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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Art Licensing Editorial: Why Should Artists Read Retail Trade Magazines?

If artists do not sell products to consumers, why should they read magazines aimed at retailers?  The reason is that retailer publications show new products, discuss what is trending and what products consumers are purchasing. Thus, artists will learn what art to create that consumers want and have a better chance in licensing it.

Another reason to read the publications is to find manufacturers that license art. Many publications have links to manufacturer websites. Artists can review the websites and see if the manufacturers use art on their products and determine if they licensed it. Note: Not all manufacturers list the name of artists who create the art on their website. But if they are listed and numerous names are shown then most likely the manufacturer licenses art.  Also if there are no names shown but there are numerous art styles used on the manufacturer products then the art may be licensed. Simple graphic designs on products are usually either purchased or created by in-house designers.

Also, a couple of publications websites have videos that show and discuss products in trade shows, interviews with various manufacturers, and discussions by related industries such as Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of Pantone Colors (2016 NSS presentation about color combinations).   The videos have valuable information that helps artists create licensable art. Note: Some manufacturers also have videos about their companies on  Those videos gives insight into the manufacturer product lines, how they produce their products, what is selling, etc.  Search youtube for specific manufacturers to see if they have posted a video(s). Examples are Demdaco (Willow Tree Family Groupings), Ne’Qwa Art (hand painted glass), and Robert Kaufman (fabric).

Below is a list of mostly gift retail trade publications. By searching the Internet trade there are trade publications for all kinds of products such as for tabletop and for bathrooms.

Retail Trade Publications
The following retail trade magazines have information for retailers on how to grow their business. Many also feature products, discuss trends, have trade show calendars, and links to digital issues of their magazines.

Gift Beat
Has a newsletter that tracks the pulse of the gift industry by surveying retailers across the United States on best-selling products and then sharing that information in national and regional charts. The newsletter is a good way to determine what manufacturers are very successful in selling their products, which means more licensing revenue for the artist.

Gift Biz Buzz
Has an Internet trade publication that shows products, trade show calendar, links to gift manufacturer websites, etc.

Gifts and Dec
Has a website and publication that shows new product introductions, consumer trends, market calendar, pre and on going market news articles, etc.

Gift Shop
Has a website and publication that shows product trends, free digital issues of magazine, videos of manufacturer showrooms (located under resources), etc.

• Giftware News
Has a website and publication that shows new products, trends, free digital issues of magazine, online gift directory (links to many manufacturer sites that license art), gift show directory, industry news, etc.

Independent Retailer Magazine
Has a website that list links to various wholesale suppliers, and has articles about trade show and retail news.

Smart Retailer
Has a website and publication that shows new products, product trends, trade shows calendar, etc.

• Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties Magazine
Has a website and publication that shows new products and discuss trends sold in resorts, hotels, and gift stores in parks, zoos, museums, gardens, etc.

• Stationery Trends
Has a website and publication that shows the latest trends for greeting cards and social stationery and related lifestyle gifts with access to free digital issues of magazines.  It also has interesting interview articles about artists and retailers in the greeting card and stationery industry.  And, it has videos about different greeting card and related product manufacturers.

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:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Art Licensing Editorial: Tips on Creating Licensable Art for Products

If artists hope to license their art to manufacturers, they need to create art that consumers want to see on products. Therefore, artists in the art licensing industry cannot just create any type of subject matter and expect to be able to license it for any type of product. The art licensing industry is very commercial. Artists that create art subjects that they love do not necessarily mean that it is licensable. Instead an experienced, and savvy licensed artist first researches what art manufacturers need to be able to sell their products AND THEN creates art that fits the manufacturers product line(s). Those are the artists that are successful in licensing their work.

Of course, there are exceptions. For example, flower art is very popular and if the artist loves to paints flowers then of course it will be licensable IF the composition is well arranged and formatted correctly for the product. But, if the artist only paints roses then the possibility of licensing the art is limited because currently roses are not trending except for vintage art. Believe it or not, daisies and flowers that resemble daisies are currently the most popular for the majority of products. But there again, there are exceptions depending on the season or holiday. Poinsettias are popular for Christmas, tulips and other spring flowers for Easter, sunflowers for summer and autumn. That is why it is so important that artists learn what kind of art manufacturers license for their products before creating the art. Submitting art to manufacturers that they will not put on their products is a waste of time for the manufacturers and for the artist.

• Create Licensable Art
As mentioned above, not all art is licensable or the art is limited in the type of products it will be licensed for. Your art may be beautiful and your family, friends, and even other artists may love it but unless it meets the needs of manufacturers selling to the mass or niche markets it may not be licensed.

The following articles discuss more about licensable art and has suggestions on how to make your art licensable if you are struggling to get deals.

– "Not all art is licensable" Make sure you read the comments because not everyone agreed with the title of the article when it was first posted in 2010.

– "Is Your Art Good Enough to License?"

