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Monday, December 28, 2009

What is Fair Use?


During the last year, there has been a lot of press on what is fair use in art, photography, music and the written word. Fair use is a very complex concept because the law does not provide clear guidelines on what is fair use and what constitutes an infringement. Unfortunately many people believe the "old-wives-tale" that all you need to do is change art a certain amount and you don't have to worry about getting sued. However, what is allowed in fair use is more complicated than that and as attorney Joshua Kaufman says in his article Don't be a Copycat, "There’s no simple, firm guideline as to how much you have to change from one work to another to avoid infringement. Such statements as "All you have to do is change a little bit," "5 percent," "20 percent" and so on have no support in the law. Ignore them. The test for copyright infringement is whether the two works are substantially similar. Substantial can be looked at in two ways: quantitatively and qualitatively. Not only does the legal system look at the amount of material copied, it also considers the importance of the portions copied. . ."

Artist Shepard Fairey found out the hard way when he used a photograph of Barack Obama taken by Mannie Garcia for Associated Press as a basis of art for a campaign poster. His legal troubles are ongoing and will most likely continue for years. Read "AP And Shepard Fairey Settle Lawsuit over Obama Image; . . . " for more information on the lawsuit.

So the moral is to make sure that you have permission to use photography or art that has been created by others before using it in or even as a basis of your own art. Or better yet, don't use other persons work in your art.

Related articles:
"Is Fair Use Really Fair?" by attorney Samuel Lewis
"How Different is Different Enough" by attorney Joshua Kaufman

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Making Mockup Products as Gifts

I'm so use to making digital mock-up products to showcase my art that I decided that it was time to make some REAL mock-ups as gifts for friends. That way I could give them a sample of my art on a product assembled by me.

I purchased some blank cardboard boxes at a local independent hobby store. The boxes I purchased were 3-1/4 by 2-1/4 by 1-1/2 inches with a snap on the lid but of course any size or shape can be used.

I created art to fit the top of the box and used double-sided tape to adhere it to the lid. White glue or even decoupage glue can also be use. To give the box a little pizzazz, I glued a ribbon and jewel on the bell. My boxes were decorated very simply but you can go much further to make them really standout. Craft stores carry so many embellishments for scrap booking that there is an endless assortment to choose from.

The final touch is to fill the box with wrapped candy. Potpourri, a candle, or anything else could also be placed inside the box. And once the candy has been consumed, the box can be used for other things or placed on a shelf as a reminder that it was received from a friend.

Have a wonderful holiday!
Joan

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Studios of Successful Art Licensors


It doesn't matter where you create art (corner of the kitchen table, spare bedroom, etc.) because an artist can create anywhere. However, it sure is nice to afford a real studio and a backup team to help you do some of the dreary routine work in putting together collections, mock-ups and the millions of other things necessary to license your art. Artists that are REALLY successful have a team behind them. And they usually have a nice studio in which to create art and also space for their staff to work. I find it very inspirational to see the studios of artists that have "made it" in licensing. Below are links to studios of four successful artists. Check them out and dream of when you also will have a great studio and staff.

Marjolein Bastin - View a video of Marjolein in her Netherland studio as she explores and paints nature. She also has homes in Missouri, Cayman Islands, and Switzerland.

Mary Englebreit - View pictures of Mary's beautiful studio in a historic neighborhood of St. Louis, MO.

Shan Ogdemli (Pampered Girls brand) - To view a picture of Shan's office and staff, go to "About Us" pull down menu and then select "Brand Design."

Susan Winget - View pictures of Susan's staff in her charming multi-room studio in North Carolina.

Related article:
"Created Process of Extremely Successful Licensed Artists"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tracking the Success of Top Art Licensors

I find it very interesting and informative to track the retail sales figures of art licensors to see the ebb and flow of their success in licensing. The only figures that I find available (without paying a fee) is published yearly in the Global License! magazine's April issue of the "Top 100 Global Licensors." These articles list all licensors such as product brands, characters, entertainment and art. Disney always tops the list. In 2008, products with Disney art sold at retail $30B (billion). Scholastic Media was the 100th top licensor in 2008 at $50M (million) retail. In 2008, seven artists were listed in the top 100 licensors which means that they sold over $50M at retail. Note: The information on the amount sold at retail listed in Global License! magazine is dependent on what is reported to them by licensors because many are private enterprises. Thus, there could be other art licensors selling more than $50M at retail that are not included in the article because Advanstar (publisher of Global License! magazine) was not informed.

An interesting side note: If you do a "rough" calculation on how much money an artist would earn on $50M at retail and lets say at 5 percent royalty on the wholesale price ("if" one-half retail), it would be a staggering $1.25M.

Below is a chart of ten art licensors that I have tracked since 1998. Notice that three of the artists no longer make the top 100 licensors list. That could be because they no longer sell enough to make the list or they have opted not to report their figures to Advanstar.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tip: How to Accessorize Product Mockups

Making mock-ups helps manufacturers visualize how art looks on products and is a good marketing technique that many artists use. Whether mock-ups are created digitally and look realistic or sketched and not look realistic does not matter. All that is needed is to show how the art looks on different kinds of products. For some product mock-ups, it helps if they are accessorized so that there is no guess work in their use. Below is an explanation on how I accessorized some product mock-ups.

Shown is a mock-up of bathroom products with my coastal art. If I did not have tissue sticking out of the box, a toothbrush out of the jar, and a spout on top of the second jar it would be difficult to know the intended use of the shapes. The tissue box was created in Photoshop using the techniques that is shown in "Photoshop Tip - Using the Transform Command for Product Mock-ups" and "Photoshop Tip - Creating Gift Bag Mockups." While in Photoshop I created a slot on top of the box mock-up, took a digital photo of actual tissue, edited the photo, and placed it on top of the tissue box to accessorize the mock-up.

