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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Art Licensing® - One Year Old & Growing

It has been a year since Art Licensing® (ALSC) first launched their website. And, it is proving to be a popular and successful method for art directors to view images for licensing consideration and for artists to easily connect with art directors.

In case you do not know about ALSC, it is a online website that with one password art directors that license art (licensees) can view thousands of images created by hundreds of artists (licensors). Once the art director becomes a member (at no cost) she/he can see examples of artists’ work, choose potential artist work, and request permission to connect with the artist to view it, or specific themes, or all of their work.

At a reasonable price, the ALSC membership subscription plan allows artists and art licensing agents to upload art into their own secured portfolio on the ALSC website. Artists have complete control in allowing or not allowing licensee members to view some or the entire portfolio.

Note: Artists also has the option to become a member at no cost. They are able to connect with other members and have access to discussion groups and resource pages. But, their art will not be marketed by ALSC and they will not have a portfolio. Thus, they cannot show their work on the ALSC site to licensee members.

As an additional benefit, ALSC is a full-fledged social media site that is focused on art licensing and where members can ask questions and share information in a variety of discussion groups.

Read artist Cherish Flieder's article “Celebrating Art & Licensing” about how the Art Licensing Show began and how to become a member. Also, read “Art Licensing® - What is all the excitement about?"

1st Year Accomplishments
ALSC is not only successful in continual increasing membership but it has become a wonderful and flourishing community of members that share information and help others become successful in licensing their art. Members have stepped up and volunteered to moderate the different social media groups, give suggestions on improving ALSC, and brainstorming on marketing the ALSC site and ALSC portfolio licensors work.

• Growth
There are now 700 members consisting of licensees, artists, licensing agents, licensing coaches/consultants, and art licensing attorneys. Licensee members represent a huge variety of product industries such as fabric, decorative flags, greeting cards, gift bags, gift wraps, calendars, paper party ware, jigsaw puzzles, toys, wall décor, pillows, checks, coloring books, giftware, and much more. They sell their products to individual retailers, small and huge chain stores, e-stores, non-profit organizations, and as print-on-demand to consumers and retailers.

ALSC has 27 specialized groups that members can join to discuss and share just about anything related to licensing art. Some of the groups concentrate on product designs such as tabletop, greeting cards, home décor, gifts, and textiles. Other groups discuss trends, marketing, tips/techniques for creating art, and post the latest news in the art licensing industry. There is even an art submission group where licensees request art themes they want to license. And, there is a monthly art challenge group, a monthly text chat group, and much more.

• Marketing
ALSC constantly markets licensor profile member’s art on many social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, ALSC blog, and posts videos on YouTube. Last year, a group of ALSC members brainstormed on taking advantage of the popular adult coloring book craze to promote ALSC and portfolio licensor members art. They recommended that ALSC publish a coloring book as a free pdf file to be downloaded and printed by anyone. The images could then be shared by family and friends and given to persons in hospitals, shelters, care facilities, and schools to bring happiness and healing by the simple act of coloring beautiful images.

So last December, a 92 page coloring book “Enjoy the Simple things: A Holiday Coloring Book for kids 1 to 92” was released with art created by 70 ALSC artists. The book has been downloaded nearly seven thousand times and shared all over the world. A free pdf file can still be downloaded at
“92 Free Holiday Coloring Pages to Print & Share!” AND a printed bound book can be purchased on

Note: The coloring book project was very successful! So stay tuned for future ALSC promotional projects.

Member Opportunities and Experiences
• Reasons why licensees and licensors joined ALSC

Below are statements from a few members on why they joined ALSC.

1. Susan January, VP of the greeting card company Leanin’ Tree stated in “Presenting Artlicensingshow.Com – A 24/7 Virtual Art Licensing Show” that “I truly believe this site has great potential to help make my work more streamlined and efficient. Coming to one site, as opposed to a hundred different artists’ sites, is a fantastic benefit to me.”

2. Artist Annie Troe in her blog article “Why I am on Art Licensing Show .com!” wrote that
- It is the ONLY Art Licensing Show online.
- Be listed in the ultimate art licensing directory.
- No cost or low cost depending on if you are an Artist or Art Director/Manufacturer.
- Connect with industry leaders – It is a social network dedicated to Art Licensing.

3. Artist Karen Embry stated in her blog article, “Art Licensing Show Celebrates One Year Anniversary” that “With so many options/pricing plans for membership, there is something to fit in every artist’s budget. Art directors can join at no cost."

