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Art Licensing by artist Joan Beiriger: I'm happy to share art licensing info but please
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Don't give up Your Dreams and Grow a Thick Skin - Part 1

This is a two part article because it is long but it is a must read for artists wishing to license their art.

Recently there has been some posts on the Art of Licensing yahoo forum ( about how hard it is to license art. I know I have found it a continual struggle to license my art.

When I first started licensing, I was turned down time and time and time again when I was looking for an agent. I decided to educate myself on art licensing anyway I could when I didn't get anywhere in licensing my art by myself. I searched the web for articles about licensing, subscribed to licensing magazines, went to seminars, listened to audio CDs but nothing seemed to help. Then I discovered art licensing coaches ( who helped me understand the quality, type of art, and marketing materials that I needed to compete in the art licensing industry. The main point of the above discussion is that I didn't give up. I also grew a thick skin when I was told that my art wasn't suitable for a certain type of product or that it just wasn't good enough. I didn't take the comments personally and I listened to what was said. I improved my art, created collections, and did mock-ups. Now I have an agent and I am finally going somewhere.

I'm not alone in my mantra to not give up a dream. Read what Barbara Johansen (artist and writer ) and BJ Lantz (illustrator and designer) have to say. Their comments are well worth reading!

Comments by Barbara Johansen

There is really no field in the arts that is an easy one and that does not meet with obstacles and challenges. In that way licensing is no different from writing or illustrating. All of those arts depend largely on someone buying what you produce; you have to figure out what the particular markets seek and satisfy those needs.

But I do think that tenacity is equally as important as talent. I've seen a lot of wonderful talent go to waste when an artist gets easily discouraged or does not have a thick skin. My advice to anyone just starting out as a commercial artist (illustration and licensing) is to just get going and get tough, because the competition and art directors and editors can do a number on your ego if you do not understand the artist/client relationship.

One should never give up on one's dreams. There are just too many examples in the arts of people who kept hearing "No" over and over again, but kept going. Then finally someone says "yes"--and magic happens.

My advice: keep learning and keep trying.



  1. I completely agree. I think if people put just as much time into art licensing as they did other things they have in their lives (getting a college degree, training for a new job), then it's like anything else. I don't think art licensing is such an unapproachable career--and I've had my share. I think working in social services (I did for a decade) was 10 times harder than preparing, planning and designing for licensing.

  2. Great advice. Seeing it in print makes me feel so much better. You know how our minds can take us down the "old tapes" road and it's simply that this is a journey and not a sprint. Joan you are a huge asset to my understanding of this industry and I will once again say THANK YOU....