For the tooth brush holder, I created the jar shape and mapped the art onto it while in Adobe Illustrator by using the techniques shown in "Illustrator Tip: Mockups - Creating Uniue 3D Product Shapes." I took a picture of a generic shaped toothbrush, edited it in Photoshop, imported the jar that I created in Illustrator, added holes to the top of the jar, and placed the brush into one hole. The soap/hand lotion dispenser was essentially done the same way. In this case, I took a picture of a generic spout, edited it in Photoshop and placed it on top of the jar that was created in Illustrator.

Warning: If product mock-ups are too realistic looking,manufacturers may think that the art on them have already been licensed. To avoid confusion, I recommend that you use signage stating that the art is available for licensing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tips for Represented Artists - New and Not So New

An excellent point on what an artist that has recently hired an agent should do in order to jump start the licensing of her/his art and also the recommendation to continue marketing your art are made by licensing savvy lawyer Corinne Kevorkian. She originally posted her comments for the article "How Long Does it Take to Get a Contract After Hiring An Agent?" on the art of licensing linkedin forum and they are paraphrased below.

Corinne Kevorkian is currently practicing law in New York City. She was recently the President and General Manager of the Schumacher Division of F. Schumacher & Co., a leading supplier of decorative fabrics, wallcoverings, rugs and other home furnishing products. Before that she was Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of F. Schumacher & Co., where she advised them on all legal matters, including acquisitions and divestitures, intellectual property and licensing, real estate and employment matters.


Tips for Represented Artists

A corollary to the question on "How Long Does it Take to Get a Contract After Hiring an Agent?, " and one that is just as important, is how long will it take for products to hit the market once a license agreement is signed? That is your revenue stream and especially with the first time licensor, the likelihood of getting a significant advance upfront (especially in this market) is pretty slim. So you want to make sure that your first license is one where products can be introduced to market fairly quickly. It does not do you much good if your agent signs up a licensee quickly but the product development cycle time is two years which can be the case in certain industries. Getting a license agreement signed quickly may be important in luring other licensees into your program but most likely what they really want to know is 1. what of your art is on products and already in the market, and 2. what are the revenue/sales expectations. So it's important to take these factors into consideration in order to increase your licensing opportunities.

Also, do not leave all the marketing of your art to your agent. As an artist you know your art and the brand best, so make sure to partner with your agent to woo prospective licensees. Refer all prospective contacts/connections to your agent and hold your agent accountable! You want to make sure you know what your agent is doing, should insist on regular reports of contacts made, shows attended, etc.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How Long Does it Take to Get a Contract After Hiring an Agent?

During J'net Smith monthly Free Friday Q&A teleseminar, an artist asked "Once signed with an agent, what's a reasonable length of time to expect a contract?" That is a question that is often ask and the short answer is that "it depends." It depends upon so many variables (art style, art trends, economy, etc.) that it is difficult to predict when the agent will get a contract for the artist. And every art licensing agency has different experiences in getting deals for their artists. Read answers to this question by art licensing agents J'net Smith and Suzanne Cruise and you will see that "it depends."

J'net Smith
(Expanded from All Art Licensing’s Newsletter; Volume 1, Number 8 - Tuesday, November 17, 2009)

Answer: I assume you mean a first licensing agreement. Agents need time to work you into their sales cycle, which will include developing a plan, researching prospective manufacturers, and marketing your art via direct mail, trade shows, phone calls and other sales techniques.

The length of time it takes to sign the first licensing deal will also depend on how long it takes the agent to get out and sell you and your artwork. For example, did you come to the agent with art collections and a web site that the agent is excited to use “as is?” Most often some redesign and updating will be necessary.

If you have done your homework and are ready to work with an agent, then they may be able to get out the door selling very quickly. In this scenario, I’d say it should take between six months and a year to sign your first deal.

If you have found an agent that will start by helping you develop your property, it will take a bit longer. I have often worked with artists for three to six months, or more, to create and refine collections, prepare a plan, and develop key marketing materials, including the portfolio, web site, and possibly a brochure, postcard or booth design. Only after we have completed this phase, do I get out and market the artist. So now you are looking at six months, plus another six months to a year.

The other two elements that will either speed up or slow down the process is how much art you have to present to manufacturers and how many prospective licensees in various product categories are contacted at the same time. If your art works in multiple categories and your agent is able to present your art and mock-ups to several industries at once, it should speed up the process. Of course, your agent will determine carefully which types of products to pitch in the first wave, the second wave and so on.

It certainly is more difficult these days in this economy, so you need to factor that in as well. I believe that being prepared before the sales process begins is crucial today. You don’t want to step out without putting your best “face” forward in all areas; to do so will slow everything down. And you certainly can’t take back those first impressions.

Suzanne Cruise

Answer: Asking what is a reasonable length of time an artist should expect to get licensing contracts from their agent is a little like asking how high is up. From my experience, this depends on what the art that you are offering (or that the agent is schlepping around) looks like, the subject matter you create, the age group your work is geared for and then the all important question "what is the market (or consumer) buying at that point in time."

An artist I have represented for many years, Laurie Cook, does beautiful Santas. I was able to get licenses for them right away as it is hard for companies to find beautiful Santas and there is always a market for them. Although sometimes the market is stronger and sometimes weaker. Laurie also creates beautiful florals. I have had little success in getting contracts for them as they are just not the style manufacturers are looking for.