– "Creating Licensable Art: Composition Tips"

• Tips on Size, Shape, and File Format of Art
The size and shape of art that should be created for licensing consideration depends on the type of products that manufacturers produce. It varies between the different product industries and even between the different manufacturers in the same industry. Thus, there is not a standard size and shape used to create art for ALL products. See below for more information about the size, shape, and format in creating art for licensing.

– Shape
As mentioned previously, art should be created for products. That means the shape of the art (vertical, horizontal, round, and square) depends on what type of product it is created for. The basic shape for greeting cards, decorative flags, gift bags, and some wall art is vertical. Doormats & rugs, cutting boards, placemats, jigsaw puzzles, and some wall art are usually horizontal. Coasters, wall clocks, and dishes are usually round. Coasters, dishes, and wall art are sometimes square. And repeating patterns for fabric, gift-wrap, and scrapbooking is usually square or vertical. Although, product shapes depend upon individual manufacturers so it is important for artists to know what shape each manufacturer use on their products before creating and submitting art to them. For example, not all coaster manufacturers produce only square coasters so if you plan to submit coaster art to numerous coaster manufacturers it would be wise to format the coasters not only square but also round.

– Size
Art should be created large enough so that the resolution will not be lost when placed on most products. For instance, if art is painted on a 5 by 7 inch sheet of paper (standard size for greeting cards) the resolution will NOT be good enough when enlarged for a 28 by 40 inch decorative flag. Each artist needs to figure out what size works best for the products they license or hope to license. Read "Art Licensing Tip: Creating the Correct Art Size" to find out more about the size of the art that should be created for products.

– File Format
Most artists scan their art or create their art in Adobe Photoshop at HiRes (high resolution) of 300dpi (dots per inch) because most manufacturers only need 300dpi. However, some manufacturers ask for 600dpi or even 1200dpi when the art is very detailed. The drawback in using a large dpi file is that if the file size is large it takes up a lot of computer space. Also the file takes a long time to transfer to the manufacturer over the Internet especially if the file is a layered Photoshop .psd file. Note: Many manufacturers asked for layered Photoshop .psd or .tiff files so they can adjust the size of the image. Some manufactures also ask that the image have a 0.5 or 1 inch or more bleed. A bleed means that the manufacturer wants the art to extend beyond the cutting edge so that no white area shows after trimming. For example, if the size of the final art will be 28 by 40 inches for a decorative flag, and the manufacturer asks for a one inch bleed, the artist would extend the art an additional one inch on each side and send the manufacturer a 30 by 42 inch image.

When submitting art to manufacturers for licensing consideration, artists normally send LowRes files at 72dpi. Many artists send a LowRes 8-1/2 by 11-inch sell-sheet that has the image(s) and artist contact information on it. Also some artists use sell-sheets to submit a collection of art and product mock-ups illustrating what the art would look like on products.

• Research the Art that Manufacturers License
Manufacturers license art to help sell their products. They are always looking for new art that standout and are popular with consumers. New art does not always mean a new theme but maybe a new refreshed look of a popular theme such as snowmen, lighthouse, or flower gardens. Or, new could mean a new central image(s) in a popular theme such as a mermaid for a coastal theme and elves for a Christmas theme. Or, it could even be a new theme like woodland animals that was introduced several years ago and is still popular.

Successful licensed artists are continually looking at products to find manufacturers that license art and see what kind of art they license. They visit all kinds of brick-and-mortar stores and manufacturer trade shows* that sell to retailers. Searching the Internet is an indispensable method in finding manufactures and checking out the art used on products.  

Note: Finding what art is used on products by looking at manufacturer websites is not always possible because many have their product section(s) and catalogues password protected for use only by retailers. However, by searching the Internet you can find retailer e-stores that show manufacturer products they purchased to sell to consumers.

* Manufacturers exhibit their products at all kinds of trade shows. The most popular trade show that artists attend is the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market held in January and July each year. The Atlanta show has a huge number of manufacturers that exhibit their products (both permanent showrooms and temporary booths) so it is the go-to-place for artists to view products that uses licensed art. There are also many other trade shows besides gift shows that specialize in products such as apparel, outdoor equipment, hardware, textile, home and garden, kitchen and bath. Most trade shows can be found in the "Wholesale Tradeshow Calendar". FYI: This tradeshow calendar is not up-to-date with all the show dates but it does list the trade show websites so that you can get accurate dates and location information.  

Note: Because the purpose of trade shows is for manufacturers to sell their products to retailers, they are normally closed to the public and difficult for artists to attend. Read "Art Licensing: Why Walk Wholesale Trade Shows?" to find out more about trade shows and some ways that artists can attend them.

Related Articles
– "Is There a Formula to Successfully License Art?"

– "Art Licensing: The Importance in Knowing What Sells at Retail"

– "List of Manufacturers that License Art"

– "Art Licensing Editorial: Tips on Getting Deals"

– "List of Art Trends" The trends mentioned in this article are NOT up-to-date and you will probably see that some trends mentioned are not now seen on products.