4. "I (Joan Beiriger) thoroughly agree with both Annie and Karen. An added bonus in being a member of ALSC is that I am able to connect directly with art directors and ask questions. I cannot do that with art directors that are not on the site unless I have already built a relationship with her/him. Also, because ALSC is constantly promoting licensor portfolio members work, my art is being marketed all over the internet at no additional price. You can't beat that!"

• ALSC Member’s Success
One of the most asked questions by artists who are considering joining ALSC, is if artists are getting licensing deals from licensors members and how many. The answer is YES artists are getting deals but there is no way to tell how many because ALSC is not an art licensing agency and artists are not required to report if they have signed a contract. Also most artists do not broadcast their success and those that do wait until the product is introduced into the market. That normally takes a year or more.  But, several ALSC artists have shared their success. Read what they have to say.

1. In artist Annie Troes blog article “Celebrating 1 year!” Annie states, “It has brought me opportunities/manufacturers I didn't know about and sped up my ability to connect with the wonderful art licensing community. Signed a contract to be announced and have another manufacturer shopping my art around to some big stores! This and more has happened for me because of ALSC.”

2. "I (Joan Beiriger) also had the same experience as Annie on ALSC although I have not yet signed a contract. Many art directors are interested in my art and three of them from different industries are shopping many images and collections to large chain stores. I never would have been able to contact these licensees or even realized that several of them license art if I was not an ALSC licensor portfolio member."

3. Illustrator Valerie Hart stated in the interview article, “Coffee & Conversations From Studio to Store” that “The most important way ALSC has impacted my art business is with licensing deals! I’ve signed two in the last six months and I’m currently at the contract negotiating stage with two more manufacturers.”

Hint: Artists who are the most successful in connecting and getting licensing contracts with manufacturers not on ALSC use the same techniques when approaching ALSC licensee members. They do their homework and make sure that their art style and themes fit the licensee product lines before approaching art directors. Thus, successful ALSC licensor members do their homework, are proactive in asking ALSC licensor members to connect with them, and follow-up with a short message describing why her/his art will sell their products. There are so many artists on ALSC that sitting back and waiting for an art director to contact you does NOT work.

To find out more about how to become a ALSC member click here.

If you are an ALSC member and would like to share why you became a member and/or have a ALSC success story that you are willing to share, please write about it in the comment section of this article. Everyone would love to read it!

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:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Art Licensing: Mary Engelbreit's Amazing and Continued Licensing Success!

With over 40 years of licensing her art, artist Mary Engelbreit® is still going strong, continuing to draw and license her art. As she states in her biography "I plan to drop dead at my art table. I can't explain to you the pleasure and true happiness I get from drawing! I'm just so glad other people like it, too!" That statement expresses what other artists feel when they are passionate about creating art, and that is a major attribute needed to be successful.

Mary Engelbreit is successful, VERY successful! Mary Engelbreit Studios now has contracts with dozens of manufacturers who have produced more than 6,500 products, with more than USD 1 billion in lifetime retail sales.

Mary and her staff continue to license her art so that the growth is not so fast that it floods the market and damages the Mary Engelbreit brand. They also protect the brand by making sure that they choose manufacturers that reproduce Mary's artwork as faithful to her original art as possible.

Mary Engelbreit Partners with studio•m
Recently Mary Engelbreit partnered with studio•m by magnet works to produce her own unique version of a miniature fairy garden. Merriment is an adorably different kind of fairy gardening line that is full of character and personality. The line was introduced by studio•m at the 2016 Atlanta Gift show. View the video "Introducing Merriment by Mary Engelbreit" that shows how the line was developed.

Why is the Mary Engelbreit Brand Successful?
For most artists, overnight success is a myth, but not for Mary Engelbreit once she started selling her greeting cards in 1983 at the New York National Stationery Show. Her initial offering of 12 cards at that show quickly grew to almost a hundred cards by 1986 and had blossomed into a million-dollar-a-year business.

I have stated in other articles that "Art brands tend to sell more products than non-brands because the customer base grows as the brand becomes more popular. To become a brand that is recognized by consumers the art must be unique and different from other art. And, to become successful and stay successful the brand must resonate some emotional response with the consumer, appeal to a wide spectrum of consumers, grow slowly, and stay true to the look of the brand but continue to be refreshed."