Another artist I represent, Gail Flores, retired from Hallmark several years ago as probably the best floral designer they ever had. In spite of the superior quality of her style and technique, it took me almost three years to get one really good license for her work...and then the flood gates opened. The reason? When I first started showing her work, traditional florals were not in style. Three years later they were hot and still are.

Another artist I know, Laurie Mitchell, has a female character called Listen Doll. It is a good example of how hard it can be to get licensing deals for certain types of art. It is a very strong character, very well developed, excellent text....but the character falls into a niche that can be very difficult to get in a licensing toe-hold. There are many really good "female" characters in the industry. But companies are reluctant to license them because they feel that they need to be "safe" in this economy even though the demand for an alternative female character (not too sweet, not too in your face) is certainly there. Companies think it best to err on the side of caution which often times means a "no" to a license.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tips on Walking Trade & Licensing Shows

What You Should Know Before Walking Trade and Licensing Shows
by Suzanne Cruise

The number of trade shows that are put on each year is staggering. There is at least one trade show for virtually every product category you can imagine. The choices are unlimited. If you are just starting out in licensing, narrowing all of them down to the handful of the most worthwhile shows can be a daunting task. You first need to have some idea of what products your art would be suited for in order to cull out shows that would be a waste of time. For example, if your library of art consists primarily of beautiful florals, walking the Global Pet Expo is probably going to be a waste of time and money. Narrowing down the appropriate product applications is one great way to narrow down the shows that might be appropriate for you to walk. If you are a seasoned licensor, targeting the best trade shows to walk in order to find potential clients becomes much easier and often boils down to how much time and money you have to spend on attending shows, when these shows take place, and how many existing and potential clients are exhibiting at the shows. The number of licensing shows you can walk is quite small in comparison but the rules of the game are still the same.

As an artist, getting a badge to get into a trade show can be challenging, to say the least. Call the show management and ask the person who answers for information on badge registration. The phone numbers are always listed on the show web sites. Sometimes you are forwarded to another department but tell whoever you end up speaking with that you license your art to several of their exhibitors (if this is true) and that you are setting up appointments to meet with them. Ask them what credentials do you need to provide in order to obtain a badge. Since your occupation is one that falls through the cracks of the show's attendees, this approach works well in many cases. Another method is to pay your attorney to give you a document on their letterhead that states that you are the President and CEO of your company. The document lists your name, your company name and if you are a corporation (state that also), you are actively engaged in the sale and licensing of your artwork to companies that manufacture or distribute products utilizing such designs. Also your company is in good standing in the state of xx and has been doing business since xxxx date. That document and a business card will often suffice for the shows that ask for a business license. It is worth every penny that the lawyer charges.

Why walk a trade or licensing show?
Walking a trade show is the fastest and most efficient way of finding manufacturers who might be potential licensing partners. It is also a great way to see what trends, colors, and styles of art that are being offered in that particular industry.

For licensing shows, it is the most efficient way of finding a potential agent and a way to meet and establish talking relationships with fellow artists. It is also a very good way to find out if that show is worthwhile to exhibit your work.

How do you find trade and licensing shows?
Finding the various trade shows is relatively easy. Ask manufacturers which shows they (or their reps) exhibit in and if there are shows they (or their sales reps) walk. Another good resource are the local mom-and-pop gift stores that carry products your work can go on or that your work has been licensed to. These store owners have buying decisions to make and so they often will know the best shows to attend. I suspect many store owners would happily share this information and especially if you approach them on a day and time they are not swamped with customers. If they are busy, ask them if it would be more convenient to set-up an appointment to discuss trade shows. You can also try googling the type of shows you interested in finding by searching for licensing trade shows, gift trade shows, etc.

To find art licensing shows, read the article "Art Licensing Trade Shows." Also ask fellow artists what shows they have exhibit in and/or have walked and what were their experiences. You can also ask agents. Some of them are going to be more helpful than others but they certainly should know what are the major shows to find potential clients. This is also an excellent question to ask an agent that you are considering hiring.

What should you wear?
I usually wear nice slacks and shirt or sweater. You might want to throw a thin cardigan sweater into your bag as some of these shows keep the AC so low I swear they must have meat hanging somewhere in the building. I also always wear a nice jacket or a jeans jacket. Over the years, show dress has become very casual. I have been known to wear jeans especially if the weather is bad, but I try to keep my jacket and shirt/sweater, a little more formal to offset the casualness of jeans. If you go the jeans route, be sure to wear ones that are clean and crisp, especially if you do not know the people you are seeing. But it is always good to fall back on the adage "dress in a way that shows you are a professional."

Can You take pictures of booths?
I don't know of any show that allows you to photograph anything without permission. If you see a booth you especially like, ask the exhibitor if they mind if you snapped a shot of it. But be prepared, for many people will say no. With the explosion of cameras in cell phones, some people think they can act like they are talking on the phone but they are really busy taking pictures. Don't be a total jerk and act like this.

What do you look for when walking a show?
So you have committed to walking a show. What do you do first? If you have never done the show before (and even if you have), get a copy of the show directory well in advance. It will list all of the exhibitors and where their booths/showrooms are located. Some shows also list all of their exhibitors online and most shows will list the products they manufacture. Make a list of potential clients (by product) whom you want to meet or just check out. If you are fairly new to shows, my suggestion is to take your list and just go aisle-by-aisle or floor-by-floor and spend more time in the booths you have marked ahead of time. Familiarize yourself with the product offerings. Keep a list of ALL the companies whose products look like a fit for your work and even make notes to remind yourself of the various things that stood out with a particular manufacturer. If you are more seasoned in walking shows, definitely start well ahead of the show to set-up appointments with the art directors of manufacturers and allow some time to just walk the show in order to find manufacturers that you may not know about.

