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Are you the owner of a graphic design business?  You will need contracts to govern your day-to-day working relationships with clients and employees. You also want to protect your business from being held responsible for events out of your control. This article explains what these type of contracts are and what you need to include in those agreements.

What Contracts Do I Need?

It is important to ensure your contracts are tailored to suit your graphic design business. The contracts you need may depend on:

  • types of graphic design services you provide or intend to provide;
  • types of clients you have; and
  • whether you plan to hire employees or engage independent contractors.

The most common contracts you will need as a graphic design business include a:  

  1. client agreement;
  2. supply agreement;
  3. employment agreement;
  4. independent contractor’s agreement; and
  5. website terms of use.

Client Agreement

A client agreement is an agreement that can be used to engage individual clients or corporate clients.The client agreement should include details such as:  

  • how much your client will pay you and how and when they are required to make payment;
  • key dates as to when you will provide the designs;
  • how to handle approval for draft designs;
  • a process for handling client requests for amendments or variations; and. 
  • a detailed description of the services you’ll be providing

For example, you may want to set out in the contract that you can prepare one draft and allow for one set of changes, attend meetings to discuss the design and the proposed design format.

Other additional details that you should consider include:

  • how you or the client can end the agreement;
  • the way you limit or exclude your liability under the agreement, such as for events out of your control or for consequential losses (such as being liable for a client’s disappointment at the finished graphic product);
  • how your client should compensate you for copyright or trade mark infringement from the design you provide them (known as an indemnity clause); and
  • the process for protecting your intellectual property (IP) and whether you will grant a licence to your client to use your graphic designs.

A client agreement should be tailored to suit your business needs but flexible enough for meet each customer’s brief. Therefore, you do not need to draft multiple contracts for every new customer.  

Supply Agreement

As a graphic design business, you may need to rely on external suppliers to deliver your services. Therefore, a supply agreement will ensure your supplier complies with their obligations on how they supply catered goods or services.

Some suppliers have their own contract, but you should provide your own agreement as that agreement has been designed to suit your needs as opposed to the needs of the supplier.  

Your supply agreement should cover:

  • how you send orders to the supplier;
  • outline key deadlines for the supply of goods and services;
  • the payment process to the supplier; and
  • who is at fault if you or the supplier breach the contract.

Employment Agreement   

If you employ your own graphic design staff, you will need to have an employment agreement that complies with the law. Your obligations as an employer include providing your employees with statutory entitlements and paying part of their salary into superannuation.

You will need to avoid sham contracting. A ‘sham contract‘ describes the practice of an employer passing off an employment relationship as a contractor arrangement rather than an employee.  The federal government and ATO provide tools that can help you decide if you are an employee or independent contractor.

Independent Contractor’s Agreement

If your business is engaging independent contractors, an independent contractor’s agreement is crucial. For example, you engage external designers to assist on specific projects from time to time as the demand arises.

Independent contractor’s agreements are designed to be flexible. You can issue the agreement to a contractor when they first agree to perform services for you. Therefore, every time you need additional assistance for a graphic design project, you can issue a work order to the independent contractor for them rather than a whole new contract. 

Your agreement should cover:

  • the types of services the designer will be providing;
  • how you will pay them for their services;
  • their obligations, such as how contractors can pay their own taxes and super, but must have their own computer and licences to use graphic design software like Adobe Creative Suite.

Website Terms of Use

If you have a website, you will need a simple document which establishes the terms on which customers agree to use your website. A website terms of use will usually have provisions dealing with privacy, intellectual property and a disclaimer regarding any representations you make on the website.

For example, you can have a disclaimer around the statement on “We have the expertise to design the most beautiful graphics”.

You may also want a privacy policy, which can be included in the terms of use. The privacy policy govern covers how you hold and store your customer’s personal information.

For example, the privacy policy can state that you collect names and email addresses so that you can send them a personalised email newsletter that gives corporate clients a special discount for bulk orders.

Key Takeaways

As a photographer or owner of a graphic design business, the type of contracts you need will depend on your business needs. Contracts help protect your business from unwanted liability and clarify working relationships so you can focus on growing your business. Your business should consider having a:

  • client agreement;
  • supply agreement;
  • employment agreement;
  • independent contractor’s agreement; and
  • website terms of use.

If you have questions or need assistance in preparing contracts for your graphic design business, get in touch with LegalVision’s contract lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.


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