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Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Art Licensing Agency Launched - Huffman Licensing

Jim Huffman and Kimberly Montgomery have launched Huffman Licensing and are seeking artists to represent.

For Immediate Release

Experienced artist, longtime business pro launch licensing agency for artists

Roseville, Calif.—A successful artist and an expert in contract negotiations and business innovation - with a combined 60 years of professional experience - have partnered to launch Huffman Licensing, a fine art licensing, marketing and consulting firm.

The new firm will represent a select group of artists, each with a unique style and perspective, and will assist the artists in promoting their work to manufacturers in the gift and paper products industry, according to Huffman Licensing President Jim Huffman.

Huffman, an expert in contract negotiations, business start-ups and venture capital, joined with Kimberly Montgomery, a fine artist with a successful career as a licensed artist, to start the new business.

Huffman Licensing will serve as a professional intermediary between the artists and the manufacturers to handle contracts, distribution and fees, Montgomery explained. The agency will seek to get artists' original work placed on a range of items, from cards, coffee mugs and decorative flags to gift items, notebooks and journals - essentially any item that can feature an illustration.

"We plan to start out representing 10 to 12 talented artists with whom we will work diligently to advance their art and make sure their work is commercially successful," Huffman said.

The duo's combined expertise are a perfect match for artists looking to make in-roads into the profitable licensed art field.

Huffman has a 35-year track record in corporate and independent bank operations, lending and sales. Along the way he found a niche in local bank start-ups and assisting banks in adjusting their focus from operations to sales mode.

"It just comes natural for me," Huffman said of his expertise in contracts and negotiations. "I can see a challenge, hear the parameters and turn that into a win-win situation."

Montgomery's background as an artist and art instructor make her a strong evaluator of artists' portfolios, and a valuable advisor on how to develop a portfolio that is sellable. "I know art and I have a deep respect for the talent and time that goes into each piece. That's what I bring to the table," she noted. As an experienced licensed artist, she also touts strong relationships with a variety of reputable manufacturers.

"Having Kimberly as an artist and my background in negotiations and corporate contracts make this partnership a perfect pairing," Huffman summed up.

Huffman Licensing is currently reaching out to prospective artists in need of representation. The company seeks to represent artists from a number of styles and genres, as well as graphic artists who perhaps work more with words than imagery to create their art.

"There are so many exceptionally talented artists out there who have incredible work, but don't know what do to do with it. We want to help them make their work successful," Montgomery said.

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5/11 Huffman Licensing has been renamed Montage Licensing.  Click here for contact information.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Photoshop Tip: Transforming One Image into Different Looking Images

 Using the warp (in version CS3 and above) and puppet warp (in version CS5) tools in Photoshop (PS) is a fast and easy way to change and distort the appearance of motifs. What is useful with this technique is that you need to paint only icons for a motif such as a flower + leaf + stem, duplicate them numerous times, and distort them by applying the warp tool to the icons. This is a simple and fast method in creating different looking motifs to add variety to patterns and backgrounds. Note: In this tutorial, the warp tool will be used separately on the flower, leaf, and stem for better results. After the distortion is finished, they can be assembled into finished flower motifs.


Either create a flower and leaf in PS or scan a painted one and place on a layer in PS.  Hint: Read "Photoshop Tip: Easy to Create Motifs for Art Collections" to learn a great technique in creating different looking flowers from one flower petal.

The flower blossom example at the left was created with this technique. A brown center was added and the flower was shaded with a combination of the dodge and/or burn tools and the drop shadow, inner shadow, and inner glow located in Layer / Layer Style option window.


1. Select the flower motif by using the Command + letter T keys on the keyboard. Then select the Warp tool in the Edit / Transform window. A nine box grid appears over the image. Use the cursor to move the grid lines and the corner-control-point-handles (CCPH) on the four corners of the grid to distort the flower. The example at the left illustrates how the flower was distorted by moving the grid lines and the two bottom CCPH up. Press the Enter key when you are finished transforming the image.


The example at the left illustrates how the flower is distorted even more by moving the grid lines up, pulling the top two CCPH down, and pushing the bottom left and right CCPH upward and inward .





2. The top leaf in the illustration at the left is the original painted leaf. The bottom illustration shows how the leaf is distorted with the warp tool by moving the grid lines and the top and bottom CCPH upward.




The example at the left illustrates how much the shape of the leaf can be distorted by moving the grid lines and CCPH.





3. The warp tool does not do a good job in bending a straight line such as a flower stem. You can either paint the stem or use the puppet warp tool (if you own Photoshop version CS5). The illustration at the left shows the original painted stem and one (on the right) with yellow pins that I placed by clicking on the stem while in the puppet warp tool (Edit / Puppet Warp). Click on a pin and hold down the mouse while moving it to change the position of the stem. Press the Enter key when finished.



