Thursday, May 25, 2017

How I Got Started in Art Licensing + Tips To Get You Going

Hi guys! This post is for all you artists!

Today I want to talk about art licensing, how I got my feet wet in the art licensing world, and give you a few tips on getting started with licensing your own work.  Licensing can be intimidating because it involves negotiations, legal documents, contracts, and in some artist's cases, lawyers (yikes) but you can take it one step at a time and figure things out as you go. That's what I did!

Learn how I got started licensing my own art plus get some savvy art business tips to get yourself going in the art licensing field! by Grow Creative Blog


So here's how I got started:

My first licensing opportunity came to me through Etsy- actually ALL of my art licensing opportunities have come to me through Etsy. It's the best place to get discovered- in my opinion :)

In 2014, a design company asked me about licensing my pink feathers watercolor painting for some packaging for beauty products. I didn't know a thing about licensing at that time, so I dived into the internet for some serious research. The design company was negotiating with a few other artists simultaneously, so it was a little scary! I didn't end up getting that deal because the client went with the cheapest bid and another artist underbid me... boohoo.  At least I was confident that I had not undersold my work- thanks to my research! Plus I learned a lot just from the communication back and forth with the design company. It prepped me for future negotiations. It was a valuable experience!

A year later I was contacted by a company that manufactures artwork for Hobby Lobby.  They liked my pink feathers too and this time I landed the deal! Over the past few years, I've worked with them and get paid 3% of the wholesale price of each product that they manufacture and sell to Hobby Lobby with my artwork on it.  It's not a ton of money per item, but when they manufacture a lot of prints at once, it adds up quickly.  So it's not a bad deal!



Then last fall came another big break, I was contacted by a nice lady at the Anthropologie Beauty Department! Dream come true! I drool over Anthro stuff all the time. This deal was a flat fee payment for the design of and exclusive use of three vintage car illustrations for two years.  I worked really hard on the illustrations and made a nice chunk of change on that deal, plus I get to add that to my resume!

Because of the contacts I have made, I continue to have opportunities to license my watercolor art.  It just snowballs after you get going.

Now for the good stuff, the tips!

Learn how I got started licensing my own art plus get some savvy art business tips to get yourself going in the art licensing field! by Grow Creative Blog


1: Do some market research.
Even though you might feel like you are selling out as an artist by doing this, not many of us artists can survive without following current trends and painting what people like. Get on Pinterest and follow your contemporaries on Instagram.  Check out what is selling at the stores that you want your art to be in! This will get your wheels spinning.

2: Create a good body of work.
Spend some quality time creating quality work. Create and create some more! Realize that not everything you make is going to be a masterpiece and be ok with that.  Let yourself be free to experiment because those experiments can give you your best ideas.

3: Get your stuff online.
This is one of the most critical steps. The more you get your work on the web, the more likely you are to be found! Open an Etsy shop, post your work on a blog, maintain an Instagram account, and pin your work as you create it. It took years of putting my work online consistently before I ever got a contact, so be patient too. Consistency is key here.  If you are continually creating work and showcasing it online, you will get your name out there.

4: Educate yourself.
While you're waiting for your ship to come in, learn all you can about licensing. Understand the different kinds of licenses (i.e. exclusive and non-exclusive contracts).  Determine what you would charge for your work with each type of license. Check out this art licensing article to get some savvy pricing advice.

5: Practice your business communication skills.
This is another way that Etsy prepared me for negotiating with licensors.  I often paint custom artwork for my Etsy customers so I get to practice my professional communication skills on a regular basis as we work out the details of commissions and agree on prices.  All the back-and-forth might feel like a pain, but you NEED to know how to communicate professionally. It's good for you!
So take on commissions, submit your work for shows or contests, and take every opportunity to build your communication skills.  They are so very very valuable!


So that's my two-cents on licensing. I am no expert, but I have learned a few things so far and I hope you find them helpful!


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