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  • Ariel Mendez


Updated: Feb 1, 2023

When I illustrated my first picture book I did not need any contract or agreement because I was the author illustrator. But when my friend asked me to illustrate her picture book, I knew I had to be professional and get some kind of agreement or contract in place. After doing research on Google University (that's just regular, I drafted my first Work For Hire Agreement for my first picture book illustration client!

It went smoothly! Only, that with a Work For Hire Agreement, the client gets to maintain all of the copyrights. I don't see this as an issue, I think Work For Hire Agreements are great, but I did not feel like it was the best form of contract that I needed at the time. In good old Ariel fashion, I went back to Google to do more research about illustrator agreements and contracts. That is when I found a specific Illustrator Agreement that met all of my needs; it talked about copyrights, foreign rights, media rights, payment, acknowledgements, and all the things that I was dying to know about!

If you are an illustrator, or even an author seeking to work with an illustrator, here is all of the information you need to know about Illustrator Agreements and Contracts.

First, I want to share with you some really great resources to help you even further when working with an illustrator. Visit these sites to get more information on Illustrator Agreements:

Okay, now moving on to the good stuff. I will go through section-by-section what to include in your agreement. For extra help, read through the end of the article to download a sample Illustrator Agreement. Consider this a Contracts 101 course:

  • Introduction

This section lists out the parties involved, the nature of the contract, and the date of issuance in which the contract goes into effect.

  • Description of Work or Scope of Work

This describes the exact services being provided and any specific details. For instance: a full-color 32 page picture book interior and book cover design in PDF and InDesign file formats. Or, perhaps a promotional poster or promotional animated video.

  • Due Dates

Put deadlines in writing. This is important so that both parties respect a schedule and have a clear understanding of publication dates. Mainly, to help set expectations for everyone involved.

  • Grant of Rights

This section clarifies what rights are being given to the author/publisher. Are they exclusive or non-exclusive rights? Are you including international rights? For how long will they have rights? What territories do they have the rights in? Do they have electronic publishing rights?

I always include a clause that says any other rights not mentioned in the contract are reserved for the Illustrator, including but not limited to rights to sketches and all preliminary materials.

  • Additional Usages

This is a clause that says if the client wishes to use the materials for additional purposes not listed in the Scope of Work, they must seek permission from the Illustrator and make any additional payments as agreed upon at that time.

  • Fees, Payments, Advances

This section lists out the total payment owed to the Illustrator in exchanged for the usage rights of the materials. This section will also list out the advances or payment structure you will be following. Will a deposit be collect? If so, how much and when? How will the remaining balance be collected?

I follow a four-part payment structure. The first 25% is a deposit to secure the project. The remaining three payments of 25% are due when I turn in the sketches, color roughs, and lastly the final version. Though, I have seen other illustrators break the project into 50/50 payments. It is good to clarify this in the agreement.

I also like to include my billing cycle. Do you accept payments within 15 days, 30 days, or 60 days? This way you know when an invoice is overdue.

  • Revisions

This, to me, is the MOST IMPORTANT PART. Not really, but it is very important. An author can ask for as many revisions as they want if you do not clarify how many revisions are allowed. For me, I include one round of revisions at each phase of the illustration process.

  • Copyright Notice and Credits

This clause clarifies how your work will be credited to you when published or reproduced.

  • Cancellation

This is very important. So much can happen during the months it takes to illustrate a picture book. If the project gets cancelled for any reason, will you be paid for your work done to date? This section will clarify what happens if the project is cancelled due to unsatisfactory work, cancelled prior to the finished artwork being submitted, cancelled for any other reason after the finished artwork is submitted, and any other scenarios you can include. Also, clarify what will happen if a client does not pay? Any legal action such as arbitration or small claims court can be listed here.

  • Miscellaneous

Did you miss anything? This is a good place to put it. I usually include one sentence about Change Orders; that no additional work will be done without a signed Change Order in place or an Addendum. Also, sometimes my clients are in other states than where I reside; I use this section to clarify which state laws will be followed.

  • Signatures and Date

Have both parties sign and date the contract to make it official. Save it in your files!

If you need a little extra help, I have created a sample Illustrator Agreement that provides example language as to what to include in your own contracts and agreements. Of course, this is not all-encompassing, but it gives a good guide and idea as to what to cover.

Download • 91KB

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