The illustration at the left shows another distortion of the stem.






4. Once the flower blossom, leaf, and stem has been warped, assemble it into a flower motif and merge the layers onto one layer. The flower can then be used with other flowers that have been warped and other motifs for backgrounds and patterns in your art collections. Have fun!


I welcome any comments. Please write them in the comment section below.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Editorial: Not all art is licensable

First let me clarify the title of this editorial that states "not all art is licensable." I actually believe that it is possible for artists to license ANY art style and ANY theme. However, if the theme and art style does not appeal to the mass market,* artists may be very limited in number of manufacturers that will license it. Manufacturers are looking for art to enhance their products so consumers will purchase them. Thus, the purpose of ART LICENSING IS TO SELL PRODUCTS to make money. And to make money, manufacturers need to sell their products to a lot of people.

*Note: The term mass market can refer to chain stores that focus on high sales at low prices such as Walmart. However, In this editorial I am using the term mass market to refer to a large market segment of the population as opposed to small specialized niche market segments.

I get many e-mails every month from artists who cannot understand why they are unable to license their art or get a licensing agent to represent them. Many have gone to art or design school and learned the techniques to create beautiful art and surface design. Some of them are successful in selling their art at street fairs, in art galleries, as illustrations for children books, or on products in print-on-demand internet websites such as Cafepress, Zazzle, and Etsy. But just because the art is beautiful and successful in these industries does not necessarily mean artists will be successful in licensing the art onto products to the mass market. This editorial discusses why artists have problems licensing their art despite it being well received in the industries mentioned above.

Selling art at street fairs, art galleries, children books, and print-on-demand websites are examples of niche (pronounced "nitch" or "neesh") markets. Niche markets are aimed at satisfying certain market needs such as specific consumer demographics, specific geographic areas, specific type of products, specific type of art, etc. There are some manufacturers that specialize in licensing art for particular niche markets but the majority produce products for the mass market. Thus, their products and the art they license MUST appeal to a broad spectrum of consumers.

Mass Market
Art licensed to the mass market is image-theme driven. Images and themes that appeal to a wide range of consumers are flowers, butterflies, cats, seashells and other coastal images, wine related images, roosters, cows and other farm images, Christmas trees, Santa, snowmen, etc. In other words, images that are seen everyday or during the holidays that evoke an emotional response (how beautiful, cute, funny, inspirational, etc.) are the most sought after art for products. Thus, art themes that are not in vogue or does not have central images that evoke an emotional response is unlikely to be licensed by most manufacturers. For instance, abstract art can be interesting and the colors beautiful but generally products with abstract designs does not appeal to a wide range of consumers. Thus, manufacturers putting abstract art on their products sell to a niche market such as the fabric and clothing industry. Likewise, a serene lake with snow-capped mountains in the background that is beautifully painted would have limited licensing potential; possibly a print or jigsaw puzzle manufacturer but few others. However, by painting a dock on the lake and possibly a person fishing off it in the foreground with only a hint of the mountains in the background appeals to more consumers and enhances the possibly of licensing the art.

Niche Markets
Niche markets are usually aimed at selling products to consumers interested in specific themes such as southwest and northwest Indian art, and western art. Even the art of famous fine art masters such as Monét, van Gogh, and Rembrandt is a niche market. Products with their art is sold mainly as art prints and in museum gift stores. Contemporary art sold at street fairs probably will have themes that are popular with local customers such as cows and roosters if located in a farming area, or grapes and vineyards if located in wine country. At the present, those themes just so happen to be popular for the mass market and thus could be licensed. However, also sold at street fairs may be paintings of local historical buildings or unusual animal breeds that are raised locally (i.e. llama). Those themes may be popular locally but will most likely not have a great enough appeal to the mass market to entice a manufacturer to license them.

Likewise, local landmark art displayed in galleries in popular tourist cities such as San Francisco and lodge art near Yellowstone National Park may be popular in those venues but not as prevalent elsewhere. Generally, art galleries are a niche market because they cater to customers who wish to purchase original paintings and can afford to do so. Gallery customers tend to seek specific artists, art themes, and styles of art that is not popular to the mass market.