In walking licensing shows (especially those you may want to exhibit in the future), take a notebook with you and write down all the details that strike you about the show. These can include the various types of booth layouts, where is the most traffic, where is the entrance and what direction do people seem to go when they walk into the show, how the exhibitors interact with customers, what methods do the exhibitors use to draw customers into the booth, what are the exhibitors wearing, how did they display their work, how much (or little) did they display on their booth walls, how much lighting is overhead and in the booths, how are the tables and chairs positioned, etc.

Use proper trade show etiquette.
When I walk into a booth or showroom and have no appointment and if anyone asks if they can help me, I ALWAYS say no thank you. I then ask, "Do you mind if I look through your showroom (booth)?" Rarely will they say no. The exception to this are showrooms that have a desk/receptionist at the front door. You probably will not get by them without an appointment or without a contact name. And do not eat any of the food and/or drinks in the booths/showrooms because they are for the buyers.

If you are in a showroom and think your work might be suitable for the manufacturer, tell one of the reps that you would like to show your art to the person who handles art reviews AFTER (emphasize the "AFTER") the show. State clearly that you do not want to bother anyone during the show. Ask the rep for the contact information of the art or licensing person. Nine times out of ten you will score with this approach.

Use proper licensing show etiquette.
When walking shows, NEVER EVER EVER go up to agents and ask if they will look at your work when they are speaking to other people or even if their booth is loaded with people. NEVER EVER approach agents even if it looks like they are in a conversation among friends. Do not approach them UNTIL they are alone. ONLY WHEN THEY ARE ALONE or not working with a client should you approach them and ask if they have any time to look at new art. Some agents will take the time to look at your work if they are not busy or expecting an appointment. Some agents will never take the time to look at work during a show. You simply have to ask for their submission policy and abide by it. Some shows will not let you bring portfolios into the show at all. Ask about that policy before you attend the show. If you cannot bring a portfolio, have a tear sheet or small handout (preferably with your web site listed) that you can discreetly show and/or leave with the agent.

As far as talking to other artists who are exhibiting, I would suggest that you apply the same rules. They have paid money to exhibit in order to find new clients and schmooze with existing accounts. It is a show of courtesy and respect to let them do their work and only approach them when it appears they are not knee-deep in discussing their art with clients. I suspect the artists are just like the agents. Some are very forthright and helpful and some are very closed mouth and guarded.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Photoshop Tip - Using Color Dodge and Color Burn Mode to Touchup Art

There are times that art needs some shading to give it dimension and make it "pop." Rather than use the paintbrush tool to apply color to lighten and darken areas in the art that you need to manually blend in with the other colors you can use Photoshop's dodge and burn tools that automatically blends the colors for you. The dodge tool uses white to lighten colors and the burn tool uses black to darken colors. However, I do not think the blending of the colors look very natural by using white and black (especially on dark colors) so instead I often use other Photoshop methods. Read "Photoshop Tip - Using Photoshop to Shade Art and Mockups" for various shading methods.

I recently discovered (thanks to an internet tutorial) that Photoshop also allows you to automatically shade art with any color of your choice by using the color dodge and color burn mode. Notice that I used the word mode in referring to color dodge and color burn. They are not considered tools or located in Photoshop's tool menu.

To clarify the above discussion, Photoshop has TWO dodge and burn methods of shading artwork. The one method that many artists know about is the dodge and burn tools located on the tool bar and the other one that artists may not know about is the color dodge and color burn mode located on the brush option bar. This tutorial illustrates how I used the color dodge and color burn MODE to make my morning glory art "pop."








Original Art
The original art shown in picture A is okay but it obviously is lacking depth. Highlighting areas on the flowers and leaves will give it the much needed dimension to make the art "pop."

Using the Color Dodge Mode to Lighten Art
Picture B shows areas on the petals and leaves highlighted. I used the color dodge mode in Photoshop to lighten areas in the art and what an improvement it made in comparison to the original art shown in picture A. The color dodge mode is located in the options bar when the brush tool is selected. The options bar is at the top of the screen under the menu bar. The following steps show how to use it to lighten art.
1. Select the brush tool (Mac & Windows = B).
2. Go to the Mode pull down menu in the options bar and select Color Dodge located in the middle of the menu.
3. Duplicate the art layer (pull down menu in the layers window - at the top). You will want to be able to switch back and forth between the edited version of your art and original art. Also it is easy to over do the shading and you will want to make sure that you can start over again if needed.
4. Lock the layer at the top of the layer menu so that you will not paint outside the edges of the art. Of course, if the entire layer is filled with art you do not need to do this. Note: When using the "dodge tool," the tool does not allow you to paint outside the art so you do not need to lock the layer.
5. Select a brush tip from the brushes menu. I used a spray brush tip to highlight the morning glory art but any brush will work.
6. Reduce the opacity to 10 percent or less.
7. Select a color lighter than the art you wish to highlight. It is located in the color window (foreground) at the bottom of the tool bar.
8. Start highlighting your art while adjusting the size of the brush (increase size = ] key; decrease size = [ key), opacity, and switch to different brush colors as you highlight different colors until you get the desired look. Periodically switch back and forth between your original art layer and your edited art layer to make sure that you have not highlighted the art too much and washed out the colors.

Using the Color Burn Mode to Darken Art
Picture C shows the edited art after the color dodge and color burn mode was applied to selected areas. It does not look much different than picture B because I did not have to darken many areas in this painting. They were already dark enough.

