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The Single Most Important Thing You Need to be Successful in Art Licensing is…

Great art… and lots of it!

That sounds simple enough, right?  Well… let’s look at these two issues in a little more depth so you can decide where you fit and what might need some TLC…

Great art.

Great art is incredibly subjective – as the saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.  What one person considers great art another can’t stand.  So what general guidelines can I give you about what “great art” is for the art licensing industry?

Not so mainstream…

  1. Mainstream.  Art that works well for licensing is art that will appeal to a wide variety of people – many of whom will hopefully open their wallets and make a purchase.  When you sell an original in a gallery, you need one buyer to fall in love with the piece and buy it.  Yeah – success!  When you license your art, the manufacturer, and the retailer, needs to believe that hundreds or thousands of people will love your art on a towel, plate, coaster or other product, open their wallet and buy.  For that reason, you see more ‘middle of the road’ themes do well in licensing – like roosters, and wine, and Santa and snowmen… mainstream art for the masses.
  2. Collections.  Unless your art is being licensed for a single product – like a coaster set where all 4 have the same image – most manufacturers need sets, or collections of art that coordinate.  This usually means 4 coordinating images.  These images might be supported by borders and patterns so that a variety of coordinated products can be made from the art.
  3. Digital.  Digital doesn’t mean it was created on a computer – but it can be.  It does mean that your art has to get from canvas, paper, wood or other medium into the computer to be used by manufacturers.  In 10 years, I’ve sent original art to a manufacturer … once.  And that was 10 years ago… now artists are expected to deliver all art digitally.

Lots of art.

You can not create 3 collections and expect to make a living for the next 10 years.  Period.  While 10-15 years ago a product might have a 3-5 year life span in stores, today’s consumers always want something NEW.  That means the retailers want new and the manufacturers want new so it is up to YOU to bring the NEW.

Artists who do well in art licensing are creative machines.  They work quickly.  They stay on top of trends and can create new collection after new collection.  You can talk to a client one day and three weeks later they will ask you – without fail – “what new things have you been working on?”  If the idea of constantly creating new collections doesn’t fill you with excitement – this might not be the best industry for you. :)

Of course there are many, many other things involved in building a successful art licensing business but without lots of great art – you won’t get it off the ground.

If you are new to the concept of licensing, I encourage you to get out of your studio today and hit the stores!  Look at the shelves, look at the products – look at the ART and DESIGNS on them and study what is selling.  The art on the shelves are like Olympic gold medalists if those products use licensed art – there are a lot of amazing choices out there so what you see is a great indication of what can work in the marketplace.

Here’s to your creative success!

- Tara Reed

 

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