Often, the art in children books are illustrations of children or animals doing some activity. Even if the illustrations are excellently rendered, they may not be licensable because individual illustrations supporting actions in a story most likely will not appeal to the mass market. For example, showing a dog running down the street or sitting in the bed of a pickup truck are not images a consumer will buy because they do not emote an emotional response without the story line. However, an image such as a cute little puppy tugging a long suffering older dog's ear appeals to consumers and could be licensed. Thus, book illustrators may or may not have the art suitable for licensing. However, some of the illustrations already created for books mostly likely could be adapted for licensing if the artist is willing to rework them.

Print-on-demand internet stores are ideal for consumers that want unique, specific themes, and personalized products. Some artists that paint specific themes not available in the mass market find this venue a viable way to sell their art. For instance, artists that paint a variety of dog breeds do well selling products with their art via internet stores but have a difficult time finding manufacturers willing to license them. The reason is that dog lovers are breed specific and are interested in only purchasing products with art of a particulate breed. Many artists offer all sorts of products on these websites with single icons (flowers, animals, geometric shapes, etc.) that can be personalized. This type of art may work well for a print-on-demand e-stores but is not normally wanted by manufacturers selling to the mass market.

Is your art licensable?
Of course, if you already have licensing deals and continue to get them, then you know that your art is licensable. If you are new to licensing and not yet been able to get contracts or find an agent to represent you, perhaps you are not painting themes that appeal to the mass market or not unique enough or your portfolio lacks diversity of themes. One way to find out is to get as many opinions as possible about your art from persons that are knowledgeable about art licensing and that are willing to give you a honest opinion. These could be artists that have licensed their art, licensing agents, licensing consultants,** and manufacturers. If you are serious in wanting to license your art DO NOT take the comments personally and negatively. Turn the knowledge you learn into positive ways to evolve your work so that you can license it. Read "Don't give up Your Dreams and Grow a Thick Skin - Part 1."

** Read the article "On Art Licensing Coaches (consultants)."

Artists and agents recommend that you should paint the subjects that you love but if you are serious about licensing you may have to do some compromising. For example, if all you paint is realistic looking elephants and elephant themed art is not the trend you can wait until the trend comes around (it is bound to sooner or later) or add popular themes to your portfolio. Artists that are successful in licensing their art is constantly evolving their art. Read the following articles about evolving art by agent Suzanne Cruise: "How to Keep Art Fresh & New: Continually Evolve Your Work - Part 1" and "How to Keep Art & New: Reworking Old Art for Today's Greeting Card Market." 

Check out these websites:
Look at the websites of the following artists that have successfully licensed their art. I purposely chose artists with different art styles to show that all kinds are licensable. Notice the kinds and variety of themes that they create.

coastal theme artist Paul Brent
country artist Susan Winget
fine artist Alan Giana
whimsical artist Robin Roderick
surface designer Ellen Crimi-Trent

The information in this editorial is my opinion and NOT gospel. Get information from as many people as possible and use what works best for you!

Make sure that you read the comments to this editorial.  Not everyone agrees with my opinions which is the reason why you need to get information from multiple people so that you can make informative decisions about your art career in licensing!

Comments are welcome. Please click on comments and write them in the comment window at the bottom.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Photoshop Tip: Easy to Create Motifs for Art Collections

Flowers and geometric shapes are great motifs to embellish backgrounds and patterns in art collections. And it is easy and fast to create them in Photoshop by using the transform tool to do a continual repeat and rotate of a simple shape. The examples in this tutorial shows how to take a simple oval shape and create different looking flower motifs. By using this same technique, an endless number of geometrics motifs and looks can be easily created for art collections.

Motif A:
Step 1: On a new layer create an oval by using the elliptical marquee too to start creating a flower.
Step 2. Select a color in the foreground color swatch (at bottom of tool bar) and fill it by using the bucket tool. This example uses the color black.
Step 3. Select the Free Transform command by pressing the Command key plus the T key on the keyboard. A bounding box appears that surrounds the oval (not shown in example). A center marker (circle with a dot in the center surrounded by four tick marks) is in the center of the oval. Note: The red dot on the oval in the example represents the center marker. The oval will be duplicated and rotated around the center marker.


Step 4. Hold down the Shift key and drag outside the bounding box to rotate the oval. It will move/jump in 15 degree increments.

Note: There are 360 degrees in a circle. Thus, 360 degrees / 15 degrees (1 jump) = 24 half ovals around the circle; 360 / 30 (2 jumps) = 12; 360 / 45 (3 jumps) = 8, etc.

The example shows, the oval rotated to 30 degrees (two 15 degree jumps). Release the Shift key and press Enter. Note: Because the oval was rotated to 30 degree, the finished flower will have 12 petals after the petal is duplicated and rotated around the center marker six times.


Step 5: Hold down the Command + Shift + Option keys and press the letter T to duplicate and rotate petal.

