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Monday, December 16, 2013

Art Licensing Editorial: Can You Make a Living Licensing Art Now?

One of the most asked questions by artists interested in licensing their art is "Can you make a living licensing art?" Five years ago before the start of the great recession (started late 2007 but often referred to as 2008) many artists were able to get enough licensing deals that they actually could make a living licensing their art. Now six years later because of the change in economy and consumer spending, the art licensing industry is much different and less artists are able to make a living ONLY from licensing their art. Most of the artists that do make a living by licensing have been licensing their work for years, have built a consumer following, and have a solid relationship with the manufacturers that license their work.

The impact of the great recession on consumer spending has created a new norm of bargain hunting according to "How the Great Recession has changed the way we shop – even during the holidays." 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.

Retail stores are giving consumers what they want with constant discounts at stores such as clothing at Kohl's, and fabric and hobby supplies at JoAnn Fabric and Craft. And to attract consumers to their stores and make more revenue, chain stores are turning into one stop shopping that include food items such as at Walmart and Target. Also, many retailers not only have brick-and-mortar stores but also sell their products on the internet. Service centers not usually associated with the selling of products are now selling items related to their service such as t-shirts at exercise centers. Even the U.S. Postal Service offices sell greeting cards and other products.

Of course the shift in consumer spending has a huge impact on the art licensing industry. Retailers are buying less products and many times discount seasonal items well before the end of the season. This results in manufacturers often doing only one production run of the product and producing less products than pre 2008. Thus, artists get less revenue for the design and it may not be produced again the following year even though the licensing contract will not expire for several more years.

So what can those artists new to licensing or those not yet making a living licensing their art do to improve their revenue? Licensing agent Maria Brophy had the same dilemma that many businesses did during the recession. In an article, Maria said "In 2008, when everyone was hit hard by the recession, Drew and I were still going strong with our business of selling and licensing art. But our revenues gradually started to decline, as many of our best clients and licensees, went out of business. OUR INCOME DROPPED BY 40%. Then it continued to tank… By 2011, we were bringing in 50% of the revenue we were earning before the recession. And we started to panic. You see, just like many small business owners, we thought the recession would be a temporary thing, and that we would go back to selling art in the way we always did. But we were wrong. Things changed and never went back." Read what Maria did to counteract the decline in her business of selling and licensing Drew's art by reading "Where the Money is Hiding and the Thriving Artist Summit".

If you read, Maria's article you will find that even before the recession she and Drew were not just licensing Drew's work but also selling it. The term often heard in art licensing is "don't quit your day job" is so true. Not all artists can earn enough in licensing and they need other means of revenue to support themselves. Some have full or part time jobs that may or may not be related to art. Some sell their art in galleries, at art and craft shows, or do commission work. And, others sell their art on internet stores. Read, "Art Licensing: Should you sell art on POD stores?" for the pros and cons on having a print-on-demand internet store.

Licensing art has never been easy. And, it has gotten harder. Licensing experts that have been in the industry for decades state that what worked previously in successfully licensing art does not always work now. There are less retailers purchasing products with licensed art on them. And, manufactures have much more art to choose because there are more artists licensing their art. Thus, the number of available licensing deals are less and spread among more artists. So the bottom line is that you may not be able to make a living just by licensing your art even with the improvement of the economy. Licensing art can be a good way to bring in revenue but you still may need additional ways to make a living.

The change in the licensing industry mean that artists not only should but MUST change the way they approach licensing. Getting licensing deals is very competitive and the more the artist stands out in having the right art and willingness to satisfy the manufacturer the better chance for her/him to license art.

To optimism the possibilities in getting licensing deals, I recommend artists:
• create art that the consumer want on products. That means you must research each product industry to learn what themes and color combinations consumers are attracted to so they will buy the products and manufacturers will license your work.

• send art that fits the manufacturer product line. You should analyze why your art fits (or not) specific products for specific manufacturers and be able to explain the reason why your art should be licensed to the manufacturer if asked. To find out why you should do this, read art agent Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios surprising article "Dude, what's Your Problem?"

• send art for licensing consideration in the proper formats. For instance, do not send horizontal or square images to flag manufacturers. They need images that are formatted vertically. However, if the manufacturer also license art for floor mats and/or mailbox wraps then an image formatted horizontally is not only appropriate but wise to send with the vertically formatted image.

• send collections of art to manufacturers that require multiply images for their products. For instance, images for tabletop ware often require a collection of multiple central images, borders and patterns but a greeting card only need central images. Thus, there is no need to send patterns and borders with the central image to greeting card manufacturers if that is the only product they manufacture.

• send mock-ups of the product if appropriate so that the manufacturer can see what the art will look like on the product. Greeting cards and flags do not need mockups but it is advisable to send mock-ups for a collection of art to tabletop manufacturers.

• be willing to edit art to manufacturer specifications and tell them so when you submit the art.

• be willing to send high resolution (HiRes) art to manufacturers when requested for client presentations. Many manufacturers presell their products before producing them. Note: Requests for HiRes art are without any assurance that the art will be licensed. And, sending the art is done without a contract so the artist needs to trust the manufacturer before sending them.

• And, most importantly build relationships with manufacturer art/licensing directors and follow up after submitting art. Read art licensing agent Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios article "Hey Remember Me?" on the importance of building relationships with manufacturers and follow up.

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).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Licensing Art to the Decorative Tile Industry

Ceramic decorative tiles are used in kitchen backsplashes; murals and accent pieces in kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, and on floors; as wall art; and as trivets for hot dishes. Making tiles and placing art on them are relatively easy to do. Thus, the manufacturing of them is not usually outsourced to foreign companies but done locally and ideal to be customized to individual needs.

There are many artists that sell tiles in POD (print on demand) internet stores and on their own websites. And, art is licensed by some internet tile companies. These companies tend to sell their tiles via POD to individual consumers and not to retail stores. Therefore, the licensing revenue may be very small because the tiles are not sold in mass quantities. Note: Not all artists license their art just for the money.  The aim of some artists is to also see their art on products. They are willing to do POD deals even though the revenue may not be a large amount.

As when submitting art to any manufacturer, artists must research what art theme and style each manufacturer use on their tiles. Many use fine art scenes, floral, and coastal designs but some use a variety of other art styles such as abstracts. Also, some tile manufacturers want to showcase artists work with the same theme. So be prepared to have collections of art that can be mixed and matched such as different flower designs.

Tile manufacturers generally want art that:
1. has themes that work well on tile for the home. Look at the manufacturer's websites to see the art themes they use on their tiles.
2. is formatted in squares or can be divided into squares for murals. Look at the manufacturer's website to see if they specify the tile size. Note: This may not be necessary but it is always advisable to make it easy for the manufacturer so they will license the art.
3. can be used for single tiles or murals. Show the art as collections of vertical, horizontal, and square motifs (from the painting or created separately). The manufacturer may only be interested in square motifs for accent pieces or only the painting (either horizontal or vertical) for a mural. But, having a collection increases licensing opportunities.
4. the artist is willing to edit (change colors, remove icons, reformat) to their specifications.

Tile Manufacturers:
Artwork on Tile

Cape Cod Treasure Chest

My Backsplash

Pacifica Tile Art Studio

The Tile Mural Store

Tile by Design

Read more articles about other manufacturers under the word Manufacturers in the Topics section on the side bar.

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).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Art Licensing: Should you sell art on POD stores?


Frequently asked questions by artists about POD (print on demand) websites are "can I make money by opening a POD store and will it hurt my chance in licensing my art if I sell my art on them". Continue reading for information about POD websites and the drawbacks in using POD sites to sell art on products.

