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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.