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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Art Licensing Editorial: Tips on Getting Deals

On social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs) artists periodically post that they are frustrated because they have not been successful in licensing their work while other artists continue to post comments and pictures about their licensing success. Why is it that some artists are successful and others not?

There are many reasons. But basically the reason why some artists are successful is that their work is very well done and can compete with other artists in the industry, have themes that consumers want on products, and has a lot of art that is licensable.

The following discusses the importance in knowing if your art is good enough, knowing what art styles and themes that manufacturers license for their products, and building a relationship with manufacturer art directors.

• Is your art good enough?
How do you know if your art is good enough (executed well, have the right themes, colors, composition, etc.) to be able to compete against other artists in the licensing industry? Below are tips on what you can do to figure out why you are having trouble getting deals and how to improve the chance in licensing your art.

– Hire a consultant
It is difficult for an artist to recognize why her/his art is not being licensed. Getting kudos from family, friends, and fellow artists will not help to get deals if the art is not licensable. And, one way to find out is to hire an art-licensing consultant. A consultant can tell you if you need to have more art, what themes you need, and suggest what manufacturers to approach. But, most importantly you need a consultant that will be very forthcoming and tell you the truth IF your art is not good enough to compete with other artists.

Unfortunately not all consultants are capable in telling an artist the truth about their art since it is difficult for many people including consultants to hurt an artist's feelings. Thus, when choosing an art licensing consultant make sure you stress that you want to know if your art is good enough to be licensed. If the consultant says your art is not, ask why and ask for suggestions on how to improve your art. Read "On Art Licensing Coaches (consultants)" for links to some art-licensing consultants.

– Compare art
Another way to determine if your art can compete in the art licensing industry is to compare your art with art that has already been licensed. Licensed art on products can be seen in gift stores like Hallmark, at trade gift shows like the Atlanta Gift Market, on manufacturer websites, and on e-store websites.

When comparing your art to art that is already licensed the purpose is not to copy the licensed art but to look at the art and determine what it has that makes a manufacturer license it and what your art lacks. This is not very easy to do since it is hard to accept that your art may not be good enough. Thus, you need to be open-minded and willing to admit to yourself that your art could stand improvement.

Below are some questions to ask yourself when comparing your art to licensed art.
1. Is your art style licensable? Not all art styles are licensable for products in all product industries. For instance, some forms of fine art appear like the paint was slapped on haphazardly and has not well defined motifs. Is that your art style? You probably will not find many products other than home décor prints with this art style because it does not appeal to the mass market. Read the article "Editorial: Not all art is licensable" for information on why not all art is licensable even if it is well executed.

2. Is the composition of your art pleasing and the motifs well arranged? For information about art composition read "Creating Licensable Art: Composition Tips".

3. Do you have enough or too many motifs in your image? For instance, if you have a painting of one flower with a bird and the manufacturer is licensing art with a multiple number of flowers and several birds in the image then you probably will not be able to license that image because your image is too simple. But on the other hand, if your art is very busy with a lot of motifs and the manufacturer is licensing art that is simple with only a few motifs then you would have difficulty in licensing the art to that manufacturer. Closely look at licensed art in the different industries (fabric, decorative flags, greeting cards, jig-saw puzzles) and the different manufacturers in each industry to determine what they want.

4. Does the licensed art for a particular manufacture have a bright and pleasing color combination while your art is dark and drab looking (unsaturated colors)? You probably need to pump up the color saturation if you want to license the art to that manufacturer. Or, is the manufacturer licensing pastel colored art and you don't use pastel colors. Then, probably that is not the manufacturer for your art.

• Learn what art manufacturers want
It is REALLY important for artists to create art specifically to be licensed for products in the industry(s) they target. And because the art themes must be popular in the mass or niche markets, it is REALLY important to know what art styles and themes the licensees need to be able to sell their products. Thus, it is REALLY important to research what art styles and themes the manufacturers license.

