SURTEX licensing and design show

Want some free advice about art licensing? I’m now offering 15 minute sessions through Google Helpouts

New technology never ceases to amaze me!  Google not only has “Hangouts” but they now have “Helpouts”.  Helpouts are like Hangouts in that they are done as live video chats but they are a way for people to get access to experts in a wide variety of fields and ask for help.

I went through the process and have been approved to offer Helpouts on the topic of art licensing.

I am offering any artist a 15 minute free session to ask a question, get clarification on a topic or issue or to figure out if the Art Licensing Academy might be a good next step for their business.

Before the Helpouts can take place, each artist will complete a short pre-session survey.  This survey will help us make the most of our time together. (Limit 1 free Helpout per person)
Art Licensing Helpouts with Tara Reed
When you request a meeting with me for this Helpouts session, I will email further details to you via the Helpouts communication system. If you have not completed the survey at least 1 hour prior to your requested session, your session will be canceled and you will be asked to reschedule for a more convenient time when you will be able to complete the survey. I look forward to our session!

In order to start using Helpouts, you’ll need a few things:

  • A Google+ account
  • Computer or mobile device
  • Webcam (built-in or external)
  • Microphone (built-in or external)

If you don’t have a Google+ account, go here >> << to learn more about how to get all set up.

Ready to learn more and schedule a session?  Click here to check availability.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Some do’s, don’ts and suggestions for walking the SURTEX show

SURTEX is coming! SURTEX is coming! (Say it fast enough and it can morph into “the circus is coming” and honestly – it can be that too!)

Lots and lots of creative people will be descending on New York City for the show which takes place from May 18-20, 2014. Manufacturers and retailers will be coming to find art for their products. Artists will be coming to exhibit in their booths. Agents will have booths too and represent all the artists in their roster.

Many artists will also be coming to check out the show, to take classes and learn more and to decide if they too, might one day want to be an artist in a booth. Some may be coming in search of an agent.

Here are a few things to remember if you fall into the non-exhibiting artist category of creatives that will be at the show:

1. You can not stop manufacturers in the aisles and ask them to look at your portfolio.

BIG NO-NO that will get you escorted off the show floor if you are seen. The artists, like myself, who exhibit are paying a lot of money to be at the show – why should we in we could just stop everyone for a chat in the aisles? Without exhibiting artists the manufacturers wouldn’t be there… be respectful of the show and don’t come with the expectation of making amazing contacts in the aisles.

2. Be incredibly aware of your surroundings and respectful of an artist’s time if you stop and talk with them in their booth.

Manufacturers won’t know if you are a potential client or an artist and may keep walking instead of coming to learn more about our art. While most artists are happy to answer a question or two – remember that our #1 goal is to connect with clients so we can keep paying for our booth and building our business.

If you are talking with someone and see people come up the aisle, politely step away.

If you really want to connect, ask questions and chat with artists who are exhibiting, Tuesday afternoon is your best bet. The show gets pretty slow then so we have more time – bring treats and I bet you make even more friends happy to give you a little friendly advice. :)

3. Don’t take photos.

There will be plenty of photos of booths to be found online after the show – never take a photo of someone’s work without their permission (yes, we can usually see you sneaking that pic with your phone when you think you look like you are texting :) )

4. Do take classes!

If you are spending the time, money and effort to come to the big apple to learn more about art licensing, spend the extra money to take the classes. Years of experience are represented by all of the people that are conducting the classes and a lot can be gained by attending. Many are also happy to stay for a few minutes after the class to say hi, take business cards, etc. If someone you really want to connect with is teaching – take the class then get their card. Then you will have a way to connect and follow up. “Took your class – loved what you said about XYZ…” etc.

5.  Advice if you are looking for an agent.

If you are looking for an agent, here is some great advice from art licensing agent Alicia Dauber of Licensing Liaison

Although most agents are interested in seeing  new work and meeting new artists, please keep in mind that the trade show floor is not the place to review your portfolios!   Trade show expenses including the cost of a booth are extremely high and the agent has spent thousands of dollars to be there.  They have to make it pay for themselves and the artist partners they represent by following up on as many appointments as they can for the artists that are currently in their stable.

