Joan Website | Joan Bio | Joan Licensing Info | Joan Contact Info | Blog Main Page

Art Licensing by artist Joan Beiriger: I'm happy to share art licensing info but please
give me credit and link to my blog when using it on your site. Thanks.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Photoshop Tips: Using the Modify Selection Commands to Alter Motifs

Adobe Photoshop (PS) has so many tools and commands that it is difficult to know them all. Most PS users know that they can select an image with the lasso, or marquee, or magic wand tools but few realize that once an image is selected the selection can be changed various ways with the modify commands (border, smooth, expand, contract, feather). And, by modifying the selection and using other tools and filters on the image, an artist can quickly change the shape of the motif and/or achieve interesting effects. Below is an example on how to use each of the modify commands. But, depending on how they are used with PS tools and filters, different looks can be achieved. I recommend that you experiment with each of them and discover other ways that you can alter the shapes and looks of motifs.

• Modify Selection Border Command
Use the modify selection border command plus the Gaussian blur filter to create a color fade around the motif.

1. Use the Magic Wand tool and click on the image to select it. See A1.
2. Pull down the Select window, open the Modify window, and select Border (Select/Modify/Border).
3. Decide on the number of pixels wanted for the border and enter it. Press okay. 100 pixels were used for example A2.
4. Pull down the Filter window, open the Blur window, and select Gaussian Blur.
5. Enter the number of pixels wanted for the blur and enter it. Click on okay. Press the Command key plus D to deselect the image. 50 pixels were used for example A3.

•Modify Selection Expand Command
Use the modify selection expand command to remove the white space between the black line and filled blue color on the motif.

1. Example B1 shows the outline circle motif that will be filled with a blue color.
2. Choose the color you wish and use the paint bucket tool to fill the center of the motif. Note: An unwanted one pixel space between the black outline and blue circle occurs. See B2.
3. To remove the white space, open Select/Modify/Expand. Enter 2 pixels in the box. B3 shows the selected area (may not be able to see the selected area on your monitor) that is slightly on top of the black line. Click on okay. B4 shows that the white space between the black and blue is no longer visible.

• Modify Selection Smooth Command
Use the modify selection smooth command plus the brush tool and delete command to alter the shape of the motif.

1. Use the Magic Wand tool and click on the image to select it.
2. Pull down the Select window, open the Modify window, and select Smooth (Select/Modify/Smooth).
3. Decide on the number of pixels wanted to round the corners (points on the star) and enter it. Click on okay. 100 pixels were used for example C1.
4. Fill the inside corners of the star with the same color of the motif by using the brush tool. See C2.
5. Pull down the Select window and select Inverse. Press the delete button on the keyboard. Press the Command key plus D to deselect the image. See C3.
Note: Notice that each rounded point on the star is not uniform. This is probably due to an artifact of the "smooth command" software. The software may do a better job on different shaped motifs.

• Modify Selection Contract Command
Use the modify selection contract command plus the delete command to create an outline of the motif.

1. Use the Magic Wand tool and click on the image to select it. See D1.
2. Pull down the Select window, open the Modify window, and select Contract (Select/Modify/Contract).
3. Decide on the number of pixels wanted for the outline and enter it. Click on okay. 100 pixels were used for example D2.
4. Press the delete button on the keyboard. Press the Command key plus D to deselect the image. See D3.
Note: Notice that some of the "points" inside the star are not sharp. This is probably due to an artifact of the "Contract command" software. The software may do a better job on different shaped motifs.

• Modify Selection Feather Command
Use the modify selection feather command plus the delete command to create a feathered effect on the motif.

1. Use the Magic Wand tool and click on the image to select it. See E1.
2. Pull down the Select window, open the Modify window, and select Feather (Select/Modify/Feather).
3. Decide on the number of pixels wanted for the radius and enter it. 100 pixels were used for example E2. Click on okay.
4. Press the delete button on the keyboard. Press the Command key plus D to deselect the image. See E3.

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, July 20, 2014

Art Licensing - 2014 Summer Gift Trade Shows

The gift industry trade shows/markets* normally start off each year with the huge Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market in early January at The AmericasMart followed by other regional shows across the U.S**. Then in June, the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market starts the summer season of gift shows, followed by the Atlanta show in July. The attendance at the summer shows has ALWAYS been smaller than the winter shows because retailers do not need to restock their inventory with as much merchandise. Most retailers sell at least one third of their merchandise during the Christmas buying season. And, as usual the lower attendance at both the summer Dallas and Atlanta shows transpired. Read below about several of the shows.

