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Art Licensing by artist Joan Beiriger: I'm happy to share art licensing info but please
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Art Licensing: When do you Submit Art to Manufacturers?

As often heard in the art licensing industry "it depends" is the inexplicable answer to the question "When do you submit art to manufacturers for licensing consideration?" Each manufacturer has a different deadline depending on its business model, product line, production cycle, and clients. So, the only way to find out the deadlines for submitting art is to either see the information on the manufacturers website or ask by e-mail or phone call.

Some manufacturers accept all art theme submissions year round and either license art immediately or files it for future consideration. Some have big box store clients and these manufacturers are constantly giving presentations to them. Hence, they request art for the presentations to be put on hold but do not license it unless their clients want the art put on the products. Other manufacturers have specific deadlines that they post on their websites such as greeting card manufacturer Leanin' Tree and will license the art they choose for the following year product line(s). Some manufacturers send art requests several times a year to the artists and agents on their call-out list. However, the majority of manufacturers need to be contacted via email or by telephone to find out their deadlines. Hint: When you contact manufacturers, ask if they have an art call-out list and request to be added to it.

If you cannot find out the manufacturer art submission deadlines (often happens) then you need to make an educated guess. Most manufacturers are looking for specific art themes at least two times a year. Those are for Spring/Summer (approximately March through August) and Fall/Winter (approximately September through February) that includes all holidays and special occasions during those periods. Many manufacturers decide on what art to license 12 to 14 months before it is introduced to retail. For example, art deadlines for the fall/winter 2016 season could be as early as July 2015.

Do Your Homework
The key to licensing your art is to create the right art for products that appeals to manufacturers, retail stores, and ultimately consumers. Finding manufacturers that license art requires research, research, and more research. You need to find manufacturers that are a match with your art style, find out what art themes they want, how they want art submitted and in what format. Find out more about licensing art by reading "How to license art to manufacturers".

Why does it take so long to see licensed art on products and get revenue?
It "can" take 18 months or more before an artist gets any money after a deal is signed unless the artist is lucky to get an advance toward royalties. The reason is because of the many steps involved during the entire process (contract negotiations, art revisions, manufacturing of product, placement on retail shelves) before receiving the first quarterly royalty check. How long it takes depends upon the industry but paper products made in the U.S. usually takes a shorter time than ceramic products that need the creation of molds and are manufactured and shipped from China. Read "Licensed Art - Getting Paid Takes a Long Time" to see an example of a time-line and steps required from submitting art to receiving royalties. Note: Not all licensing deals or getting revenue take a long time.  Each manufacturer is different and some deals can generate revenue within a few months after signing the contract especially if it was a licensing flat fee.  More information about different kind of licensing contracts can be read on "Licensing Art - There is no such thing as a typical deal".

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address. For example: ).


  1. Hi Joan
    Great info! Thank you!
    I was wondering if there is a list of manufacturers that you were talking about? I'm new to all this and little confused on who are the manufacturers as opposed to the agents and POD services (like Society6)..
    Thank you!

  2. Thanks Pam. Agents/agencies represent artists and submit and get licensing contracts for them. POD services only produce products with artists work on them when consumers order the product. Artists then will get paid for the agreed upon share of the sold product. Manufacturers that license art produce products with the art on it to be sold to retailers that sell the products to consumers. There is no single list of manufacturers that license art. Some of them are mentioned in the articles about the different types of manufacturers that can be found on the side bar to this article. Artist Kate Harper also has a list of greeting card manufacturers on her blog at:

  3. Thank you, Joan! As an agent, I get asked this question a lot so thanks for writing about this subject. Also, it is important for new artists to understand the timeline from contract to money. If this isn't understood, there is a lot of disappointment. I try to cover it with anyone I consult with that is new to the business! Sheila Meehan

  4. Thank you Joan for the great information.

  5. Hi Joan! This information is really helpful. The links are super. After investing over a year in learning about the licensing business, I am finally beginning to understand. Your articles are very helpful. And I loved what you said about following up with contacts. Most people are nice and they will give you a bit more information that you didn't have before.

  6. Thanks Joan. Helpful information. Great suggestion on the "art call-out lists" - never even knew those existed.

  7. Terrific concept, but crazy business…one needs a day job!

  8. thank you Joan -i'd love to put a link to this article on my website! -zakia at zakiazdesigns

  9. Go right ahead Zakia. I encourage everyone to link to my articles. I just don't allow people to lift my articles from my blog, put them on their own blog/website, and don't give me or my guest authors credit.

  10. WOW! Thanks for all of this information and your time! I will be in my first SURTEX in May. The information you share here is so incredibly valuable. Although I have been a touring artist for over 20 years, I am learning that there is such a supportive group of really talented and sharing artists in the licensing world of which you are one. Thanks again for your advice and time.