• Know Your Competition
Because there are now thousands of extremely talented artists competing with each other, it is imperative that artists know what other artists they are competing against. Recognizing other artists work as similar to yours is important so that you do not waste your time in continuing to submit art to a manufacturer that is already licensing that artists work. For example, if the art style and themes are Americana and a manufacturer is already licensing art from one or more artists with an Americana look than they probably would not be interested in art from another artist with the same look.

Some manufacturers use preferred artists when they have small product lines such as calendar manufacturers that only produce one or two calendars a year per theme (cats, dogs, birds, coastal, etc.). On the other hand manufacturers that have large product lines such as greeting card manufacturers prints hundreds of cards a year and they are always looking for art. Thus, artists have a better chance in getting a deal from them. Researching the art that the manufacturer has licensed to make sure your art is different but still fits their product line(s) will ultimately save you time and give you a better chance in licensing your art.

• Licensing Realities
Being a licensed artist has its pros and cons. Creating and licensing art for products is hard work. It is frustrating when you submit art and seem to wait forever to get a reply that you got a deal OR you never hear back. The more licensable art you create the better chance you have in licensing it but the reality is that most of the art you create will never be licensed. Theoretically art created for numerous types of products should be licensed for those products but in many cases the art may only be licensed for only one type of product. Now products have a shorter shelf life so monies earned from each licensing deal is lower than what was earned ten years ago. And, now more artists are licensing their art so the competition is stiff and each artist is getting fewer deals than before. Therefore, less artists are able to live only on the money earn from licensing their art.

So why do artists continue to create art for products and try to license it if there are so many negatives? Every artist does it for different reasons. Some love to create and getting paid is a bonus to them. Some need to earn any money they can by licensing their art. Some love to see their art on products. Others enjoy the kudos from family, friends, and artists in creating wonderful art and getting deals. And some even enjoy the challenge in creating and licensing their art. Or they love it all! So whatever the reason, enjoy creating art to be licensed for products :) I wish you much success!!!!!

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:

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Art Licensing: Tips on Using MacOS Cool Apps and Tricks

Macintosh computers operating systems (OS) have time saver options, robust ways to find and organize files, and other cool things that many Mac computer users may not know about. The newer MacOS applications (apps) have updated OS apps. Therefore, not everything mentioned in this article will be available to users depending on Mac operating system they are using. For instance, the use of Tags to organize files and to easily locate a file is not available on Mac computers if the OS is not OS X Mavericks (OS 10.9) or greater. And the use of Labels to colorize the text below files and folders is only available if the MacOS is less than OS X Mavericks.

• Paste text without its original format
Have you ever been about to "tear your hair out" when copying an article headline from a website and pasting it into an email or Microsoft word document and the font is different, a huge size, and spaced way down the page than the font you are using? What a pain to correct it so that it is the same format and size as the one you are using in the email!

TIP: Instead of using the normal Command V keys on the keyboard to paste the copied text, use Command/Option/shift/V keys and the copied text format will be the same format you are using in your email. Now that is a time saver!

• Using Emoji characters  ❤️  😀  🌺
In case you do not know, the colored smiley faces and other symbols used on social media sites and emails are called Emoji. Emoji (comes from the words picture and character) originated on Japanese mobile phones in the late 1990s and became popular worldwide when Apple's iPhone supported them. Note: Not all email clients or devices support ALL Emoji and some Emoji may look different in emails supported by different clients and on various devices.

Emoji, pictographs, and many other characters can be found in the Finder Special Characters app.
1. Go to Finder and click on Edit to open the window.
2. Then click on Special Characters to open its window.
3. While in an email (or social media site or other applications that support Emoji), double clicking on one of the Emoji or other characters in the Special Character window and it will be transferred to the email.

A lot more Emoji characters are available than in the MacOS Special Characters app. The one that I like is because it shows what the character looks like when used on various devices and social media sites.

Did you know that Emoji and symbols could also be placed in an email subject line? I often receive emails from companies with an Emoji character in the subject line. What a great way to get attention and differentiate your email from others! Read the thought provoking article "Using Emoji and Symbols in Your Email Subject Lines" that describes how to use Emoji in place of words or complement words and to engage and connect with the person you are sending the email to.

• Highlighting file and folder names
If your desktop is full of files and folders, it may be difficult to spot the one you wish to open. One way to differentiate them is to use colored text labels for files and folders by using the OS Finder/Label app. Note: This is available with Mac OS that is previous to Mavericks (OS 10.9). With OS X Mavericks (OS 10.9) and greater, the Finder/Label app was replaced with the Finder/Tabs app that helps organize files and folders. Instead of colored text, a dot that can be colored is placed in front of the text. To find out more about Tags, read "Tags to help organize files" section in this article.

Do the following to change the color of the text below a file or folder.
1. Click on the file or folder on the desktop that you wish to change the text color.
2. Click on File in the Finder app. And then, click on one of the seven Label colors (Finder > File > Label). The original color of the text will be replaced by the color selected.