It is absolutely acceptable to unobtrusively leave a business card or flyer on their table while making a note of the agent’s  name for future follow up after the show.  If the agent is not busy speaking to a client when you walk by, a quick hello and that you would like to email him or her about your work after the show is completed is fine.

Have fun!!  Wear comfortable shoes, enjoy the show and the education about the industry that it brings you while being appropriate and considerate of those who have paid to be there to work.    And BEST wishes to you in your search for an agent!

This advice is great in regards to artists as well.  I love meeting people who read this blog, listen to the Ask Calls and more but it can be overwhelming to try and juggle meeting artists with the main reason I’m there – to meet manufacturers.  So if you are there and I’m busy – be sure to wave and if I’m not – say hi!  As I mentioned in #3 – Tuesday afternoon will be your best bet to stop by and find me idle… I will be in booth #513.

Here’s to your creative success – maybe I’ll see you at the show!

– Tara Reed

Everything you can imagine…

Words to Live By - Pablo Picasso - May2014

This quote feels really fitting to me since today is the final day of the first Art Licensing Academy. I feel incredibly blessed to have had such an amazing group of artists join me on this month-long journey.  I really wasn’t sure how this format would work, how artists would respond to it, if I’d like it… you know, all those little fears and doubts that pop up when you try something new.

But I imagined it and we made it real and it was AMAZING.  (I will tell you more about it and announce the next class shortly but today I want to focus on this concept.)

In 2004 I imagined a life where I was making a living as an artist.  I had a flexible schedule and was able to be home with my then 10 year old son.  I knew I wanted to keep writing and teaching but wasn’t sure how that was going to happen – but I imagined it.

10 years later – I’m living the life.  What I imagined in 2004 is real in 2014.  I create, I teach, I have a flexible schedule, an amazing new husband and a wonderful life.  My little boy is now in college and thriving – so I can add incredibly proud mom to my list of things I’m grateful for.

I believe Pablo Picasso – what we imagine and focus on is real.  It might not be real today but if we think it and act and feel like it is, it will happen.

So today I invite you to take a few minutes to slow down and IMAGINE… what is real for you?

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

What do you want to know about Art Licensing?

Every other month I host a new expert from the art licensing industry to answer questions, submitted by artists like you, about art licensing.  On Wednesday, May 28, 2014 – the week after SURTEX - Paul Brent will be back for his annual SURTEX Trend Review and question answering hour!

We call these events “Art Licensing Info Ask Calls” – since you ask, call in on the phone and answers are shared.  You can see the who, what and when at  That is also where you submit your questions for consideration.

WE NEED YOUR QUESTIONS.  In almost 6 years I have yet to make up a question and put a fake name to it – I promise!  I have had to beg, plead and sometimes shame people into giving us something to work with – which I HATE to do so it’s just best if you submit your questions and we do the work to keep this all running smoothly, OK?

ask Paul Brent about art licensingOur May call with Paul Brent has been the hands-down crowd-pleasing call of the year for the last 4 years.  Paul puts a lot of time, effort and skill into walking the show, looking online and putting together an amazing report on what he sees as current and upcoming trends in the art licensing industry.  Mark your calendar for May 28, 2014 (5:30 pm Pacific / 8:30 pm Eastern and everything in between and around the globe).  It is always free to listen live and the replay will be for sale after the event – along with a written Trend Review.

We know you have questions – so will you please share them with us?

The sooner you can send us questions the better – especially for this call.  Paul and I will both be at the show and then working on follow-up, in addition to putting on this event.  So they more I can prepare ahead of time the better.

Head to today to submit your questions and we will talk to you after SURTEX!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Without Promotion…

Words to Live By - PT Barnum - April 2014

When the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883, no one wanted to go across it.  It was the first bridge made of steel and not iron. Is was also the longest suspension bridge in the world—50% longer than any previously built.

The day it opened – May 24, 1883, a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

On May 30, 1883, six days after the opening, a rumor that the Bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede, which was responsible for at least twelve people being crushed and killed.

The city was left with a bit of a marketing problem… they had just invested a lot of time and money building a bridge to make travel easier but no one would use it.  What to do? What to do?

