicated by the date on the signed receipt. If a party refuses to accept notice or if notice cannot be delivered because of a change in address for which no notice was given, then it is considered received when the notice is rejected or unable to be delivered. If the notice is received after 5:00pm on a business day at the location specified in the address for that party, or on a day that is not a business day, then the notice is considered received at 9:00am on the next business day.

11.5 Severability. This section deals with what happens if a portion of the Contract is found to be unenforceable. If that’s the case, the unenforceable portion will be changed to the minimum extent necessary to make it enforceable, unless that change is not permitted by law, in which case the portion will be disregarded. If any portion of the Contract is changed or disregarded because it is unenforceable, the rest of the Contract is still enforceable.

11.6 Signatures. The Client and the Artist must sign this document using Bonsai’s e-signing system. These electronic signatures count as originals for all purposes.

11.7 Governing Law. The laws of the state of Louisiana govern the rights and obligations of the Client and the Artist under this Contract, without regard to conflict of law principles of that state.

11.8 Entire Contract. This Contract represents the parties’ final and complete understanding of this job and the subject matter discussed in this Contract. This Contract supersedes all other contracts (both written and oral) between the parties.


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