Essentially follow the steps outlined for the color dodge mode (steps 1 through 8) to edit your art but select the color burn mode instead of the color dodge mode. The color for the brush needs to be darker than the art instead of lighter and most likely you will need to use a very low opacity (5 percent or less) when using the color burn mode.

Note: Make sure that you switch the mode back to the normal mode after you use the color dodge and color burn modes. Otherwise, the brush tool will not work properly the next time you use it for painting.

Friday, November 27, 2009

List of Non U.S. Art Licensing Agencies


The article "List of Over 50 U.S. Art Licensing Agencies" would not be complete unless I also do an article on non U.S. art licensing agencies. I could not find near as many agencies outside of the U.S. but below are the ones that I could find. If you know of others, please drop me a note at joan@joanbeiriger.com with the name and web address. Thanks.

United Kingdom
MGL

Germany

Netherlands

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Photoshop Tip: How to Place Art Around a Circle

Unfortunately, in Photoshop you cannot automatically place a border of art around the outer edge of a circle. This tutorial demonstrates a method that takes a little work but is still fairly simple to do once you know how.








Creating a Circle
1. Create a new layer in the layers pallet (F7) by selecting the make new layer icon at the bottom of the layers window.
2. Create a circle by using the elliptical marquee tool on the tool bar (Apple and Windows = M). Hold down the shift key while you drag the tool to make it completely circular.
3. Fill the circle with a color by using the bucket tool (Apple & Windows = G) or place a background pattern on the circle and delete the excess as I did in this example.

Creating Template Lines as Guides for the Placement of Art. In this example, I used four lines to divide the circle into eight spaces.
4. Create a new layer.
5. Select a foreground color on the tools pallet that is different than the circle color.
6. Select a brush (Mac & Windows = B) with a fairly fine tip (about 5) place the cursor at the center top of the window. Click once with the mouse. Place the cursor at the center bottom of the window, hold down the shift key and click the mouse. You now should have a line on top of the circle.

7. Use the transform tool (Mac - command + T; Windows = Ctrl + T) to select the line. By holding down the shift key and moving the cursor outside the bounding box you can rotate the line in 15 degree increments around the circle which equals 24 spaces. For this example, I want to rotate the line every 45 degrees (four lines) so I need to move the line three times.




8. Reset the line to the original line orientation by selecting undo in the edit menu. The reason to undo the last step is so that you can use keystrokes to automatically duplicate the lines every 45 degrees. Hold down (Mac = command + option + shift; Windows = Ctrl + alt + shift) and press the letter T to duplicate the line at 45 degrees. Continually holding down the keys and push the letter T to duplicate the next line and again press T to duplicate the last line. You should have four template lines in separate layers that divide the circle into eight spaces.

Note: You are not limited to dividing the circle into eight spaces. You can use the technique above to divide the circle into as many spaces you wish as long as they are in 15 degree increments.

Placing art around the circle
9. Open a new layer and fit the art into one area of the circle. In this case, I took my daffodil and violet art (BOU001) and resized and cut it to fit the outer curve of the circle. Notice that I placed some of the art over the template lines. I did this so that the border of art will look continuous once the art is duplicated around the circle.
10. Use the transform command to select the art.
11. Move the center mark in the bounding box (circle with lines) to the center of the circle (where the template lines intersect). By doing this, you will be able to more or less center the art around the circle when you duplicate it in the next step.
12. Duplicate the art in 45 degree increments as you did for the template lines in steps 7 and 8. You need to press the letter T six times to duplicate the art around the edge of the circle not three times like you did for the template lines. One edge of each top layer over laps the bottom layer to give it a continuos border of art.
13. Most likely the art is not correctly positioned along the edge of the circle so you will have to move the duplicated pieces into place.
14. Because the last art piece is the top layer, the right edge of the art is not tucked under the art of the first layer to make it look continuous. To correct it, duplicate the layer and move it below the first art layer.
15. Go to the top layer and erase the art that overlaps the art on the first layer. You now have a continuous border of art around the circle.
16. Remove the template lines and add a colored border if you wish.

Round formated art like this can be used as a plate, coaster, hot plate, or clock.

Friday, November 20, 2009

List of Over 50 U.S. Art Licensing Agencies

Just like there are many kinds of manufacturers, there are many kinds of art licensing agencies. Some only license art and some sell art as prints or on products besides license their artists work. Some agencies represent artists whose art fits only a niche market such as lodge, western, and country. Others specialize in representing artists whose art is suitable for home decor, or patterns for fabric, clothing, stationery, and scrapbooking. And of course there are some agencies that license all kinds of art for all kinds of products. Some agencies represent several artists and some represent several hundred artists. Some agencies will sign up artists that are new to licensing while other agencies will only accept artists that are already known and have achieved some measurable amount of licensing success. These agencies tend to represent artists that have a uniquely recognizable art style and are or can become a brand.

To learn more about art licensing agencies, read "The Truth About Art Licensing Agencies" and search the following list of over 50 art licensing agencies that are located in the U.S. 

Note: I have not researched all the following agencies so I do NOT necessarily recommend any of them.  You need to do your own research and ask other artists for recommendations because not all agencies offer artist/agency agreements that is in the best interest of the artist. Thus, read the agreement VERY carefully OR better yet hire an attorney that specializes in art licensing to check-it-out before you sign it. The clauses in the agreement are not always clear and you may regret signing it. Hiring an attorney is worth the cost! 