I can’t find any information online about who came up with this brilliant idea to prove the safety of the bridge but on May 17, 1884, P. T. Barnum led 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge to prove that it was stable.  On May 17, 1884, P. T. Barnum helped to squelch doubts about the bridge’s stability—while publicizing his famous circus—when one of his most famous attractions, Jumbo, led a parade of 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge.

It may have been P.T. Barnum himself seeing a great opportunity for free publicity for his circus.  The parade worked – who can argue that the bridge is doomed to collapse after seeing 21 elephants walk across it.  It was a win-win – the city had a bridge people would use and the Circus got a lot of free publicity!

Now I know (hope!) that you don’t have a marketing problem the size of the Brooklyn Bridge on your plate, but what do you do to promote your business?

Today I encourage you to take a few minutes and think about how you promote your art licensing business.  Make a list and don’t only include what you do and where, but HOW OFTEN.  Without continual promotion the marketplace will forget who you are.

Create. Market. Repeat.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed



  • I found most of the Brooklyn Bridge facts here:
  • I first heard this story in a talk given by Brian Buffini – a speaker and trainer in the real estate market but honestly – he could have been talking about the art licensing industry 99% of the time.



Copyright Registration Fees to change May 1, 2014

The Copyright Office, part of the Library of Congress, has announced that fees to register for copyrights will be changing as of May 1, 2014.  Since 2009 there has been a set fee of $35 whether you are registering one piece of art or a collection of 100 images.  This all changes on May 1.

The standard registration fee will change to $55 – that will include any registration of more than one image.

Single registration – meaning one piece of work by one person not made for hire – will remain at $35.

Most likely, all of our registration fees will change to $55 because I don’t know of anyone who registers art one image at a time. (You’d have to have quite a budget for copyright registrations if you do!) So I highly recommend you register what you have by April 30th to take advantage of the current $35 fee and then know it will cost a little more going forward.

Here is the official notice from the Copyright Office:

Copyright Office Announces New Fee Schedule; First Since 2009

The U.S. Copyright Office is announcing a new fee schedule covering registration, recordation, and related services; special services; Licensing Division services; and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) services. These fees will take effect on May 1, 2014. The final rule establishing the new fee schedule was published in the Federal Register today and is available at

This new fee schedule is the product of a multiyear process of studying current Copyright Office fees, evaluating the Office’s budget requirements, and considering public comments. While a number of fees, including the fee for standard registrations, have increased to permit the Office to more fully recoup its expenses, some fees have decreased and others remain the same. The Office has also instituted a separate, lower fee for single-author, single-work registration claims. For more information, go to

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed


How to decide if you are ready to exhibit at an art licensing trade show…

“How do I know if I’m ready to exhibit?”

This is a common question artists ask as they are learning and working towards licensing their art.  There are two main shows that artists can exhibit at in our industry:

Here are a four things to think about to help you decide if you are ready to exhibit.


“Enough art” is, of course, subjective.  You can never have “enough” because people always want “new” – even if they just saw you two weeks ago.  But that said, you need to realize that when you get a booth, you will be in the show with artists who have been exhibiting for 25 years and have thousands of images and new artists who are like you and getting going and lots of things in between.

I was talking with an artist who was worried she didn’t have enough.  She will be exhibiting (money paid, space reserved, no turning back!) but she is exhibiting with a group or an agent.  Since her art doesn’t have to carry and fill the whole booth, I told her not to worry about it.  At this point, her focus is on bringing the best art she can complete before the show, preparing her portfolio and getting herself prepared to ask questions, explain who she is and what she does.

If you are going to get your own booth, you need enough art to fill it.  A good rule of thumb from Paul Brent is that an artist should have at least 20-25 collections before getting a booth.  (disclaimer: I think any advice Paul gives is a good rule of thumb and I think you should too!)  An agent once suggested 100 pieces of art as a good basis – for artists who create in a more fine-art mode of paintings and canvas vs. collections.


It’s not a good idea to show up, set up and then assume your art will “speak for itself”. Your art will get attention and cause people to pause, but then you need to do the talking. You need to be able to talk about who connects with your art, what skills and value you will add to the equation if they choose to license your art and what makes you different from every other artist in the room.

On the SURTEX website they say the show will feature 200 artists, designers, agencies, brands featuring the works of over 1000 creatives for license.  So what makes YOU unique?