• Customize the original file folder icon
Another way to easily differentiate folders on the desktop is to replace the original folder icon with a picture that pertains to the files in the folder. For instance, if the folder has flower files in it than a flower picture could be used to replace the generic folder icon as shown above. Or, use Photoshop or another application to create a word image on what type of files are in the folder (i.e. flowers, licensing info, contracts, trade shows, copyrights, Ads, photos, etc.) and use it to replace the generic folder icon. Another suggestion is to use the logo from a particular manufacturer website for the folder that has files related to that manufacturer.

Do the following to customize file folder icons
1. Copy to the clipboard (Command C) the picture you want to use. A low-resolution jpg image is recommended.
2. Click on the folder on the desktop.
3. In Finder choose File > Get info to open the Info window.
4. At top left of the Info window, click on the generic folder icon and paste the picture from the clipboard (Command V). The generic folder icon is replaced with the picture and is now visible on the folder.

• Tags to help organize files (OS X Mavericks and above)
OS X Mavericks (OS 10.9) includes Tags with a powerful way to organize files. With Tags, files can be organized by project without having to move them into a folder. Tags automatically appear in the Finder sidebar, so it is easy to find tagged files no matter where they are located. Read more about it in "OS X: Tags help you organize your files"

• More Cool Things
Below are articles about more MacOS cool things.

– "How to Customise Your Mac: 15+ Cool Ways to Do It Quickly" shows ways to personalize OS desktop, menu bar, finder, and preferences to your specifications. Note: The author of this article used Mac Sierra (OS 10.12) so not all Mac OS app tips shown will work the same way on the OS you are using.

– "The 50 best Mac tips, tricks and timesavers". Some of the tips in this article will require recent versions of the Mac operating system such as the latest OS X Sierra – but not all of them do. This article has too many nifty tips to list and I recommend that you flip through it to find some amazing cool things.

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:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Art Licensing Editorial: Is There a Formula to Successfully License Art?

Licensing art to manufacturers is a challenge. The competition among artists to license their work is growing as more and more artists enter the licensing industry. Different ways in selling products to consumers is evolving with the advent of Internet E-stores and kiosks in shopping malls as print-on-demand stores. These stores allow the production of popular custom and personalized art on products that has a wide range of art styles and themes. The different generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y/The Millennials, Gen Z) are influencing the type of products sold at retail. Each generation views the world differently and thus they purchase products with a diversity of art on them. As the majority of purchasing power is transitioning from one generation to another there is constant changes in art styles and themes needed to effectively sell products. And because of these fluctuations, there is NO set formula that an artist can follow to successfully license her/his art.

However, there are certain fundamentals that artists can pursue to have a better chance in licensing their work. Below is a discussion on some of them that should help to get deals.

• Create art that sells product
Artists new to the art licensing industry often make the mistake in creating art with themes that “they” like but may not be what consumers want. The art MUST appeal to the mass market so that manufacturers can entice a profusion of consumers to purchase their products. Even if the art is extraordinary it may not be licensable if the themes or the art style does not appeal to enough consumers. It is difficult to find manufacturers to license art themes that are unlikely to sell products. Thus, artists that want to be successful in licensing art must create art with themes that consumers want.

Get tips on creating beautiful licensable art by reading, "How to Create Art that is Licensable". And read the article "List of Art Trends" for themes that sell products year-after-year.

• Be prolific in creating art
The more licensable art an artist creates, the better chance she/he has in getting deals. Submitting lots of art with a variety of themes gives art directors more choices when selecting art to be licensed. Also, as art licensing agent Jim Marcotte states in his article "10, oops, 17, Things You Need to Learn to Make It in Art Licensing", "The majority of what you create for licensing will never be licensed, so you need to create constantly and keep feeding it into the pipeline."

It is SO true that a lot of the art generated is not licensed. But, do not despair that the art is kaput. Unlicensed images can be refreshed to look new or parts of it can be used in other images.

• Build relationships with art directors (AD)

It is not always possible, but working directly with a manufacture AD is better than just submitting art to a submission committee. By building a relationship with the AD she/he becomes more familiar with the artist work and also enables the artist to ask questions. Learning about the company and what themes are trending and/or big sellers is invaluable for creating new art.

Hint: Being easy to work with, willing to compromise, and willing to alter art helps create a friendly relationship and gives the artist a better chance to get deals.

• Submit art at the right time
Knowing when to submit the correct art themes to manufacturers may determine if the art will be licensed or not. Unfortunately there is no standard time of the year to submit the different art themes. Although, art is usually chosen by manufacturers at least 12 months in advance of the season or holiday.

Each manufacturer tends to have their own deadlines so it is important to contact them. A few manufactures have art licensing guidelines and submission deadlines on their websites but the majority of them will need to be contacted. Some manufacturers periodically send emails to artists that are on their art call-out requests. Ask art directors if they request art by doing call-outs and if they do ask to be put on the list.

• Do not give up

Licensing art is VERY frustrating because getting deals is hard, VERY HARD. Artists can submit a lot of art that they know is perfect for the manufacturer's product line and they never hear back from the AD. However, unless they are persistent in submitting art they never will license their art.

