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Art Licensing by artist Joan Beiriger: I'm happy to share art licensing info but please
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Licensing Art for Cloth Products

Cloth can be made as woven or non-woven (bonding of fibers by thermal, mechanical or adhesives). Most licensed cloth products are made with woven cloth. Some are textile (any material made with interlacing fibers) or fabric (any material made by weaving and knitting). Kitchen towels, pot holders and mitts, tote bags, fleece throw blankets (throws) and some pillows are examples of products made with fabric. Cotton woven throws, wall hangings (tapestries) and some pillows are examples of textiles.

The art themes and art styles used for these products depend on the process that is used to produce the cloth. More colors and detailed art can be used for fabric when it is printed than for hand crafted fabric or woven textiles. Kitchen towels are often decorated with borders of art or icons. Textile throws and pillows usually depict popular themes such as birds, coastal art, flowers, and kittens including niché themes like lodge animals and horses.

What an artist should know and do to license art for cloth products.
1. Before submitting art to a manufacturer, make sure your art style and themes fit their product line by looking at their website. Some manufacturer websites do not show much products so google the manufacturer and product name on the internet to find their products on retailer websites. Do not waste the time of the manufacture by submitting art that is not suitable for their products. For instance, if your art style is whimsical and the manufacturer produces throws with realistic fine art images then most likely they would not be interested in licensing your art.

2. Not all manufacturer websites list submission guidelines. Contact the person in charge of licensing art for the manufacturer you wish to submit art. Ask how they want art submitted (hard copies, jpg copies attached to an email, etc.). At the same time ask if they have a list of the dates they are accepting art for particular themes (different holidays, spring, summer, fall, winter).

3. Optimize your chance in licensing your art by creating tearsheets* for the manufacturer you are submitting your art. For example, if the manufacturer produces textile throws and pillows make sure that the art is formatted as a vertical rectangle and as a square and / or horizontal if they produce pillows as horizontal rectangles. It is also a good policy to include digital mockups** of the product(s) so that the manufacturer sees your vision of the art on their product(s). See the picture at the top of this article.

* Find out about tearsheets by reading "Marketing your Art with Tearsheets."

** Find out about digital mock-ups by reading "Product Mock-up Templates: Creating art for templates & comparison of template packages."

4. Be willing to alter your art to the manufacturer specifications. For instance, the art may need to be cropped to fit the product shape or less color hues used because of the limitations in the production process.

5. Be prepared that the colors probably will not be accurate when it is produced as a woven textile or printed on fabric.

Textile Product Manufacturers
Below are links to manufacturers that license art for cloth and other products.  Note: I was not able to find any manufacturers that license art for fleece throws but periodically I have seen copyrighted art on them.

C&F Enterprises (bedding, throws, pillows, handbags, tote bags, etc.)
This family owned company have in-house designers but also license artwork for some of their products. Check out the resources section on their website for information on trends, how they design, and watch a video on a product design tour of their facility.

Fiddlers Elbow (kitchen towels, canvas totes, doormats, mugs, mouse pads)

Kay Dee Designs (aprons, kitchen textiles, trays, & coasters)

Manual Woodworkers and Weavers, Inc. (pillows, throws, art banners, table runners and placemats, fashion handbags, etc.)

Peking Handicraft, Inc. (hand crafted quilts, bedding products, hooked rugs, needlepoint pillows, linens and hand-painted glassware)

PureCountry Weavers (tapestries, throws, pillows, totes)

Simply Home (throws, pillows, wall hangings)

Stevens Linen Associates, Inc. (towels, calendar towels, potholders)

Related article: "Licensing Designs to the Quilt & Craft Fabric Industries"

Read more articles about manufacturers under the Topics section on the side bar.

Comments about this article and sharing names of additional cloth product manufacturers not listed is greatly appreciated. Write comments in the below comment section.


  1. Great post as usual and great timing since I am starting to work on fabric design. You are the Wikipedia of art licensing. Love your blogs.

  2. Very nice article Joan, thanks for sharing!

  3. Another interesting and extremely helpful article, Thanks!

  4. Looking for information on Licensing Designs for towels on cruise lines. Any suggstions

    1. Sorry but I can't help you. As far as I know most manufacturers purchase and do NOT license designs for fabric products such as towels to be sold to companies like cruise lines. It is more cost effective for the manufacturer to purchase the designs because they will only be selling the product to one company (i.e. one cruise line) and not many. The reason is that those companies (i.e. cruise line) that purchase the product want the design to be unique to their company and don't want it on other cruise line towels or even in the mass market.