That is exactly what Mary Engelbreit has done with her brand and why it is so successful. Her brand has a huge fan base because Mary's art is cute, unique, and resonates with the consumer. Her art style is widely recognized and sought after by consumers, and has appeared on a wide range of products including greeting cards, calendars, T-shirts, mugs, children and gift books, rubber stamps, ceramic figurines, jewelry, fabric, kitchen accessories, home décor toys, baby clothing, apparel, bags, medical scrubs, and anything else you can imagine. Thus, there have been and continue to be lots of products that consumers can purchase as gifts or for themselves.

Career Highlights
Below is a list of some highlights of Mary's career that I gleaned by reading articles, reading the book "Mary Engelbreit - The Art and the Aritst", and watching videos. See the below reference section for links to articles and videos.

• 1977 - Mary went to New York to sell her illustrations for children's books to publishers but was unsuccessful. One art director recommended that she instead create greeting cards.

• 1983 - Mary exhibited at National Stationery Show with her small 12 card line. She also hired an agent and started licensing her art for other products.

• 1986 - Mary's greeting card business had grown into a million-dollar-a-year business. She decided to license her card images to Sunrise Publications so that she would have more time to create art.

• Early 1980s to mid-1990s -Twelve Mary Englebreit stores were opened in malls across the United States. But they were closed by the mid-'90s because it took too much work and time that infringed on Mary creating art.

• 1996 to 2009 - Mary was editor-in-chief of the award-winning creative lifestyle magazine “Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion” covering topics such as family life, food, decorating, craft projects, flea markets and collectibles. Even though it had a large following, the lose of advertising revenue during the recession caused Mary to stop publishing the magazine in 2009.

• 2001 - Mary saw her original dream come true when she signed a contract to illustrate children's books for HarperCollins. Her debut book, "The Night Before Christmas," has appeared almost every year during the holidays for 13 years on the New York Times best-seller list.

Note: Mary Engelbreit is one of a select few artists with three New York Times children books best sellers.

• 2014 - animated video released of Mary Engelbreit's children's book "The Night Before Christmas". See the reference section for the link to the video that shows how the animation was made.

Accolades and Awards
Mary Engelbeit has received numerous awards and honors for her art during her licensing career. Listed below are a few of them.

• 1998 - Wall Street Journal described Mary Engelbreit as "building a vast empire of cuteness".

• 2000 - Mary was listed as the second best-selling licensed property Annual LIMA Gala & Awards Ceremony for the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA)– second only to Winnie the Pooh.

• 2000 and 2002 - Mary Engelbreit was honored with the “Best Art License of the Year” awards at the Annual LIMA Gala & Awards Ceremony for the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA).

• 2001 - Indoctrinated into the St. Louis Walk of Fame for her art and the national impact on St. Louis cultural heritage.

• Mary Engelbreit continues to be one of the most prolific artists in the United States and was dubbed "a Norman Rockwell for our times" by People magazine.

• 2013 - Mary Engelbreit was honored with the Louie Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Greeting Card Association.

• Article - "Mary Engelbreit: Artist and Entrepreneur" Note: You may not be able to see the text until you answer the one question in the dialog box below the title.

• Article - "Q&A: A Conversation with Mary Engelbreit"

• Book - "Mary Engelbreit: The Art And The Artist" published by Andrews and McMeel in 1996 and sold on

• Video - "Mary Engelbreit Lifetime Achievement Award Video" This video was shown at the “Best Art License of the Year” awards at the Annual LIMA Gala & Awards Ceremony for the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA). In it Mary discusses her art and inspiration.

• Video - "KETC | Living St. Louis | Mary Engelbreit" This video shows how an animation of Mary Engelbreit's children's book "The Night Before Christmas" was made into an animation video.

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: ).

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Art Licensing Editorial - 2016 January Atlanta Market Trends

I do not know if the expected 95,000 visitors and buyers attended the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. And, it was hard to tell if there was more traffic than last year. But, the show definitely had a lot of people crowding the elevators, escalators, hallways and especially the large showrooms that have a wide range of products. A successful 2015 year allowed some distributors to radically expand their Atlanta showroom and for manufacturers to not only expand their existing product lines but to add new product lines. Read about the showroom expansions on "Direct from Market: Robust Atlanta Kicks Off Market Season".

