SURTEX - the premier event for selling and licensing art and design

If art licensing submissions were live auditions…

they might look like this…

Egads!  I think I’d faint. Glad we just send in our submissions with a wish and a prayer! ;)

Remember, art directors get a wide variety of styles and interpretations of what they are looking for – it’s up to you to show up in your own unique way!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Have you listened to all 21 hours of FREE art licensing info?

Since December 2008, I have hosted 51 Art Licensing Info Ask Calls.  That’s 51 hours of experts from the industry answering questions submitted by artists like you.  Of those 51 calls, 21 were with different experts and 30 were with experts who came back again.

Every call is free if you listen live. (And yes – I understand that for artists in Europe – the timing of “live” is not ideal.)  The first call with any new expert is also free – forever.  That means there are 21 hours worth of information available to you – all you have to do is head to and register for the audios you want.

21 hours of free art licensing infoHere’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed


How licensing your art is like owning beach-front property.

If you’ve lived away from home, you understand there are a few ways to get shelter.  (If you still live with mom & dad, there will be a double lesson for you here!)

First, you decide between a house, an apartment or condo.  Then do you rent or do you buy?  When you are making these decisions, you are in essence, acting like a manufacturer who needs art to go on their products.  Do they buy the art or do they rent – renting being the art equivalent to licensing.

Sell vs license artNow let’s put you in the artists shoes.  Your art is now beach-front property.  You need some money so you have two choices – sell the house, pocket the money and walk away.  Or, rent the house.


If you rent the house, you don’t get as much money up front.  You have to find people who like the property and will agree to pay you money to use it for a set period of time.  If you have a nice house, you might have checks rolling in all year!  And the best part?  You still own the house so you have the potential to use it to make money for years to come!

That is the basic difference between selling your art and licensing your art.

If you sell your art it’s like selling the house. One person buys it.  They now own it and you need to find or create a new house (or more art).

If you license your art, it’s like renting the house. Lots of people can pay for the chance to use the house (or art)- your money just comes in over time.  But you still own it.

Of course there is a bit more involved in renting a house or licensing art than in selling.  If you sell, there is one contract and you are done.  No need to keep track and make sure nothing overlaps.  No need to make sure you are actually being paid as agreed to.  If the work involved in renting or licensing is overwhelming, that is when you look for an agent to handle it for you.  And agent, both in homes and art, takes care of the marketing and contracts in exchange for a percentage of the profits.  They are your partner and share in the success – be in small or large – of your property (beach-front or artistic).

Each artist will make their own choice about how to earn an income from their art. There is no right or wrong way, just the way that makes the most sense to them at the time.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

How the World Sees YOU – book review

One thing I love about social media is stumbling across new books, resources, vacation ideas and inspiration.  A few weeks ago Michelle McCullough posted a photo from the book, How the World Sees YOU [affiliate link] by Sally Hogshead, on instagram.  I was attracted to it immediately because I liked the infographic. (It isn’t in the book, I think she heard the author speak – I hope to one day!)

Different is Better than Better

Since one of my favorite things is learning more about what makes people tick and for that matter, what makes me tick, I was intrigued.  I immediately ordered the book and devoured it when it came in.

This is the first book that I’ve seen that focuses on helping you determine how the world sees you, instead of how you see the world or how you think and react.

Not only does it give you insights (after you take an online quiz) but it also talks about how to use this potentially new knowledge to market yourself, connect with others in a better and more meaningful way and more.

It’s a personal development book and business and marketing book all in one, and it’s an important thing to consider.  When you look at how many artists are trying to get into licensing and how many options manufacturers have when choosing art, what are the differentiating factors?  One would hope the look and style each artist brings to the table would be different but often there are more than one with a similar look and feel and always more than one option that would work as well as the other.

So then what?  It’s the person (YOU) and the relationship that can come into play.

People can outdo your strengths. But nobody can outdo who you are.  Your personality is the only aspect of your work that nobody can copy. – Sally Hogshead

Book Recommendation - How the World Sees YouLet me ask you this – how much of your personality is in your business or how you are doing business?  And are you leading with the things that stand out the most to others or with the things YOU think stand out the most?  For me, it’s the latter and I plan on looking at how to shift that a bit.