* Gift industry trade shows are for manufacturers to exhibit their products so that retailers can purchase them for their stores.

** Read "Gift Show Directory for 2014/2015" for the dates and links to websites for gift shows.

• Dallas
For me, it does not bode well about the success of a trade show when a report about the show starts out with the optimistic phrase "the mood is upbeat" as editor Caroline Kennedy for Gifts and Decorative Accessories wrote in "Direct from Market: Dallas". She stated that even though buyer traffic was down, business was brisk. And, according to her it's a good sign for the rest of the season.

However, art licensing agent Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios had a different impression about the Dallas show. In his article "Dallas, Tell Me It Ain't So!" Jim states "While the Dallas show is not nearly the size of Atlanta, most of the big players have showrooms and the rest are represented somewhere in the buildings, so it’s a good place to get an early read on the market. What we did not expect was the language we kept hearing - evaluate, retrench, slow, reduce exposure, wait and see, soft market - all those words that strike fear into the hearts of designers and agents." That sounds depressing but do not give up about the success of the summer trade shows because Jim has better news to report about the Atlanta show :)

• Atlanta
The Gifts and Decorative Accessories (GDA) staff reported in their articles "Direct from Market: Atlanta July 2014", and "Direct from Market: Atlanta, Part 2" a steady flow of buyer traffic at the Atlanta Gift Show (July 8-15) that increased on Thursday and Friday. And, art agent Jim Marcotte reported in his article "Atlanta: Land of Opportunity, or What's Yours Is Mine..." that "We spent 3 long days covering A LOT of those 7M square feet. The doom and gloom of Dallas (see the previous post) was not so evident in Atlanta, perhaps because it’s a better show even on its down days, but traffic was definitely slow." Make sure you read the GDA and Jim’s articles for more information and trends seen at the Atlanta show. And, check out the artist blogs listed below about the show. Also, look at the videos by interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn about AmericasMart to get a feeling on what it is like to walk the Atlanta show when it is busy. Note: Some of the footage for the videos was probably taken during the January 2014 show.

– Blogs
   artist Caroline Simas: "Atlanta Market July 2014 Recap"

   artist Genevieve Gail: "Atlanta Gift Mart Recap"

   artist Phyllis Dobbs: "Sights at Atlanta Gift Market"

– Videos
Brian Patrick Flynn is an American television producer turned interior designer. Also, he is on HGTV and gives presentations during the gift shows at AmericasMart. Brian calls himself an ambassador of AmericasMart. Watch the videos to experience the amazing AmericasMart.

   "An Interior Designer's Guide to AmericasMart Atlanta"

   "Brian Patrick Flynn's Top 10 Tips for Shopping AmericasMart"

• Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Market is the fastest growing furniture, home decor and gift trade show in the United States. By aggressive marketing and expanding the World Market Center Las Vegas campus, it is becoming the go-to trade show for the Western U.S. states. When this post was written, the July 27 -31 summer show had not yet opened. But the statistics on the expected increase in attendance is VERY impressive. According to the article "IMC: Summer Vegas Market Pre-Registration Gains Over Winter Show" the International Market Centers expects attendance ". . . to gain most abundantly in the gift and home décor category, with buyer registration pacing 18% ahead of the recent Winter 2014 Market and 83% ahead of the Summer 2013 Market."

Note: The health of the gift industry ultimately affects art licensing and the amount of art that is licensed by manufacturers. Thus, successful gift shows (Atlanta and other regional ones) bodes well for the licensing industry. Hopefully, this year and in the following years there will be an increase in buyers attending and purchasing merchandise at the gift shows so that the art licensing industry thrives. 

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, July 13, 2014

Art Licensing: Do U.S. artists need a business license to license their art?

Questions often asked by United States artists entering the licensing industry is if they need to have a business license or a seller permit to be able to license their art? There are all types of business licenses/permits such as seller's permit, federal and state business licenses, and city/county business licenses. Each is for a particular purpose. Artists that ONLY license their art may not need a business license. It depends upon the city and state they live in. See below for discussions on the different ones.

• Seller's Permit
A seller's permit (resale certificate) is needed in most but not all states IF a person sells merchandize at retail (to consumers). The number on the permit issued is called a resale number. Artists who license their work to manufacturers are not selling merchandise at retail so they do not need a seller's permit.