Examples of companies with new product lines introduced at Atlanta are Hallmark and studio•m (formerly Magnet Works). Hallmark known for its greeting cards, gifts and ornaments introduced their new line called Hallmark Home & Gifts. The goal of the new line is to "help . . . customers create a stylish, yet comfortable home." And, studio•m introduced two new product lines. One is a very unique fairy garden named Merriment and designed by the well-known artist Mary Engelbreit. The second new introduction is a collection of outdoor kinetic art named Kaleidoscope and designed by artist Carol Roeda. View videos of studio•m new product lines by clicking HERE.

2016 Pantone Colors of the Year

Every year I always look forward to seeing how the different showrooms showcase their products featuring the Pantone Color of the year. Companies always depend upon the products they already have because they have little time to prepare the display; Pantone announces the color in December and the show is in January. For 2016 Pantone announced for the first time two colors of the year - feminine pastel Rose Quartz and pastel blue Serenity. Those colors made it impossible for many companies to display their products with Pantone colors because a majority of gift companies (other than products just for women) do not use pastels on their products but instead they use much brighter, rustic, or muted colors. It should be interesting to see if the introduction of new products in showrooms at the 2017 gift shows will have 2016 Pantone colors.

Even most of the interior designers that created vignettes for the Pantone Design Exhibition at AmericasMart did not use 2016 Pantone Colors of the year with the exception of designer Kristin Alber. She created the unusual feminine office space using products with 2016 Pantone Colors of the Year that is pictured above.

Product Trends
I am sure there were lots of products trending at Atlanta but the show was so large I could not spot them all. Below are some that I did notice.

• Adult Coloring Books
Not surprising adult coloring books predominated showrooms that sold paper products. In fact, International Arrivals and Wellspring in the Southeast Marketing (distributor) showroom sponsored adult coloring seminars by artist Joanne Fink on "How to Host Coloring party Events" and "How to Merchandise Coloring Products Well in Stores." They also had demonstrations by artists coloring the images in books that the artist had created. Read "International Arrivals, Wellspring Host Coloring Seminars at Americasmart".

• Product Lines
More companies at this show appeared to be branching out into other products lines. Not "putting all their eggs in one basket" seems to be a necessity to stay in business. For years, gift companies have been branching out with product lines that do not necessarily relate to their core products. Therefore, gift company that use to have only wall decor and figurines may now also have clothing, perfume, hand lotion and jewelry lines. The most crowded showrooms were those that had a huge variety of product lines while the showrooms that had only one or two product lines were empty. Note: To get maximum visibility of their products some companies have their own showroom, showcase their products in a distributor showroom, and may even have a booth in the temporary sections of the show.

• Decorative Flags
More companies are adding decorative flags to their product lines and more new flag manufacturers are emerging resulting in more opportunities for artists to license their art for flags. But the downside is that the competition among flag companies is greater which could cause less sales of individual images and not allow artists to earn as much revenue per licensing deal.

• Use of LED lights
Although not new, the use of LED lights on Christmas decorations, wall decor, decorative flags and all kinds of decorative glass containers was widespread. Lit up wall decor and other products are very popular with consumers and sell well according to a few buyers I spoke with.  

• Kitchen Cookware
Many of the showrooms with kitchen products had very simple and contemporary looking products that had very colorful solid colors without any art. Matching trivets and other kitchen items have fret design cutouts such as chevron patterns that are very popular and seen on all kinds of products.

Design Trends
Years ago, designs started with the fashion industry and filtered down first to the home décor industry and then to the craft and gift industries. According to well-known international trend guru Patti Carpenter*, trends no longer filter down from fashion to home décor but happen at the same time which reduces the time in filtering down to other industries. Thus, the trends in the gift industry follow the trends in fashion and home décor more quickly.

Many of the designs and looks that were prevalent last year or at the 2014 Atlanta show were not as widespread this year. Some of the showrooms still display rustic distressed style art on their products but not as many showrooms had distressed products as last year. The concept of woodland creatures seems to have disappeared although owls, foxes and bears are still seen on products. The concept "less is more" of simple duo colored patterns has replaced art themes on many products such as gift bags, gift wrap, totes, plastic tumblers, etc. See below for more information about duo colored patterns.

* Information from the conference "Through the Looking Glass: A Study in Contrasts" by Patti Carpenter that I attended at the show.