For artists not familiar with POD, POD is placing art on a product WHEN a customer orders it. Thus, POD companies avoid having to carry inventory and saves money if the art on the products do not sell. Consumers are attracted to POD websites when they are looking for art on products that are not readily available in retail stores. The draw back is that the products tend to be more expensive and possibly a poorer quality depending on the POD company.

Some POD e-companies sell licensed art on their products directly to consumers such as Elms Puzzles (wooden jigsaw puzzles), Bradford Exchange (checks), and Keka Designs (cases for e-devices). Some are POD services where artists have "stores" selling their art on single products like t-shirts while other sites such as Cafe Press and Zazzle sell a variety of products. Many of these sites offer fulfillment services which produce the art on the products, collects the payment and ships the products to the customer. Artists are usually paid monthly for the products sold in their store. Note: e-companies like Etsy also has artist stores but it is not really POD because Etsy store owners make or purchase their own products and may not make the products on demand. Etsy collects the payment but it is the responsibility of the store owner to ship the products to the customers.

POD Manufacturers that License Art
Besides POD e-companies that sell to the public there are also POD manufacturers that sell to retailers. They license art and use a POD business model. In other words, the manufacturer licenses the art but the artist does not get any revenue UNLESS the licensee sells the art on the product. Numerous print and home decor companies use this POD business model. The draw back for an artist licensing her/his work to this type of manufacturer is that no revenue or very little revenue may be received and the art is not available for licensing to other same product manufacturers unless it is a non-exclusive arrangement.

Artist POD Stores
Many artists open stores on POD websites to supplement their income. And, some hope to be discovered by manufacturers or art licensing agencies. But, just opening a store is NOT good enough! Because, no matter how beautiful or unique the art, it will be lost among the thousands of products on the site UNLESS extensive marketing is done by the artist. An artist cannot just place her/his art on product templates supplied by the site and sit back and watch the money roll in. It does NOT happen! Marketing is usually done on the artist website, blogs and Facebook but she/he needs a large customer base to be effective in driving customers to the POD site. Some artists offer discounts, personalization of the product, have contests, or offer free products to entice customers. Note: POD sites advertise that they market the artist art. From what I have heard, the results are usually not very productive. Thus, artists cannot depend on the POD website marketing efforts to get sales. For more information on POS sites read "Best Print-on-Demand Online Merchandise Stores". This article has good information but it is an old article so the evaluation of different POD sites on it is outdated. Also read a more up-to-date article, "Print On Demand sites mega-review". Recently Zazzle POD site is preferred by consumers over CafePress according Knoji Consumer Knowledge. And that is also true for artists according to comments on social media sites and "My Review of Zazzle.com: Printable Products and Posters on Demand".

According to rumors, some artists do well selling their art on POD sites. But, those artists have hundreds of products with the right kind of art and spend a lot of time promoting them. According to comments on different forums it appears that most artists with POD stores are lucky to make $25 to $100 a month and those are the ones that are doing some marketing. Having a gimmick, art that appeals to many consumers, and good marketing are really important in making money on POD sites. And that takes time and effort.

A negative in having a POD store is that it can be time intensive to upload art onto the sites when an artist has many products. Also, art is being lifted from the sites by dishonest individuals and companies. Comments on Facebook, other social media forums, and blogs continuously report copyright infringements. Googling the words "stealing art on (any POD site)" shows an alarming number of posts.

Licensing art may be problematic for artists with a POD store(s) as explained by art licensing consultant Jeanette Smith in her blog article "Print On Demand Products ... Is There a Place For Them in Art Licensing?" One point she makes is "If you sell products on your web site, be prepared to tell manufacturers about your sales results." Hence, if the sales are poor it may hinder you in licensing your work.  Read Jeanette's article for more information.

Article Recap
So, if you wish to have a POD store, you need to research POD sites and consider many things. What kind of products do you and should you put your art on? What POD site(s) should you choose for your store? Do you have the time and willing to promote your POD store(s)? And, will it hurt your ability to license your art if you have a POD store?

But, remember as with everything to do with art licensing there is never one right answer. What works for one artist may not work for another. And, that is why it is important to do research by reading as many articles and posts as you can about selling your art on POD stores so that you can make an educated decision on what works best for you. Good Luck!

Posts on Social Media
11/1/13 I posted links to this article on some social media forums and many artists chimed in with their experience and opinions in having POD stores.  Facebook Art of Licensing and LinkedIn Art of Licensing groups were especially active with very interesting and informative comments.  Note:  If you are not familiar with these forums you need to first belong to Facebook and/or LinkedIn and then you can ask to belong to the Art of Licensing group(s).  I posted this article as "Article: Should you sell art on POD stores?"  Forum posts are replaced by active posts so this one may not be visible on the forum page as less artists write comments. You may have to do a search to find it.


Make sure that you read the comments to this article.  Artists have shared valuable information about POD websites including ones not mentioned in the article!

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some persons 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, October 6, 2013

Licensing Art to Coaster Manufacturers

There are many companies that make coasters to protect furniture from drink containers. They are made of various materials such as paper/cardboard, stone, ceramic, cork and plastic. Coasters are considered not only useful items but also used in home decor. Thus, manufacturers are dependent on artists to create licensed art to help sell their products. All kind of themes are used on coasters from flowers, birds, butterflies, seashells to seasonal and holiday images. Some manufacturers licensed a variety of art styles while others stick to traditional fine art. Also, some manufacturers only use one design for a set of coasters, while others use two or four or even 24 designs. And some produce round or square or both shapes of coasters. Thus, artists MUST do their homework and learn what each manufacturer requires before submitting their work for licensing consideration.

Below is a check list when sending art to coaster manufacturers.
Does the art
1. have themes that the manufacture shows on their website or in retail stores or e-store websites? The themes shown normally are the themes that are good sellers and an artist has a better chance in getting a deal. Besides, the list of themes listed above, manufacturers may also periodically license trendy themes such as high heels or images for a niche market such as lodge or South West Indian.
2. belong with a collection of several images or is it a single image? If the manufacture uses four images in a set of coasters, the artist has a better chance in getting a deal if four images that go together are submitted.
3. use a style that the manufacturer licenses for their coasters? If the artist's style is illustrative and the manufacturer does not use that style on their coasters, the likely hood in getting a deal is slim. An exception might be when a new art style is emerging such as the current chalkboard style. It may be too new and not yet shown on the manufacturer's website.
4. have the proper format for the manufacturers coasters? An artist has a better chance in getting a deal, if the images are already formatted to the shape of the manufacturers products. For instance, If their coasters are round, then submit the art in a round format.

And, when submitting art to any manufacturer, you have a better chance in getting deals if you are easy to work with. Thus, mention in the Email or correspondence that you are willing to edit (change colors, remove icons, reformat) the art to their specifications. Below is a list of some manufacturers that produce coasters.

Manufacturers that Produce Coasters
Evergreen Enterprises / Cypress Home

Highland Graphics

Lang

Legacy

Magnet Works Ltd.

Thirstystone Coaster Company

Read more articles about manufacturers under the Topics section (on the side bar) by clicking on Manufacturers.

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).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Art Licensing Resource: New Book about Art Licensing by Artist and Agent Ronnie Walter

Licensed artist and licensing agent Ronni Walter of Two Town Studios has released a book about her story in learning to be an artist and licensing her work for products. "License to Draw" not only describes hilarious accounts that took place during her journey but also provides a lot of information about licensing including protecting your work, getting clients, and exhibiting at licensing trade shows. Her book can be purchased as a paperback book or a Kindle e-book on amazon.com.

