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Freelance contracts for artwork

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Relentless's picture
Joined: 07/26/2013

This question is for both the Artists/Illustrators out there, or any Designers who have hired and paid an artist for doing work on their board/card/tabletop game.

What does a typical contract for work on an indie game look like?

From my(minimal) experience interacting with designers and attempting to get a freelance career moving along, I know that frequently freelancers work via a contract. I've done my own contracts in the past for one-off pieces of work that are typically commercial, and involve clauses for use and online publications, etc.

I'm just trying to build a basic contract to work from in case a company or individual designer doesn't have one at the start.

Fhizban's picture
Joined: 01/11/2009
The contract is some kind of

The contract is some kind of "Commission Agreement"

I sent you a PM with a link to such a file that I used in the past.

Two notes:

1. This does not help you or the artist anything in practice

2. It is better to KNOW the people you are working with - instead of relying on a contract.

The best deals I have made are with artists I could get to know. Prices are better and results are better.

For me personally, I have completely stopped commissioning artists and use stock art since several years instead. Thats mostly a price thing. Usually the art costs nowadays are so high that you cannot gain the revenue selling your game to justify that cost. just my 2 cents.


questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I sort of agree...

Well although GREAT artwork is very costly - there no reason to make a half-ass game either with poor artwork...

Most artists charge about the same amount of money (or would want to). I have worked with two (2) artists and their commission rate is nearly identical.

For me to break-even, I need to sell 250 units of my game. And IF I want to continue to produce the artwork for the remainder of the game, I will need repeat buyers also (about 250 also...)

So you need to figure out IF your game can attract enough buyers to offset the cost of the artwork. My artwork has scored a 94%... Which means it has a lot of appeal to many different people. Even with this it is not a sure thing that the game will sell (+it's a real GOOD game too!)

But I definitely feel your pain...

Joined: 11/19/2012
I'm limited experience on

I'm limited experience on this, but the biggest things I've seen are usage rights and delivery expectations.

For the first half, what can you do with the image and what can they do with it. Can the artist reuse the image or is it exclusive? Can the designer use it in other forms or just in one specific case? (Usually, money is a big factor here)

For the second half, you need dates and specific expectations. When will the image be due? When will the money be delivered? Image sizes, expected colors, whatever... details are good.

But you also want to know what happens if you don't like the final product? Alot of artists I know do X revisions and deliver in multiple stages to get feedback. This way, both the artist and the designer are protected from an late-game mess.

Finally, include out clauses. Whether it's that the work can't be delivered as expected or that the designer doesn't like the way its shaping up. What percentage is still owed or at what point is it "Too Late" too break off the deal.

The key is that you want everything in place to keep both parties on the same page and kept safe.It's better to have things in writing that you don't need... then to be caught without it.

- - -

I will second with Fihzban that knowing the people is helpful but I'd say it's -especially- important to have a contract with those ones.

At the end of the day, business can suck. Even with the best of intentions from both parties things don't always go smoothly.

If you have a contract, both parties have made their expectations clear.You stick to that contract and you avoid making people think that something is personal.

More importantly, if things go poorly you have the option to modify the contract the next time you work together. Both parties should feel safe and confident about the transactions that will occur.

A good friend or contact is invaluable and it's not worth taking chances. Even if you decide not to work together again in the future it's good to know you still get along and have the option.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Contract, and creator rights

Designers and artists are one in the same, right? So when I'm hiring an artist for my projects, we talk about and form a contract that tries to give us both what we want. This is usually exclusive use rights for myself (ie. I don't want art I commissioned for my game ending up on a t-shirt unless I'm the one selling said shirts), but attribution and use of the art in the artist's portfolio is retained by the artist.

There are a number of contract templates created with designers/artists in mind. I use this one here as a base to start talks. It's editable online and pops out nice signable PDFs for you. Good platform.

Two passages I think are important are these:

Artist's Right to Authorship Credit. Artist may use Work in Artist's portfolio (including, but not limited to, any website that displays Artist's works). Commissioner and Artist agree that when asked, Commissioner must properly identify Artist as the creator of Work. Commissioner does not have a proactive duty to display Artist's name together with Work, but Commissioner may not seek to mislead others that Work was created by anyone other than Artist.

Commissioner Accepts Artist's Creative Vision. Commissioner agrees that Artist will complete Work in Artist's creative style at Artist's sole discretion. If Commissioner refuses to receive Work or demands Work be redone, it is understood and agreed that Commissioner is cancelling the Agreement, and no fee will be refunded.

I Will Never Gr...
I Will Never Grow Up Gaming's picture
Joined: 04/23/2015
Atypical but it works for me ..

Relentless wrote:
This question is for both the Artists/Illustrators out there, or any Designers who have hired and paid an artist for doing work on their board/card/tabletop game.

What does a typical contract for work on an indie game look like?

Definitely not a typical contract here as far as I can tell, but my artist and I just chat via facebook messenger. We have nothing formal beyond that.

It's an odd relationship but it's working for us. heh.

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