And, whether artists who sell to consumers needs a seller's permit or not depends upon the state. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not collect sales tax so a seller's permit is not needed when artists sell their work to consumers in those states. To find out information about seller's permits in the different states, go to the U.S. Small Business Administration website. Hint: Artists are not listed as a business type so use General Licensing. And, to find out more about resale certificates, read "What is a Resale Certificate And Who Can Use One?"

– Internet stores
According to Nolo "Despite what you sometimes hear . . . some Internet sales are subject to sales tax, and even when a site doesn't collect sales tax, consumers are technically responsible for remitting any unpaid sales tax on online purchases directly to their state." Also, " If an online retailer has a physical presence in a particular state, such as a store, business office, or warehouse, it must collect sales tax from customers in that state. If a business does not have a physical presence in a state, it is not required to collect sales tax for sales into that state." For more information, read "Sales Tac on the Internet".

• Federal Business License
A person only needs a federal business license if their business is regulated by a federal agency such as alcoholic beverages, agriculture, aviation, etc as shown in "Federal Licenses & Permits". Since art is not regulated by a federal agency, a federal business license is not needed to license art. Note: Artists may be requested to supply their federal number to a licensee so that they can report the revenue the artist received to the federal and state tax boards. In that case, the federal number is the artist's social security number. 

NOTE: Artist Kiffanie Stahle shared the following information.
"One note on the federal tax ID number issue. Even sole proprietors can request a free employer identification number (federal tax ID number) from the IRS to give to licensees. Licensees will then use this number on your 1099s and the IRS will link it to your individual tax return. Thus keeping your SSN a little safer!  Here's the link to obtain an EIN:  "

• State Business License/Permits
Whether an artist needs a state business license or permit depends on the state she/he lives in. Some states require any business operating in the state to register for tax-specific licenses/permits whether based in a commercial location or out of the home. Other states may not require any license/permit. To find out what business licenses are required in your state, read "Find Business Licenses & permits".

– Business having employees
The requirements in operating a business with employees is more complicated because the owner probably will need to file for additional permits and file forms such as employer identification number, registration of employees, business income tax statements, etc. Also they must comply with laws on minimum wages, hours, working conditions, safety, discrimination, etc. To find out information about the requirements in different states when having employees, go to the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

– Limited Liability Company (LLC)
It is not required but some artists decide to form a limited liability company (LLC) to protect their personal finances if their art licensing business is sued for copyright infringement or breach of contract. To do so, it must be filed with the Secretary of State's Office in the state the business is operating in. If the business is a sole proprietorship, it does not need to be registered with the state. Note: Many states require a sole proprietor to use their own name for the business name unless they formally file another name as a trade name, or fictitious name. For more information, read "Register With State Agencies".

– Fictitious business name (doing business as = DBA)
Most states, but not all, require that the owner of a business register a fictitious business name. In some states the business name could be considered fictitious even if additional word (s) are added to a surname while other states do not consider it fictitious as long as the surname is in the business name. Filing a fictitious name often involves publishing in a general circulation newspaper the opening of the business with the fictitious name. Note: Unless the fictitious business name is filed, bank accounts with the fictitious business name cannot be opened. For more information, look at your states requirements on fictitious business names. For more information, read "Register Your Business Name".

• City/County Business License
Some counties and/or cities require any business operating within their limits to take out a business license even if the state does not necessitate one. The license usually requires a yearly flat fee or may depend upon the gross amount earned. If the business is home based, it may require a zoning variance with stipulations on not allowing customers to visit or employees to work on the premises. To find out information about city/county licenses in the different states, go to the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

• Reporting Income to IRS and State
For artists that have a thriving art licensing business, know that they need to report the income earned to the IRS. Also, they know to report income to their state unless they live in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire*, South Dakota, Tennessee*, Texas, Washington, Wyoming. But artists that have just started licensing their work may not be aware that ANY income earned no matter how little may need to be reported to the state and MUST be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to IRS "It is a common misconception that if a taxpayer does not receive a Form 1099-MISC or if the income is under $600 per payer, the income is not taxable. There is no minimum amount that a taxpayer may exclude from gross income. . . Taxpayers must report all income from any source and any country unless it is explicitly exempt under the U.S. tax code. There may be taxable income from certain transactions even if no money changes hands." For more information about reporting income to the IRS read, "Reporting Miscellaneous Income". And, read "States Without an Income Tax" for more information.

* Must pay interest and dividend income.

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).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Art Licensing: Are Paper Products Being Replaced by the Internet and Smart Devices?

