7 years ago TODAY – I released my first eBook – How to Get Started in Art Licensing.

I never dreamt that project would turn into the library of eBooks, audios, blog posts and classes that it is today!

I’m honored to have met so many amazing people in this industry as a result of Art Licensing Info.  I’m honored to have been able to help artists understand what art licensing is about.  My goal has always been to help artists really understand the day-to-day work and to uplevel the business acumen of artists in the industry as a whole.

Today I’m both excited and a bit nostalgic… I’ve decided to turn the reigns over to John & Melissa of ideaologie.

After a lot of thought and discussion – it made sense to all of us for them to take the reins and continue on with the Art Licensing Info brand.  They have amazing backgrounds and years of expertise in retail, with licensees, representing artists and working with big brand artists – Mary Engelbreit and Kathy Davis sound familiar??

I believe they will be able to take what I created and bring it to a whole new level for all of us.

 So what will I be doing moving forward?

I will still be creating art and licensing it – I’m not leaving the industry, just the teaching side of things.  I’ve been working with John & Melissa over the past few months and realized I wanted to write, teach and create on a different path.  I also realized there was no way I could add it to everything else I’ve been doing – something had to give.


Pivot to HappyI’ve started working on a new project – building a community, support and tools around being HAPPY.  I’d love for you to check it out, share it with people you know who might be interested and join me for this new adventure.  PivotToHappy.com

I’ve been through some stuff… just like you. There are two events in my life that stand out as “forks in the road”.  Things that could have left me angry and full of excuses or made me pull myself up by my bootstraps and figure out how to move forward and find my happy again.  My divorce – a fork in the road that almost turned me away from art licensing before I’d gotten started.  Most recently, coming to terms with my father’s decline into Alzheimer’s and everything that entails has really tested my skills at remaining present and finding the happy in every day.  It’s something I’ve been sharing personally with others but now want to do it a bigger way.

I’m working on a book proposal (anyone connected with publishers?  Would love a referral!) as well as some speaking topics and other things to come.

"Pivot" definitionThis is a huge PIVOT for me – to shift from something I’ve been doing for 7 years and jumping into something new and unproven is a big leap of faith.  But that’s what life is about – listening to your gut, evaluating your options and then going for it.  Following what excites you, makes you leap out of bed in the morning and brings a smile to your face.

As I sit writing this post – the last official post as the owner of Art Licensing Info – I must admit to some serious butterflies in my belly!  Thank you for reading, for engaging and for coming on this journey with me.  It has been an honor to share my insights and opinions about this business and to get to know so many amazing people.  The beautiful thing is that we get to “keep each other”.  I’m still “Artist Tara Reed” all over social media and will still be creating art for licensing.  It’s a pivot – not a farewell. :)

So after more than 1,125 posts I say again – here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

The life cycle of licensing

I’ve talked about the “cash flow cycle of licensing” many times – how long it takes to make money licensing your art but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the life cycle of the art.

It used to be (so I’m told because it was before my time) that art that was licensed would continue to be on products and earning royalties for several years.  These days it’s more often “once and done”.  Even many best selling products will be replaced the next year so the store has something “new” to offer.

Consumers want “new”.  So the stores what “new”.   Then the manufacturers want “new”.  Guess what we, as artists, have to do?  You got it, keep creating new art, more art, new variations on a theme… if you can create quickly and become an art collection creation machine, you can do well in licensing.


This shortened life cycle for products is both good and bad for artists.

  • GOOD:  If you don’t get a deal, the next deal will be right around the corner!  When companies have to refresh art quickly, it means they need more art more often.
  • BAD:  You have to have many more deals today to make the same money people did 10-15 years ago.  This is because the quantities of products being produced has gone down significantly AND the length of the deal is shorter.


Understanding the realities of art licensing today – and deciding if you want to participate or not – is important.

If you can create quickly, have computer skills to change colors or layouts upon request, enjoy coming up with new ways to do the same theme time and time again… this might be for you!

The way to make money in art licensing is when you can create collections that multiple people want to license for a variety of products. Work once, get paid by many.  But know that you won’t get paid by each for years on end.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed


We need your questions for the July Art Licensing Info Ask Call!