On the Licensing Expo website they report that in 2013, over 400 exhibitors representing more than 5,000 brands gathered in Las Vegas and more than 15,000 key decision making retailers, manufacturers, marketing and advertising professionals attended, across all consumer product categories.  What makes you stand out in that venue?

It’s also good to be clear about what you want.  Do you want to sell your art or license it.  Do you want to do special projects they request or find companies that are looking for the art you want to create.  etc. etc. etc.


Sorry folks but these things don’t happen for free.  SURTEX happens in the Javitz Center in New York City.  You will have expenses including but not necessarily limited to:  your booth expense, whatever you put in your booth, hotel & travel,  food (don’t forget to eat!), marketing…

At  SURTEX the 2014 cost of a booth is at $46.50/square foot – so it ranges from $3720 for an 8′ x 10′ booth, $4,650 for a 10′ x 10′ booth and on up if you get even more space.  The booth is turn-key – you get a table, chairs, trash can, walls – you can have a great set-up without adding any additional rentals or services.

The Licensing Expo doesn’t have their rates published online but you can CLICK HERE to go to their website and see who to contact for more information.

So as you can see – exhibiting isn’t something to take lightly and decide on a whim.  As I say – it’s an investment. Usually of $6,000 – $10,000 depending on where you live, where you stay, etc.  You want to be ready before you invest that money in your business.


At the end of the day, you will never feel 100% ready.  There is always a piece of “Here goes nothing!” when you make the decision to exhibit.  So the question is back in your court – is it time? Are you ready?

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

5 reasons I exhibit at SURTEX…

It’s CRUNCH TIME!  SURTEX is right around the corner – I always freak out a little on April 1st when I can say “SURTEX is next month…” it comes out more like “SURTEX is next MONTH???????” and panic and second guessing ensues…

SURTEX - distinctive design for sale & license

All kidding aside, SURTEX is a HUGE part of my marketing so I take it really seriously.  (Hence the fear sneaking in, second guessing, etc – it’s part of my process I guess.)  But here are 5 reasons why I keep going back:


SURTEX is one of two big shows in the art licensing industry where artists and brands have a booth and manufacturers and retailers come looking for art.  SURTEX is the only show that is all about art and artists. We aren’t competing with Warner Brothers, Sponge Bob Square Pants, the NFL and other entertainment brands with big budgets.  So SURTEX has been a great way for me to control my space (my booth) and connect with a lot of qualified leads in a three day period of time.


Let’s talk more about qualified leads… yes, it is possible to do research on the internet, attend industry trade shows (which I also do) and network your way into some art licensing deals.  But when you exhibit at a show, you get a lot of leads in a short period of time. (3 days)  LEADS lead to CHOICE.

If you only have one client or one person interested in your art, you don’t have a lot of choice.  You either do what they need or you don’t make any money.  Your interest in the project becomes much less relevant.  Your negotiating leverage is also diminished…

BUT if you have a lot of leads, a variety of companies interested in working with you, you get to decide what projects you do or don’t want to work on.  You also have some leverage in negotiating the deal and will be more willing to walk away from a deal you don’t like, because you know there are other options out there.


I inevitably meet someone from a company I didn’t even know existed.  While you can, as previously mentioned, search for contact and submission guidelines online, you need to know about the company in the first place.  Every year I meet someone from a company I didn’t know about.  Maybe they do private label products – meaning they are the manufacturer but they make products that carry the store brand name on them.  Or maybe I just hadn’t heard about them – might be from a market or industry I didn’t research before…


In this very online world, the value of talking face to face is being overlooked by many.  I heard a speaker the other day who said this, “You know what’s better than being on social media? BEING SOCIAL.  Like, talking to people, in person, face to face!”  We all laughed but it is so true.

Talking with someone in person is different than chatting on Facebook or communicating back and forth by email.  You can see their reaction to your art, they can suggest something: “That dog would be really cute with a hot-pink plaid sweater, don’t you think?”

Then you can get inspired and respond, “No! I think it would be even better in a purple tutu on a unicycle!”

They get excited and say, “Oh that would be awesome! Can it hold an umbrella with a pirate parrot on top too?” and BOOM!  You are co-creating the next hit design.

