Commercial Commission Contract Companion
Hey there! I know reading contracts can be a long and tedious, and sometimes confusing, process, so I’ve made up a guideline for you to use as a quick reference. This guideline is meant to outline and give a general description of the terms in the Contract to Commission Commercial Artwork in plain language. It’s not meant to replace any reading and understanding of the contract in full and is meant as a complementary companion to the actual contract for your convenience. You are still required to read and understand the contract in full before signing.
Please note that if you commission work for the purpose of licensing it, you will be required to sign both a Contract to Commission Commercial Artwork and a Short Term Licensing Agreement which will be used in conjunction with one another.
Here’s a less formal breakdown of what each section details, broken down by section title.
This section basically says, hey, here’s what we’ve agreed I’ll make for you (including the size, materials, and such) and the amount you’ve agreed to pay. Don’t worry, we always discuss the details before you sign a contract, and I will never knowingly or intentionally put in something we haven’t agreed on to trick you into paying more.
This section also reminds you that all payment for commissions is nonrefundable and due in full before I begin working on your piece. This is because many artists get ripped off by clients who refuse to pay after receiving their work, and I would rather spend my time making art for more people than chase you down for payments.
This part tells you that I will provide you up to one progress report per week when you request it so that I can spend most of my time focusing on getting it done for you rather than talking about it. It also tells you that I’ll send you a photo or file of the work before finalizing it and sending it to you as the completed work.
This part says, hey, when I make a piece in ink, it can’t be undone, so I’m gonna give you three rough sketches before I complete the piece using ink or paint, etc. It’ll be up to you to communicate to me any changes or additions you want before I ink it. And since I can’t just keep revising and revising forever, I’ve got it limited to three changes before I’ll begin to charge an additional fee per extra revision. The fee won’t be massive, but it will be dependent upon the size, materials, and time needed for each revision after the first three, and the price will be listed in the contract so you’ll know when you sign it.
This section also tells you that it’s important for you to contact me back quickly when you receive a revision to approve. I give you two business days to get back to me about the revisions, and if I don’t hear back from you, I will assume you have given me approval to continue on making it permanent, so be sure to check those e-mails!
It also tells you to thoroughly check all your spelling and grammar if you include text because I will make it exactly as you specify, even if it’s incorrect.
Right to Refusal
This section says that I reserve the right to refuse to work with anyone who wants things that violate my Commission Guidelines. I won’t accept a commission for something like drawing swastikas in a positive/supporting way or a child in a sexualized manner; this section basically says, hey, if you try to get me to revise your piece to include something that violates my guidelines, I have the right to tell you no, and if you continue to insist on it anyway, I have the right to cancel your commission without any refund to you. So basically, don’t be an oppressive dick, right? :] [smiley]
Extension of Deadline/Delivery of Work
This part reminds you that being disabled can sometimes mean that my body won’t cooperate with what I need to do and that sometimes that might interfere with my ability to finish your work on time or even at all. If there’s ever a delay and I think I won’t be able to get your work to you on time, I will always notify you by e-mail to let you know about the delay and to give you an estimate for the new anticipated date. If I’m ever completely unable to finish your work, you will receive a full refund because it wouldn’t be right morally or legally for me to keep your money in that instance.
But I will ask you to be aware that disability is a fluctuating issue that I don’t always have control over and that is influenced by many, many factors, so please be understanding if I need a little more time and know that I will never abuse this trust by lying and using my disability as an excuse for not finishing on time. If you are on a serious deadline and know that you have absolutely no room for any extensions whatsoever, I encourage you to look for another artist who can definitely meet your needs on time.
This part also tells you that I can’t be responsible for the shipping company’s actions if they fail to deliver your work on time to you. For example, if workers go on strike, if there’s a huge storm that messes up the roads, if the delivery person gives your package to the wrong house despite the correct efforts on my part, I can’t be held responsible for that. It also says if you want additional shipping measures to be added to the ones I already use– like if you want to add expedited shipping, you will need to pay extra amount before I ship it.
