Almost every creative studio uses written contracts of some form with their clients. Many studios invest time and legal fees in developing their own custom contracts, while other designers will borrow contract language from the back of a design business book (or from a studio where they used to work).

However your studio developed your current client contracts, you might be interested in looking through a free, downloadable contract template from the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).

AIGA Standard Form of Agreement for Design Services

Updated in December 2005, this latest version of AIGA’s standard design contract takes a different approach from previous versions. Rather than being a one-size-fits-all form, it is designed to be a standardized collection of terms and conditions that different creative studios can work from in building their own client agreement forms.

This approach provides more flexibility for studios to craft an agreement form that fits their approach to business. However unlike previous versions it is not a standard form that can be used as-is.

Give yourself some time to read. The first half of the document (about 26 pages) is information and suggestions about how to create your studio’s contracts. The second section includes the legal terms, conditions and provisions. There are also three supplements that include specific contract language for designers working in print, interactive, or environmental projects.