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The basics of Creative contracts

Ever needed to sign a contract with a big client that you didn’t want to lose, but had no idea what to look out for? To gain some insight on the basics of creative contracts, we chatted to Christian Tabor-Raeside from Legalese, a creative, tech, and start-up legal agency based in Cape Town.

Before agreeing to any job, one needs to establish the rights and responsibilities of each party involved. This exact reason is why contracts exist and knowing how to navigate through one is of the utmost importance.

Christian’s 6 tips on how to deal with contracts

  1. Read your contract

No doubt that this is the most obvious and tedious tip, but we cannot stress how important it is to take your time while doing so. Grab a highlighter while you’re at it and if it starts to get overwhelming, walk away and come back to it later.

  1. Don't be afraid to negotiate

A contract is a conversation. You are allowed to, and encouraged to, voice your concerns. If there are any specifics you want laid out, this may include the way in which you want to be paid, the working conditions and length of the project. Speak up.

  1. Pay attention to the payment terms

These terms are incredibly important, because every transaction could be different. Some things may require a deposit and then final payment after the delivery of service, others might be payments in increments, or even monthly. You want to make sure that you fully understand these before signing.

  1. Intellectual Property clause

As a creative this clause is especially important to note. How is it mentioned, is it even mentioned in the contract? How your intellectual property is owned and the transference of this ownership can be tricky. If you don’t understand what these terms mean for you and your work, consider reaching out for professional advice.

  1. Force Majeure clause

There has never been a more important time to take note of this. Things that happen outside of your control, for example COVID-19, can affect if/how you deliver your service. Having this clause allows for leniency, especially in these times.

  1. Cancellation and Termination clause

A very important, and obvious, clause but not one to neglect. If for any reason your contract needs to be cancelled or terminated, you need to know what that means for you.

Learning to navigate the processes behind being in the business of arts might be tedious, but it’s always going to benefit you in the long run. The last thing you want to do is mindlessly sign a contract and get caught in a situation that you could have avoided by just taking the time to understand what’s on paper. The most important, is to remember that as a creative you have the power to voice your concerns if you have any. Click below to watch the full video, and visit

to find out more about Legalese.

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