Step 6: Continue holding down the Command + Shift + Option keys and pressing the letter T until the flower is complete ( four more times). Of course, you can place a different colored circle in the center to make it look more like a flower. Note: Doing this procedure generates six layers. You may want to select the layers and merge them into one (Command + E) to reduce the file size and make moving and duplicating the flower easier.


Motif B: Now to have fun. The center marker can be moved to any position. And by moving it, the look of the same oval motif changes. For instance, by moving the center marker to the tip of the oval (see red dot in the example) and doing steps 4 - 6 (previous example), the flower looks more like a daisy.

Motif C: And by moving the center marker to below the tip of the oval (see red dot in the example), the daisy has longer and thinner petals with a hole in the center of the completed flower. Of course, a filled circle can be placed in the middle to cover the hole.

Motif D: Lastly, by moving the center marker to the side of the petal (see red dot in the example) and rotating the oval three 15 degree jumps the motif looks more like a clog wheel with eight spokes.

Have fun by using this fast technique to create interesting motifs for your art collections. Experiment with all sorts of geometric / free form shapes, place the center marker in different positions, and rotate the initial shape in different 15 degree jumps. The type of motifs created is endless!

Any comments that you would like to share about this article would be greatly appreciated. Click on the comment section below.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Atlanta Gift Show (Jan. 12 - 19, 2011) - Successful Despite Weather

The January Atlanta Gift Show is really two shows in one for artists that license their art. The main purpose of the show is for manufacturers to sell products to retailers. But it is also an excellent way for artists to find manufacturers that license art and to check out trends by walking the show.* The show also has a License and Design area where artists can exhibit their art to be seen by the many manufacturer art and licensing directors that attend the show.

* December 2011- Update on artists registering for the show.  The Atlantas Mart has changed their policy starting with the January 2012 show.  The show is for wholesale buyers only and artists must either meet their wholesale buyer requirements in order to walk the show or exhibit in the License and Design area.

The AtlantasMart Atlanta is the largest permanent wholesale marketplace of its kind. It has about 4500 exhibitors in three multistory (13 to 20 floors) buildings connected by bridges on selected floors. The Mart expected to have 92,000 retail buyers attend the show. That was before a huge snow storm hit Atlanta which canceled flights the day before the permanent showrooms opened on Wednesday, January 12. And the icy roads around the Mart made walking and driving very difficult. The weather may have stopped some buyers from attending but according to blog posts by retailers and trade magazines the show was hopping by the time the temporary showrooms opened on Friday, January 14. And buyers were definitely purchasing products! Some exhibitors said that this was their best show in five years. This is REALLY good news because if stores are not buying product then licensing revenue to artists would drop or even stop and manufacturers will not license more art. If you have not been to the Mart, catch a peek at some of the showrooms and product "eye candy" by viewing four short videos on youtube.com produced by AtlantasMart (AMCConnectVideo).

This is the third year for the License and Design section at Atlanta where artists exhibit their art to be licensed. The section is slowly growing and much smaller (27 booths) than the Surtex show (over 300 booths). Some artists and agents exhibiting in the section had a very difficult time getting to Atlanta but all were able to setup in time for the Friday opening day. The new location made it easier for manufacturers to find even with the wrong advertised location showroom number and the lack of signage. According to many of the artist blogs (listed below), the exhibitors made lots of contacts with manufacturers and felt they had a successful show.

However, with any licensing show the "proof in the pudding" is how many of the contacts made at the show turns into licensing contracts. Most times only a small percentage do and those can take months and even years. And that will not happen unless artists and agents follow-up with the contacts they made. Find out more about the REALITIES of the show and what happens after the show by reading licensing agent Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios article "Now the real work begins!" And also read "Atlanta Snippets" by Jim on comments he heard at the show.

View the following blog articles, for artist experiences in walking and exhibiting at Atlanta, pictures of an artist booth, and see artists art on products introduced at the show. Note: For artists new to licensing, viewing these blogs is an excellent way to see what themes and kind of art have been licensed.

Beverly Dyer "Atlanta"

Carol Eldridge "Atlanta Gift Show and License and Design Show"

Ellen Crimi-Trent "Back from Atlanta-follow up!"

Jane Maday "More Gift Show Chat"

Jane Shasky "AmericasMart - Atlanta"

Kate Harper "Working With Leanin' Tree"

Paula Joerling "Atlanta Show"

Phyllis Dobbs "Atlanta Gift Market - An Inspiration for good things to come!"

Robin Davis "Pictures from The Atlanta Gift Mart"

Comments and suggestions are welcome. Please click on comments and write them in the comment window at the bottom of this article.