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What is an illustration contract?

What do you need to run a successful freelance business as an illustrator? Depending on whom you ask, you are likely to receive a myriad of answers to this question. Nevertheless, some answers will be similar. For example, there is no doubt that you need the right design skills to work in such an industry. Other than that, you also need the appropriate software and hardware. A few documents could also come in handy in your career. The simple illustration contract template is one such document.

Why should a client hire you as to handle all their illustration projects? After all, isn’t the market full of other equally experienced well-trained and highly talented freelance illustrators? The simple illustration contract template can set you apart from every other freelancer. It can mark you out as the special one.

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Moreover, it can make clients consider you the best illustrator to hire. Your goal should be to make sure that the contract protects all the parties involved in the project. Use it to let clients know that there is something for them too in the project.

How does the illustration contract make you the freelancer worth hiring? What does the freelance illustration contract template offer you to be a successful freelancer?

1. The illustration contract template tackles the issue of cost

Clients who consider hiring freelancers do so for many reasons. One such reason is cost. Such clients are ready to save money. How do they save money? For starters, they do not have to deal with companies with massive overheads, which then transfer these costs over to the buyer. A freelancer often operates alone, unless the project in question requires the input of more than one professional. One of your duties, as a freelance illustrator, is to assure clients that what you charge helps them to save money.

Show clients how you intend to help them save money. The return on investment has to be worth the actual money that your client is paying or ready to pay. Failure to guarantee or package your services as cost-effective could convince freelance clients to go to large companies. In such instances, you would lose clients, money, and work. More importantly, your reputation might suffer too. Before charging the rates, your focus should be on the following factors that affect what you charge:

  • Duration of the project
  • Complexity of the project
  • Your location
  • Technology used to create the illustrations
agreement to commission illustrations template
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2. What should be included in an illustration contract template?

Talk to your freelance clients to find out why they are after freelancing services. Explain the situation to them clearly. You are likely to discover that most of your clients turned to you because they are not ready to part with the huge sums that large corporations charge. Because of this, you have to remember to indicate on the freelance illustration contract template the number of people who will be working on the project. That is quite important since some clients are not ready to assign their work to a team of 20 or so illustrators. Many of them want you to handle the project yourself.

The absence of a large pool of workers benefits clients in many ways. For example, they no longer have to worry about filling and filing W-2 forms. Other than that, clients do not have to concern themselves with hiring and firing policies. What is more, the fact that freelance illustrators have no reason for hiring office space also reduces the overheads for clients, thus ensuring that they save more money. Let clients know that you are also saving them from office politics and other dynamics that are part of large corporations.

3. Include specialized skills in the illustration contract sample

Illustration has different niches. Many freelance illustrators prefer to offer generic services. However, you should strive to specialize in one or two niches. This way, you quickly become an expert and authority in your specialty. Eventually, clients seek you out for your expertise in the niche for which they need help. Therefore, your illustration contract must highlight this issue. It has to mention it for all to know that you specialize in a specific branch of illustration. The more your reputation grows in this regard, the more clients your consultancy will attract.

Give customers a reason for abandoning all the other illustrators they know for you. The key to achieving this lies in the illustration contract. For this reason, you should pay more attention to it. Ensure that the contract is well-written and contains no grammatical or spelling error. More importantly, it should represent everything that your business offers accurately. In addition to all that, the contract must also highlight the expertise that you are willing to extend to clients who need your services.

Illustration Contract Template Sample
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4. The illustration contract template adds focus

Without focus, you cannot accomplish much in this industry. The contract template can help you to stay focused on the relevant issues. More importantly, success and happiness would continue evading you without this critical trait. All successful freelancers are highly focused. They know how to shut everything out and keep their gaze on what is important. Actually, highly successful and focused freelancers know what they should and should not do with their time, money, skills and other resources.

5. The illustration contract template provides adaptability

Apart from focus, the illustration contract template offers you a chance to be as adaptable as you prefer. This trait is critical bearing in mind that clients will approach you with different projects and instructions. In such instances, you would be wrong in applying one-size-fits-all solutions. Each project will need a specific skill set, tool or solution. Customized solutions come with different benefits to you and your clients. For example, you are likely to notice the following:

  • Your clients are happier
  • The illustration does not lose any of its integrity

6. What are the essentials of an illustration contract?

It is fine to accept that you know a little. Nobody knows everything in illustration. Some veterans who have worked in the industry for eons take time off to go through fresh training to ensure they are up to speed with latest developments. If your illustration contract template allows it, you should not hesitate to seek for assistance from your peers. For this reason, it is advisable for freelance illustrators to network with their friends as well as fellow professionals and creative minds. Such networks are critical for freelancers who:

  • Mostly work in solitude
  • Do not meet with clients in person except through phones, emails, and social media

7. Develop persistence with the illustration contract template

Persistence in your freelancing career can take you far. Therefore, it is good for you to start developing this trait. After all, disappointments are normal occurrences in freelancing. Without persistence or a thick skin, you could soon find yourself falling on your face. It is worth reiterating the need for persistence because freelancing has its fair share of feast and famine seasons. In the absence of such traits, you may be unable to withstand the pressures that stand waiting round the corner. Your freelance clients need you to persevere.