As pointed out in "Changes in Art Styles Used on Products" each industry (decorative flags, greeting cards, fabrics, calendars, jigsaw puzzles, table top, etc.) and even different manufacturers in the same industry have different criteria when selecting art to license. The criteria depend upon the manufacturer's customer base and how they wish to differentiate themselves from their competition. Learning what kind of art they have licensed is a MUST before submitting art to them.

For example, since I am interested in licensing my art for decorative flags, I have spent many hours on my computer researching flag images on the e-store flagsrus.org to determine what are popular themes, what makes some art on flags standout more than others, are the designs simple or detailed, what art style(s) are used, do they use borders, do they use words, etc.

I now know what art themes are used by individual flag manufacturers. And I have discovered that some flag manufacturers tend to license pretty and more pastel looking art while other manufacturers license images with contrasting and bold colors. The most used word on flags is "welcome". Some manufacturers use words on the majority of their flags, and others only have words on a few of their flags. Applying that information when creating my art has helped me get deals with six decorative flag manufacturers. Thus, researching manufacturers in the industry you decide to target like the example above and applying that information to your art can increase the likelihood in licensing your work.

• Build relationships with art directors
The art licensing industry is all about building relationships. Building relationships with manufacturer art directors is important because if your art sells their products and you are easy to work with then they will continue to license your work.

In order to build a good relationship you need to remember that it is not what an art director can do for you but what you can do for the art director. So being willing to edit your art to their specifications, willing to compromise, being flexible, being prolific in creating art, being reliable, and showing your appreciation helps to build a strong relationship.

• Summary
Licensing art is very commercial and competitive. And to be successful, artists need to create for a commercial purpose and not just whatever they desire. The art needs to be well executed in an art style that is popular for the different mass and niche markets. And, artists need to learn what manufacturers license art, the products they sell, and what art styles and themes they need for their products. Read "Finding Manufacturers that License Art" for more information about the manufacturers.

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address). For example: http://www.joanbeiriger.com/ ).

Monday, May 4, 2015

Licensing Art for Decorative Ceramic Plates and Tabletop Products

Although there are many manufacturers that produce ceramic ware including plates and other tabletop products, not that many license art for them. Many do not use art on their products but some use in-house illustrators or purchase the art outright. Also some do license art by well-known brands such as Disney characters, and designer Tracy Porter. And, a few manufacturers like Enesco and Demdaco use a variety of materials including ceramics to create product collections for some of their artist brands. Note: There are many e-stores including Etsy that print-on-demand decorative ceramic plates but do not normally license art for them.

When searching the Internet for decorative ceramic plates and tabletop products, I found a few manufacturers that used a variety of art styles on their products. That indicates they probably license the art instead of using in-house illustrators. And, when artists names are mentioned on the manufacturer website, the art is most likely licensed. Note: Not all manufacturers have open websites that allow anyone to see their products. A person needs to be a retailer to get the password to view product catalogs. Thus, in many cases I had to rely on the e-stores of amazon.com, JC Penny's, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc. to see the different manufacturer products.

Below are a few manufacturers that I know license art and a few I “think” license art. If you know other ceramic manufacturers that license art, please share with the rest of us by posting a comment to this article. Thanks!

Ashdene
The name of this manufacturer is shared by artist Patrizia Vitrano.

Products: Australian manufacturer of decorated coordinated homeware including ceramic tableware.

Information:
1. Licenses art.
2. Products on manufacturer website are visible to the public.
3. No direct contact information is on their website but I suggest contacting their USA & Canada distributor that is listed on "contact us".

Certified International Corporation
Products: ceramic and melamine tabletop dinnerware and accessories 

Information:
1. Licenses art collections.
2. Products on the website are visible to the public.
3. Do not submit your art collections unless they are a good fit for the manufacturer’s product lines. Look at their Digital Catalog to see the type of themes and collections they license.
4. Call customer service for contact information to submit art collections.