• Patterns
Plaids, paisley, stylized flowers, gingham, damask, animal fur, polka dots, stripes, tribal designs and simple designs are on a huge amount of products from fashion to gift ware. Animal fur designs are trending down and not seen as often while tribal designs seem to be trending up. Polka dots, stripes and chevrons seem to be evergreen and stable designs that will continue to be used on products. Plaids are seen mainly on clothing but are also seen on plush animals and some gift products. Pastel gingham designs tend to be used for baby products. Colorful paisley and stylized flower patterns are seen on beachwear; usable products such as knifes, pens, pencils; paper products like albums and note books, etc.
The most used patterns on products seen at Atlanta were simple duo colored patterns such as variations of fretwork (interlaced decorative design) and fleur-de-lis (stylized lily). Many of the simple designs are based on Gothic architecture such as fretwork and ornamental designs. These include variations of the fretwork chevron and quatrefoil (means four leaves and is four partially overlapping circles) designs. Chevron and quatrefoil designs were very prevalent on a huge variety of products in AmericasMart showrooms. Variations of chevron designs are shown in the above picture #2 (black and white ribbon), #3 (totes and dresses), and #4 (green colored products). Quatrefoil designs are shown in the above picture #1 (turquoise gift bag), and #4 (turquoise colored products).

White designs on black or gray give an elegant look to products and are seen on clothing, totes, purses, rugs, lampshades etc. It was obvious that a simple white-patterned design on black is VERY popular by just looking at the clothing worn by women attendees at the Atlanta show. White designs on brilliant colors give a youthful and playful look as seen on products in the above pictures.

• Text
Some Atlanta showrooms still have the typical B&W chalkboard inspirational words and sayings. Words and sayings are still prevalent on wood and ceramic plaques but not all are inspirational. Also seen are inspiration sayings with colorful art, humorous sayings with colorful simple images, sayings for coastal, lodge, and man caves. And, some word(s) are manipulated into artistic shapes making it a piece of art.

• Coastal
The coastal theme is still trending and this year mermaid images were widespread in showrooms. All shades of blues and whites were seen on coastal products but turquoise was more prevalent.

• Christmas
Traditional Christmas colors of deep red and green was more prevalent than the playful bright red and chartreuse green. Several years ago it was predicted that Santa would take over the popularity of snowmen and that is what was seen in the showrooms dedicated to Christmas products. Although, snowmen are still popular and so are angels and reindeer. Less popular are penguins, polar bears, gingerbread men, nutcrackers, soldiers, stockings, mittens, etc.

Related Articles:
"Art Licensing Editorial: 2014 Atlanta Gift Show - trends"

"Art Licensing Editorial: 2015 January Atlanta Gift Show"

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: ).

Friday, December 11, 2015

Art Licensing: New Licensing/Selling Shows Emerging

The major way for artists* to connect with manufacturers that license** their art* has always been to exhibit at licensing** shows. But with the rising cost to exhibit at shows that are located in large convention centers (SURTEX, Licensing Expo International), many artists and designers can no longer afford it. Recently a new smaller show (Blueprint Surface Design & Print Show***) has emerged. It cost less for artists to exhibit because instead of using a large convention center it is located in an event center dedicated to smaller spaces. And, an innovative solution to lowering the cost for artists to show their work to art directors is the advent this year of Art Licensing Show .com website.

Note: Another new licensing show (Brand Licensing Select) has a different approach to connecting licensors, agents, and brands with retailers; make appointments before the show. It will be introduced in 2016; also in an event center.

Below is information about the well established shows - SURTEX, Licensing International Expo, and Print Source***; the new Internet Art Licensing; and other new shows - Blueprint Surface Design & Print Show, and Brand Licensing Select.

* In this article, the word artists also encompass designers. And, the words art and design are used interchangeability.
** The exhibitors in the shows mentioned in this article may only sell their work, may only license, or do both.
*** The emphasis of this show is to sell designs outright but some exhibitors also license their work. 

Held in May each year
Next Show: May 15-17 2016 - Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, NY

The SURTEX licensing show is where where artists, art licensing agencies, designers and design studios exhibit their work to sell or license to manufacturers and retailers. The majority of attendees are manufacturers and retailers looking for art and design to place on their products.

• Licensing International Expo
Held in June each year
Next Show: June 21-13, 2016 - Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV

The Licensing International Expo show is where entertainment, character, fashion, art and corporate brand owners and agents exhibit their intellectual properties to give consumer goods manufacturers, licensees, and retailers the opportunity to license them. The majority of the exhibitors are entertainment and character licensors. Thus, the majority of attendees are not looking to license the intellectual properties in the other categories including art.