Note: A GREAT introduction to the book is the video "Ronnie Walter, artist, writer and smart alec" on "Smart Creative Women with Monica lee". Ronnie discussed such things as there is no cookbook method to licensing art, how people now shop and its impact on art licensing, and how you need to create art by thinking about the product before creating the art.

The video and book are a MUST view/ read for those new to art licensing. And, even seasoned licensed artists will get some important reminders and may even some new information about the industry.

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).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Art Licensing: Avoid Spam Trigger Words in Emails

Corresponding via Email is the number one method in contacting persons in the art licensing industry. And, if those Emails end up in the recipients junk folder instead of their inbox, possible licensing consideration of art and important information may never be seen. Thus, it is important to know the words that should be avoided in the subject line and in the content of the Email that will trigger it as spam. Spam filters constantly change and depends on the recipients Email gatekeeper. As stated in "Spam Filters: The Truth about Email Marketing Gatekeepers", they block not only words but also symbols, writing in all caps, aggressively urgent language and especially trigger words in subject lines.

Some spam words are innocuous such as now, never, success, sample, deal, hello while others are more obviously as spam such as free, earn $, income, get, urgent. It is impossible to avoid all the words on spam lists when writing Emails. One word will not trigger it as spam but it will if the Email is over loaded with too many or the same word or phase is repeated too many times. Also avoid sending Emails with only a few words, or only a link to a website, or only one picture because spammers constantly do it. And, most importantly focus on the subject line of the Email. Avoid spam words but make sure it is engaging so that the recipient will read it. Below are links to lists of spam trigger words.

Spam Trigger Words
• "The Ultimate List of Email SpamTrigger Words"

• "Common words that trigger spam filters"

• "Spam Filters: The Truth about Email Marketing Gatekeepers"

• "A List of Common Spam Words"

Note: There are online tools that analyze Email content to test for spam trigger words. I have not used them because they require you to enter your Email address. I am leery that I may get spam if I give them my Email address since many are selling Email marketing services. But, if you are interested, checkout "Top Sites about: Spam Checkers."

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).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Art Licensing: The Importance in Knowing What Sells at Retail

It is important for artists to know what sells at retail to realize what art themes have the best chance in being licensed so that products sell through. But it is complicated because artists must create art that first please the manufacturers who think they know what the retailers want and the retailers think they know what consumers will buy. To find out what art sells, the artist must research, research, research by constantly walking retail stores, trade shows, trolling retail and manufacturer websites, blogs, Facebook pages, and asking questions of sales reps, manufacturer art directors, and shop owners/managers. It is a lot of work but it is an important part in the business of licensing art. Art licensing is NOT just creating art!

Way to find out what art sells at retail
 Manufacturers and retailers are always looking at their customer demographics (age, sex, where they live, income, etc.) to help them predict their spending habits. They survey their own customers, hire independent survey companies, and subscribe to newsletters and purchase reports on trends in consumer behavior from companies such as EPM Communications, inc. Artists can also purchase these publications to gain insight into the retail market but they are pricey.

A newsletter that I have found really interesting, helpful, and more affordable is Gift Beat. It tracks trends in the gift industry that is aimed at the retailer but also has very useful information for artists. It has informative articles, some top selling art on products, and lists charts of top manufacturers selling different products in the different regions across the United States. It is interesting to find out that if a particular manufacturer is a top seller in the Northeast they may be at the bottom or not listed at all for the Midwest or West. And it is interesting to see what type of products are top sellers for themes such as birds. Flags may be top sellers in the Northeast and South but figurines are the top sellers in the Midwest and West. All this information is useful when creating themes and knowing what manufacturers to target when submitting art.

More ways to find out what art sells at retail is to:
• read comments posted by retailers on manufacturer blog and Facebook sites

• ask art directors when talking to them on the phone

• ask managers and owners of small gift stores that sell licensed products. They are a wonderful source in finding out what sells. Managers and store owners have a surprising amount of knowledge about the artists and manufacturers of the products. And they love to talk about them when they are not busy helping customers.

• engage in a conversation with reps at wholesale trade shows.  It is sometimes possible to get information at regional shows but I have had a lot more success when walking the Atlanta gift show. One time I happened to approach a flag manufacturer when the traffic was dead and the owner was manning the showroom at Atlanta. He spent a half hour discussing with me the art on their flags, what were popular and what makes a great flag design.  Another time the owner of a melamine tabletop manufacturing company was helping to man the booth at a regional show and she made time to tell me what art themes are the most popular on their products.  That type of information is invaluable!

• check-out the best sellers on manufacture and retail websites. Some manufacture and retail websites allow the viewer to sort the products into different categories including best sellers. Look at websites of your favorite retailers and manufacturers to see if that capability is available. Below are a few.

Kohl's (retailer)
Lowe's (retailer)
Evergreen Enterprises (manufacturer)

Suggestions from artists:
Jill Meyer –  I always like to glance at what is on sale as well.  Often it is just seasonal that is on sale, but when there are other things, I try to notice if there is a theme to what is put on sale, then I make a mental note to avoid that theme!  

If you have other methods in finding out what sells at retail, please share the information. 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, August 4, 2013

Art Licensing Editorial: What can artists, designers and cartoonists learn from the creator of Garfield?

Most people are aware of Garfield the cat comic strip character created by Jim Davis and that it is wildly popular and continuously earns many millions of dollars from movies and licensed products each year. But what many people do not realize is that Garfield's success did NOT happen by chance. Jim used a strategic plan by thoroughly researching the cartoon and licensing industries and applying what he learned to fill a niche. Jim admits that his Garfield cartoon is "static," is “essentially a formula,” and his intention was to "come up with a good, marketable character".

Creative director Caroline Zelonka who worked on advertising for Petsmart stores in the mid-90s recently commented in "Is Garfield Supposed to be Funny?" about the true story on why Garfield was created. In reading the article, it became apparent to me that using a strategic plan to license art is very important now more than ever because of lower licensing revenue and more competition in getting deals. Using what I call the "shot-gun" method of indiscriminately sending art to manufacturers for licensing consideration is not effective.

What learned from the article
Below are a few points on what Jim Davis did to bring Garfield to stardom and how his strategy can be used by artists, designers, and cartoonists to increase licensing potential.

• Research what is popular and why

– what Jim did: He thoroughly researched the cartoon industry and used the popular Peanuts cartoon strip as a model. He discovered that
1. the most popular and licensed character was Snoopy and not Charlie Brown,
2. there was no popular licensed cartoon character for cat lovers, and
3. the more mundane the character that does not offend anyone is the most popular and licensable. For reasons why, read "Where popularity never meets critical acclaim: Why bland entertainment is worth a fortune."

– what artists can do: Artists should target particular product industries (greeting cards, jig-saw puzzles, decorative flags, art prints, etc.) and decide where their art is a good fit. They should learn everything they can about the industry they plan to contact such as what art themes are popular. Whenever possible, contract licensee art directors and ask questions. For more information on licensing strategies, read "Eight Steps to Become an Art Brand".  Note: If you are new to licensing or have trouble in getting deals, hire an art licensing consultant to get constructive criticism of your art and suggestions on what manufacturers you should contact.

• Spend more time marketing than creating
– what Jim did: Jim spent 13 or 14 hours a week writing and drawing the strip, compared with 60 hours a week on promotion and licensing.

– what artists can do: Obviously licensing your creations are not a 40 hour work week. Jim spent four to five times the amount of time promoting Garfield than he did creating the comic strip. Spending a lot of time promoting it sure worked for him. Most artists spend more time creating their work than promoting it - including myself. The Garfield story is a good reminder that we artists should spend more time promoting our work to gain visibility and increase the potential in getting more licensing deals.