One Hundred 80 Degrees
Products: giftware - both traditional and contemporary Christmas, Halloween, harvest, birthday, and everyday products

Information:
1. Product catalog on the website is only available for retailers.
2. View more products on The Weed Patch Store.
3. You need to ask the manufacturer if they license art. If they do, ask for contact information, submission guidelines, and the password to view products.

Park Designs
Products: coordinating textiles, ceramics and giftware from country to classic traditional and from everyday to holiday

Information:
1. Some products on the website are visible to the public.
2. You need to ask the manufacturer if they license art. If they do, ask for contact information, submission guidelines, and for the password to view all the products.

Sango
The name of this manufacturer is shared by artist Patrizia Vitrano.

Products: Indonesian ceramics tableware manufacturer that uses art from American and European designers.

Information:
1. Licenses art.
2. Products on the website are visible to the public.
3. Contact manufacturer for submission contact information and guidelines.  Contact information is under customer outlet.

Wild Wings
Products: art prints, various room decor and accents, decorative ceramic tabletop and decorative plates

Information:
1. Licenses fine art images.
2. Products on the website are visible to the public.
3. Click HERE for art submission specifications

Read more articles about the different industries that license art (calendars, greeting cards, flags, jig-saw puzzles, etc.) by going to Topics on the side bar and click on Manufacturers.

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address).

Sunday, April 5, 2015

ArtLicensingShow.com® - What is all the excitement about?


There sure is a lot of excitement about the ArtLicensingShow.com® (ALSC) website that had its grand opening on March 23, 2015! What is so special about ALSC and what is behind all this enthusiasm?

ALSC is a creation by licensed artist and designer Cherish Flieder that took nearly 6 years to become a reality. It is a protected art portfolio hosting website for artists/agents to privately show art to licensees. Art directors interested in licensing art can join at no cost. With one password, they can see examples of art shared with them by hundreds of artists and ask artists/agents permission to view their portfolios. But ALSC is MUCH more than just a website to view art. It is also an art licensing community where members can easily connect, communicate with each other, and join special interest discussion groups. It is a great way to market art for licensing.

Note: At no cost, any licensing artist, agent or industry expert can sign-up to be included in the ALSC’s “Ultimate Art Licensing Directory” and have access to the basic social networking features. Artists/Agents may also apply to upgrade to a portfolio account that will give them privileges to exclusively upload and share art with authorized art directors. Click HERE to sign-up for the free Ultimate Art licensing Directory, to see the features of the free basic social networking, and the cost and benefits to upgrade to the various portfolio accounts.

Benefits for Licensor Artists/Agents
Artists/Agents find that they can organize their art collections on the Art Licensing Show website anyway they wish; by themes, for products, samples of art licensed, etc. Each portfolio is protected from the public. Also, ALSC member artists/agents cannot see each others artwork on the site. The only members that can see inside an art portfolio is IF the artist gives specific art directors permission. Permissions may be granted (via “shares”) for an entire portfolio of collections, and/or some of the collections, and/or some of the images in a collection.

Members can connect with ALSC artists, agents and art directors. Artists can ask art directors to look at their art and can join special interest groups to ask questions and share information. Some of the groups that have been formed so far cover topics such as art marketing, trends, home décor, textiles, tabletop, greeting cards, character designs, etc. There is also a group that discusses all sorts of general licensing topics and meets once a month on a chat line for a lively online discussion.

ALSC encourages unabashed promoting of portfolio artist’s work on the site. Artists and their work are spotlighted on the ALSC blog and other social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram (#artlicensingshow), and even YouTube. View the "ArtLicensingShow.com® Official Ribbon Cutting Video" that showcased artist members work during the virtual red carpet grand opening ceremony. The art shown is fabulous!

Many artists that are members of ALSC still use their public website to show some of their art, but then guide potential licensees to their profile link and protected portfolio pages on ArtLicensingShow.com. Because it is important to get as much visibility for their work as possible, artists continue using their own blogs, social media, and other means for marketing, but now have added the marketing capabilities that ALSC offers.

