I'm Graphic Designer from Australia, and I run a business that is mainly operated over the Internet (i.e. over Instagram, Facebook, Email)

I create custom illustrations of peoples cars, normally people are only interested in using this for private use (like printing it out and putting it up in their garage), so in this case I have a set price for the artwork, and charge an additional fee if they want this printed as a poster and delivered. Otherwise, I would send them a non-editable non-vector image for them to get printed.

Lately I've had a few people interested in me designing artwork for them to then reproduce on t-shirts or other items for them to sell. I've thought about the idea of selling these designs, or licensing them for royalties. But I plan on opening my own store in the future when I have a larger following, and don't want to sell off or produce designs for other people that I would eventually want to sell in my own store.

I guess what I'm asking for is some business advice, or maybe an opinion from someone thats been in a similar position to me?

How do you go about royalty agreements and contracts?
How do you ensure the client is being honest about how much they sell?
Is there a better way to be going about this?


1 Answer 1


You see, it is impossible (sic) to send non editable vector versions of anything digital. The PDF protection is ripped off the instant you send it to the printer so all you need is a application willing to ignore the digital byte that says you dont want this to be editable. Which is hard to achieve in a open source application like say ghostcript. Being able to read is being able to edit.

When you look at things in this light, then you understand that you can not actually "SELL" digital things if you want to retain any control. If you in fact sold artwork then they would be within their rights to put in on T shirts. The only way you can gain any modicum of control is if you license artwork. Now if you are already licensing then adding a royalty clause to the license shouldn't bee too hard to put in the contract.

Talk to your lawyer about this, the alternative approach is very expensive to you.

  • Hi, thanks for the response! I would first like to clarify that when providing artwork for a client, its in a non vector format. usually a high resolution .jpg file for printing (I do this as to retain the editable files and not just give them away) I think seeing a lawyer or financial advisor is probably the way to go, because as of now, I've never really even written a contract stating what the customer can and cant do with my artwork. Just verbal discussions about what they would like and what I'm willing to do.
    – Justin
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 14:48
  • @Justin Welcome to graphicdesign.stackexchange. A verbal agreement isn't worth the paper it's printed on.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 17:36

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