After many years of doing portrait commissions, I have just recently started to get serious about contracts. For the first decade or so, most of my patrons were local. Many were clients at the veterinary hospital where I was office manager. When the economy plummeted into recession, my portrait commission business slowed as well. I became very aggressive about using social media and internet to make sales. I don't always have the luxury to look a client in the eye. A contract helps both the client as well as the artist. It articulates possibilities that one might forget or be afraid to mention. It spells out the rules. And though it adds time to the initial process (I don't begin a project without both a signed contract and a nonrefundable deposit,) it reduces stress in the long run.