A sampling of art from hundreds of licensors portfolios that can be seen on the ALSC site is shown below; created by surface pattern, illustrator, and graphic designer Natalie Williamson, agency Creative Connection, artist Jane Maday, agency Two Town Studios, and Buck & Libby brand by illustrator and designer Megan Ball. Artist Joan Beiriger's art is shown at the beginning of this article.






Benefits for Licensee Art Directors
Art directors value the ALSC site because they only need one password to view a huge variety of art created by hundreds of artists at no cost. Beside seeing new art from artists they already deal with, they appreciate discovering fresh new works from artists unfamiliar to them. It is easy for art directors to search for art by using keywords and tags, look at artist/agent profiles for examples of their work, and ask artist/agent permission to view the art. And then, any time they wish, the art director can flip through the collections, select the art they are interested in and directly contact the artist or agent to negotiate a contract. [The site isn’t an agency and doesn’t get in the middle of the licensing deals.] Thus, art directors have access to view art 24/7 and do not have to wait for a trade show or hassle with travel expenses.

Also valued is the Ultimate Art Licensing Show Directory where contact information of artists/agents can be found whether or not they have an ALSC hosted portfolio. Click HERE to view a video on why art directors should sign-up for a free ALSC account. Sign-up by clicking HERE.

ALSC Information
• Find out more about ArtLicensingShow.com by clicking HERE.

• Art directors can sign up for a complimentary account by clicking HERE.

• The price to have a portfolio on ALSC depends upon how many collections artists/agents want to place on the site. The different plans and prices are listed by clicking HERE.
http://redcarpet.artlicensingshow.com/plans-pricing/

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address).

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Art Licensing Editorial: Do you need to be a brand to successfully license art?

Note: The following is an editorial and are my opinions so not everyone will agree with them. But, I do welcome all comments (positive and negative) to give everyone a well rounded perceptive on other opinions.

There are many opinions on whether art is a brand or not. And, an often-asked question is if an artist's work needs to be a brand to be successful in the licensing industry. The short answer to these questions is that art can be a brand under certain conditions but art does NOT have to be a brand for an artist to be successful in licensing their work. Read the following to find out why I believe this.

Definition of an Art Brand
According to Wikipedia, "A brand is a name, term, design or other feature that distinguishes one seller's product from those of others". Brands in today’s market are associated with product trademarks (Coke Cola, Harley, Kenmore, Rice Crispy, Vera Bradley), sports, entertainment (Disney, Sesame Street), well-known personalities (HGTV "stars", Donnie Osmond), some artists, and many others. Theoretically any creation of an artist is a brand because every artist incorporates into their art their own style, color combinations, and composition. But, unless the art is VERY different from other art, it is not usually licensed "as a brand".

Art directors and others in the art licensing industry are very familiar with artists work and can easily distinguish whose work it is. However, most consumers cannot recognize small differences between different artists art. Thus, art must be very distinct and unique for it to be considered a brand in the art licensing industry.

Art That are Brands
Licensing an art brand is valuable to manufacturers because brands tend to sell more products. Consumers purchase not just one product but continue to purchase products of a brand they desire. Manufacturers such as Demdaco and Enesco license many brands and produce a huge variety of products specifically tailored for each brand. Sculpture artist Susan Lordi (Willow Tree® brand), artist Kelly Rae Roberts, and artist Kathy Weller (Yoga Pals brand) work is licensed to Demdaco as a brand. And, carver Jim Shore, and artist Suzy Toronto work is licensed to Enesco as a brand. All of these artists are very successful since their art are very much sought after by consumers. Look at the art of the artists mentioned above and notice how unique they are. Also read, "What Makes the Willow Tree® Brand Such a Success?"

Art That are not Brands
Not all manufacturer business-model depend upon licensing art brands. Most manufactures license work based upon the style and theme of the art and not necessarily art by a recognizable brand. Although some manufacturers license both art brands and none art brands. Artists Paul Brent, Hautman Brothers, Susan Winget, and many others earn good money by licensing their art but not as a brand.