Licensing Expo recently announced that they are introducing a Matchmaking Service in 2016. It will help attendees and exhibitors set-up meetings in advance of the show. For more information, read the press release "Licensing Expo 2016 to Offer Matchmaking."

• Printsource
Held in January and August each year.
Next Show: January 12 - 13 2016 - Metropolitan Pavilion in New York, NY

The Printsource show exhibitors showcase designs for apparel, bed and bath, kitchen and tabletop, paper goods and stationery, wall coverings, etc. by international surface and textile design studios and agents. Most exhibitors sell designs outright but some also license their work as well.

•Art Licensing is a protected art portfolio hosting website for artists and agencies to privately show art to licensees any day or time. 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. They can then ask any of the artists/agents for permission to view more of their art. For more information, read "® - What is all the excitement about?"

• Blueprint Surface Design & Print Show
First held in May and December 2015
Next Show: May 12-16 2016 - Metropolitan Suite in New York, NY

Blueprint Surface Design & Print Show showcases designs for apparel, fabric, stationery, giftwrap, greeting cards, home, wallpaper, wall decor, bedding, toys, books, crafting, stickers, and scrapbook papers by International design studios and agents. Most exhibitors sell designs outright but some also license their work as well.

• Brand Licensing Select
First Show: September 27-29 2016 - Metropolitan West in New York, NY

Emerald Expositions (owner and operator of the SURTEX licensing show) is introducing a new type of licensing event for brands. The event is for licensors, agents, and brands to meet with key retailers. The Emerald Licensing team will make appointments with brands and retailers in advance of the event. To read about it, read the press release "New York licensing show dated for 2016" and to request additional information go to Brand Licensing Select.

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: ).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Art Licensing: The Reality AFTER Getting a Deal

So you licensed your art and now the money will roll in! Well, not always OR right away OR maybe you do not receive any revenue. First of all, the products must be produced, then they must sell, and then you must wait for the quarterly report and check from the manufacturer. Believe it or not, after the licensing contract is signed, it can take 18 months or more before you can start earning revenue. Although, if the contract is for a flat fee or the contract includes an advance toward royalties, the fee will usually be paid within a month after the contract is signed and the art transferred to the manufacturer.

It is wonderful when a contract yields a substantial amount of revenue but it does not always happen. And worse, sometimes the contract does not yield any revenue because the products do not sell and/or the contract is cancelled. Below is a discussion about the causes of low licensing revenue and some contract statements that artists/agents may have difficulty enforcing.

Licensing Revenue
Ten years ago many artists could live on the money they earned by licensing their work. It is different now and fewer artists can live on the earnings of their licensed art. Consumers no longer purchase as many non-essentials as they use to. They continually want new products at a low price resulting in manufacturers limiting the production of their products, charging retailers less for the products, and retailers leave the products on their shelves for a shorter time. Thus, artists earn less licensing revenue.

• Reasons why low revenue
Art that is created with popular art styles and themes for the mass market usually sell more products than those that are better suited for niche markets. For instance, images of realistic African animals usually earn lower revenue than whimsical birds and butterflies with flowers because they are not as popular to a wide range of consumers. Below are more reasons why licensed art may receive low revenue.

– Niche market and themes
As mentioned above some themes are suited for a niche market and do not sell as well as themes for the mass market. Also art that can be used on products for everyday use earns more revenue than art for minor holiday themes such as Mardi Gras, Valentine's Day, and Saint Patrick's Day. The amount of revenue also depends upon the type of product. For instance, Valentine's Day art is more popular on greeting cards than on decorative flags.

– Type and number of products
Successfully selling different types of products (ceramic figurines, greeting cards, decorative flags, jig-saw puzzles, coloring books, calendars, etc.) often change as consumer interests change. So revenue earned from certain products is less than from other products.

For instance, collectable figurines were very popular 10-15 year ago but not so much now so the amount earned from a contract for figurines may be small. And, even though getting a contract for wall art has a large royalty rate of 10-15%, the amount of revenue received is normally small. The reason is because the amount of each image produced is not very large. Also, even if the wall art is framed, the artist often only earns royalties for the print and not the entire product.

Other products that are purchased as a collection such as dishes and associated tabletop items earns more revenue because more SKUs (stock keeping units) are sold.