The next call is sneaking up on us and we only have a handful of questions!  Surface pattern designer Josephine Kimberling has agreed to share her experience and expertise on the July 15, 2015 Art Licensing Info Ask Call but without questions it might be, well, a little boring.

Facebook event - Ask Josephine Kimberling - July 2015

Don’t assume everyone else is submitting amazing questions – we need YOURS!

What do you want to know about art licensing?  Fabric design? Pattern design? Josephine’s career?  Her inspiration? These are a few ideas… PLEASE, submit your question below!

Thank you and here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed


The art of creating art licensing “collections”

Artists who are new to licensing get confused at first about how and why they need to build collections of art to succeed in art licensing.

Manufacturers want to see groups, or collections, of art more than stand alone pieces.

A collection is a coordinated group of images and/or patterns that can be mixed and matched to create full product lines that sell in stores and online.  Think about throwing a party – either with fine china or paper plates – would you want the same exact image on everything or a little variety to make it more interesting?  Variety of course!  And it’s up to the artists to provide that for the manufacturers.

Here’s a video I created to show you how to think about collections….

How an artist goes about creating these collections seem to fall into two categories – those who take a ‘fine art approach’ – creating painting that could be put in a frame and hung on the wall.  The type of art that easily lends itself to gallery sales, for example.  The other way is to start with icons and build to a scene or image digitally.  Art can either be done by hand or completely digitally – there are both types of artists successfully licensing their work.

Artists who paint completed images use four coordinating pictures as the building blocks of a collection. For example, four different but coordinating snowman paintings would make up a winter or holiday collection.  The artist could make the collection more easily applied to products by creating coordinating borders and repeat patterns, using elements from the four base images, to fill out the collection.

An alternate way of creating art collections is to start with individual icons as the building blocks. The icons can then be combined to create scenes (similar to the four painted images above), borders and repeat patterns.

Here’s a basic recipe for an art licensing art collection:

  • 4 Coordinated images (this is the bare minimum you need)
  • Patterns to support the images – often the patterns or textures are pulled from the images. For example, if you have snowmen and one has a striped scarf and the other has a polka dot scarf, create the stripe and polka dot as repeat patterns.
  • Icons – pull out a few design icons that might work alone on a product.  Perhaps the snowman would be embroidered on a towel or tote bag.  Maybe flip flops would be added to a note pad.
  • Borders – take elements from the images and create a border design.  These might be used at the top of a gift bag, on a kitchen towel, on fabric or anywhere else borders would work.

How many collections do I need?

The answer to this question will vary but here are two good rules of thumb:

  • 12 collections before you submit to an agent or manufacturer – it shows you really “get” the concept and are committed to art licensing.  You are less likely to be a “one hit wonder” if you have taken the time to build a portfolio with collections specifically for art licensing.
  • 25+ before you have your own booth at a trade show.  It’s better to wait an extra year and make a solid first impression than spend the time and money without enough art for the manufacturers to choose from.


Creating collections means thinking about the bits and pieces a manufacturer would need to create a product. When manufacturers see that you understand and can provide what they need, you are more likely to get an art licensing deal.

– Tara Reed

P.S. To learn more about the basics of Art Licensing and decide if it might be a fit for you and your art, I recommend you take a look at the “Beginner Basics Audio” or the eBook, “How to Get Started in Art Licensing”.

What’s your art licensing anthem?

Over the years, I’ve found music to be a great way to stay motivated, to get through tough times, celebrate great times and everything in between.

I’ll date myself now but I remember listening to the radio in college, my finger poised over the “RECORD” button on the tape recorder in hopes of hearing my favorite song so I could add it to my mix tape. (Yes kids – there is a reason the term “Mix Tape” exists… ’cause they used to be TAPE – google it.)

Or there were the songs we would play for ourselves or friends when we found ourselves dumped and broken hearted – those songs that said, “You are amazing!” (and he’s a fool) and “You will survive and be better than ever and he will rue the day he ever let you go!”

In more recent history, I’ve put together playlists of “empowering music” that I play when I need a little more energy in my day or when I start to doubt myself and need to be told I’m amazing but in a little different way than the breakup mixes…

This business is not for the faint of heart. Or the easily bruised egos. Or the artists who want overnight fame and fortune.

