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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, May 10, 2010

Advantages in Getting Multi SKU Licensing Contracts

There are two advantages in getting multi SKU licensing deals - good money and visibility of the art. SKU (pronounced skew) means a stock-keeping unit and is used by retailers to keep track of individual items for inventory. In the fabric industry EACH fabric in a collection is a SKU. For example, a fabric collection could contain six patterns but have 12 fabrics because of multiple colorways. And the artist receives royalties on each of the 12 fabrics. For bathroom products, a bathmat, a shower curtain, a toothbrush holder, a soap dish, a soap dispenser, etc. are each separate SKUs. So if an artist licenses one collection* of designs to a manufacturer she/he will be paid royalties for each SKU which can add up to a substantial amount of money.

Besides getting significant money in multi SKU deals, an artist gains visibility of her/his art. Collections of products are placed together sometimes in their own racks which makes an impact with the consumer. That means more visibility of the art and thus more sales. The more sales the more the manufacturer reps notice and pass on that information to other manufacturers which could generate additional licensing deals. This may create a snowball effect and the reason why recently there have been a proliferation of art on products by artists Jim Shore and Susan Winget.

So how do you get multi SKU licensing deals?
Well you need to:
1. have art that consumers want.  Use an unique art style and create popular themes.

2. create design collections that are cohesive.*

3. approach manufacturers that create multiple product SKUs such as fabric manufacturers, greeting card manufactures, or companies such as Highland Graphics, Inc. or Evergreen Enterprises, Inc. that produce a multiple of different type of products.

4. convince the manufacturer that your art is perfect for their products. It helps if the art is formatted in several different shapes (see the art at the beginning of the article) and as mock-ups of the products that the manufacturer produce so that they can visualize the art on their products. It also helps, but not necessarily a must, if the art has already been successful on products in other industries and translates well onto the manufacturer products that you are "pitching" to.

* A collection can be one central design or theme formated different ways (fabric, bath, tabletop, etc.) or it can be a series of cohesive designs such as for a greeting card line. Read "What are Art Collections and Why Create Them?" and read articles about creating collections in the "Art Collections/ Mockups" section of this blog.  Make sure you read this article comments to see what an art director said about making interesting cohesive collections for multi SKUs!

If you have a comment about this article, please click on the below comment section to enter it.


  1. Thank-you, Joan, very inspiring.

  2. The artwork featured here looks dated. A true cohesive collection consists of compelling coordinating designs, interesting crops, textures, mix and match print&pattern. You repeat the same motif across all sku's this is dull - not very exciting. I suggest you review your blog. As an Art Director dealing multiple disciplines in product development, I can assure you that you need to explore.

  3. WOW this is a fantastic comment and thank you for sharing this information about making exciting collections. I would be very interested in doing an article about this concept and would love for you to contact me ( so that we can collaborate on an article. Of course, I would give you credit and link to your and/or your company site. Interested?