Illustration Contract Template Example
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8. Identify a good workstation with the illustration contract template

There are days when you would be fine working from the comfort of your home, even if it is full of all manner of distractions. However, some illustration projects require a bit of silence and working in solitude. Do not rush into looking for such spaces if the illustration contract template does not provide the funds you need for this. Nevertheless, feel free to find such places even if it means taking a loss, as long as you deliver quality work that convinces clients to hand more projects to you.

When reviewing your illustration contract, keep in mind the following:

9. Introduction section of the illustration contract template

An illustration contract must have introduction has the date the agreement was made, both parties (that is the client and the freelancer) that agreeing to the terms and conditions, and their addresses. These contents are essential features found in standardized templates which are available for downloads.

10. Description of the illustration contract template

In this section, the description of the service to be done will be made. This is a crucial part of a contract that covers all the scope of work. You will know the number of illustrations to do and the fee budgeted for it. 

Also, this will protect you whenever the client wants to put additional work for the same fee. You should have a clear understanding of the project description to avoid future misunderstandings between you and such a client. Make sure that the project stays between your agreed terms. 

11. Grant of rights in an illustration contract template

As a freelancer offering service in illustration, you are reproducing art but not selling it. You have the right to limit your client's right to your fine art and sketches; you should maintain a great portion of your work as much as possible. Note a clause the points to rights of purchase. 

For instance, how to use the illustration, and where to use it, the period to use it, and lots more. You should include in the contract the client will be granted the right to the illustration only when full payment is being made. If such a client couldn't pay for the illustration, then you are the legal owner of such a work. 

12. Fees section of an illustration contract template

You have to include the agreed-upon fee of the project in such an illustration contract. Also, you should include whether sales tax applies to the service or not. Sales tax is rarely charged in your illustration work because an illustrator is selling reproduced work and not selling the real art. Hence, sales tax will only be charged when you are selling both your reproduction rights and the illustration work. 

13. Payment in your illustration contract template

The clause of payment covers when and how your payment will be made. The standard payment is made within 30 days of final art delivery. You should ensure that all payment is made upon delivery and not before publication as stated in the illustration contract.

What happens if there is a late publication of the illustration. For instance, if you make a cover page for a book, then the publication was postponed by half a year due to the author's sickness? Would you wait that long to receive your payment? what if the author dies? You won't get paid.

14. Advances in your illustration contract sample

It is essential to include an advance fee in any illustration you have been paid advance for. It is helpful to get an advance fee for any long term work that requires cash to keep the work afloat. If you are worried about the client's payment ability, then it is essential to get a great portion of the total fee in case things go wrong.

15. Expenses in your illustration contract sample

There may be many expenses to be made for an illustration work besides the required materials. for example, if you are a photorealistic painter, you have to pay the model. If you are working on reportage, you have to include a travel fee. or if you want to embed typography inside your work, you have to purchase the font. Therefore, you should include all these costs, and the client must agree to pay for them.

Lastly, it is worth repeating that you can enjoy all the success you need as a freelance illustrator. You can be the best and most highly sought after illustrator. For this to happen, though, you would have to be as professional as possible. Professionalism involves writing and signing contracts. Therefore, start studying illustrator contract template to familiarize yourself with the process of drafting one. As you do that, you will have drawn one or several steps closer to your goals.

Illustration contract template FAQs

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

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

The major benefit of using an illustration contract template for any new project is having the project requirements and detailed steps for completion written and signed by the client. Furthermore, a contract will help protect you against late payments or any other issues.

2. How do I create an illustration contract templates?

An illustration 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 it in just minutes. Sign up a the free trial today!

3. When do I draft and send the illustration contract template for signature?

An illustration contract template is drafted and sent for signature whenever you start a new project. Also, check out our illustration invoice template.

Use this template

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

Illustration Contract Template

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

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


1.1 Project. The Client is hiring the Designer to do the following: The Illustrator will assist the Client with illustration services.

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

1.3 Payment. The Client will pay the Designer a rate of $90.00 (USD) per hour. Of this, the Client will pay the Designer $500.00 (USD) before work begins.

