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License Your Art: How to Get Started

Over 7,000 brands and licenses showed up at last year's Licensing International Expo. The show attracts retailers who are here to find "The next hot property. The next big thing."

Licensing is a way of generating income from your art.

"Licensing art can sound like American Idol™ for art. Put your art on stage and become an overnight sensation! A road to riches, paved with glitz, glamour and lots of cash. When people first hear about licensing, they often hear about the rock stars of licensing. The people making millions that have become household names. Names like Thomas Kinkade, Mary Engelbreit, Debbie Mumm, Paul Brent, Susan Winget and the like.

"This is often what you hear, 'So-and-so's art is on thousands of products each year, selling millions of dollars in retail stores and the artist gets a percentage.' Well yippee! Who wouldn't want to do that?

"But how did those artists get there? There is a lot of work, dedication and persistence that gets you from learning about the industry to becoming a rock star of licensing. Here are three things I recommend artists just learning about licensing do, to decide if licensing their art will be a good fit for their art, their lifestyle and their goals.

1.    "Make sure you like the way the day-to-day job will be. Don't just throw on your rose colored glasses and create. Seeing the end goal is good but if you are unhappy with the way to get from zero to millions (or even thousands) you probably won't get there. Like any business, there are steps to take, things to do on a daily, monthly and yearly basis to move you towards your goal. Things like creating art collections, figuring out what manufacturers license art, contacting them (or finding an agent to do your sales and marketing side), etc.

2.    "Start to think about your art like an artist who licenses. Thinking like an artist who licenses their art is a shift for many people. Unlike creating art to sell in a gallery or commission work, you need groups, or collections, of art to license, not just single images. Think about products you see in stores with art on them, then consider the pieces a manufacturer needs to make it. Take paper party goods for example. The plate might have a central image and a coordinating border around the edge. The napkins have a repeat pattern. The cups have a solid color and bordered edge. Then you might see a few images used for invitations and decorations. So what does the artist provide to the manufacturer to achieve this party collection? What themes do you see over and over?

3.    "Make a plan and create at least a dozen collections to get started. Even if you want an agent, you need to show that you aren't a one-hit-wonder and that you can produce art for licensing again and again. Quality, quantity and speed are three keys to success in licensing. Another reason to create a dozen collections is that during this creation process, you will discover if you actually like thinking and creating like a licensed artist. It isn't for everyone and I believe that there are so many things you can do with art, why not pick something you love and are passionate about?

"When you have your dozen or so collections, start looking for an agent or showing your art to manufacturers. See what they say, listen and adapt."
~Tara Reed

Source: Published with Tara Reed's permission


P.S. If you like learning on your own, check out these resources.

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