Artists or Agents? Tips by Susan January
Susan January is the Vice President of Product Management at Leanin' Tree, a greeting card publisher that represents over 750 artists.
I asked her if I could share her views from the "manufacturer's view point" whether she prefers to work with agents, or with artists directly.
Here is what she said:
We select art artwork primarily because it's good, fills a creative need we have, and because we believe it's going to make for a great product that will sell-in, and sell-through, at retail. Every art submission that is sent to us is reviewed and considered for publication.
ARTISTS vs. AGENTS
There are wonderful artists who are licensing very successfully on their own. And there are some fantastic agents who are earning every penny. The great thing is -- there's room for both, and manufacturers know that, and will continue to use both as valuable resources!
IS ACCESS TO ONLINE ART REPLACING AGENTS?
While the digital shift is changing the way, and the amount of artwork that can be reviewed, all manufacturers have limited staff and resources for reviewing artwork. It's difficult to find and review websites, and the artwork by licensing artists. On our Product Development staff, we don't have anyone whose time can be fully committed to reviewing websites everyday.
From that perspective, it can be easy and convenient to reach out to a licensing agency, give them my "shopping list," and let them respond with lots of possible images from a number of artists.
WHAT ABOUT WORKING WITH ARTISTS?
On the other hand, there is an artist that has great work, is easy and fun to work with, and handles their "art business" professionally and efficiently, I am happy to work directly with them on any project.
SUSAN'S TIPS FOR ARTISTS
Remember, it's all about the Art.
I'm mostly interested in the artwork, and less about whether or not I'm working with an agent or artist.
Timing is important.
I've had meetings with artists at shows, or received submissions from artists or agents, for 3 or more years in a row, before just the right project opened up for us and a particular artist's work!
Manufacturers like Trade shows.
I can't say enough about how valuable shows like Surtex, the Licensing Show, the Atlanta Gift Show, and CHA have become and continue to be for me. I attend every one, and often make it a personal goal to stop at every booth. As long as artists are attending the shows, I'll be there shopping for artwork.
Even in this digital age, I truly hope that artists will continue attending and exhibiting at the shows. And I say exhibiting for a reason: my goal at a show is to see as much artwork as possible, and to meet as many artists as possible. I believe I can do that most effectively and efficiently within the exhibit hall, and not trying to run from one end of a convention center to the other to meet with artists who are in the building but not exhibiting.
I've made it a new practice that I am only meeting with artists at a show who are in a booth! It's what the show is for, and I want to support it.
To submit art Leanin' Tree, See guidelines. To learn more about art agents, see a list of U.S. Agents and Agents outside the United States on Joan Beiriger's Blog.
Susan January is the Vice President of Product Management for Leanin’ Tree, Inc., a 60-year old greeting card and gift manufacturer located in Boulder, Colorado. In her current role, Susan provides direction for the company’s long-term product strategy, which includes product planning, allocation and assignment of design and editorial product-related duties, and management of the company’s internal creative staff. In addition, she secures, develops and manages all existing and future external creative resources, which currently numbers more than 750 artists and licensing agents, across all greeting card and gift product categories. Prior to joining Leanin’ Tree in 1998, Susan spent 10 years in product development and art licensing at Barton-Cotton, Inc., in Baltimore, MD, developing greeting card and social expressions products for fundraising programs for national non-profit organizations.
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