• Have visibility
– what Jim does: Jim uses the cartoon strip and Garfield movies to keep Garfield in the public eye to sell licensed merchandise. But he is very leery of over exposure and controls it as much as he can. For more information, read "Garfield: Why we hate the Mouse but not the cartoon copycat".

– what artists can do: Artist can gain visibility of their art by submitting press releases, advertise in trade magazines, exhibit at SURTEX, have a website, use social media such as blogs, Facebook etc., have online stores such as Etsy, Zazzle, Cafe Press etc. Also read, "Art Licensing: Marketing Art Outside-the-box". Artists can also gain visibility by constantly submitting art to manufacturers and by following-up. Read "Art Licensing Tip:What does follow-up really mean?"

Summary
All the above points have been made many times before. But how many artists actually implement them? Do you have a strategic plan on what products your art should be on? Do you spend more time marketing your art than creating it? Do you consistently contact your licensees and follow-up? If you do not, maybe by doing so you will get more licensing deals ;)

Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people seem to have problems leaving a comment. The most successful method seems to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog complete URL address).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Art Licensing: Is Adobe holding Artists Hostage with Creative Cloud?

Last May there were many irate Adobe software users when Adobe announced that they will no longer upgrade their boxed version (software owned by the purchaser) of Creative Suite (CS) software. Upgrades will only be available via their subscription based Creative Cloud (CC) membership. Adobe plans to continue selling CS6 software that can be downloaded from their website but it is already out-of-date because CC updated versions of Photoshop and Illustrator have already been released on CC. For more information about the controversy, read:

• "Adobe's Creative Cloud Move Causes Outcry And Confusion"
• "Adobe's Creative Cloud Sparks Thunderous Revolt"
• "Dislike Adobe's Creative Cloud subscriptions? Tough beans"

Because Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are considered the standard software used in the art licensing industry, this has a HUGE impact on artists that license their art. The yearly cost of the subscription membership is much greater than periodically upgrading existing software applications. Artists that use the software to only manipulate scanned images of their work in Photoshop can get along fine with older versions. The problem will be later when computer operating systems are updated and possibly no longer recognize the old CS6 version.

But, artists that create art digitally have a decision to make because they depend on robust software. Should they use CS6 applications and no longer get updates that could enhance their art and speed up their work flow OR pay the subscription fee for CC membership? Below are some facts to help them make that decision.

Note: If you plan to subscribe to CC and already own CS software you need to decide soon because Adobe has a reduced first year membership price that ends shortly.

What is Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) is a subscription membership plan to use Adobe's creative software. It may be paid month-to-month or individuals can commit to a yearly membership at a savings. There are several levels and different pricing structures available. See the below section on "Creative Cloud United States Membership Price".

CC Misconceptions
There are many misconceptions on how a person uses the software after subscribing to CC. Below are a few but read "5 Myths About Adobe Creative Cloud" to learn more about CC. Also listen to the podcast with Adobe Senior Product Marketing Manager Terry Hemphill and children’s market illustrators Norman Grock and Wilson Williams, Jr. on "Once Upon a Sketch Podcast Episode 5 – Conversation with Adobe about Creative Cloud".

• Myth 1 - Operating the applications (Photoshop, Illustrator etc) is done on the internet and you must be connected to the internet to create files.
Truth: Cloud is really a misnomer because applications are downloaded onto a computer from CC and the computer does not have to be connected to the internet for the individual to create images.

• Myth 2 - File must be stored on the internet.
Truth: Files do not need to be stored on CC. It is an option.

• Myth 3 - You cannot access your files once you leave Creative Cloud.
Truth: Files belong to the individual BUT the individual will not have access to CC applications and cannot edit the files with CC if she/he quits their CC membership. However, files can be edited in owned Creative Suite (CS) applications IF they were saved in a compatible format with the caveat that any CC tools and functions not available in CS will not be useable.

CC Membership Pros
• You do not need to be connected to the internet to use the applications because they are downloaded from the CC website.
• You can use all CC applications if you subscribe to the annual membership plan. The membership subscription plan could be cost efficient if you use many Adobe applications.
• You can use all edge tools and services for web designers and developers.
• You can use all online services for file sharing, collaborating, publishing apps and websites.
• You can store 20GB of files (for most plans) that can be shared with clients and colleagues.
• There is no waiting for software updates.

CC Membership Cons
• You must pay subscription membership fees to use software.
• There is no guarantee that the membership fee will not be raised substantially after the first year.
• You do not own the software so if you stop subscribing to CC you will no longer be able to edit the files unless they were saved in a compatible format for CS versions. Note: A possible problem could be in converting CC files to JPEG formats if you are no longer a CC member. In other words, if the file is saved in a Photoshop CC format can it be converted to another format such as JPEG if you no long have access to Photoshop CC?
• Any images using new features and tools in applications that are updated in CC will require the user to continue using CC so that they can edit the images. That means an individual is forced to continue using CC regardless of membership price.
• You must confirm membership via internet every 30 days for month-to-month membership and every 99 days for annual membership. If you do not confirm, the CC applications on your computer stops working.
• If you need to use the software on more than two computers, you need to subscribe to additional memberships (same policy as for CS applications). The same applications can be put on two Macs, two PCs, or one of each.
• You must purchase separately all Adobe Touch Apps (Photoshop Touch, Kuler for iPhone, Ideas, Behance for iPhone, Creative Portfolio for iPhone).

Creative Cloud United States Membership Price
Annual membership for US individuals are billed monthly for most popular desktop applications. Click here to see what applications is included. Note: The price is locked-in for an annual membership. The member is obligated to paying 50% of the remaining annual fee if she/he decides to quit the subscription before it ends. The price of the subscription for a month-to-month member is not locked in.

To find out if CC is available in other countries, look under Purchasing and availability section in "Adobe Creative Cloud / FAQ".

Annual fees
• new CC member (do not own CS applications); $49.99/mo
• CS upgrade (CS3 - CS5.5 customers) ends 7/31/13; $29.99/mo
• CS upgrade (CS6 customers) ends 8/31/13; $19.99/mo
• Students & teachers (requires institutional affiliation); $29.99/mo
• Single application for non CS customer (limited access to services); $19.99/mo
• Single application for CS3-C6 customers (limited access to services); $9.99/mo

Month-to-month fees
• Single application for non CS customer; $29.99/mo
• Other month-to-month plans are available but you need to contact Adobe to find out the price.

Free 30-day trial membership for all apps (limited access to services)

Click here for more information about membership plans.

What is the Alternative?
If you do not want to be held hostage to Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription plan, you only have the two choices. Continue using Adobe CS6 or older versions of Adobe software OR start using software from other companies. Alternative software may not have all the bells and whistles but they will do the job. On top of that many are free and most are much less expensive than Adobe. Below is a list of articles that discuss alternative software.

• "How to build your own Adobe Creative Suite with cheaper Mac app alternatives"

• "What are good alternatives to adobe software"

• "10 Photoshop Alternatives That Are Totally Free - Gizmodo"

• "10+ Best Free or Open Source Photoshop Alternative Software"

• "Is there an alternative to Illustrator? Here's 5 . . ."

• "10 Best Alternatives to Adobe Illustrator"

If you object to Adobe holding artists hostage and you want to voice your opinion, sign a petition on change.org for "Adobe Systems Incorporated: Eliminate the mandatory "creative cloud" subscription model." ( http://chn.ge/12xLnTE ) Over 36,000 people have sign it. They need 13,000 more signatures!  Thanks Debra Valencia for sharing this link.

Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Combine Business, Art, Education & Fun – register for ArtBizJam

Treat yourself by attending ArtBizJam to learn important information in growing your art business and rejuvenating your creativeness. Eleven classes by art director Anne Brown of Magnet Works, and licensed artists Lori Siebert, Paula Joerling, Phyllis Dobb will be given at beautiful Seascape Resort in Destin, Florida September 18-22, 2013.  The classes will cover tracking art, self promotion, creating an ideal portfolio presentation for product developers, improve work flow, creating multiple revenue streams, creating textures and much more.  Book your reservation ASAP because only a limited number of attendees (12) will be accepted.  More information can be found at ArtBizJam.

Monday, June 24, 2013

LinkedIn Takes Harassment & ID Theft Seriously! And so do other online forums.

Most people that sign-up on the professional network LinkedIn (LI) probably do not read the user agreement before they become a member. It explicitly states certain criteria that are not allowed when using LI and may cause LI to "restrict, suspend, or terminate the account of any Member who abuses or misuses the Services including abusing the LinkedIn message services and creating multiple or false profiles." It also prohibits harassment. Below is an abridged list of what is expected of LinkedIn members. Note: Not included in this list is many others including copyright infringement because they are outside the realm of this discussion.

LinkedIn expects its members to:
• Be Real. "Unlike some other online services, our members need to be real people, who provide their real names and accurate information about themselves. It is not okay to provide misleading information about yourself, your qualifications or your work experience, affiliations or achievements on LinkedIn’s service." Members are not allowed to:
– Create a Member profile for anyone other than a natural person.
– Upload a profile image that is not your likeness or a head-shot photo.
– Use or attempt to use another's account or create a false identity on LinkedIn.

• Be Professional. "We ask our members to behave professionally by not being dishonest or inappropriate. We acknowledge the value of discussions around professional activities, but we do not want you to use LinkedIn to shock or intimidate others. . . ." Members are not allowed to:
– Act dishonestly or unprofessionally by engaging in unprofessional behavior by posting inappropriate, inaccurate, or objectionable content to LinkedIn.

• Be Nice. "LinkedIn shouldn’t be used to harm others. It is not okay to use LinkedIn’s services to harass, abuse, or send other unwelcomed communications to people (e.g., junk mail, spam, chain letters, phishing schemes). . . ."

Case Story of Misusing LinkedIn Policies on Art of Licensing group

Recently a series of blog articles "Just launched a new series of blog posts about Legal in art & licensing with artist Jill Meyer as my first guest writer" was announced on LI Art of Licensing group. The blog article titled "Inspiration or Infringement" discusses artist Jill Meyer's experience with copyright infringement and the ramifications to artists that knock-off other artists work. An artist (Jennifer Bradley) posted a long comment on the Art of Licensing group and suggested that Jill show visuals of her art and the infringed art. In a later comment, Jennifer posted that it is a total fabrication that someone stole Jill's art. As the thread (comments to the post) continued Jennifer's comments became increasing abusive even though other artists stated they saw the infringed art and agreed that they were indeed knock-offs of Jill's work.

A few days after the start of the harassment, I joined the team of artists that were trying to reason with Jennifer. The following is my comment to the post describing what I discovered. ". . . I prefer to contact people via email instead of through LinkedIn so I use the LinkedIn profiles to get email address' usually by finding them on a persons website. When I wanted to contact artist Jennifer Bradley about some of her comments that she posted, her profile did not list her website so I Googled her name and when that didn't work I searched by her LinkedIn profile photo. I was shocked when I found her photo was linked to a person with another name and who is not an artist. THAT IS IDENTITY THEFT! I don't know why Jennifer Bradley did not use her own image in her profile but using someone else image is unethical and may be illegal!

By working together, our team was able to find the individual responsible for the harassment and who stole the victim's identity. It was reported to LI fraud department and they promptly removed Jennifer Bradley's profile so her comments could no longer be posted.

Consequences in Misusing LinkedIn Policies

LinkedIn takes abusing their policies seriously. They have terminated member accounts when members fail to post their image on their profile. And they also terminate members when they harass other members or create false profiles. Some people often use false profiles to comment on blogs and forums for various reasons. They also use false identities to comment on internet stores to endorse their own products in an attempt to increase sales. But false identities will not be tolerated on LinkedIn, Facebook and other forums as shown in the following section on Identity Theft is Illegal.

So what is the big deal? So what if you are kicked-off of LinkedIn by misusing their policies? Well, the real issue is the integrity of the individual who stole an identity like the Jennifer Bradley case described above. During the investigation of the case, comments on numerous forums questioned if this person was also stealing art and representing it as her own. After all, she was dishonest in stealing an identity. If it becomes known publicly the name of the artist who stole the victims identity and used it to harassed another artist, it will definitely impact her ability to license art. Manufacturers expect honesty and integrity from artists just like artists expect it from them.

So this is a warning for those who use a false identity(s) on LinkedIn. DON'T! You may get caught and pay the consequences.

Identity Theft is Illegal
Some people mistakenly think that using a false profile is not really identity theft and is not illegal. And, anyway no one will sue you because it costs too much, right? Wrong!

Dana Thornton of New Jersey was prosecuted in 2011 for creating a false Facebook page in her ex-boyfriends name who is a police officer. She posted comments portraying him as using drugs, hiring prostitutes and having a sexually transmitted disease. The judge ruled against her because Thornton's ex-boyfriend is a narcotics officer. Assertions of criminal activity can ruin his career. For her crime, Dana was given probation if she successful completes a one year PPT program which requires her to regularly see a probation officer, complete 50 hours of community service and undergo a psychological evaluation. The Dana Thornton case was highly publicized and you can imagine what this did to her reputation. Read the following for more information "Making a Fake Facebook Page is Identity Theft", "Nasty fake Facebook pages not OK -- that's ID theft, judge says", "Belleville woman accused of creating fake Facebook page to mock ex-boyfriend gets probation."

Also read a pdf formatted fact sheet about social media online "Identity Theft".

Forums are cracking down on harassing and identity thefts. For instance, the popular forum Facebook does not permit impostors and bullying as shown in Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Breaking the rules will remove you from the forum. This will affect not only connecting with friends but could affect business' if Facebook is used to drive customers to websites or other online business websites like Etsy and Zazzle.

Be Proactive
LinkedIn groups are for professionals and members should act like professionals. Help protect members in LinkedIn groups from harassment and be proactive. If you are being harassed or you see others that are being harassed report it to the group moderator so that LinkedIn fraud department can investigate and remove the offender if it is warranted. Likewise be proactive on other forums and report any bulling to moderators. You can make a difference!

Note: It looks like LinkedIn and social networks are being used for stalking besides harassment.  Read "LinedIn Stalker Concerns Prompt Petition to Add Blocking Feature."

The comment section to this article has been closed and all comments removed.  While my policy is to show all viewpoints on my posts, the comments on this thread became antagonistic and threatened to reveal private communications that may be harmful to all involved in a private dispute.  Artists work in a professional industry and should act like professionals.

Monday, June 10, 2013

New Art Licensing Magazine Published – "Art Licensing Art News"

With regard to my prior references in this article to the new Art Licensing Art News (ALAN) magazine, Art Licensing International (ALI) has advised me that it is NOT the publisher of the magazine.  I also received a post from artist Jenny Newland represented by ALI explaining the content of the first issue of the magazine.  Below is an excerpt from her post:

"I am responsible for the content in the Art Licensing Art News Magazine. My daughter Jennifer Nixon (Editor In Chief) and I (Graphic Designer), collaborated with Art Licensing agents with some of the featured stories in the magazine and our intent was simply to let everyone out there know about Art Licensing and their managment staff, and to showcase many of their artist's artwork. We had NO intentions of impling that Art Licensing International were using this publication to take advantage of artists. They have never done that to me or any other artist I know. Simply the magazine was intended to celebrate their artist and the artist's work. I'd like to address the "fine print" statement in the magazine. It should have never been written and I apologize for publishing the magazine with a legal statement that was not reviewed by a legal professional. It was a stupid mistake on my behalf. I take full responsiblity of the mistake and I am sorry it caused such an uproar."  

