Design Biz Resources

Client Questionnaire for Creative Brief
some sample text and working here

Some Design Biz. Resources  
contracts, rights of usage, contracts, etc


Rights of Ownership and Intellectual Property

You own your work unless otherwise stipulated (and paid for). 

You own your working files unless previously agreed upon (and you charge extra for providing those). If a client hires you to design a publication, they are paying for your design and production management of that final printed, artifact, not your files.

Under U.S. copyright law, the designer is the owner of all files and artwork created for the client, and the client is the owner of the end product (i.e. a printed business cards). Release of electronic files to the client is at the discretion of the designer and is determined by the type of project. Copyright ownership may be transferred to the client for a fee that is based on the uses for which rights are being transferred. This is specified in a proposed agreement for the design of an identity system.

”Choose your battles wisely realizing that generally transferring all rights should incur a higher fee.“


Use of Fonts:

Fonts are creative, intellectual property, similar to designers’ creative work or to proprietary business products. Typefaces are the result of extensive research, study and experimentation, and for some designers, the creation of typefaces is a full-time occupation. The training and expertise required to develop a typeface qualifies the product as intellectual property and merits its protection under copyright law in most countries.

A few good rules that guide ethical practice in font licensing:

  • You do not own a font. You license it for limited uses.
  • If you are using a font, whether it’s on your computer or that of someone else, make sure you have a license to use the font
  • If you want to use a font that is not installed on your computer, you must either ensure that you or your employer has a license to install the font on your computer or else acquire a license to use it.
  • Don’t lend or give fonts to others to use. Your friends, clients and colleagues need to acquire the rights to use them. When it comes to licensing fonts, ethical practice makes sense legally and financially. Violating the terms of a license agreement puts the designer, the client and future business relationships at risk.

Payment & Pricing

Pricing is the hardest part of design business practice.
The ultimate goal is to price by the job and by the value of the work (not by the hour or necessarily for the amount of time it might take, although time might be a good starting place for emerging designers when trying to price a job.)

More on Pricing:
The Dark Art of Pricing by Jessica Hische (a lettering artist/designer)
Pricing Your Freelance Work on HOW Design
Pricing Models

Payment Term Options:
• 50/50 split: half of the estimate is due at the beginning of the project, balance is due at project completion
• Payment in thirds: one-third of the estimate is due at the start of the project, the second third is billed halfway through and the final balance is due upon completion
• Progress billing: Bill at the end of the month for work completed to date

Pricing Estimates:
Use them as an opportunity to help the client understand all the steps that go into the process.
Stages might include:

  • Research
  • Concepting/Ideation
  • Presentation of 3-5 initial design directions
  • Refinement of chosen design direction
  • Exploration of Color Palette / Color System Exploration / Application of Color Options
  • Preparation of final files (for printing, for web, or logos saved in various formats, etc.)
  • User Testing
  • Procurement of 3 printing price estimates (or estimates for build out of data base or any other specialized component.
  • Print management, approval of proofs, press check if necessary
  • up to 2 in-person meeting at client’s office (etc.)

Pricing Logos (aka, “Identity Systems”)
There’s often quite a time difference in designing a logo vs. a logomark or combination of the two. Make sure you’re clear with your client about the different and expectations. You might even have an example sheet with your questionnaire or proposal like this:

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 2.29.10 PM

Some excerpts above from  AIGA Design Business and Ethics



AIGA Design Business and Ethics (Can download pdfs)

AIGA STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE (designer’s responsibilities, authorship, etc.)

AIGA STANDARD FORM OF AGREEMENT FOR DESIGN SERVICES (download pdf for basic contract content.) “Create, sign and send legally binding agreements in seconds.”

Always Get Paid or: A Few Business Rules & Guidelines for Freelance Designers