Business documents for artists/designers
July 10, 2013 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Usually designers and (to a greater degree, artists) are represented by agents who take care of all the administrative/legislative issues. However, for those who manage their own freelance businesses, it is imperative that they have their own business documents (project questionnaires, proposals, quotations, contracts, invoices, ..). I am interested in mapping out all the needed documents in the process of a project, from the moment the client contacts the designer/artist to the moment the project is submitted and the payments are made. Where can I find some comprehensive/reliable resources for such documents?
posted by omar.a to Work & Money (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
What industry, specifically? Architects ('architectural designers')? Interior designers? Furniture designers? Product/industrial designers? Graphic designers -- print or web? Illustrators? Photographers? etc.
posted by suedehead at 11:35 AM on July 10, 2013

I'm a photographer and my professional organization offers a ton of documents and info. When I was starting out I also got the book Business & Legal Forms for Photographers, which there's a whole series of (here's the one for graphic designers).
posted by bradbane at 12:48 PM on July 10, 2013

The contract is the single most important document you need. There are lots of contract templates on the web to download and customize. One resource -

five templates

It's vital to get the scope of the project in writing before you start work. As a self-employed designer, my biggest headaches have happened over

revisions - the client suddenly wants way more changes than what the fee we agreed on would normally encompass

total 180 - after I've sweated pounds of perspiration on a design, the client decides not to use it

That last scenario has only happened to me once, but it torked me enough to realize I had to put a section in my contract stating that I get paid a certain amount, whether or not the client ultimately uses the project. My time needs to be paid for.

Clients will want to take part in the process - they see it as collaborative, even when they swear to you that they're giving you carte blanche to do your thing and will stay out of your hair. No, they ALWAYS want a few changes. And that's fine. I usually charge a flat fee that includes two revisions. If they want more, they'll pay another fee, which I indicate in the contract.

Of course you want to come off as professional, but in a first meeting with a client it's better to focus on getting to know them, rather than fussing over a bunch of documents. They want to be listened to. If you even bring a contract, it should be the last thing you produce.

Anything else is extra. If you're doing invoicing over email, you don't even need an actual invoice. But if you want one, there are tons of templates in the Microsoft Suite and elsewhere online.

The client doesn't care what your documents look like or how many you have. They only care about the work. Get them to sign your contract, give them the best work you can, and make sure you get paid for it. And have fun!
posted by cartoonella at 12:51 PM on July 10, 2013

Response by poster: I am sorry I didn't clarify it from the start. I am talking about graphic designers, although if you also have more general forms it would also be helpful (for other users here as well that is).
posted by omar.a at 2:05 PM on July 10, 2013

Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines (free with annual membership, $35 without...lots of good contracts in the back...available at most bookstores and art supply stores)
posted by sexyrobot at 3:29 PM on July 10, 2013

Creative Business has a bunch of free templates. Foote's book is also very good, imo.
posted by Bron at 7:10 PM on July 10, 2013

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