For a list of non U.S. art licensing agencies read "List of Non U.S. Art Licensing Agencies."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Resource: Newsletter on Art Licensing

All Art Licensing is J'net Smith's recently launched art licensing company that offers consulting, seminars, and products to help artists license their art. All Art Licensing just published their November 2009 newsletter. It has a great article on "Leading, Finding & Following Art Licensing Trends" as well as questions asked by artists about art licensing and answered by J'net. Articles from previous newsletters include, "How to Succeed or Fail in Licensing," "What are You Looking For in a Business Partner?," and more. Read these articles and sign-up for the All Art Licensing newsletter. It is a good source of art licensing information that will help you make decisions on what works best for you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Keep Art Fresh & New: Reworking Old Art for Today's Greeting Card Market

Reworking Sandi Gore Evans Original Art Keeps it Fresh and New.
by Suzanne Cruise

When I first started offering Sandi's work to potential licensees back in 1996, I really thought that it would be like shooting fish in a barrel, that every manufacturer would "get" her work and then want to license it. For the most part that was true. But I was surprised at the number of "art directors " who would review Sandi's work and then comment that while they liked it a lot they did not know how they would or could use it on their products. That alone was probably the single most important factor in telling our artists to prototype images on a variety of products so that we could better spell-things-out for the "creatively brain dead" art directors. Although we were not getting paid to do the work that manufacturers should have been doing, a situation that still galls me, it was well worth our time and effort to prototype the artwork ourselves.

Between 1996 and 2000 we signed over 35 licenses for Sandi's art on just about every product you can imagine. Many of these licenses were quite lucrative. When Sandi died in 2000, about half of them were not renewed (no new art to feed the licensing "beast"). To this day, the other half of those licensees continue to be active utilizing about 50 of Sandi's images each year. Because this core group of images sell well every single year, the manufacturers (and me too) consider Sandi's work to be "evergreen." But eventually we will be unable to continue to license her existing art unless the original work is substantially reworked to make it fresh and new. Below are two examples of Sandi's art showing how they have been reworked to blend with the current look in the greeting card market.


Example One: The original 1997 sunflowers were done on a white background and laid out as a simple, un-constructed bouquet. The two new versions were reformatted in 2008 using the popular trend of an offset perspective and a simple solid color background that highlighted the text (in this case, an inspirational message, so popular for the last couple of years). The second version is a variation of the first showing the inside of the card. It has a tighter close up of the flowers, brighter colors and was merged while in Photoshop with some berries and poppies from two other pieces of Sandi's art to make an entirely new card.

Version #1


























Version #2


























Example Two: The original 1997 image was done by Sandi for use as a print and it was licensed for many other products at that time. In 2008, it was reformatted as a card. The original tea stain coloring was eliminated as shown.



In the reworked art, the painting was vignetted for the inside of the card. The vignette has a fair amount of "white space" around it and the background of the area around the flowers and vase was "ghosted." The flower colors in the center of the painting were deepened a fair amount to really pull your eye right to them. The front of the card (not shown) is a solid color and die cut peak to show primarily only the flowers on the inside page.

In general, greeting cards should have a "me-to-you" sending situation. What this means when the buyer looks at the art, it almost immediately and subconsciously implies that this card is something that I (me) would send this card to you (to-you situation). This effect is accomplished in many ways. In this example, it is done with the use of the following:
1. There are two chairs.
2. There are two pillows that you see a part of.
3. There is the illusion of two food/tea items on the bench that two people would share or have just shared.

For some reason, all of these "pairs" unconsciously triggers a message in the buyers mind that there were two people in this scene at one point or will come into this scene, making this a perfect "me-to-you" situation.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Resource: Using Amazon.com to Find Reference Books

I own a huge reference library on anything and everything to do with art, design, crafts, color, software (Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter, and others), and business (marketing, branding, promoting, publicity, licensing, etc.). The books in my library have given me inspiration for new art, taught me how to use different software techniques, understand art licensing, and learn good business practices. I continually search bookstores looking for new reference material but bookstores do have a limited number of books on subjects that I want. So the next best source is to use amazon.com. You can't flip through the books like you can when in a bookstore but amazon does give you the ability to look at selected pages for many of their books with their "click to LOOK INSIDE!" option. Also you can read customer reviews of the books.

As an example, I recently searched on the key words "pattern design" while in amazon.com and it pulled up 37,917 books on that subject. I looked down the list on the first page and found one called "Pattern Design - A Book For Students Treating In A Practical Way Of The Anatomy, Planning And Evolution Of Repeated Ornament (Hardcover)' with an uninspired brown cover. However, it had four stars and in reading the customer reviews I found out that three of the four persons loved the book even though it was originally printed in 1903 and is in black and white. And in using the LOOK INSIDE! option, I liked what I saw so I added it to my cart so that I can purchase it the next time I order from amazon. Amazon.com is a great source in finding and reviewing books!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Resource: Video Marketing

More and more manufacturers, trade shows, art licensing consultants, artists, and agents are using videos to showcase their services and products. And where are they posting them besides their websites and blogs? They are posting them on youtube.com of course. Consumers are really receptive to viewing videos on the computer. They will even watch advertisements because this type of advertising is non intrusive, usually lasts less than three minutes, and can be stopped on demand. I've only scratched the surface in searching the millions of youtube videos for subjects relating to art licensing. Below is a list of a few so that you can get a flavor on how videos are used to market products, art, and services for art licensing.

1. Home Accents Today's Channel. There are approximately 30 videos of different manufacturers showing their products. This is a great way to see products and trends from a variety of manufactures but unfortunately not many of them license art.

2. National Stationery Show (June 29, 2009). By watching this video, you can get a snapshot of some of the manufacturers booths and the exhibitor's impression of the show.

3. List of videos from a search of the keywords "National Stationery Show." You can search other key words on youtube.com such as art licensing, trade shows etc. to find subjects that interest you.