– Use of text on products
Words on products can help sell the products but they can also limit the selling power that reduces the revenue artists earn. For instance, if a greeting card is aimed at a specific person and for example uses the word grandmother on it, the amount of cards sold will be low and thus the artist earns a lower revenue than cards that do not mention a specific person. Unfortunately, what words placed on cards and sometimes other products is out of the control of the artist because most manufacturers choose them and not the artist. The same is true if the art is used for a blank greeting card or another occasion instead of the more popular birthday occasion. Fewer cards will be sold and therefore less revenue earned.

– Mistakes made in art selection
Sometimes the manufacturer art director makes mistakes when selecting art to be put on products. The consumer may not purchase it if the art is not popular, the art is not well executed, or the art is too similar to other art all ready seen on the same products. Thus, the artist earns low or no revenue.

– Manufacturer's distribution small
If the manufacturer has a small distribution of their products, not many products are sold and hence the artist earns a small royalty fee. That is why many artists prefer getting a flat licensing fee when the manufacturer is a start-up and their distribution is not yet very large.

– Short shelf life
At the present, consumers are constantly demanding new products. Thus, products often have a short shelf life especially in chain stores resulting in less royalty revenue for artists than they use to earn. In large chain stores, the products may have a shelf life of three months or less and then the products are put on sale. In the past getting a licensing deal that places the product into large chain stores meant the artist received more revenue even though the royalty was smaller than if it was placed into "mom and pop" retail stores. The reason why is that large chain stores can sell more product because of the larger distribution. Now because of the shorter shelf life in large chain stores that may not always be true.

– Limited production of product
Many manufacturers produce products to sell for only one season even if the contract is for two years. The second year may include a sell off period of the products or to give the manufacturer time to reproduce the product if it is exceptionally popular. Thus, artists usually get the majority of revenue for the first year of the contract and maybe a little or none the second year.

Print on Demand (POD) licensing deals often earn low revenue for artists but of course there are exceptions. Many POD manufacturers depend upon consumers purchasing their products from their Internet website while others sell only wholesale to retailers. In any case, the artist does not earn any revenue unless the product is sold and the amount earned depends upon how the manufacturer markets their products, how large their distribution, and whom they sell to (consumer or retailer).

• Reasons why no revenue
– Products do not sell
Sometimes products just do not sell and the artist does not receive any revenue unless the manufacturer gives an advance toward royalties. Also, some manufacturers license art either for their catalogs to be shown to retail stores OR to present to their key accounts. If art is licensed for key accounts and the manufacturer is unable to sell the product(s) to them, then the products are not produced and the chance in earning revenue is dead.

– Test the market
Some manufacturers license the art, makes a small production run of the product, and then tests the market to see if it sells. If it does not, further production runs are not made and the product is dropped.

– Cancelled contract
Sometimes manufacturers change their mind for whatever reason and decide to cancel the contract. Or sometimes the art was licensed for a manufacturer's key account client and the client decided they do not want it and thus, the contract is dead.

Unfortunately, manufacturers do not always inform the artist/agent that they are not going forward in producing the product. Thus, the contract is not cancelled so that the artist can try to license the art to another manufacturer that sells the same type of product. Artists/agents need to be vigilant when the quarterly royalty statement does not arrive and should find out why. It may be that the manufacturer is not going ahead in producing the product.

Difficulty Enforcing Some Contract Statements
• Samples
Most artists love to have products of the art they license. However, not all manufacturers offer artist free samples of the products such as manufacturers who produce products for fund raising organizations or POD. And, sometimes it is like "pulling teeth" or impossible to get the samples from manufacturers even when the contract states the artist will receive samples. Not all manufacturers automatically send the samples and the artist/agent must ask for them. But even asking for them does not always mean they will be received. For instance, if the manufacturer produced the product for a key account and forgets to include the number of samples the artist should receive in the amount being produced then the artist will not get any samples.

• Royalty statements and payments
Royalty statements and payments are usually quarterly and sent the month after the end of quarter. However, they are not always sent on time because the manufacturer is waiting for its clients to pay for the products they purchased. Sometimes it takes months before the manufacturer is able to pay the royalty fees. Or, the manufacturer has major cash flow problems and eventually files for bankruptcy.

Note: The above discussion is not meant to discourage you in licensing your art but to inform you on the reality that as in every business not everything is a bed-of-roses. 