You can read Jenny Newland's full post in the below comment section of this article.

Note:  As is the case for submitting material to any publisher, artists who are considering submitting material to ALAN are still advised to carefully read and make sure that they understand the submission rules posted in the magazine before submitting any materials.

Below is an edited version of the original article.

This first issue of Art Licensing Art News features ALI artists and SURTEX news and plan in future editions to have articles on what is going on in the art world, what is hot and what is not. On page 8, they are soliciting magazine readers for articles of their own story, photo, recipe, tip or other submission. BUT, make sure that you read the entire submission guidelines. The section called "The fine print" states that "By submitting material for publication, you grant Art Licensing Art News, subsidiaries, affiliates, partners and licensees use of all material, including your name, hometown and state. We may modify, reproduce and distribute it in any medium and in any manner or appropriate place. We may contact via phone, e-mail or mail regarding your submission."

I interpret the statement to mean that you give ALAN broad rights to use your submitted material, including any artwork shown to illustrate articles, in any manner it chooses. It also gives ALAN the right to change and reproduce anything submitted and to use anything in the submission for any of their own purposes.

After viewing "The fine print" submission statement, intellectual property attorney David Koehser who practices in art and design licensing stated, "Based on the statement, anyone submitting work is granting the recipient a nonexclusive license to reproduce and distribute the submitted work, without restriction. This could include reproduction and distribution in print, electronically, on merchandise, in advertising (for the magazine or for other goods or services) or otherwise. The recipient (ALAN) also gets the nonexclusive right to modify the work, so they could make any changes that they choose to make, including deleting elements, changing colors, adding other material, changing the meaning or message, etc. This grant of rights is nonexclusive, so the artist would remain free to grant the same rights on a nonexclusive basis to others, but in reality no one is likely to be interested in licensing works under a nonexclusive license, especially if those works have already been published elsewhere and if the prior licensee has what essentially amounts to an unrestricted license to use and re-use the works."

Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment.

There are some interesting comments posted about this article.  Make sure that you read them.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Art Licensing: Successful 2013 SURTEX Over & Now the Followup

Another successful Surtex show (May 19-21) is over. It was jammed packed with 10 educational licensing seminars, five to six trend presentations each day, and over 300 exhibitors showcasing their art and designs. And, even though it did rain, the roof did not leak as it did last year or stop licensees, and buyers (some surface art exhibitors sold their creations outright) from attending. Although some exhibitors think that rain does contribute to reduced licensee attendance. Thank goodness the only major problem that happened was after the show. Due to New York weather conditions, some airline flights were canceled, or delayed. That meant either another night spent in NY or missed connecting flights, and lost luggage for some unlucky attendees and exhibitors. One artist spent over 20 hours getting to the west coast and finally arrived without her luggage.

But on the positive side, exhibitors were REALLY pleased with the contacts they made at SURTEX this year according to posts on Facebook, Linkedin and various blogs. Some exhibitors even said that they had steady traffic on the last day of the show which is traditionally "dead" for most trade shows. However, remember what agent Kimberly Montgomery said in her article Last Minute Tips: Attending SURTEX by Agent Kimberly Montgomery. "Very few people actually make a DECISION at SURTEX. That includes manufacturers, agents, art buyers and art directors. . . . Every one else is going to go back to the office and think it over for months. Maybe years."

So the most important task after exhibiting at SURTEX is following-up with all the contacts made. But, that does not mean to just send off the art that was requested and wait for a response. Continue to followup. And, if you do not get a response from the person requesting the art, followup again, a n d again. Read "Art Licensing Tip: What does follow-up really mean?"

Below are links to some articles on what has been posted about SURTEX as of May 25. There will be many more posts about the show SO be on the lookout for links to them on the different forums or google the internet for articles about SURTEX 2013.

• Ann Troe "SURTEX 2013! Selling & Licensing Original Art & Design Show in NYC"

• Bonvivants PM "Surtex: 2013!"

• Dinara Mirtalipova "Surtex 2013 Booth 650"

• Gina Triplett and Matt Curtius "Surtex 2013, booth #345-347"

• Joanne Hus "surtex 2013: art + relationship = success" (recap on what learned from three seminar sessions)

• Josephine Kimberling "Surtex 2013: Year 3"

• Lisa Congdon "Surtex + Goodbye New York"

• Nancy Lefko "Surtex 2013"

• Patti Gay "My Surtex Experience"

• Rachel Gresham "surex is over. surtex is over ?!"

• Shell Rummel "Impressions from Surtex 2013"

• Stephanie Ryan "SURTEX Recap"

• Style Sight "Surtex NYC – 27th Edition"

Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Art Licensing: 2012 Top 150 Global Licensors

Advanstar Communications released their digital May 2013 edition of License! Global magazine that includes the Top 150 Global Licensors for 2012. As usual Disney tops the list with their brands on products selling a whopping $ 39.3 billion at retail. Unfortunately there are not many art licensors on the list. However, this is not surprising because art licensing is a small category (only 3%) of the total licensed merchandise sold according to LIMA (Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association) in the article "Licensing Industry Sales Jump 5% Marking First Gain in Five Years". Note: Five years ago more artists made Advanstars Top Licensor list but now artists have a hard time competing against all the various brands (food, fashion, home improvement, sports, magazines, cars, etc.) that have entered the licensing industry. Brands have the spending power to hire experts in marketing and advertising besides hire celebrities that endorse the brands. Thus, they get more exposure than art and tend to sell more product.

The Thomas Kinkade Company held strong by Kinkade art selling $425 million products at retail (p.52). Wood carver and painter Jim Store creations sold $150 million products at retail (p.57); photographer Rachel Hale (Dissero Brands) $45 million at retail (p. 63), and Suzy Zoo $42 million at retail (p. 63). MHS Licensing artists art sold $100 million products at retail (p. 60). That is a combination of all the art licensed by the 32 artists MHS Licensing represents. They attributed a sizable portion of the amount to their wildlife artists Al Agrew, The Hautman Brothers, and Darrell Bush.

Below are articles about top licensors from the previous years.
• "Tracking the Success of Top Art Licensors" (from 1998 to 2008)

• "2009 Top Art Licensors"

• "2010 Top 125 Global Licensors"

• "Licensing: 2011 Top 125 Global Licensors"

Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Last Minute Tips: Attending SURTEX by Agent Kimberly Montogery

The 2013 SURTEX sale and art licensing show is May 19-21 at the Javits Center in New York. Read the following tips on attending it by art licensing agent, consultant, and artist Kimberly Montgomery. Kimberly is a 20-year veteran at SURTEX and this will be the third time she's exhibited as Montage Licensing (booth 465).

Last Minute Tips About Attending SURTEX
by Kimberly Montgomery
Montage Licensing

The last thing the world needs right now is another person commenting on how to navigate SURTEX (or as I lovingly refer to it this time of the year: the ‘S’ word). But never the less, here I go . . .

1. Very few people actually make a DECISION at SURTEX. That includes manufacturers, agents, art buyers and art directors. Probably the only one who does is the guy who changes the empty toilet paper roll in the bathroom stall after you use it. Every one else is going to go back to the office and think it over for months. Maybe years.

2. A lot of people that attend SURTEX have known each other for years and act like it. It can make you feel like you’re back in high school and not in with the cool kids. The best you can do is be friendly, brief and dazzle them with your confidence. Follow up is your new best friend.

