Blog Entry #2 – Webinar – AIGA Design Contracts: What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

This webinar had two speakers, Linda Joy Kattwinkel and Shel Perkins. Linda whose an attorney with a background in copyright and trademark law, has an undergraduate degree in graphic design and studied at Hastings in San Francisco where she went into law. She is now specialized in intellectual property. Shel is a management consultant with a background in graphic design, he was involved in creative organizations and worked behind the scenes on resources and contracts dealing with financial issues.


Shel Perkins
Linda Joy Kattwinkel







Linda and Shel discussed AIGA contracts and how they mirror normal contracts. The binding legal agreement consists of offer plus acceptance plus consideration between the designer and client. Oral contracts are acceptable as long as the parties make it clear that they plan to fulfill their duties, but certain contracts can be written as long as your services will not be fully performed within a year that the contract is made. The statute of frauds states that services that pass the one-year time frame such as large interactive projects, wayfinding systems, or public info systems require written contracts.

Keep in mind that if you don’t have a signed contract or if it’s too vague, that may get you into a legal dispute in court. Shel talked about three forms of guidance – course of dealing, course of performing, and usage of trade. The course of dealing and performing both go hand in hand with one another, the court looks into previous successful behaviors that were established in the past and uses that as a guide moving forward. A usage of trade is the standard business practice, the court looks at other agencies that are similar to yours. For example, if you have a graphic design business, the court will look into other graphic design firms to see how they behave and what’s in their contract.

This webinar was very informative for me because I plan to open my own motion graphic design business one day and I had no knowledge about creating a contract. For motion graphics, it is essential to include the basic terms and conditions, work made for hire, and final motion graphic deliverables.