Every successful licensed artist has gone through the frustrating process of submitting art and not getting deals. The one thing they all have in common is that they did not give up. Read artist Barbara Johansen comments on not giving up in the article "Don't give up Your Dreams and Grow a Thick Skin - Part 1" and artist BJ Lantz comments in the article "Don't give up Your Dreams and Grow a Thick Skin - Part 2". Both these articles were written in 2009 and the information the artists shared still applies today.

It is crucial to create, create, create AND submit, submit, submit art to successfully license it. Getting a deal takes time, sometimes M A N Y months, so be patient and do NOT give up!

Everyone has an opinion on what it takes to become successful in art licensing. Below are opinions by three-experienced agents. But, beware that these articles were not recently written. If the authors are asked today about how to license art their opinions may be different due to the transformation of the art licensing industry.

1. "What Does it Take to Make it in Art Licensing?" by John Haesler of MHS Licensing

2. "Ten Secrets to Success in Art Licensing" by Lance J. Klass of Porterfield's Fine Art Licensing

3. "Break It Down" by Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios

4. "10, oops, 17, Things You Need to Learn to Make It in Art Licensing" by Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios

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:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Art Licensing Editorial: Dwindling Number of Exhibitors at Art Licensing Trade Shows

With less than three months before the two 2017 United States licensing trade shows take place (SURTEX and International Licensing Expo), there is a significant decrease in the number of exhibitors than at the 2016 shows. The organizer of SURTEX, Emerald Exposition, reported in the press release "SURTEX Welcomes More Than 80 First-Time Exhibitors From Around the World to Launch New Art and Designs" that there were over 250 exhibitors at the 2016 show. However, as of 3/3/17 only 168 exhibitors have applied for a booth at the 2017 show. Previous to the 2008-2009 recession in the United States, SURTEX had a minimum of 300 exhibitors every year. The International Licensing Expo website states that the 2016 show had 489 exhibitors. But as of 3/3/17, only 299 exhibitors are listed for the 2017 show.

Unfortunately, the number of exhibitors for both shows has been decreasing each year. And of course, it is not good for their livelihood. Why is there a decrease in exhibitors and how does that impact the shows? Could it signify the eventual demise of them?

The following discuss the two licensing shows, the impact on SURTEX because of the dwindling number of licensors (artists/agents) exhibiting at the show, and what artists and agents are doing to find licensees (manufacturers) instead of exhibiting at licensing shows.

Licensing Shows
Licensors (owners of art and designs) exhibit their work at licensing trade shows so that licensees (manufacturers) can view the licensors art for consideration in licensing it for use on their products. Licensing is the process of leasing a legally protected (trademarked or copyrighted) entity – a name, likeness, logo, trademark, graphic design, slogan, signature, character, etc. The previous sentence is from the Licensing Expo website.

Even though SURTEX and Licensing Expo are both licensing shows, the emphasis on the type of categories is different. Licensing Expo exhibitors show a wide variety of categories such as Animation, Apparel/Fashion, Art & Design, Automotive, Brands & Trademarks, Characters, Entertainment, Food & Beverage, Sports/Outdoors, etc. SURTEX narrows the categories to artwork, designs, and art brands.

SURTEX will be held May 21-23, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York and in conjunction with product trade shows NSS (National Stationery Show) and ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). Of the 168 exhibitors in the 2017 SURTEX show, 57 are in the Atelier section [1] and sell all rights to their designs. Thus, only 111 licensors of the 168 exhibitors are licensing art and design. Those include 23 first timers that are exhibiting in the Design District section [2] and 12 agencies.

The cost to exhibit at SURTEX keeps increasing each year. For the 2017 show, the Design District 5 by 10foot booth rental cost is $2700 ($54 per square foot). An 80 square feet (8 by 10 foot) booth cost $4200 ($52.50/sq. ft.) and a 100 square foot booth (10 by 10 foot) costs $5000 ($50/sq. ft.).

Show admission is free to qualified art buyers and licensees (manufacturers). Suppliers to the trade and non-exhibiting designers, design studio/agents will be charged $495 in advance and $595 onsite. In the past, SURTEX offered three days of seminars by art licensing experts on the essentials, business, strategies, and trends needed to license art. Unfortunately, no seminars will be offered during the 2017 show.

[1] The Atelier section is where textile design studios from around the world sell their surface designs to a multitude of product categories including interior textiles; craft, bedding, and fashion fabrics; wall coverings; and paper.

[2] The Design District has small less expensive booths and is available only to first time SURTEX artist exhibitors. 

• International Licensing Expo
Licensing Expo will be held May 23-25, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. After 30 years of holding the show in New York City, the annual June show moved to Las Vegas in 2009 to be able to reduce the show cost. The price of booths or rental of show space for those exhibitors that bring their own booths is not listed on Licensing Expos website but supposedly it is less than if it was held at the Javits Center in New York where SURTEX is held.