This part tells you to again be aware that you have to pay the full amount before I begin work and that the payment is nonrefundable. It tells you that you must sign the contract completely and submit it to me before you pay, as well. I do this to avoid any communication errors and liability issues, so be sure NOT to send ANY payment until I confirm I have received your signed contract. You can submit that contract to me by mailing it to me, giving me a PDF of it, or even just meeting up with me if you live near Brooklyn, NY– we can just arrange a place to meet that’s accessible to me and do the exchange.
If you choose to mail or e-mail the signed contract to me, you’ll have ten business days to submit your payment to me. If I don’t receive the payment and have it cleared by the tenth business day, I’ll presume you have cancelled the contract without notifying me, and you’ll be responsible for a $75 cancellation fee which you must pay within five business days (which is fifteen business days after you gave me your contract).
This section also discusses revisions that go beyond the initial three– if you decide to request a fourth revision, you’ll need to submit payment in full the same way before I will continue work. You will again have ten business days to submit the payment. If I receive no or only partial payment after ten business days, I will finish the work based on the third revision and deliver it to you. So remember to please pay on time and in full so we won’t have to wait on any processing delays through Stripe and our banks!
This section also says, hey, if we agree to work together, but you don’t pay up and we get a cancellation by lack of payment, then I don’t wanna go through all that headache again with you later, so I can refuse to do a future work with you based on the fact that you never paid on the first commission you wanted from me.
This part lets you know again that if you decide to cancel the piece you’ve hired me to make, you will not receive a refund because the payment was nonrefundable and that I still have the right to use your work as I wish for things like portfolios, etc. It also lets you know that if I ever have to cancel on you due to a breach of contract on my end, I will refund your money within twelve weeks.
I know this is significant, but this is to account for the additional time and effort that is required of my body to complete things such as returns of materials and such. For example, I can generally only leave the house for errands such as materials purchase about once a week on a good week, so if I’m ill for three weeks, I may not be able to return the materials specific to your project until the fourth week when I’ve recovered, so you’ll receive your refund once I’ve been able to accomplish that and the processing times are completed. Being disabled makes everything a little slower than life for non-disabled people, so I added this time frame to be conscious of that fact and to give you a heads up and me the time to properly refund you without additionally harming my body and health.
Third Party Shipping
This part says, hey, if you ever need me to send this project off to another person or another company for a final, custom step that I don’t offer myself, I’m not responsible if that other person or company messes it up, loses it, ships it poorly, etc. An example of this might be if I ship, at your request, an original artwork to a company that will make t-shirts with my artwork for you; if the company receives everything just fine from me but ends up making shirts you are not satisfied with, then that is an issue you will need to resolve with the other company because I don’t work with them and have no ability to influence change there.
This section tells you that you cannot show any of my work, including revisions, progress reports, or previews, to anyone but yourself. This includes showing your non-business partner, your friends, your family, your coworkers who are not pertinent to decision making about the design, your social media followers/friends, potential clients, a stranger in the pub– everyone. This is to protect my work from theft, so it’s a pretty big deal, which is why if you violate this condition, I will hold you responsible for $5,000.00 and cancel your piece immediately and refuse to work with you in the future. This is pretty serious since theft from independent artists is rampant online and offline, so please make sure that absolutely no one accesses the private communications between us at any point unless I tell you in writing that it’s okay for you to do so.
Copyright and Reproduction
This part lets you know that I still own all the rights to the piece I make for you. This means that you can never sell, distribute (share), or make copies of my work without my clear, written permission beforehand. This includes things like e-mailing any files I give you with the final product to someone who wants to use my work for any personal or commercial purpose, printing copies to use for school or work presentations where you give out copies to students, or selling the piece I made to another person like at a garage sale or just because you want to get rid of it.
This is to protect my work and is non-negotiable for commissions. If you would like to do something like selling my work on products, you will need to sign both a commission contract and a licensing agreement. If you don’t, then you will be bound by the terms of the commission contract.
This part also tells you that since I keep all rights to the work I make, I am able to use your work for things like my portfolio, art contests, educational purposes, etc. I will always be sure to remove any personally-identifying marks from the piece before doing so, though, unless you give me written permission to include it.