But for those of us who choose it as the way or a way we want to make money – we need those things to keep us inspired and going.

Here’s a new addition to my empowering music list – and I love the fact that it was released during SURTEX on May 19! (Seems like a sign that it was meant to be an art licensing anthem, don’t you think??)

Some days you might want to throw in the towel.  Those are the days you need to find your fight to move from that voice in your head and keep the course!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Licensing Expo 2015 is a wrap!

Last week (June 9 – 11, 2015) the Licensing Expo took place in Las Vegas.  This is the big show for everything licensing – not just art.  Entertainment dominates with large, elaborate booths and characters walking the show floor for upcoming movies, current TV shows and more.  There is a brand and agent section and the art licensing section.

I haven’t been to the show for a few years and I definitely noticed that the budgets for booths from the TV and movie studios have increased since my last visit – a good sign!

I was there to teach a class on the opening day and also wandered around to check out the show on day 2 as well.  The feedback from exhibitors in the art licensing section was good – I was told day 1 started off strong and a few people even said their first day was as good or almost better than SURTEX as a whole.  Day 2 was a little slower in the art section – the crowds seemed to be in the entertainment section of the show.  I’m not sure how day 3 went so if you exhibited – please give us your impressions in the comments!

Hopefully the show was a success for those who had booths and they have lots of quality leads to follow up on.  Next year the shows (SURTEX and the Licensing Expo) won’t be quite as close together so it will be a little easier on those who do both!

Here are a few photos from my adventures – you can find more on Facebook on the Art Licensing Info on Facebook page.


Here’s to your creative success – art licensing show season 2015 is a wrap!

– Tara Reed

Want to make a plan to exhibit next year?  Here are the dates:

SURTEX – New York, NY – May 15-17, 2016

Licensing Expo – Las Vegas, NV – June 14-16, 2016 (I think!)

The Licensing Expo begins today!

The Licensing Expo begins today and runs through June 11, 2015.  This is the other premier trade show for art licensing but art is just a part of it. It is the “everything licensing” show – from sports to movies and tv. Big brands.   Even Mentos ( you know – “the fresh maker” mints will be in attendance looking for licensing opportunities.)


If you want to learn more about the show, visit their website at LicensingExpo.com


I’ll also blog about it as I will be there teaching on Tuesday.

For those of you exhibiting, we are all cheering you on!


Here’s to your creative success!


– Tara Reed

Licensing Expo Wish - ArtLicensingInfo

Only a few days left to get the Ask Paul Brent call for the discounted price!

Ask Paul Brent about art licensingThe $20 sale ends this Wednesday, June 10, 2015.

This year’s theme was “What’s Hot and What’s Not!”

In addition to trends, here is what we covered on the call:

  • What are your top 3 tips for a newbie to prepare for Surtex 2016?
  • How many collections do I need in my portfolio to make the best use of my time when I rent a booth at Surtex?
  • In the current economy, what is the one thing you think is most important for success in this field?
  • How many pieces of art should a typical collection contain?
  • What is your take on mixing both traditional and digital work in a portfolio.
  • How do you handle it when several companies express interest in the same design for the same products?
  • Do you think selling through Print-On-Demand sites, Etsy or other online sales will impact a manufacturers decision to license an artist’s work?
  • Can you please give some suggestions and information about how and where to find a good, qualified Layout Artist and what a typical pay range would be?

The audio replay is available for only $20 through June 10, 2015 and then the price goes to $30.

Buy Now Button

This is a bargain for the expertise and experience you gain – and it helps me give Paul some garage sale money for his time and effort.

NEXT UP… Josephine Kimberling!

A successful surface pattern designer, Josephine will be a new guest on the Art Licensing Info Ask Call series on July 15, 2015.  Go to AskAboutArtLicensing.com to submit your question and get signed up for the call details!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Artist impressions of the SURTEX show

I’m finally coming up for air… it has been a crazy 2 weeks for me since the show ended.  I had a few new and existing clients that needed art – some with changes and new variations – quickly.  Then there were the others that had long lists of things for me to send. And the new companies to touch base with…

THAT is the sign of a good show!  