Although Licensing Expo does have a section for art licensing, its main emphasis is world wide licensing of character/entertainment, collegiate, fashion, sports, and corporate trademarks/brands. And thus, the major attendees at the show are interested in those licensors and not art licensors. Unless art licensors have brands that appeal to the majority of the attendees, it is not cost effective to exhibit at this show. Less than 25 artists and art licensing agents will be exhibiting at the 2017 show.

This year the show date was moved from June to May to better fit the timing for the global business cycle. The May 23-25 date for Licensing Expo show does conflict with SURTEX (May 21-23). But this does not seem to be the reason why there are less art licensor exhibitors at the two 2017 shows. Only a hand full of art licensors has been exhibiting at both shows.

Registration to attend the Licensing Expo is free (including artists). The show offers over 25 classes related to the licensing industry. Of those classes, only one is specially aimed at licensing art. The fee of $170 grants attendees access to every conference session.

SURTEX: Reasons for dwindling number of exhibitors
For years SURTEX has been a successful way for artists and agents to meet licensees, show them art, and license it. With the increase of artists entering the art licensing industry the competition is great and getting licensing deals is more difficult. Also the retail industry has changed, with products having a short shelf life resulting in less revenue for each deal. Thus, licensors have a lower budget to put towards marketing their work and exhibiting at SURTEX.  Note: It is different for the design studios in the Atelier section of the show that sell their designs outright because they earn revenue from their designs up front. Not all the following discussion applies to them.

• Cost
The main reason that many art licensors are no longer exhibiting at SURTEX is because it is no longer cost effective. For most artists and some agencies the increase in cost for a booth, travel and a hotel room besides other incidental costs such as banners of art and decorations for the booth now exceeds the potential revenue that they MAY earn by exhibiting at the show.

• Licensee Budgets
Many companies have reduced their travel budgets. Before the 2007-2008 recession, several people (art directors, owners, head of product lines, etc.) from each company would walk all three days of the show. Now only one person may attend for one or two days. That means licensees rush through the show and probably miss licensors art that they would have normally viewed and possibly licensed if they had more time.

• First Time Exhibitors
To entice licensors to exhibit, SURTEX offers a first time exhibiting artist a smaller booth at a lower price in the Design District section of the show. If those artists exhibiting in the Design District wish to exhibit at future shows, they will be required to pay the price for a larger booth. However, many of those artists probably will not be able to afford to pay the price for a full booth and will not return.

• Agencies
There are over 50 art licensing agencies in the United States and the majority are not exhibiting at SURTEX. Only 12 will be at 2017 show. In the past there were many more agencies exhibiting at SURTEX but the number has steadily declined. For those agencies that have been exhibiting at SURTEX for years, they are looking for new licensees that have not previously attended SURTEX. Agencies are already connected with those licensees that attend year after year and they submit new art to them via the Internet. Even though it is good to meet in person, it can be a waste of time unless the agency has new art to show the licensee. Not enough new companies are attending SURTEX so some agencies have stopped exhibiting because there is not a good enough reason to pay the cost to exhibit.

• Catch-22
Sadly, SURTEX seems to be in a no win situation. As the number of exhibitors drop because the cost to exhibit for art licensors is not cost effective, the promoter of SURTEX (Emerald Exposition) is forced to increase prices the following year to cover their expenses and make money to put on the show. And because there is less art to view, licensees will eventually stop attending since it is not worth the cost and time. And with fewer licensees attending more licensors will probably stop exhibiting. If the number of exhibitors continues to decline, and it probably will, Emerald Exposition will ultimately discontinue the SURTEX show.

Alternative Ways Licensors Find Licensees
Instead of exhibiting at licensing shows, the following are some of what artists and agents are doing to find manufacturers that license art to put on their products.

• Research, Research, Research
Looking for manufacturers that license art can be very time consuming but is necessary in the art licensing business. Below are a few ideas on finding licensees.

– Search the Internet for licensees. Searching by product type can yield lots of companies that can then be researched to see if they use art on their products and do not have in-house designers. If they do not use in-house designers, it is a good possibility that they license art.

Viewing the websites of retail chain e-stores is another way to find licensors. is also a good source.

– Constantly survey chain and specialty stores to find the names of manufacturers using art on their products. The gift industry licenses a lot of art so checking out gift stores is an excellent way to find manufactures that license art.

– Look at advertisements and the sections on "what's new" in gift trade magazines aimed at retailers. Those magazines often show products of manufacturers that license art. Either subscribe to the magazines (some are free) or pick them up at no cost when attending trade shows. The magazine Gifts & Dec is very informative. Other useful magazines can be found on the Internet by searching with the words "retailer gift trade magazines".

– Search the Internet for articles that mention manufacturers that license art. For example, read the article "Art Licensing: List of Manufacturers that License Art".

