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Signing contracts

I know most artists don't handle formal contracts for commissions, and for non-commercial work, I do tend to feel that a good ToS is sufficient. For commercial projects though, or private commissions involving larger sums of money, I would feel a lot better with a signed contract with specific details pertaining to the project at hand. But signing contracts with people all over the country and internationally can be difficult when 1) no one uses fax machines anymore, and 2) not very many people know how to utilize Adobe Acrobat's digital signing capabilities.

Is there a better way to deal with it other than mailing out two copies of a signed physical contract, having the client sign them, and then having them one mail it back? Or having the client print, sign, and scan the contract? The former has a long wait time and a lot of hassle, especially if the project happens to be on a deadline. The latter requires the client have a scanner.

Thanks for any insight. :O

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
mialattia
Feb. 15th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC)
Well, technically speaking, you don't need a 'signature' for a contract to be valid and holding. My professors are professional illustrators, and the contract document and digital agreement are enough to prove the agreement, as well as a follow-up invoice.

When you say 'commercial', are you going through an agent, a company, an art director...? Or some individual who wants to reproduce your work?
kiriska
Feb. 15th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
Huh. I've always just assumed signatures were required. That is interesting.

I'm actually more talking about freelance web design and development work for small businesses over typical art-related work, but I figured any advice taken would be applicable to many situations.
mialattia
Feb. 15th, 2012 04:47 am (UTC)
There are some great suggestions below for Echosign (never heard of it, but looking into it now) and as long as you get a 'digital signature' or explicit agreement to your terms, the client can be held to that in a court of law, and so on.

It feels unofficial, but trust me, it works! However, it's still a pain if somebody tries to rip you off (those same professors do have stories), so having some kind of 'signature' method is NOT a bad idea for this just to make it seem more official to the client (very professional and thorough tends to be intimidating and works wonders). Good luck!
kiriska
Feb. 15th, 2012 05:39 am (UTC)
Yeah! I'm looking into EchoSign now too! :O But it's very reassuring to know that an explicit agreement of terms is technically good enough -- if anything, this makes me feel a lot more secure regarding simple agreement of ToS for private commissions. Thanks a bunch!
lackoflollies
Feb. 15th, 2012 02:57 am (UTC)
When I worked for Tmobile, people could agree orally to a two-year contract, without needing a signature. The contract was still legal and binding (and disputed because of that, quite a bit, and failed.)
So yea, I parrot that a signature isn't necessarily needed.
(Deleted comment)
kiriska
Feb. 15th, 2012 05:38 am (UTC)
I'd never heard of EchoSign but am looking into it now. It sounds pretty awesome, especially since I definitely won't be handling more than five contracts a month any time soon! Thanks a bunch!
celarania
Feb. 15th, 2012 04:10 am (UTC)
If nothing else, you can use a pdf. Ask them to print it out, sign it, then just scan it and email it back.
holydust
Mar. 5th, 2012 11:29 am (UTC)
Yep, PDF, bebeh. I request that and sign it in Acrobat Pro (but print/sign/scan works just as well). It's just as valid as paper put right into their hands.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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