Sunday, March 29, 2015
There are many opinions on whether art is a brand or not. And, an often-asked question is if an artist's work needs to be a brand to be successful in the licensing industry. The short answer to these questions is that art can be a brand under certain conditions but art does NOT have to be a brand for an artist to be successful in licensing their work. Read the following to find out why I believe this.
Definition of an Art Brand
According to Wikipedia, "A brand is a name, term, design or other feature that distinguishes one seller's product from those of others". Brands in today’s market are associated with product trademarks (Coke Cola, Harley, Kenmore, Rice Crispy, Vera Bradley), sports, entertainment (Disney, Sesame Street), well-known personalities (HGTV "stars", Donnie Osmond), some artists, and many others. Theoretically any creation of an artist is a brand because every artist incorporates into their art their own style, color combinations, and composition. But, unless the art is VERY different from other art, it is not usually licensed "as a brand".
Art directors and others in the art licensing industry are very familiar with artists work and can easily distinguish whose work it is. However, most consumers cannot recognize small differences between different artists art. Thus, art must be very distinct and unique for it to be considered a brand in the art licensing industry.
Art That are Brands
Licensing an art brand is valuable to manufacturers because brands tend to sell more products. Consumers purchase not just one product but continue to purchase products of a brand they desire. Manufacturers such as Demdaco and Enesco license many brands and produce a huge variety of products specifically tailored for each brand. Sculpture artist Susan Lordi (Willow Tree® brand), artist Kelly Rae Roberts, and artist Kathy Weller (Yoga Pals brand) work is licensed to Demdaco as a brand. And, carver Jim Shore, and artist Suzy Toronto work is licensed to Enesco as a brand. All of these artists are very successful since their art are very much sought after by consumers. Look at the art of the artists mentioned above and notice how unique they are. Also read, "What Makes the Willow Tree® Brand Such a Success?"
Art That are not Brands
Not all manufacturer business-model depend upon licensing art brands. Most manufactures license work based upon the style and theme of the art and not necessarily art by a recognizable brand. Although some manufacturers license both art brands and none art brands. Artists Paul Brent, Hautman Brothers, Susan Winget, and many others earn good money by licensing their art but not as a brand.
Not every person will agree that the artists mentioned above do not have art brands because all three of them do have a consumer following. And, some manufacturers do license collections of their work and showcase them in their catalogs with their name, picture, and biography. However, each of these artists art style is somewhat similar to other artist's art style so consumers may not recognize who created the art until they look at the artists name on the product. That is why they are not considered a brand according to the definition stated in Wikipedia.
But, does it matter the above artist's work is considered a brand or not? NO! It does not because they are very successful in licensing their work. And, the reason why is because these artists have acquired a relationship with many manufacturer art directors and the credibility that they know what art consumers want on products. Thus, they continue to get many licensing contracts. But, it has taken them years of hard work, research, and trial-and-error to become established, and their work sought-after. To learn about Susan Winget and her licensing success, read "An Art Licensing Winning Team: Susan Winget Art Studio."
An artist does not have to have an art brand to be successful in licensing her/his art. What it takes is hard work, learning what kind of art and themes consumers want on products, being prolific in creating art, creating relationships and submitting lots of art to manufacturers for licensing consideration, being willing to compromise, being realistic that it takes a long time to get revenue, and do NOT give up!
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