4. Art of Possibility Studios with art licensing agent Ketra Oberlander showcasing her artists art for licensing.

5. J'net "What it takes to succeed in Licensing." One of several videos about some phase of art licensing given by Jeanette Smith.

6. Tara Reed on "Art Licensing - Beginners Basics." This video advertises a teleseminar recording on the basics of art licensing. Tara has many videos on youtube that advertises her products.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to Keep Art Fresh & New: Continually Evolve Your Work - Part 2


How Angela Anderson Evolves her Art to Keep it Fresh and New.
by Suzanne Cruise

Another artist that I represent is Angela Anderson whose art has really evolved in the years I have represented her work. Below are a series of three Santas and three Snowmen that Angela painted. Each were done about two years apart. Her comments as to how she did them are included below. When these paintings are viewed side by side, the differences are striking but the differences would be much more subtle if the interim Santas and Snowmen that Angela created were added to this line up.

Angela's work appeals to a wide variety of manufacturers. Her style is one that consumers understand and are very comfortable having in their homes. Her work has been licensed on products such as home decor, wovens, puzzles, paper party goods, greeting cards, gift bags and wrap, giftware, rugs, flags, mailing labels...and much much more.

As a side note, I want to add a comment on artists and their researching of trends/icons, etc. Angela lives in a small town in Indiana and she is not much of a shopper, but she makes it a point to go to stores that can possibly give her trend ideas. She also follows several blogs for ideas in helping her with design direction. I want artists to understand that you don't have to live in New York or Los Angles to have access to good research. With so much available on the internet alone, researching trends is what you make of it.











The following comments were made by Angela of her three Santa paintings and the steps taken to not only make them fresh and new but also to make them easier for manufacturers to reproduce. 1. The first Santa was painted in 2000 as completely flat (lettering, pattern…everything) with lots of "chunky" detail. The eyes were hard for companies to reproduce. 2. The second Santa was painted simpler but the eyes were still hard to reproduce. The lettering and the stars with holly were painted separately, then scanned and placed on separate Photoshop layers. This made it a little easier to format the art for multiple products. 3. The third Santa has cleaner lines, a simple pattern in the clothing, and less detail in the face to make it easier to reproduce. All the elements are in separate Photoshop layers in order to make the art easier to alter. The simpler lines (notice Santa's stylized beard), simpler border design, and brighter colors make the art seem fresh and new.












The following are Angela's comments on the differences between her three Snowmen paintings. 1. This first snowman painting was painted completely flat with a plain scarf and was not very exciting . The individual elements and snowman would be difficult to use as separate icons because they overlap. Therefore this painting would be difficult to reformat for different product shapes. 2. The second snowman was painted more stylized with brighter colors and all the elements are in separate Photoshop layers so that they can easily be reformatted for many products. 3. All the elements in the third snowman are in separate layers. More details were added to the snowman's clothing , the border simplified, a title added and all the elements stylized even more so than in the second painting.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Resource: Legal Information Blog

A great resource for up-to-date legal information is on attorney Elizabeth Russell's "Art Law For Everyone" blog. Elizabeth's blog covers copyright and trademark issues such as registering copyrights of multiple works together, legal information for website owners, why register your art with the copyright office, understanding lawyers, using work of U.S. Government in your art, explains what published work means when filing for copyrights, and much more.

Note: Another source of legal information with over 50 articles is on attorney Joshua Kaufman's site. See "Resource: Legal Information for Artists & Photographers." Also check-out the article "Hire a Lawyer - but Which One?"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hire a Lawyer - but Which One?

I am sure most artists that have been in the licensing industry for a while have heard that you need to hire a lawyer to look over your contracts and advise you on whether to sue a company that has infringed on your art. But what lawyer should you hire? Well, you don't want to hire one that knows nothing about intellectual property (IP) law. Law is a speciality just like the medical profession and lawyers are trained in one area of the law so they do not necessarily know about other areas. Thus, you need to hire a lawyer who specializes in IP. And I would go one step further and don't hire just any IP lawyer but one that also knows about legal issues in art licensing. To learn more about hiring an art lawyer read attorney Joshua Kaufman's article on "How to Choose An Art Lawyer."

Below are three lawyers that I know specializes in art IP. I've heard good things about all of them and have read articles they have written or listened to talks they have given. However, there are many good art IP art attorneys and a good place to find them is to ask for recommendations from your artist friends or on the art licensing forums.

Attorney Joshua Kaufman (Venable LLP) has written over 50 articles on art licensing legal issues for Art Business News and License Magazine.

Attorney Tammy L Browning-Smith (Browning-Smith, P.C.) has lecturerd at CHA seminars on legal issues and has on her website some articles about the law and the arts.

Attorney Elizabeth T. Russell (Russell Law) has given teleseminar sessions with Jnet Smith called Legal Ease about copyrights, Trademarks and Contract Language. She has written a book "Art Law Conversations" and maintains a blog with articles on the law and the arts.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How to Keep Art Fresh & New: Continually Evolve Your Work - Part 1


Your art needs to continually grow with the market or the consumer will lose interest in purchasing it.
by Suzanne Cruise

A thought to always keep in the back of your mind is to evolve your work. There is a fine line between evolving and changing your work/style. Over time, consumers who are buying your work will feel that the art is somehow fresh (by you evolving it) but still recognizes it as your work. If you just simply change your style and palette, you run the risk that your consumer will not recognize that new look and they will then move on to someone else's art. The achilles heel for any artist is when the same style, the same palette, the same everything is kept and never grows with the market and the consumer.