Had you not been together brainstorming it might have gone more like this:  email: new pet art.  email response: not quite what we are looking for.  done.


There are a lot of people talking about, blogging about and learning about art licensing.  There is a lot of competition in the marketplace and a lot of people dreaming about it.  I even had someone submit a question to an Ask Call that said, “I’ve been researching how to get started for several years now…” – to which I wanted to reply, “When will you start?”

By exhibiting at a show, you are putting your flag in the sand and saying “I’m serious about this.  This isn’t a dream or a hobby.  I’m here, here is my work, let’s do business.”

When I was trying to decide if I wanted to exhibit at my first show, the show had an agent call and talk to me to help me decide.  I still remember what he said (but sadly not who it was…) “If you are going to spend the money to do a show, commit to doing it for at least 2-3 years.  There are manufacturers who want to see that you are serious and not exhibiting once never to be heard from again, before they will work with you.”

Thankfully not all manufacturers wait for 2-3 years before working with an artist but at about year 4 someone truly walked up to my booth and said, “OK, I see you’ve been here a few years.  I’m willing to talk to you and see what you have now.”

Stay tuned for my next blog post to help you decide if you are ready to exhibit.  Because while I’m a huge fan of the show, I also know that it is an investment and you need to be ready before you put your flag in the sand.

You can learn more about the show at

Here’s to your creative success -

– Tara Reed


Don’t move backwards…

I found this quote by Abraham Lincoln the other day and it struck me like a lightening bolt… YES!  That’s good stuff!  I simply had to share it…

Words to Live By - Abraham LIncoln - April2014I have DEFINITELY been (and continue to be) guilty of wanting things to happen faster than they are.  I want to build my business faster, lose weight faster, certainly clean my bathroom faster (that’s just no fun!)  …

The real point of life, weight, love and yes, business isn’t the speed, but the direction.

Are you moving FORWARD.  Are you taking action every day that is moving you in the direction of your goals, regardless of the speed?  Some things simply take more time than others.  You might be able to speed one thing up but will it be at the detriment of something else?  For example, if you work 20 hours a day to fast-track your art business, you will likely get sick from lack of sleep and have problems in your relationships from ignoring everyone around you.

Today I invite you to make a list of the the things you want.  Acknowledge what you have done to get you from the first idea of wanting it to where you are now.  Then commit to taking more steps – however fast or slow – to keep moving in the right direction.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed



Last chance to get the Ask Attorney Kyle-Beth Hilfer call replay for the discounted rate!

Tomorrow – Thursday, April 3, 2014 – is the last day to get this great Ask Call replay for the discounted price of $20.  (Of course it will be well-worth the regular price of $30 but if you are here now, why not save $10?)

Attorney Kyle-Beth Hilfer gave us great insights into the legal issues of art licensing, copyrights, trademarks and more and as one artist emailed me, “I really appreciated this conversation. Alway like how you make things real and bring down to ground level all of the content. Nothing too lofty this time for me!”  (To NOT be lofty when talking about legal issues is a huge WIN in my book!)

Attorney Kyle-Beth Hilfer talks about art licensingHere is what we covered on the call:

  • The importance of “why” and how that might relate to various questions I’ve seen online about licensing negotiations and royalty audits.
  • Can an artist learn to do their own contracts and where do they get their first contract?
  • When registering copyrights, what is considered “published work”?
  • Do you have to copyright every color way of the same pattern?
  • Does the number of images in a copyright registration affect compensation if there is an infringement?
  • What is involved in registering a trademark and how long does it take?
  • Can you use other’s art (cartoons for example, Batman, Minions, etc) if you are only doing individual pieces of art for sale and not mass producing or is that a copyright infringement?
  • What is the difference between a brand and a property?
  • Will allowing non-profits to use art for t-shirts affect other licensing deals?
  • Is it illegal to use images of celebrities in your work for licensing?


Where to find Kyle-Beth Hilfer

Learn more about Ms. Hilfer at,
or follow her on Twitter @kbhilferlaw
or Linkedin at

Note: Attorney Advertising. This call will provide resource information and is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Ask Paul Brent about art licensingNext Up… Paul Brent with his annual SURTEX Trend Review and question session

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 28, 2014 and submit your questions at