• Join Art Licensing (ALSC)
Another way to find and connect with licensees is to join ALSC. It is a protected art portfolio hosting website for artists/agents to privately show art to licensees. Licensees can join at no cost. All ALSC members can see examples of art by hundreds of artists but only licensees are allowed to ask portfolio members (artists/agents) for permission to view their portfolios. ALSC portfolio artist and agent members can also connect with the licensee members and share their art portfolios with them. Note: All artists and agents are allowed to join ALSC at no cost but unless they join as a portfolio member they will not be able to share their work with licensees. Learn more about ALSC by going to their website

• Attend Product Wholesale Trade Shows
Walking product wholesale trade shows is a great way to find manufacturers that license art. Manufacturers or distributors that they hire exhibit products at these types of trade shows for retailers to purchase. Often art directors attend the larger shows and many times licensors can make appointments with them to show art for licensing consideration. Note: Retailers/buyers can attend trade shows at no cost but it may be difficult for artists/agents to attend these show unless they have retailer credentials.

The gift industry uses a lot of licensed art so that attending gift trade shows is a perfect place to find licensees. The largest gift show in the United States is the Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market that is held each year in January and July. For more information about the show, read "Art Licensing: 2014 Atlanta Gift Show - the amazing Americas Mart campus". This article also has links to two additional articles about the show.

Great ways to find licensors is by attending trade shows for other industries besides gifts such as for apparel, sports, tabletop, crafts, stationery, and many more. A list of some of them including gift shows can be found on "Gift Trade Show Calendar" and "2017-2018 Wholesale Trade Gift Shows".

• Market Art
Let licensees find you by aggressively marketing licensable art.
– Send press releases to product magazines when art has been licensed.
– Have a blog and often post interesting and informative articles on it.
– Showcase art on social media (Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube). Some licensors have reported getting licensing deals by posting art on Instagram and belonging to LinkedIn they should not depend on only using them to connect with licensees because  few art directors have the time to search for art on social media. Also, beware that copyright infringement often occurs when art is posted on social media sites.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Art Licensing Editorial - 2017 January Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market Trends / Record-Breaking Attendance

 AmericasMart Atlanta, the home of the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishing Market, reported a VERY successful show in the article "Record-Breaking New and International Buyer Increases at Atlanta Winter Market". And, that was easy to believe that attendance was up, "WAY-UP", from the previous years because the showrooms and temporary booths were crowded with buyers and the reps were busy, "REALLY-BUSY", taking orders. Of course, it was slow going with so many people moving down the corridors, through the showrooms and booths, using the elevators (forget that) and escalators, and standing in line to purchase lunch or use the restrooms. And another drawback I found with so many buyers attending the show was that two of my appointments with art directors were cancelled. The art directors were needed to help show products and write-up sales so they did not have time to look at art. But, all of these inconveniences were worthwhile because a successful show means the likelihood of a successful art licensing year.

Note: It should not be surprising that attendance and buying at the show had increased because the consumer confidence for 2016 was the highest level since 2001 resulting in pumped up consumer spending as stated in the article "Holiday Sales and Searches Up for 2016". That meant that retailers needed to replenish their merchandize at the Atlanta Gift Show resulting in its huge attendance. Also read, "Holiday Consumer Confidence Up, But What About In 2017?

• Products
The Atlanta show is all about product and viewing it is mind-blogging as you walk down corridor-after-corridor on floor-after-floor in the three buildings. So it is not always easy to determine what type of products/art/colors are trending. But, according to the articles I read, "United we stand - made in America" label is stronger than ever. Also, pet related, coastal, words/inspirational phrases, and of course Christmas products is huge. The article "Direct from Atlanta Market: Excitement Fills the Air at Americasmart" stated that " . . . there is a growing demand for fashion and personalization, and retailers and consumers are wanting more."

A new direction in the decorative flag industry that will be seen in 2017 by several flag companies is state and even city themed flags that will increase flag sales. Because many flag manufacturers now produce their own flags in the United States, they can do print-on-demand short production runs with names of cities or states on them that is not feasible for companies that outsource their flags to China. For example, retailers will be able to order not only decorative flags with the VERY popular word welcome on it but will be able to order "Welcome to (city/state name)". In the article "Holiday Decorating Tips", Studio M said that ". . . retailers can expect to see some state-themed products from Studio M at summer markets in 2017".

• Trends
Art themes that started as a trend and have proven over time to be consistent sellers of products are considered to be evergreen (timeless). These themes are seen on all kinds of products. They include flowers, birds, butterflies, cats, seashells, lighthouses, roosters, pumpkins, fall leaves, turkeys, Santa Claus, snowmen, snowflakes, Christmas trees, pinecones, poinsettias, and reindeer.

Not surprising, last year's huge fad of adult coloring books were not prevalent this year at Atlanta. Although coloring books and other products that can be colored are still selling well for some manufacturers. Chevron and Polka-Dot designs are still popular and are not only used as standalone designs but are now incorporated into art. At Atlanta these two designs plus plaid and gingham were prevalent on kitchen products.

