Getting Started in Art Licensing

Copyright 2010 © Kate Harper

Because I get so many emails from artists who want to learn how to sell their designs to card publishers, I wrote this article. While every artist has a completely different story about how they got into this career, I can only conclude there is no one "right way" to do it. I can only share my experiences and make recommendations of what to do if I did it all over again. This is an excerpt from my 40 page Kindle ebook "20 Steps to Art Licensing".



~ Getting Started in Art Licensing ~

1. TAKE A CLASS
Take an art licensing class. You can check out Joan Beiriger's Blog on a list of Licensing Teachers. Bring your art to the class for feedback. If you are serious about this career, then fly to wherever the teacher is for a workshop and make it into a vacation.

2. READ BOOKS
Read the following Books: Licensing Art 101, Third Edition: Publishing and Licensing Your Artwork for Profit and Licensing Art and Design: A Professional's Guide to Licensing and Royalty Agreements

3. PHOTOSHOP
Learn Photoshop. Take a class at a local adult school or community college.

4. LEARN FROM OTHER ARTISTS WHO LICENSE
-Jane Mayday Getting Started in Art Licensing
-Maria Brophy How to License Your Art
-Deb Trotter How Blogging Led me to Art Licensing
-BJ Lantz Talks About Art Licensing
-Becky Schultea When Religious Faith Meets Licensing
-Art Licensing: Can You Make a Living at It?
-Joan Beiriger How to License Art to Manufacturers
-Feeling isolated? Watch these videos of artists telling their "Art Licensing Stories."
-Sign up to listen to live interviews with licensing artists, or listen to archives at Tara Reed's site which has a wealth of free information.

5. TRADE MAGAZINES
Subscribe to or familiarize yourself with gift trade magazines. Review what product "collections" look like.

6. BLOGS
Subscribe to Joan Beiriger's Art Licensing Blog and read how-to technical skills for artists. Also check out Art Licensing Blog, and Maria Brophy's blog on the licensing industry.

7. NEWSGROUPS
Sign up for the following news groups, and spend at least a day reading all the discussions and news: Yahoo Art of Licensing and Linkedin Art of Licensing

8. MAKE ART
Spend 3-6 months compiling your own art style and collections.

9. SURTEX
Visit Surtex show in New York as a guest. If you can't go there, try to visit another show in the gift industry. Take notes and collect names of companies and agents.



10. TRADESHOW CLASSES
Take classes at the tradeshows. The two best shows for classes are the Surtex show conference program and Licensing Show conference program. Many of the licensing consultants attend these and you can make appointments with them to evaluate your work.

11. TEARSHEETS
Make 6-12 tear sheets of your collections.
A tear sheet is an 8 1/2 x 11 printout of samples of your work. For example, one sheet might be a series of Christmas designs made into products such as magnets, coasters or greeting cards. Another sheet might be spring tabletop items such as paper plates, napkins and paper cups. Here are some examples of a variety of kinds of tearsheets by other artists. Try to show your art on an actual product.

Joan Beiriger's Blog
Aurora Fox Design
Heaven and Earthworks
Behtek Designs
Stanley Furniture
Douglas Truth

12. GET AN ATTORNEY & LEARN ABOUT COPYRIGHTS
Getting an attorney is the most important thing you can do when you start licensing art. You need someone who does artist contracts. I currently work with MJ Bogatin in Oakland, CA. I've worked with him for 20 years and now we do almost everything by email, which saves me time.

Also don't let the fear of having your artwork stolen stop you from showing it. Read Joan's article on "Don't Be a Legend in Your Own Mind."

13. GET A WEBSITE
Get a website and post your art with contact information. I use godaddy because they are cheap and they always answer the phone when you need help. Here are some tips on how to make a good art licensing site.

14. GET FEEDBACK
Once you've finished your collections, or while you are doing them, consult with a licensing expert for professional advice. Either hire a licensing Coach or offer to pay an Agent for a consultation session. Ask them what you should drop and what you should expand. Try to get as many opinions as possible. Always remember, no matter what anyone says, keep the designs that you would buy if you walked into a store today and saw them on a shelf.

15. AGENTS
Decide if you want to work with an agent. If so, do reseach on the subject and collect their names. Read "Questions to ask before Choosing an Agent" and "Do I need an artist's agent?" You can also refer to Joan's list of agents in the U.S. and in other Countries.

16. FIND COMPANIES TO WORK WITH
If you don't plan on working with an agent, make a plan to spend half your time doing research. Do the footwork, go to each company website and see if it's the right fit for you.
-Go to the Art Licensing Directory Project and get free access to company submission guidelines.
-Read guidelines for card company submissions.
-Find out what companies already do licensing.
-Research other resources explore which companies match your style.


17. RESEARCH STORES
Visit local stores and find products that your art style fits with. Find the label on the product and see who manufacturers it. Get that company's contact info and find out if they do art licensing. Look at aprons, tableware, shower curtains, potholders, greeting cards, magnets, stamps, bedding, paper plates, giftbags, rugs and coasters.

18. SUBMIT DESIGNS
Submit your designs to companies. If they don't accept digital submissions by email, here are some things you might send them, but always check their submission guidelines.

If you get rejected by a company, that is normal process. Don't fret. Try to contact about 50-100 companies and develop a new design mailing list. Send new stuff out once a month. Also see Joan Beiriger's post on 6 steps to write a query letter to a manufacturer.

Articles on submitting to specific industries:
-Joan Beiriger's Blog Licensing to Scrapbook Companies
-Joan Beiriger's Blog Licensing to Tabletop Companies
-Joan Beiriger's Blog Licensing to Quilting Companies
-Joan Beiriger's Blog Licensing to Jigsaw Puzzle Companies
-Joan Beiriger's Blog Licensing to Flag Companies
-Joan Beiriger's Blog Licensing to Greeting Card Companies


19. PRESS RELEASES
Learn how to write your own press releases and become familiar with the ways artists market their work online.

20. PLANNING BUDDY
Most Important: Get a planning buddy if you really want to accomplish all these goals. Also consider starting an art licensing support group.






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Helpful Books for Art Licensing

Here are some book related to art licensing. Some may be out of print, but used copies may be available.

                    




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Greeting Card eBooks by Kate

You can support this blog by ordering Kate's eBooks starting at only .99 cents! 
They can be read on your kindle, ipad, ipod, cellphone, or your computer.  




Greeting Card Class by Kate
I have collaborated with skillshare.com to create an online course on Getting into the Greeting Card Business.  The content is based on my experience of working in the industry for over 20 years, and from publishing over 1,000 cards.

Register here. 
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