Licensing your art can be a great option for extra income as well as exposure to future collectors. There is no sure-fire way to get a licensing deal, but these eight tips will be a start to getting your art licensed by retailers.
What exactly is licensing? It’s a contractual agreement between the artist (licensor) and the client (licensee). This agreement permits the licensee to use specified art images in the manufacture of specified products, for a set period in a set geographical area. For example, you may be licensing a flamingo image to be used on mugs, tee shirts and prints for a contract term of three years, for distribution and sale in North America. Licensing does not convey copyright, which is retained by the artist.
Artists may receive an advance at the time of signing a contract. Typically, however, they are paid through quarterly royalty payments. These are based on a percentage of sales of products that are manufactured using their images. These percentages will vary. Read about royalty rates at Art Licensing Info.
What Products are Appropriate for Your Art - Do your research: If you wish to enter the licensing world, you should have a very good idea of the type of products that are appropriate for the art you create. Companies are looking for themes that they can use across a range of products, with complementary images.
Copyright Your Designs: You should regularly register your designs with the US Copyright Office in the event of copyright infringement. While this process is time-consuming, it is something that you will wish you had done if you see blatant copying of your work. Luckily, work can be registered in batches, so it’s a good idea to make this practice a regular part of your business – and not only when a design has been licensed. Read Protect Yourself in the Digital Age.
Create/ Update Your Website: Many times, your website is the first thing a potential licensee will review. It’s imperative to make a good first impression! It should be clean while also conveying the unique aesthetic of your brand. Any photos you show (headshot included) should be of great photographic quality. If you lack photography skills, hire a photographer to help you.
Curate a Collection of Pieces: Patterns and sets of artwork are most often desired. This is what’s known as a style guide. “This is a standard thing in the industry. You can get licensing deals without having any style guides, but if you have one, you’ll look more professional and be more likely to get a lucrative licensing deal,” Laura George explains in How to Get Started in Art Licensing.
Positive Communication: When contacting a potential licensee, tell them exactly what you like about their brand, why you are passionate that your art work can be a good fit and how much you want to work with them. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself!
Be Social: There are countless stories of artists partnering with dream companies simply because their Instagram post was seen by the right person.
David Hartshorne, of Bloggingwizard has researched social media scheduling tools and gives the pros and cons on eight currently available and popular programs. Worth checking these out to see how you can save time and position yourself for success.
Be Persistent/Follow Up: If your art does not work for your target company now, there’s a chance it will in the future. Companies’ design needs change every season, so there’s a good possibility that the print that didn’t work for them last season may be just the thing they are looking for now. Plan to reach out to your target list quarterly with new designs and any other important news about your work that might interest the licensee.
Review Contracts Carefully: It’s best to have an attorney read through your contract so that you understand all the implications of the terms to which you are agreeing. Don’t be afraid to push back on terms that don’t sit well with you. You can check out How to Understand Art Licensing Contracts by Tara Reed so you feel comfortable discussing the basics of a contract.