According to Gifts and Decorative magazine in the article "Direct from Market: Trend Spotting at Americasmart" trends include stylized geometry on jewelry and fashion accessories, bringing the outdoors-in with the coziness of Hyyge (Danish meaning "well-being"), whimsical images of ice cream, millennial pink color throughout all product categories, coastal, personalization of products, and more.

Below are pictures and discussions on 2017 Pantone Color of the year and the widespread trends of words/phrases, coastal, and Christmas art that I saw at Atlanta. 

– Pantone Color of the Year
At Atlanta I attended Laurie Pressman's (vice president of the PANTONE Color Institute) presentation “Home 2017: At a Crossroads for Color + Design”. She stated in her presentation that color influences 50 - 85% of product purchasing decision. Product purchases also depend upon experiences and yearning for familiar comfort. The way consumers purchase products has change because of technology and type of expected service. The speed in processing so much information has made consumers want to pare back the clutter (less is more) resulting in the popularity of minimal color (white on white, dusty pinks); versatile, tranquil, stable, chic and sophisticated grays; warm browns; and luxurious reds. And, the importance in well-being has lead to nature and the desire to rejuvenate and revitalize resulting in Pantone's 2017 color of the year "Greenery", a zesty yellow-green shade of green. Note: Pantone 2017 color of the year "Greenry" has been trending for years on paper products, tabletop, gifts, home accents, and whimsical Christmas decorations. And now it is also trending on fashion and home furnishings products.

– Words & Phrases
Inspirational, religious, and humorous tongue-in-cheek phrases are still going strong. Most products are brightly colored or black and white wall art and greeting cards. More prevalent this year are words and phrases on kitchen décor and accessories.

Brownlow Gifts showroom at Atlanta usually showcases very colorful products but this year they were black and white. When I questioned the Brownlow rep about it, he said that these B&W products with inspirational words and phrases are huge sellers. They make great gifts because the consumer does not have to worry that the color will not fit the home décor of the recipient. B&W kitchen products were also in other manufacturer showrooms.

– Coastal
Coastal and beach themes were very strong last year at Atlanta and it was even more so this year. Gift and Dec publication article "Direct from Market: Trending Spotting at Americasmart" stated that "According to our Gift Book consumer survey for 2017, 8 percent of consumers describe their home decorating style as coastal, up 2 percent from the previous year. If Atlanta is any indication, this number will only continue to rise."

The majority of showrooms at Atlanta had a coastal line no matter what kind of products they sell. Last year mermaids were the outstanding icon and they were even more so this year. Mermaids were on stationery, pillows, flags, rugs, jewelry, totes, tabletop, home décor, plush and even zip-up throw blankets with mermaid tails. Whale images are also very popular and the popularity of flamingos seem to be increasing. Seashells, seahorses, starfish, crabs, lobsters, octopus, and sea turtles are still a stable in the coastal line although they seem to be going neck-and-neck in popularity with ships/boats and their accessories such as ship wheels, anchors, and lifesaver rings. Ships/boats and accessory products and images tend to use red, white and ultramarine blue colors. While, the background color or portions of the art in other coastal art often use turquoise OR ultramarine blue on white/ivory colored background.

– Christmas
As usual, Santa Claus, snowmen, angels, reindeer, polar bears snowflakes, pinecones/pine-nettles, poinsettias were prevalent in the Atlanta holiday & floral/home décor (H&FHD) showrooms plus the many gift showrooms that have Christmas lines. Not so prevalent were amaryllis flowers, nutcrackers, penguins, and woodland animals.

At the Atlanta show during the last two years there has been an inkling that elves might start to trend because some of the H&FHD showrooms had elf figurine lines. But it was not until this show that whimsical elf figurines and art went viral and appeared in most H&FHD and gift showrooms that have Christmas lines. Note: The popularity of elves may be due to the recurrence of the popular "The Elf on the Shelf" children's picture book(s) that was originally published in 2004.

As seen in previous years, traditional Christmas art and décor use deep red and deep green colors. Fun whimsical art use bright red and chartreuse green ("Greenery" Pantone 2017 color of the year). And, elegant designs use silver and gold. Red and black plaid designs and burlap textures are becoming more popular in Christmas art and décor.

According to Studio M in the article "Holiday Decorating Tips" 2016 holiday décor had lots of black, white and red color schemes with burlap, muslin, and buffalo check. Natural elements such as birch, pinecones and antlers continue the trend of Nordic, woodland and forest themes. Studio M predicts that 2017 will be a derivative of 2016 with lots of white-on-white and green-and-white color schemes while textural elements and more woodland animal elements like antlers and snowy owls will continue. Note: The predicted 2017 trend depends upon the type of products. For example, white-on-white art may work for tabletop and paper products but not for decorative flags.

• Related Articles
Art Licensing Editorial - 2016 January Atlanta Market Trends

Art Licensing Editorial: 2015 January Atlanta Gift Show

Art Licensing: 2014 Atlanta Gift Show - the amazing AmericasMart campus

Art Licensing Editorial: 2014 Atlanta Gift Show - insights on walking the show

Art Licensing Editorial: 2014 Atlanta Gift Show - trends

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