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Sometimes client relationships go south, or your client just decides to find another designer for their project. How do you handle when they request the files you’ve created for them?

I go both ways, since I’m an illustrator as well. With illustration, we create the art and the client (usually) pays for the rights to use that particular illustration for set uses and set amount of time. With graphic design (in my experience) it’s a little different. It’s always been work for hire.

And with work for hire arrangements, the client owns the rights to use the imagery for whatever they want… but you can’t use a print file online and you can’t use a web photo in a brochure, so they still need the services we designers provide.

But if they own the rights, and you really can’t use that web design you created for another client, does it really matter to give your former client copies of the PSDs and other working files you’ve created for them? In the interest of good will and professionalism, I say go the extra mile and give them what they’re asking for. I’ve had at least one client relationship sour after I said no to the request years ago – and for good reason I refused, but still. With a few years of experience under my belt, now I look back and think “what harm is REALLY done by giving someone the working files they paid me to create?”

I’d love some other designers’ thoughts on this. Please chime in below…

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