Sandi Gore Evans work is a great example of evolving your art. Many of you may or may not know, Sandi died in 2000. She always painted her art with tea stained backgrounds, a style that, at that time, was at the height of popularity. But for a period of time before she died, Sandi was doing her new work with lighter, whiter backgrounds and her color palette was becoming stronger, more vibrant, even though her overall style was the same. Her customers kept on supporting her new work because it was fresh and appealing, but was still done in Sandi's familiar hand. The examples of Christmas samplers show an early piece of art and one done a year later that are similar. Sandi painted the newer one with a white background giving it a fresher newer look. This shows how her work evolved by keeping up with the trends in the background color that was going whiter.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Templates for Product-Mockups - 2 Great Packages Now Available

You don't have to search any longer for templates to create product mock-ups because two great products are now available. Industry leaders Tara Reed and J'net Smith have each recently introduced packages of template mock-ups that are ready to showcase your art. If I was in the market to purchase mock-up templates, I would purchase both of these packages. Each offers great information that I think compliments each other. Information about the two packages is below. Note: The reason why I am not planning on purchasing these packages is because I already have a slew of mock-up templates that I have created. Although, I am really tempted!


Tara Reed has introduced "Product Mock-UP Magic." The package is composed of 46 Photoshop files with professional photographs of stationery, tabletop and gift industry templates on a CD. Included are nine video tutorials with more than two hours of instructions in applying art/patterns to the mock-ups.

J'net Smith has introduced "PCLS Collections and Presentations Package with 107 Product Template!" This e-book has 107 product templates, instructions on how to apply designs to the templates, and articles on how to create marketable collections and develop art licensing presentations for eight essential licensing categories.

Update:  A third mockup template product is available.  Read "Templates for Product Mockups - Another Great Package Available."   And to see a comparison of all three packages, read "Product Mock-up Templates & comparison of template packages."     

Monday, November 2, 2009

Finding Manufacturers that License Art


Artists often ask if there is a list of manufacturers that license art. Unfortunately I am aware of only a few sources that lists a variety of product manufacturers but they are expensive. But a free list of greeting card manufacturers is available on artist Kate Harper's blog.

So where can you find manufacturers that license art? Well it is mostly done by research which takes a lot of time and effort. Or you can sign on with an art licensing agency and let them do the work of contacting manufacturers for you. A good agency has hundreds if not thousands of contact information for manufacturers that they have accumulated over many years of research. They also have contacts that many artists working alone would have a hard time making such as manufacturers that only do mail order or direct-to-retail.

And once you find manufacturers, your work is just beginning because you then have to find out if your art style will fit in their product lines. You also need to contact them in order to find out the contact person to get submission guidelines. Some of that information may be on manufacturer websites but in many cases you still need to call. Below are some links and suggestions on how to find manufacturers that license art.

Links to lists of manufacturers that license art
1. Free list of Greeting Card Companies. Kate Harper is maintaining a free list of greeting card manufactures with contact information and links to submission guidelines in her blog article "Artist & Writer Submission Guidelines."

2. Source Book. EPM Communications publishes a yearly Source Book that lists (among other information) manufacturers that license art. However, I do not feel that the expense of the book ($375) is worthwhile for art licensors. Read my blog article "Licensing Resource - EPM Communications" for the reason why.

3. LIMA Licensing DataBase. LIMA (International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association) maintains a list of licensees but you must belong to LIMA in order to access contact information in it. I am not a member so I do not know if the information on the list is valuable for art licensing. LIMA seems to focus more on character and brand licensing than art so it may not be worthwhile to join just to be able to access their database. I could not find the cost of membership on their site but I suspect that it is expensive.

Ways to find manufactures that license art
1. Window Shop. Look at products in a variety of stores, check information on hang tags for the manufacturer, and search for the manufacturer on the internet to get contact and art submission information.

2. Trade Magazines. Read trade magazines and look at advertisements for manufacturers that license art. Kate Harper has a good list of trade magazines in her blog article "List of Trade Magazines for Card and Gift Industry."

3. Licenses that are Recently Granted. The License Finder database of licenses that have been recently granted on the License Magazine website can be searched by property, licensee products, agent/licensor, and category to find art licensed and the manufacturer that licensed it. This database is dependent upon licensors and licensees entering the information into it and unfortunately not enough do. As a result, it is VERY incomplete. But you still can find some manufacturers that license art and use that information to search the internet for their websites.

4. Trade Show Vendor Directories. Looking at trade shows directories is a good way to find manufacturers but not all the manufacturers license art so you will have your work cut out for you in finding ones that do. Another source is to look at lists of permanent manufacturer showrooms located in major US cities. The largest is in the AmericasMartAtanta (Mart) with over 5000 permanent showrooms. During the January Atlanta Gift Show the number of manufacturers swells with the addition of over 5000 temporary booths. By checking the Mart permanent showroom exhibitor directory you will be able to find the names of manufactures by category (i.e. gift wrap/ packaging, greeting cards, linens/decorative textiles). Some of them have paid for a virtual store advertising so that you can see examples of their products and contact information. For most you will need to search the internet in order to get contact information from their websites.

5. Walk Trade Shows. You need the proper credentials to attend trade shows but walking trade shows is a good way to find manufacturers that licensed art. Unfortunately many trade shows are getting smaller and not as many manufacturers are exhibiting. The Gift Show in Atlanta is the largest one in the US and a good way to find manufacturers that license art.

6. Exhibit at Licensing Shows. Although exhibiting at licensing shows is expensive, it is one of the best ways to find manufacturers that license art. The Surtex show in May seems to be the show that draws the most manufacturers looking for art. Read "Art Licensing Trade Shows" article for a list of licensing shows.

Read more articles about manufacturers by visiting the Manufacturers section of this blog.  Some include links to manufacturers that license art.