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Art Licensing by artist Joan Beiriger: I'm happy to share art licensing info but please
give me credit and link to my blog when using it on your site. Thanks.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Licensing Art is Hard Work

Too often I get emails from artists hoping to license their art and they have the misconception that they can use their existing work, automatically get licensing contracts, sit back and watch the money pour in. Licensing art is NOT easy. Artists that are successful in licensing have to work very hard to continually create new art that is licensable, create collections around their central images, format and edit their art to manufactures specifications, and market their art to some degree if they have an agent and a lot if they do not have an agent. On top of that art licensing involves lots of research in learning how to license art, what kind of art manufacturers want, what art themes and colors are currently popular, and the list goes on.

The ultimate goal of manufacturers is to sell products. Manufacturers are willing to license art to enhance their products so that consumers will purchase them. Thus, artists need to work hard at understanding what kind of art will entice consumers and realize that not all art sells products. Artists new to licensing often create art first and then search for products to put the art on. This method is not always successful. Instead the artist should think about the product first and create art for the product. For another perceptive on creating art for products, read art agent Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios article "What is it?"  

Hint: Check out all of Jim's blog articles. His quirky and amusing comments are full of interesting and helpful information about the art licensing industry.

All the hard work can pay off though; not only financially but having the satisfaction in seeing your art on products. Read the following blog articles of artists that attended the summer 2010 Atlanta Show and see how pleased they were when they saw their wonderful art on products in the AtlantaMart showrooms.

Terri Conrad - "A new Cottage Chic day by Terri Conrad Designs® for Creative Co-Op"

Phyllis Dobbs - "Hot'lanta - trip to the Atlanta Gift Market"

Carol Eldridge - "Atlanta Follow Up"

BJ Lantz - "Atlanta Gift Show * July 2010"

Jane Mayday - "Atlanta Gift Show"

Joyce Shelton - "Atlanta Market"

Sue Zipkin - "Adventures in Atlanta"

The above artists have worked very hard for years in order to successfully license their art. Now that they have finally made it, do you think they are going to rest on their laurels? Nope! They know better and most likely they will work harder than ever.  But as artist Andy Mathis points out in his comment to this article, if you are passionate about your art it is NOT a chore!

Comments are welcomed. Please click on the below comment button and enter your comment in the Post Comment section.


  1. lol, Joan you make it sound like such a chore.

    While it takes time, when one is passionate about what they are creating, and doing, it isn't work at all.

    Hard work is pulling weeds out of peanuts during the summer.

  2. You are SO SO right Andy! I didn't mean the article to sound negative. I guess I like to work hard so to me working hard to accomplish a dream isn't a bad thing. When I see my art and other artist's art on products it is very inspirational and that is what I really wanted to show in this article. A dream can become reality if you are willing to work at it.

  3. But it does have its good days and bad days - computer problems create bad days, so the other is fun. And hard work is fun when you are enjoying what you do (although it may not seem like that at midnight when you are trying to meet a deadline)

    Andy - you grow peanuts?? haha

    Joan, thanks for the shoutout in listing my blog!

  4. Joan, you are absolutely is hard work...if it were easy then everyone would do it. And, no matter how many licenses you have and how successful you are, you still have to continue to work hard to get the next one. The artists who understand product and can think product are the ones who do well. It is simply not enough to have a nice painting. It is all about marketing and thinking product and understanding the manufacturing process. Passion is one thing, but thinking product is the key to success!

  5. You also can't forget about luck. Being in the right place, at just the right time, with artwork that catches the eye of the art director.

    They might have seen something for 10 years, and then on the 11th submission, they think it is new.

  6. I just discovered your blog and I want to thank you for your generosity and passion for this subject. I plan on spending much time looking at your archives. I want to grow my licensing business and this is a great encouragement and inspiration.

    Thanks again for sharing your wealth of knowledge,


  7. Hi Joan,

    another great post you've written. Thank you for sharing such valuable info and for including our link.

    If one intends to earn a living via art licensing it is more of a lifestyle than a job that requires much more than just being an artist, as you and some of my friends point out. It is one, however, that I express my gratitude for being so blessed to be a part of each and every day.

    keep up the great posts.

  8. Hi Joan,
    Thanks for the mention, always nice to know somebody might actually read some of my ramblings. Great points from everyone - this is a fun and creative business, and doing what you love is never work - but it is a business nonetheless and a person needs to be ready to apply themselves for the long term. Successful artists will be the first to tell you that they have the greatest job in the world but don’t get to rest on their accomplishments, as “What’s new?” is always the first question your client will ask.

    Jim Marcotte, Two Town Studios

    Note: for some reason blogspot would not let Jim post this comment himself so I posted it via Anonymous for him. Joan

  9. Great post Joan! I'm one of those fresh faced folk, brand new to licensing - and I have a lot to learn! Its good to hear the reality about licensing. When I first decided to make a go of it, I thought I could just draw one picture and sit back and watch the mailbox as royalty checks came pouring in...but I'm learning.

    Anyway - good blog - thanks for the advice as well as the links!

  10. Joan, Thanks for the mention and sharing the realistic side of the business. I love creating artwork for products, however this is a very challenging business.

    If one is passionate and driven, has great art that would work on products, has the willingness to work really hard and also has a very strong stomach they should give it a try.