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Art Licensing by artist Joan Beiriger: I'm happy to share art licensing info but please
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Licensing Art – Can You Make a Living Doing it?

Sure you can make a living licensing your art but there are caveats in being able to do so. Artists that are successful have discovered the right mixture in creating art that consumers love, getting licensing contracts with manufacturers that successfully sell products with the art, and being lucky. These artists work hard, continually evolve their art, and never give up when the going gets tough. To find out more about the benefits in working hard and evolving art, read "Licensing Art is Hard Work," and "How to Keep Art Fresh & New: Continually Evolve Your Work - part 1."

It usually takes years to get enough strong licensing contracts to generate a constant revenue stream. The overnight success of artists making it big are few and far between. Although it can happen, such as artist Cheri Blum found out in the early 2000s. In four years she went from zero licensing deals to having her art licensed on over $100 million dollars of products at retail to the amazement of licensing experts. Her uniquely textured floral art that emotes nostalgia of bygone times, having a huge body of work with a popular theme (flowers), having the right art at a time that consumers were looking for art reminiscent of the past, and being represented by a licensing agency with a strong marketing program contributed to her success. However, it has taken other well known artists 10, 15, or 20 years to generate the same amount of success. To see money earned (retail sales of products with licensed art) of the top art licensors, read "Tracking the Success of Top Licensors." Study the included table and see how the retail sales has increased, stabilized in some cases, and then decreased. That is the typical life cycle of business' and definitely applies to licensing art.

Even though you and I would love to make the money that these extremely successful artists do, we may never achieve that dream. However, it is possible to make a living in art licensing if you create unique licensable art that emits an emotional response with consumers, partner with manufacturers that are successful in selling lots of products with your art, work hard, and most of all do not give up. You may start by only making a couple of hundred dollars a year but by working hard, having patience, and keep plugging away you should eventually increase the income and finally make a living by licensing your art. But is it a sure thing? Unfortunately the answer is no because there are just too many variables. But there are artists making a living at licensing their art such as artist Drew Brophy with his unique surf art. Maria, his wife and agent shared in her blog article "Art Licensing 101 Lecture RECAP" that they earn a good living from licensing Drew's art but it took " . . . quite a few years to make it happen, though. Ten years ago we earned all of $5,000 in one year of licensing. So far in the first 6 months of 2010, we've earned about $150,000." Now that is inspiring!

Hint:  Make sure that you read Maria Brophy's blog articles. She shares great information. 

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


  1. Thanks Joan, I needed that pep talk a-n-d the dose of reality.

  2. I am thankful that happiness isn't measured by the number of skus one has.

  3. Thank you for this. Terrific article!

  4. I'm so excited that I found your blog. After 11 years in the corporate IT world I was recently laid off during a company realignment. I've decided it's time to see if my passion for creating can turn a profit. The information on your blog is exactly what I've been searching for to help get me started.

  5. Best.Day.Ever.

    Seriously, I needed this, THANK YOU! I am an artist and I have been struggling with how to get my work out there, I think that pursuing licensing is the route that I need to pursue.

    Thank you for all of the information in your blog!