Because of the Internet and increasing usage of electronic smart devices' it has been long predicted that we are becoming a paperless society. But according to the article "Paperless society? Not so fast" even though electronic technology has taken a toll on the pulp and paper industries especially in the production of newsprint there are still 20,000 identifiable uses of paper in the world today. To stay in existence many print companies that in the past used paper products exclusively are now hedging their bets by also moving to the Internet and offering electronic versions of their publications. According to IDC (International Data Corporation) in the article "Paperless society? IDC says not so fast" although the world is printing less, "the paperless society remains largely a myth as page volume from printers was 2.98 trillion 2012, down 1.5 percent from 3.03 trillion in 2011". It will take a long time IF ever before we become a paperless society.

So what impact has the surge in use of the Internet and smart devices have on the art licensing industry? Paper products such as greeting cards, wall calendars, personal checks, and daily planners are now competing with electronic technology. And, these paper products use licensable art to help sell them. Will these industries disappear along with the opportunity to license art for them?

• Daily Planners
The sales of daily planners are declining as smart devices take over the task of scheduling persons daily lives. But according to the article "Daily planners: paper or electronic?" many people are visual and although electronic planners make life easier it still is satisfying to write down lists, scratch them off when complete, and know that it is crash proof and will not suddenly disappear. According to the article there still is a large segment of the population that use paper planners. This industry probably will not disappear but to stay in business it now has customizable features and is more for a niche market.

• Wall Calendars
One of the biggest industries that depend upon art and photographs to sell products is wall calendars. For years it has been a tradition in December to purchase calendars for the kitchen, maybe for other rooms in the home, and for gifts. Now smart phones and computers have taken over part of the calendar industry but do NOT think wall calendars will disappear.

According to the article "Calendars: The Paper-Digital Trap" it seems that many people are using both paper and electronic calendars. Individuals use electronic calendars as daily planners while person(s) use wall calendars as wall décor and scheduled appointments that can be viewed at a glance. In the article " Why do we still buy calendars?" Dr. Paul Glennie at the University of Bristol in the UK thinks that ". . . the calendar has a social function, bringing people together around a common focal point. . . From a household point of view or a work point of view, it works on a more obviously collective level than everybody looking down at their own apps."

So, it looks like calendars are here to stay. But because of the shift in consumer spending, consumers now wait for the expected discounted calendars to go on sale before purchasing them. This is affecting the amount of revenue that calendar manufacturers make and thus the amount of royalties paid to artists.

• Personal Checks

Now that bills can be paid online you would think that the use of checks are now obsolete. But according to the articles "Why don't more consumers use automatic bill pay?" and "Are Paper Checks Still Useful" only 50% people pay their bills online. The reason is not all persons find it convenient, have computers, or trust the security of paying over the Internet. Also not all companies are set up for their customers to pay online. And, checks may be the only way to pay services such as the hairdresser, gardener, house keeper, or send money gifts to friends and relatives.

Decorative personal checks are a favorite among those that like to express their personality as stated in "Five Reasons Why You Should Still Use Personal Checks" and it is also easier to keep track of personal finances. But because of the ability to pay bills online, checks usage has declined. Thus, the personal check industry has weakened resulting in artists not making much revenue for licensing their art on them.

• Greeting Cards
About five years ago when e-cards became popular the paper greeting card industry were concerned that they would be put out of business because consumers would only use e-cards. The reason is that e-cards are either free or less expensive than paper cards and do not need the additional cost of a stamp to send it. American Greetings and other large card companies struggled as revealed in the article "Even As American Greetings Struggles, Small Card Companies Find A new Way to Thrive". However, small card companies found a way to successfully sell cards by producing a handmade luxurious look with embellishments and die cuts that e-cards could not produce. These cards became so popular that now the large card companies have also included embellished cards in their card lines to satisfy customers seeking elegant looking cards.

Selling products during the Christmas season is huge and that includes Christmas cards. In the article "E-cards an alternative, not replacement to paper Christmas greetings" it states that "Although many people use e-cards because they're free, convenient and eco-friendly, it's unlikely that e-cards will replace paper Christmas cards entirely. That's because the tradition and the sentiment of sending greeting through the mail has been in place for centuries." That is good news for the art licensing industry because there are over 50 paper card manufacturers that license art. Read artist Kate Harper's article "Artist & Writer Submission Guidelines for Card Companies" for a list and links for manufacturer websites.