Not every person will agree that the artists mentioned above do not have art brands because all three of them do have a consumer following. And, some manufacturers do license collections of their work and showcase them in their catalogs with their name, picture, and biography. However, each of these artists art style is somewhat similar to other artist's art style so consumers may not recognize who created the art until they look at the artists name on the product. That is why they are not considered a brand according to the definition stated in Wikipedia.

But, does it matter the above artist's work is considered a brand or not? NO! It does not because they are very successful in licensing their work. And, the reason why is because these artists have acquired a relationship with many manufacturer art directors and the credibility that they know what art consumers want on products. Thus, they continue to get many licensing contracts. But, it has taken them years of hard work, research, and trial-and-error to become established, and their work sought-after. To learn about Susan Winget and her licensing success, read "An Art Licensing Winning Team: Susan Winget Art Studio."

Conclusion
An artist does not have to have an art brand to be successful in licensing her/his art. What it takes is hard work, learning what kind of art and themes consumers want on products, being prolific in creating art, creating relationships and submitting lots of art to manufacturers for licensing consideration, being willing to compromise, being realistic that it takes a long time to get revenue, and do NOT give up!

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address. For example: http://www.joanbeiriger.com/ ).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Art Licensing: When do you Submit Art to Manufacturers?

As often heard in the art licensing industry "it depends" is the inexplicable answer to the question "When do you submit art to manufacturers for licensing consideration?" Each manufacturer has a different deadline depending on its business model, product line, production cycle, and clients. So, the only way to find out the deadlines for submitting art is to either see the information on the manufacturers website or ask by e-mail or phone call.

Some manufacturers accept all art theme submissions year round and either license art immediately or files it for future consideration. Some have big box store clients and these manufacturers are constantly giving presentations to them. Hence, they request art for the presentations to be put on hold but do not license it unless their clients want the art put on the products. Other manufacturers have specific deadlines that they post on their websites such as greeting card manufacturer Leanin' Tree and will license the art they choose for the following year product line(s). Some manufacturers send art requests several times a year to the artists and agents on their call-out list. However, the majority of manufacturers need to be contacted via email or by telephone to find out their deadlines. Hint: When you contact manufacturers, ask if they have an art call-out list and request to be added to it.

If you cannot find out the manufacturer art submission deadlines (often happens) then you need to make an educated guess. Most manufacturers are looking for specific art themes at least two times a year. Those are for Spring/Summer (approximately March through August) and Fall/Winter (approximately September through February) that includes all holidays and special occasions during those periods. Many manufacturers decide on what art to license 12 to 14 months before it is introduced to retail. For example, art deadlines for the fall/winter 2016 season could be as early as July 2015.

Do Your Homework
The key to licensing your art is to create the right art for products that appeals to manufacturers, retail stores, and ultimately consumers. Finding manufacturers that license art requires research, research, and more research. You need to find manufacturers that are a match with your art style, find out what art themes they want, how they want art submitted and in what format. Find out more about licensing art by reading "How to license art to manufacturers".

Why does it take so long to see licensed art on products and get revenue?
It "can" take 18 months or more before an artist gets any money after a deal is signed unless the artist is lucky to get an advance toward royalties. The reason is because of the many steps involved during the entire process (contract negotiations, art revisions, manufacturing of product, placement on retail shelves) before receiving the first quarterly royalty check. How long it takes depends upon the industry but paper products made in the U.S. usually takes a shorter time than ceramic products that need the creation of molds and are manufactured and shipped from China. Read "Licensed Art - Getting Paid Takes a Long Time" to see an example of a time-line and steps required from submitting art to receiving royalties. Note: Not all licensing deals or getting revenue take a long time.  Each manufacturer is different and some deals can generate revenue within a few months after signing the contract especially if it was a licensing flat fee.  More information about different kind of licensing contracts can be read on "Licensing Art - There is no such thing as a typical deal".

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address. For example: http://www.joanbeiriger.com/ ).