3. You will see a lot of great art. Trust me, it wasn’t great in the beginning. Everyone started somewhere. Licensing takes a lot of time and a lot of work. And then you make a little bit of money if you’re lucky. Sounds fun doesn’t it?

4. While attending SURTEX, please don’t ask an agent to represent you. You won’t like the result. See the last two sentences of #2.

5. It is the most exciting few days of the year for all of us. Great art, great talent, great minds and the best of the best in the industry. Go to SURTEX with the idea of having fun, making connections and possibly a few new friends.

See you in New York!

Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Editorial: The Truth about Licensing Art

There are many positive reasons to create art for licensing because otherwise artists would not license their art. But, just like all businesses' the art licensing industry also has negative aspects. I believe that power is knowing the negatives because you can use that knowledge to be prepared and not have unrealistic expectations in licensing your art. And, sometimes you can convert the negatives to positives.

Negative Aspects
The following is a list in no particular order of what an artist should know about the negative aspects in licensing art. Note: These are my opinions. Other artists, licensing agents and experts in the art licensing industry may have different opinions. It is always wise to get several viewpoints and not depend on only one.

• Licensing art is very competitive. There are thousands of artists trying to license their art. And, the number of artists increase each year. Thus, getting licensing contracts is harder each year.

• Not every artist can make a living by licensing her / his art because of the competition and less retailers selling licensed products.

• Licensing is NOT a 9AM to 5PM job. Artists need to juggle daily personal commitments with creating art and other associated licensing duties. Dedicated licensed artists work more than 12 hours a day especially when a deadline looms.

• Not all art is licensable. There are many reasons why beautiful art is not licensable. To find out why, read "Editorial: Not all Art is Licensable."

• Artists will not be able to license all the art they create. Because of the competitive industry, not all art themes are popular, and the art may be ahead or behind the trend. Also, not every image licensed will be licensed for more than one product. It may not be the right image for other products or manufacturers are not interested in licensing it for whatever reason.

• Not all art licensing agents and manufacturers are honest. Unfortunately, contracts are not always in the best interest to the artist and not every agent or manufacturer pay artists monies owed them. It is always wise to ask others in the art licensing industry if a manufacturer / agent that you are considering is reputable. And, you should have an attorney experienced in art licensing look over the contract before signing it.

• It is difficult to protect art from copyright infringers. Some artists watermark their images and use password protected websites. But, there are downsides to doing so. Many manufacturers will not take the time to request a password from the artist to view the art and dislike watermarks because they detract from the art. But in any case, artists should copyright their art with the Library of Congress so that if they need to sue for infringement and win, they will get legal fees paid beside being awarded statutory damages. To learn more about copyrights, read attorney Joshua Kaufman's article "Filing Copyrights: How and Why or Just Do It!"

• Art directors look at 100s of images for EACH image that is licensed. Thus, manufacturers showing interest in your art does not necessarily mean it will be licensed. For instance, experienced SURTEX show exhibitors know that the reality is that less than 10% (more like zero to 3%) of the art that art directors request for licensing consideration results in a deal.

• Not all licensed art have accurate colors on products. This could be due to the type of process used to print the art on the product, the manufacturer does not have or take the time to make sure the colors are accurate, or the manufacturer purposely changes the color saturation so that the colors are brighter (sometimes done for decorative flags). Note: Not having accurate colors most likely will not affect the sale of the product because consumers have not seen the original art. Although I do grimace when I see some of my licensed art on products.

• Getting a deal does not always mean that the product will be produced. It could be a print-on-demand type of deal which means the art on the product will only be produced if a retailer orders it. Or, the production of the art on the product is cancelled for some reason. Also, sometimes the manufacturer only produces one batch and if the amount sold does not meet expectations it is not produced again even though the contract will not expire for several more years.

• Royalties from a deal can be a very small amount or nothing if the product does not sell well. Sometimes an artist can make more revenue from a licensing flat fee than from a royalty deal.

• More and more manufacturers are pre-selling their products before producing them. That means they may request HiRes art (high resolution) from the artist so that they can make samples for presentations. An artist needs to really trust the manufacturer before sending them HiRes art for presentation because no contract is signed.

• Manufacturers may request that the artist hold art for them so that they can give presentations to their clients. If the artist agrees, it means that she/he cannot license the art in the same category to another manufacturer. Sometimes the manufacturer will hold the art for months and the artist loses the chance to license the art that year if it is not accepted by the client.

• Artists may be requested by a manufacturer to create art on speculation. That means there is no guarantee that it will be licensed. Although, there is always a possibility it will be licensed by another manufacturer. Some artists require that they get a designer fee before starting work on a spec project. Others work on spec under certain conditions such as only designing an art theme that appeals to a broad spectrum of consumers so the chances of it being licensed is greater. Or, the artist already has a good working relationship with a manufacturer and thinks that they will most likely create art that will be licensed.

• Artist are not always able to approved the product sample before it goes into production. Many times the production cycle is too tight and manufacturers are not willing to let the artist approve the sample. Although sometimes they will send a picture of the final product via the internet.

• Certain themes even though they are popular may be difficult to license to some industries. These manufacturers already have artists that are licensing those themes and they are not looking for another. For instance, calendar manufactures already license art from certain artists year-after-year for country, song birds, cats, roosters, wine and coastal themes. Until those artists can no longer produce enough art (normally 12 - 13 images per calendar), other artists will not be able to get a deal with them.

Related Articles
• "10, oops, 17, Things You Need to Learn to Make It in Art Licensing" by licensing art agent Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios.

"Editorial: Art Licensing Myths" - Myth #1: License your art so you do not have to work so hard, Myth #2: License your art if you are broke and need money. Myth #3: Any art can be licensed. Myth #4: One design can be licensed for ALL products. Myth #5: An artist will get many licensing deals by signing with an agency. Myth #6: Licensing revenue is always from royalties.

• "Editorial: Art Licensing Myths continued (myth #7 to #12)" Myth #7: An artist must have an agent or manufacturer sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before showing art. Myth #8: Agents not only manage the business part of licensing but track trends, guide the artist in what art to create, and critics it. Myth #9: There is a manufacturer art size and file format standard. Myth #10: There is a standard time of the year for submitting art to manufacturers. Myth #11: Manufacturers prefer to license art from agents than from individual artists. Myth #12: Participating in manufacturers call-for-submissions (cattle-calls) is a waste of time.

• "Editorial: Art Licensing Myths continued (myth #13 to #18)" Myth #13: You are not infringing on the copyright if you change someone's art 5, 10, or 20%. Myth #14: Any free clip art and fonts found on internet websites can be used in art and not infringe on the copyright. Myth #15: Art licensing agencies always contact the artist when she/he submits art for representation. Myth #16: A good way to get a licensing deal is to send out e-mail blasts. Myth: #17 A manufacturer keeps producing product with the same art if it sells well. Myth: #18 You only need to follow-up once after contacting a manufacturer.

I have never worked harder in my life than licensing my art. It can be a frustrating business but it is so worth it when product samples arrive with my art on it, I see my art on products in stores, and the quarterly licensing revenue arrives.

Perhaps art licensing agent Lance Klass of Porterfield's Fine Art Licensing states it best with "I came away from this article with the understanding that what Joan is essentially saying to artists is that they should enter art licensing with their eyes wide open, expecting the best but not being dismayed when things don't work out the way they should. And not giving up when one runs into the inevitable bumps in the road."

Make sure that you read the comments about this article.  Readers have share some useful information!!!
 
Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Art Licensing: Building a Brand

In the past, a tag line and / or logo was what identified a brand. But, in recent years many brands also use a person or character to build a relationship with their target audience. And, many brand building experts state that it is easier to build a brand around a person than an inanimate object such as a logo. People naturally respond to a person they like and tend to build a relationship with them while it takes a long time to market a logo to get the same consumer reaction. That is why a person (s) or character is often associated with the brand such as Ronald McDonald for MacDonalds fast food chain, Flo* for Progressive auto insurance, Dave Thomas (before his death) for Wendy's fast food chain, and the Maytag repairman** for Maytag washing and drying machines.

* "The Popularity of Progressive's perky insurance clerk shines again"
** "The Maytag Repairman"

The same technique can be used by artists to build their brands. Artist Thomas Kinkade knew how important it was to market himself to extend his art brand. He did a copious amount of personal appearances, youtube.com videos, and made sure that pictures of himself were placed in advertisements, press releases, and on products. Thus, even though his tag line "painter of light" is the most recognized method in identifying the Thomas Kinkade brand, a picture of Thom on product hang-tags is also a very important identifier. Note: Even though personal marketing is important to extend a brand, all the other methods used in branding is also valid.

Below is a list of excellent resources about what is branding, various ways to brand, and interesting articles about several "super" licensed brands. Not all the articles are aimed at the art licensing industry but they do contain valuable information and can be applied to branding art.

• Art Licensing Branding
– "Brand Yourself for Success in Art Licensing Teleseminar with Paul Brent"

– "Licensing: Brand Building with Marketing that Really Counts!" article by Linda Mariano art licensing and branding consultant

• Articles in License Global magazine issues about super brands  - these take a while to start.
– "Swimming with a Savvy Shark" (p. 30-31) Discussion on branding and tips from Daymond John of reality TV show "Shark Tank."

– "Brand Stars" (p. 22-24) Discussion on brands, marketing and products that are on television including the reality TV show Fashion Star.

– "Kathy Ireland Super Brand" (p. 60-62) Discussion on how kathy Ireland became a super lifestyle brand with $2 billion in retail sales of licensed products in 2011.

• Articles on branding by marketing and branding expert Susan Gunellus
– "What is a Brand? Part 1: 5 Factors that Define a Brand"

– "How to Brand - Part 1: Research the Market and Consumers"

– "How to Brand - Part 2: Identify Brand Values"

– "How to Brand - Part 3: Create Brand Messages and Brand Images"

– "How to Brand - Part 4: Educate People about Your Brand"

– "How to Brand - Part 5: Devlop Emotional Involvement and Branded Experiences"

– "How to Brand - Part 6: Monitor Brand Perception"

Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Art Licensing Resource: SURTEX Website

The SURTEX show is the marketplace where manufacturers look for original art and design for their products. The show will be held May 19-21, 2013 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in NY. The Surtex website (surtex.com) is the place to find out what is offered when attending the show such as a listing of artists, agents and companies that will be exhibiting their art and surface patterns. The site also describes other activities such as free daily color, textile, designs and theme trend seminars; ten licensing seminars that attendees can sign-up for; the annual designext® (International Student Design Competition); and the opportunity to visit three wholesale shows at the same time (National Stationery Show, International Contemporary Furniture Fair, Creative & Lifestyle Arts) in the same venue.

But, if you cannot attend SURTEX, the SURTEX website site is also a great resource in learning about the show and about the art licensing industry. The site has slide shows of 2012 exhibitor booths, exhibitor happy hour pictures, and the winners of designext®. On the site are also links to youtube.com videos about SURTEX, links to trendease.tv Podcasts by licensing experts on different aspects of the industry, guest articles by licensing experts, and SURTEX newsletter "On the Surface" archives of past newsletters. See below for more information about these resources.

Articles - Guest Blog
Below is a list of the latest articles in the Guest Blog section of the website. But, there are many more articles.
• "The More Not Necessarily The Merrier in Art Licensing" by John Chester of Wild Apple
• "Trends to look for at SURTEX 2013!" by Mary Beth Freet of Pink Light Studio
• "Do you have an “Elevator Speech” ready for the SURTEX 2013 show?" by Tara Reed
• "Tips on Collection Building from Khristian A. Howell"

Newsletter
The SURTEX newsletter "On the Surface" is posted regularly throughout the year. Past issues may be viewed by clicking HERE. You can subscribe to the FREE issues that are automatically sent via e-mail.

Photo Gallery slide shows
• 2012 booths,
• 2012 happy hour
• 2012 winners of designext® (annual International Student Design Competition)

Podcasts on trendease.tv
Below are descriptions of Podcasts by art licensing experts about different phases of the industry. Podcasts 1 - 8 are sponsored by SURTEX.

Podcast 1: Penny Sikalis (VP / SURTEX show manager)
Do you ever wonder where patterns, motifs, and surface interest come from? Fashion, papergoods, seasonal items, home decor including textiles, tabletop, wallcoverings and more--they all get their aesthetic from somewhere. It starts here with art. In this interview learn where to find that art, who uses it, how it is applied, and how it acts as a crystal ball.

Podcast 2: Michelle Klein (surface designer)
Klein Designs represents a selection of artists from around the UK specializing in surface pattern. Michelle, with a degree in Fashion & Printed Textile Design from the renowned St. Martins School of Art, talks about her experiences selling designs and unveils many key trends for the coming seasons. Listen and learn.

Podcast 3: Cathy Savchick (buyer at BJ's Wholesale Club)
Trendease speaks with the seasonal buyer at BJ's Wholesale Club to understand more about how original art plays into their business strategy to offer customers unique products that they cannot find anywhere else at a very competitive value. From holiday items to outdoor objects, art is part of the product development cycle. Also learn about the latest Christmas green!

Podcast 4: John Haesler (partner of MHS Licensing agency)
Known as one of the "100 Most Influential Players" in licensing, Principal of MHS Licensing and former Licensing Director at Target, John Haesler talks with Trendease about the keys to success in his line of business. From noting the value of intellectual property to design and market trends, these pearls of wisdom are worth a listen.

Podcast 5: Milou Ket (trend forecaster)
In this podcast trend forecaster Milou Ket shares her sources of inspiration and how she communicates design directions to her clients. She also talks about her upcoming presentations at Surtex, giving highlights of the six trends to be presented for 2013-14 including Harmony & Balance, Sensual & Passionate, Bright Kaleidoscope, and Nocturnal Luxury.

Podcast 6: Stephanie Dell'Olio (division president of Marcus Brothers Textiles, Inc - importers & converters of textile fabrics for craft, quilting and apparel)
Quilting may have the stereotype of being old-fashion, but that perception is changing! Learn about how a company working with styles ranging from 18th century to modern and hip is sourcing and selling fabrics to a shifting marketplace. Also understand how a trade show can influence the dynamics between a president of a division and its design team.

Podcast 7: MaryJane Mitchell (surface designer)
MaryJane has been running her own design studio for almost 30 years. Her artwork has graced many product categories from textiles, wall d├ęcor, ceramics, to furniture. In this podcast she gives tips on exhibiting, using an agent, and talks about market shifts from the growing designer pet industry to the colorways for children’s fashions.

Podcast 8: Maurice Ross (attorney at Barton LLP)
The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about selling art for surface design may not be intellectual property, but the reality is that IP rights are incredibly important in the business of selling designs. In this podcast Maurice Moss, partner at Barton LLP, specializing in commercial, IP and patent litigation, gives us invaluable advice on copyright and licensing.

Videos linked to youtube.com

The videos showcase SURTEX booths, comments by exhibitors and other art licensing experts. Note: At the time this article was posted a selection of videos was on the surtex.com front page after "The Buzz of SURTEX 2012" finished playing. However, the link may be later moved or deleted. If the video is no longer on the page, go to youtube.com and search for "surtex" to view the videos.

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