Artist Comments About Licensing Contract Realities
Artist Jill Meyer

"Once again, Joan, spot on with every point! Art Licensing is by no means a straight path. I think I have had all or most of the situations mentioned in the article happen to me. One learns, from these things to be sure. Often licensing is a question of a "good news" bad news" sceanario. I just received word that one of my paintings had been licensed with Walmart for Halloween, 2016. That is the good news, the bad news is that it will be almost an entire year before the painting is on the shelves, and as Joan points out, it is a seasonal painting, so although the distribution is large, the shelf life will be short! In licensing, you always need to adopt the long view as your perspective, keep your sense of humor, and definitely be prepared to take the "bitter with the better"! Off my soapbox now! :-)"

Artist Collene Kennedy
"Joan! Great article if not a very pragmatic perception! It's a loooong lead business and when it works, it works well. But one thing that can also happen and did to me when I was doing very well with greeting cards is a company can mismanage their funds and therefore not pay out royalties! Yikes! I learned a lesson... tooo late of not allowing so many eggs in one basket! Live n' learn ...n' create!"

Artist Sue Zipkin
"I think it’s great that you are sharing so many realities of the art licensing industry. So often new artists don’t know some of these things and are very shocked and become discouraged when they learn that things do not always unfold according to the way a contract is written.   A perfect example is when an artist creates a lot of artwork for a project, then samples are made and shown at a trade show and to store buyers.   The artist automatically assumes that the products will go into production and then sold in stores. Unfortunately when it’s time to get paid they wonder what’s going on when they see no income. Then they find out that their project was killed on the vine. If an artist is aware of these realities ahead of time they won’t be as discouraged. No matter what level you are in the industry  It’s still frustrating when this happens.  I find it happens often with some products and companies more then others."

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: ).

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Art Licensing: Photoshop Tip - Use Droplets to Save Time

Artists that use Adobe Photoshop may be aware that the Actions Command allows a person to do repetitive tasks by recording a series of commands that can be used for batch processing of files or for one image at a time. But they may not be aware that Photoshop makes it even easier to use Actions by creating droplet applications with those actions. A droplet is a mini application that can be saved anywhere on the computer or even shared with other artists that use the same or later version of Photoshop. When a single or group of images is dragged onto the droplet, the droplet launches Photoshop and starts applying the action to each of the images. This is a great way to speed up workflow and avoid boring tasks in doing the same repetitive steps on numerous images. Read "Creating Droplets" to learn more about droplet apps.

Droplets can be used to do repetitive tasks in numerous ways such as
1. Change the file(s) size and/or format.
2. Edit images (apply drop shadows, patterns, textures, text, etc.).
3. Place the copyright symbol and signature on the images.
4. Watermark the image(s).
5. Add image(s) to a contact info page for submission to manufacturers.
And of course, much more.

• Tutorials on creating actions and droplets
– Change Photoshop psd files to jpg
Read and view "Bulk Image Compression with Photoshop Droplets" (simple step-by-step tutorial and a video showing how to convert files with the Actions Command and droplet).

– Change file size
View "Create Droplet in Photoshop" (video on re-sizing images with the Actions Command and droplet).

– Add a copyright and signature to an image
View "Graphic watermark Photoshop tutorial" (video placing a signature on an image with the Actions Command and droplet. Hint: Also add the copyright symbol to your signature or printed name. And, if you wish add your contact information to the image.)

– Add a watermark to an image
View "Photoshop - Actions & Batch Processing" (video showing how to place a transparent watermark on an image with the Actions Command. Note: a droplet can be created for this action. Use the information from other tutorials to make a droplet.)

– Do multiple actions (resize an image, apply a watermark, and save it as a jpg file)
Read " How to create a droplet in Photoshop" (step-by-step tutorial on creating multiple actions with the Actions Command and droplet)

• Additional Information about actions and droplets
– Pausing an action
Sometimes when you are doing batch processing with the Actions Command, you need to pause the action. For instance, you may want to pause the action to change the title of the image on a submission page. To find out two ways you can pause the action, read "Can I have a Photoshop action pause itself to wait for user input?" That action can than be made into a droplet. When using the droplet, it will pause so that you can change the title with the text tool. And then, when you press Okay the action will continue.

– Problems with droplets
Droplets have been reported that they stop working when they were created with Photoshop CS3, or CS4, or CS5 and the Macintosh operating system was upgraded to Lion. To find out more and how to fix the problem, read "Droplets don't work | Photoshop CS5, CS4, CS3 | Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)".

• Related Articles
– “Software Tip: Resizing Multiple Images etc. via Batch Processing

– “Photoshop Tips: Improve Workflow with Photoshop Actions Command

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: ).