This part lets you know that you cannot change or destroy the piece I make for you. So basically, you can’t photoshop someone’s head onto it and share it with your friends and stuff like that. My name being attached to the pieces I make can influence my reputation and ability to find work, so it’s important that you respect that and not do anything to the piece I make you.
It also says that I would like first crack at any repairs that might be needed in the future. If another person were to try to fix the piece, they may not do it in a way that is consistent with my own work, but my name would still be the one attached to the piece. And the good news is that I won’t charge you for any non-extensive repairs we agree to whereas another person may do so.
This part talks to you about what to do if you ever to decide to get rid of the piece I make for you. This will generally apply to physical pieces, but it can also apply to digital ones, too. Keep in mind that while you commissioned the piece, I still own all the rights to it, so if you no longer want to keep the piece, these are the restrictions you are bound to.
If you ever decide to sell the piece I make for you, you must have my written permission to do so first. I also have the right to require you to sign a new contract to do so if I feel it’s necessary. If I’m ever unable to answer your request because I have died or have become medically unable to reply (like a coma) or just don’t reply within 90 days, then you will be able to resell the piece as long as you give at least seventy-five percent of the money you make from that sale in cash as reparations to a Black or Indigenous person of low income who is also not cisgender, with priority being given to folks who are additionally marginalized– disability, homelessness, etc. You are prohibited to donating to someone who has been convicted of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, or human trafficking. If you yourself are Black or Native, you are absolutely welcome to keep the full proceeds of the resale for yourself.
This is a strict requirement so as to align with my personal responsibilities as a white person and descendant of colonizers/enslavers. If you are not Black or Indigenous and are uncomfortable with the idea of keeping with this section of my terms or in doing the necessary work this would require of you, you should absolutely not commission or license any work with me. If you sign the contract, you are agreeing to follow through on this portion along with all others.
This section also gives you guidelines for what to do if you decide to donate the piece instead of selling it. You must also have my written permission first to do so. I will ask you for more information about the place you’ll be donating it to, and I will let you know if the organization you have in mind is met with my approval– places such as the Salvation Army are immediately disqualified because their values do not align with my own. Once you have my approval, you’ll need to send me a receipt with a worker’s signature on it confirming that no money has been exchanged for this donation. If I’m ever unable to answer your request because I have died or have become medically unable to reply (like a coma) or just don’t reply within 90 days, then you will be able to donate (without getting any compensation for) the piece to an organization that highlights and promotes the social, financial, and/or legal welfare of Black and/or Indigenous people and that is run and owned by Black and/or Indigenous people. That organization will then inherit all rights to that piece. You will still need the receipt described above to give to my estate or to my legal proxy.
This part just says I’m allowed to sign my work and put it where I feel is appropriate. Don’t worry, I won’t be obnoxious about it.
Age of Majority Notice
This part lets you know that if you’re under the legal age of majority where you live, I can’t do business with you and that you can’t sign this agreement or any other with me. It also reminds parents and legal guardians of their restrictions if they choose to sign this for their underage child.
This section lets you know that this agreement is valid as long as I or my surviving spouse or domestic partner is still alive.
This part just says hey, make sure you take care of your piece/file because I’m not responsible for what happens to it after you receive it. You can (and should) always check out my product care page for more information, and there are lots of resources available out there to learn more about caring for your piece/file.
This part says that if anything in the contract is found to be illegal or improper, it won’t nullify the rest of the contract.
This part says that if we ever have an issue, we’ll try to settle it out of court with a mediator first before proceeding to arbitration/lawsuits. It also says that if we ever do go to court, it will take place in Manhattan or Brooklyn in New York State here in the US.
This is the end! Hooray! This part says you agree to everything in the contract and that I agree to everything in the contract and that everything will be set in motion as soon as I receive this signed contract. It also reminds you that if you don’t sign and initial everywhere, the contract is void and unenforceable until you sign and initialize everything, so be sure to double check every page and section! And be sure to keep a copy of this contract with you for the future. As we discussed above, the commission is binding for a long time, so you’ll wanna hold on to this!