Had an artist I know e-mail me about a client I had worked with and it spawned this entry that I wanted to jot down for myself. At the time of the work, I despised this client and that one client is the source of nearly all of my complaints about how bad clients can be. Looking back at it now, I still despise and think the client was awful, but I'm better able to see how to prevent the horrible situation from happening again.
Contracts can be TOO big. I think it's easy to get over excited by the contract that says 50 illustrations for a zillion dollars. Especially if you feel like you're on the cusp of really paying all of the bills with illustration. It's tempting to just jump on signing that contract with dreams of never going back to merely doing illustration part-time.
Unless you're planning on doing a horrible job, it's to your advantage to talk them into maybe making the contract for 10 pieces. This way, if they're a terrible client and have various issues you can call it done soon. Or you can offer to do more but at a higher cost citing that the project is more difficult than expected,etc. When I signed this ridiculous contract years ago it was right after GenCon and I cleared my plate for this client and turned down some other work because I was going to have my hands full completing 30-50 illustrations in 60 days. So only taking 10 pieces would have allowed me to have a more diverse group of clients and not have any down time.
Some time after this incident I thought I could make another similar agreement with a different company and it would work out if I demanded to have all of the briefs at the start of the project. Didn't work. Briefs still only came in a trickle over a long time past the deadline of the project. I've found that clients believe contracts are there simply to protect them and guarantee the artist nothing.
So, Joe, DO NOT SIGN any contracts with large art orders!If you do 5 wonderful pieces well before the original deadline, I'm sure they'll come back for getting you to do some of those other pieces. I don't know if this will be much of an issue for a while because right now I'm only doing a few illustrations at a time and not worrying about making a living off of it. So I'm being pretty picky about what work I'll take on.