Covering Your Creative Ass

An accountant, licensed insurance provider, and a lawyer lined up at COOP for a panel discussion on the Business of Freelancing. The dreaded dead fisheye was no where in sight, as the discussion was engaging and helpful for those new to forging their own creative way and the seasoned alike.

Similar to how doctors need malpractice insurance, Chris Johnson of Johnsonese Brokerage pointed out graphic designers might too. Unintended things happens everyday. When working on someone’s business, if the creative doesn’t cover their bases they can be liable. This aspect definitely reinforces the power of designit can make or break a business. If the business breaks, the creative should understand the potential legal implications and how to protect themselves.

Michael Komessar of Komessar and Associates, LLC, asked how many people in the audience have contracts ready before they begin projects. Then swapped the question to how many don’t. Too many hands raised and that is the unfortunate reality. Contracts are the utmost important element to establishing a professional workflow. Contracts do not have to be in legalese and can be written in plain english. However, anything and everything needs to be written down and both parties need to agree on it. Michael used the classic example of two friends writing a song together, under the assumption they each have equal credit. Then one day the song goes big and the friends end up in court“Shoulda had a contract.”

Martin Kamenski, President and Founder of Rockstar CPA talked about the important, but often overlooked accounting details that every freelancer should get in the habit of doing. For those who are not ready to incorporate their business, simply opening a business checking account is a small, but crucial step to make. All business related expenses and income will filter through one account. Come tax season, personal latte transactions don’t have to be sorted through to find those lunch meetings. Keeping track of receipts all year long also makes tax time less stressful, and Martin has a free app for that! Rockstar CPA TaxTracker snaps pictures of receipts and organizes them, with added functions of tracking billable time and mileage.

The frank conversation at the Coop provided a basic foundation to keeping freelance practices on the right legal track.

This was originally written for AIGA Chicago’s Business of Freelancing event series.

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