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

1.5 Invoices. The Designer 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 Designer 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 Designer 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 Designer 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 Designer hereby gives the Client this work product once the Client pays for it in full. This means the Designer 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 Designer’s Use Of Work Product. Once the Designer gives the work product to the Client, the Designer does not have any rights to it, except those that the Client explicitly gives the Designer here. The Client gives the Designer permission to use the work product as part of the Designer's portfolio and websites, in galleries, and in other media, so long as it is to showcase the Designer's work and not for any other purpose. The Designer 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 Designer’s Help Securing Ownership. In the future, the Client may need the Designer’s help to show that the Client owns the work product or to complete the transfer. The Designer agrees to help with that. For example, the Designer may have to sign a patent application. The Client will pay any required expenses for this. If the Client can’t find the Designer, the Designer agrees that the Client can act on the Designer’s behalf to accomplish the same thing. The following language gives the Client that right: if the Client can’t find the Designer after spending reasonable effort trying to do so, the Designer hereby irrevocably designates and appoints the Client as the Designer’s agent and attorney-in-fact, which appointment is coupled with an interest, to act for the Designer and on the Designer’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 Designer’s IP That Is Not Work Product. During the course of this project, the Designer might use intellectual property that the Designer 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 Designer is not giving the Client this background IP. But, as part of the Contract, the Designer 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 Designer cannot take back this grant, and this grant does not end when the Contract is over.

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

3. COMPETITIVE ENGAGEMENTS. The Designer 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 Designer asks for permission beforehand and the Client agrees to it in writing. If the Designer uses employees or subcontractors, the Designer must make sure they follow the obligations in this paragraph, as well.

4. NON-SOLICITATION. Until this Contract ends, the Designer 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 Designer puts out a general ad and someone who happened to work for the Client responds. In that case, the Designer may hire that candidate. The Designer 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 Designer Has Right To Give Client Work Product. The Designer promises that it owns the work product, that the Designer 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 Designer uses employees or subcontractors, the Designer also promises that these employees and subcontractors have signed contracts with the Designer giving the Designer any rights that the employees or subcontractors have related to the Designer’s background IP and work product.

5.4 Designer Will Comply With Laws. The Designer 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 Designer promises that its work product does not and will not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights, that the Designer 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 Designer 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 Designer if the Designer 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 Designer 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 Designer. 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 Designer must immediately stop working as soon as it receives this notice, unless the notice says otherwise. The Client will pay the Designer for the work done up until when the Contract ends and will reimburse the Designer 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 Designer as an independent contractor. The following statements accurately reflect their relationship:

- The Designer 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 Designer is responsible for determining when, where, and how it will carry out the work.- The Client will not provide the Designer with any training.- The Client and the Designer do not have a partnership or employer-employee relationship.- The Designer cannot enter into contracts, make promises, or act on behalf of the Client.- The Designer is not entitled to the Client’s benefits (e.g., group insurance, retirement benefits, retirement plans, vacation days).- The Designer 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 Designer or any of the Designer’s employees or subcontractors.


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

8.2 The Client’s Confidential Information. While working for the Client, the Designer 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 Designer promises to treat this information as if it is the Designer’s own confidential information. The Designer may use this information to do its job under this Contract, but not for anything else. For example, if the Client lets the Designer use a customer list to send out a newsletter, the Designer cannot use those email addresses for any other purpose. The one exception to this is if the Client gives the Designer written permission to use the information for another purpose, the Designer may use the information for that purpose, as well. When this Contract ends, the Designer must give back or destroy all confidential information, and confirm that it has done so. The Designer promises that it will not share confidential information with a third party, unless the Client gives the Designer written permission first. The Designer must continue to follow these obligations, even after the Contract ends. The Designer’s responsibilities only stop if the Designer can show any of the following: (i) that the information was already public when the Designer came across it; (ii) the information became public after the Designer came across it, but not because of anything the Designer did or didn’t do; (iii) the Designer already knew the information when the Designer came across it and the Designer didn’t have any obligation to keep it secret; (iv) a third party provided the Designer with the information without requiring that the Designer keep it a secret; or (v) the Designer 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 Designer each have access to confidential information that belongs to third parties. The Client and the Designer 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 Designer 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 Designer or both. For example, if the Client gets sued for something that the Designer did, then the Designer 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 Designer 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 Designer has done under this Contract; (ii) a breach by the Designer of its obligations under this Contract; or (iii) a breach by the Designer of the promises it is making in Section 5 (Representations).

10.3 Designer Indemnity. In this Contract, the Client agrees to indemnify the Designer (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 Designer. The Designer 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 Designer’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 Designer 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 Designer 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 Indiana govern the rights and obligations of the Client and the Designer 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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