It’s interesting to look back at my 12 years of exhibiting at art licensing trade shows and think about how they have changed.  “Back in the day” you could barely leave to use the rest room and you would have several people looking and talking to you at the same time.  The aisles were packed and you went home with a big pile of leads.

The shows aren’t like that anymore… but as I have been thinking about it, that’s ok.  The QUALITY of people I’ve talked to and the potential of the business has gone up and in the end – that’s what we need for a sustainable business.

I talked to just as many companies I had never spoken to – and some I had never heard of – as I did current clients or potential clients I’ve been connecting with for a time.  Also why I believe in exhibiting at SURTEX to build my business.

I’ve signed 2 new deals as a direct result of exhibiting.  That’s pretty fast so you can bet I’m thrilled!

I also loved seeing artists in person that I usually connect with online and meeting many that I’ve only known online.  My sister was here for the 10th (maybe 11th?) year – that’s an amazing sister!  And I got to see my new coaches, John and Melissa of Ideaologie, in person and not just through my computer when we do Google+ Hangouts.  (EVERYONE needs coaches to stretch and challenge them and these two do that AND are just a lot of fun!)

SURTEX 2015-part2

Here are some links to other artist opinions, thoughts and perspectives of the show.  If I missed your post, it wasn’t on purpose!  I saved the ones I ran across to share. :)


Nicole Tamarin > http://www.nicoletamarin.com/blog/surtex-2015-under-new-management.html

A great “visual review” of #‎SURTEX from AnniesDoodlebugz > http://annietroe.blogspot.com/2015/05/photo-review-look-at-surtex-booths.html

Este MacLeod > http://blog.estemacleod.com/2015/05/surtex.html

Anne Was Here (SURTEX & NSS review) > http://www.annewashereandthere.com/2015-surtex-national-stationery-show-recap/

Jill Howarth > http://shamelesslycute.blogspot.com/2015/05/surtex-2015-part-1.html

Tammie Bennett > http://www.tammiecbennett.com/blog/my-2015-surtex-recap

Lauren Lowen > http://www.laurenminco.com/blog/2015/5/10/why-surtex-was-the-last-step-for-me-not-the-first

Ana Victoria Calderón > http://www.anavictoriana.com/blog/2015/5/26/surtex-2015-recap-from-a-watercolor-artists-perspective

Victoria Weiss > http://butterpopstudio.com/studio-journal-blog/2015/5/26/2nd-year-at-surtex-2015-new-york-city-forest-foundry

Johanna Fritz > http://johanna-fritz.de/blog/2015/6/1/surtex-my-personal-recap

Gabriella Sara Buckingham > http://www.gabriellabuckingham.com/post-surtex/

Alex Colombo’s post: The Surtex, NSS and ICFF 2015 Shows – A Year of Flexibility and Transition > http://creativeconceptsdesignstudio.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-surtex-nss-and-icff-2015-shows-year.html

Paul Brent's SURTEX trend review and art licensing info callHave you listened to the SURTEX trend report and Ask Call with Paul Brent?

The sale price of $20 for this info packed hour ends on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 so click here to learn more and get your copy now.

Up Next… the Licensing Expo!

Next week I’ll be heading to Las Vegas to teach at the Licensing Expo and check out that show as well.  John & Melissa as well as Jennifer Pugh have agreed to join me in a panel discussion on Tuesday (11:15 – 12:30 pm if you will be there) about Key Factors To Consider Before Jumping Into Art Licensing.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

the Art Licensing Academy starts this week!

Your time to think about whether this 4 week course is right for you is coming to an end…

The next Art Licensing Academy starts this Wednesday, June 3, 2015!

If you… want to learn the basics of the art licensing business including how to create art that works for licensing, how to market it (to manufacturers or an agent), the basics of contracts and more, this might be for you.

If you… want ongoing support to ask questions, get to know other artists working through the same process and feel a sense of community while making strides in your business aspirations, this might be for you.

If you… are ready and willing to dig in and spend some time in June learning, working and absorbing the ins and outs of art licensing, this might be for you.

You can learn more of the details and read feedback from artists who have gone through the course at Art Licensing Academy with Tara Reed

Art Licensing Academy - feedback from artists


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