There is no question that there is a weakening of sales over the last five or so years for many paper product industries with the usage of the Internet and smart devices. It has impacted the art licensing industry as licensing revenue for products that license art has decreased. However, it is not entirely due to the increase usage of the Internet and smart devices but also because of the downturn in economy and change in consumer spreading*. To paraphrase Vice President Susan January of Leanin' Tree, Inc. (greeting card manufacturer) at a 2013 SURTEX show seminar "Artists use to be able to make a living in creating greeting cards but not anymore. Artists often need alternative means of revenue."

Note: The invention of electronic devices have created more products to license art such as skins and cases for cell phones, tablets and computers by manufacturers such as keka and Gelaskins. But, most of these types of companies are Internet stores and offer licensing print-on-demand deals or buy the designs outright. Thus, the revenue is not that lucrative.

* The impact of the great recession on consumer spending has created a new norm of bargain hunting. Consumers are looking for discounts and expect it from retailers. And, they are not splurging as much as they did before the recession and normally only buy what they need. It is predicted that this change in consumer spending will NOT shift back to pre 2008 spending.

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, June 1, 2014

Art Licensing: How do Artists Create Art for Products?

This article is mainly for those artists new to licensing. But, there may be a tidbit or two that will also be useful to seasoned licensed artists.

There are many ways to create art to be licensed for products. Some artists create art the traditional method with paint, some create digitally with computer software, and some create art with a combination of paint, digital text, and backgrounds. But no matter what method is used, the art needs to end up in a digital format because that is required by the majority of manufacturers that license art. So it is imperative that artists either know how to use a computer or hire someone that does. Note: The most used computer software in the art licensing industry is Adobe Photoshop for painterly looking images and Adobe Illustrator for patterns and illustrative looking images. Read, "What is the Difference between Photoshop and Illustrator" to learn more about the software.

Before you start creating art to license, you need to understand the licensing industry. Painting images in an art style, format and themes you like is not always licensable to be put on products for the mass market. Manufacturers license art with images that are popular with many people so their products sell well. Until you know the popular images and the way it should be formatted for each type of manufacturer you could be wasting your time trying to license it. Read the following articles for more information.

• "Editorial: Not all art is licensable"
• "Art Licensing Editorial: List of 2012 Trends" Many of these trends are still relevant.
• "Photoshop Tip: Description of File Formats and When to Use Them"
• "How to License Art to Manufacturers"

Traditionally Created Art
As mentioned above, manufacturers want digital files of the image. Thus, artists that create their art with paint need to either scan the image into the computer or photograph it. But, there can be complications with each method. If the painting is too large for the scanner the artist may need to scan the art by sections and combine the sections into one image while in Photoshop. Or if the painting is photographed, it may end up to be skewed looking if the lens of the camera is not perfectly parallel to the surface of the painting (parallax). Read "Art Licensing Tip: Converting Paintings into Digital Images" for more information on how to correct parallax and how to combine scanned images.

Some manufacturers prefer that art be created with paint instead of digitally. But they expect much more editing of the image than just cropping parts of the it that was only possible years ago. Software like Photoshop can manipulate parts of the image in an amazing number of ways. In Photoshop parts of the image can be isolated and moved, removed and the color changed.

Hint: Many traditional artists are now painting individual icons (flowers, birds, butterflies, sea shells, etc.) separately on a white background instead of sketching and painting the image as a finished composition. They then scan the painted icons and a separate painted background into the computer. In Photoshop the icons and background are placed into individual layers and the white area around the icons is removed. The icons then can be arranged into a pleasing composition. The advantage to having the icons on separate layers is they can be easily moved and edited as well as used in other paintings.

Digitally Created Art
Once the technique in creating art digitally is mastered, it is faster than the traditional method. Digital art can be created on the fly and easily altered. And, images on separate layers in the software can be easily moved so that the art is not locked into a single composition.

As an alternative to using a mouse, many digital artists use a graphics tablet and pressure sensitive pen (stylus) to create art. With the pen they can easily draw freehand and control the line thickness, transparency and color by exerting pressure on the tablet with the pen. Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Painter and many other art creation software support pressure sensitive pens with tablets.

Note: A disadvantage to creating art digitally is that some manufacturers still resist licensing digital art under the mistaken notion that the art will look computer generated when placed on products. Of course, that is no longer true because of the advance in technology.

Combination of Art Created Traditionally and Digitally
Some artists’ use a combination of painted icons and digital backgrounds, digital text and copyright free digital clip art to embellish the art. Hint: Always place individual icons, backgrounds, etc. in layers whenever possible. Manufacturers sometimes request layered Photoshop files so that they can edit the art.

After the art is created, the real work begins by submitting it to manufacturers. Articles about different product industries including links to their websites can be found on my blog.

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).