I’ve been leading with my business background and savvy – feeling it was a differentiator for me.  It is, and the way I look at and see things IS different than many others.  But after going through this book, taking the quiz and thinking about the feedback I’ve received over the years, I realize it isn’t my BIGGEST strength.  According to the book, my two primary advantages are PASSION (relationships) and INNOVATION (creativity).  (Making my personality archetype “The Catalyst” of the 49 options) After thinking about it I realized that while both artists and clients appreciate my business sense, I get more positive feedback about HOW I RELATE IT – how my personality, passion and honesty come through as a key factor in what draws people to learn from me or license from me.

While it wasn’t a huge surprise, it definitely got me thinking about how I can strengthen what I’m doing in my business.  Perhaps it can help you too!  If you take the quiz, I’d love to know where you fall on the personality types and what you think of it!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  If you like this sort of thing, I also highly recommend Strength Finders 2.o by Tom Rath and Your Emotional Fingerprint by Woody Woodward. (both are affiliate links) With all three you will find your strengths, the things that make you feel important (and therefore why certain things might push your buttons) AND how the world sees you.  You will be unstoppable!


Ask Call with Cathy Heck replay is yours for free!

Cathy Heck talks about art licensingWe had a great chat with artist Cathy Heck – I loved how much she shared about how to “breed help” for your business yet not let them come to work for you right away… seemed like a great balance of getting on-the-job experience before joining the family business. She also shared tips on balancing work and family, her favorite family dinner table game…

In addition to giving us a peek into her 30+ year career in art and art licensing, we had time for a few questions submitted by artists. (Thank you to all who submitted and we are sorry we couldn’t get to them all!)

Here are some things we covered:

  • How did you know you were a serious artist?
  • What three habits do we need to be successful in art licensing?
  • How do you prioritize your time between projects and family?
  • How should I approach the market as a new freelance artist?
  • What can you tell me about royalty rates and advances?
  • How can we learn about and break into art licensing if we can’t afford to exhibit at a trade show yet?

If you get the emails about the Ask Calls, you should have one in your inbox with a link to get your free audio.  If not, please fill out the form below to get your copy.

Here is a list of places Cathy suggested to learn more about art licensing – in no particular order:

ask Paul Brent about art licensingNEXT UP… Paul Brent with his SURTEX trend review!  He will also answer questions so PLEASE, let us know what you want to know!

Submit questions at

DID YOU KNOW… there are 21 hours of free audios with 21 experts available?  Go to

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Exhibiting at SURTEX? Mark your calendar for my webinar this Thursday, 3/12/15

SURTEX, the premiere event for selling and licensing original art & design, has a great series of webinars for exhibitors to help them get ready for the show.  This Thursday I will be presenting “5 Tips for Bringing Your A-Game to the Show Floor”.  These are ONLY for registered exhibitors but if you are registered, check out the remaining webinars and take advantage of as many as you can.  Click here to register and I hope to talk to you Thursday!

SURTEX exhibitor webinar - March 2015


Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Laverne & Shirley – Perfect Entrepreneurial Attitude!

Ah… memories!  I remember when Happy Days, followed by Laverne & Shirley were a much anticipated event at my house!  I also remember how the 3 kids (I’m the middle) had staggered bed times – my brother had to go to bed after Happy Days (8:30), my sister got to go to bed after Laverne & Shirley (9:00) and me?  I had to go to bed SMACK DAB in the middle of the show! (8:45)  (Yes Mom & Dad, I still harbor some resentment about that!)

Well I got to thinking about the show a few weeks ago and realized the theme song is the perfect example of an entrepreneurial attitude.  “Gonna Do it our way, yes our way, make all our dreams come true…”

So are you a Laverne or Shirley?

Laverne is the entrepreneur who gets an idea and dives right in.  I imagine she’d be the person who takes risks, goes with her gut and is ok to learn from her mistakes.

Shirley on the other hand, would be the more cautious business person.  She might get inspired but then she’d get analytical.  Crunch numbers. Study the situation from every angle before proceeding.  (Shirley risks getting stuck in “analysis paralysis” – don’t be THAT Shirley!)

Whether you are a Laverne or Shirley artist – the key is to knowing which you are and embrace it.  When ever Shirley tried to act like Laverne, things did not go well!

The show “worked” because Laverne was the “yang” to Shirley’s “yin”.

It would be an equally good combination in business.  So if you are Shirley to the nth degree, be sure to have a Laverne in your life to keep you moving and if you are a Laverne, find a Shirley to make sure you don’t go off in so many directions that you get nothing done.

Here’s to your creative and entrepreneurial success!

– Tara Reed

P.S. Here are the lyrics:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
Sclemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated.
We’re gonna do it!

Give us any chance, we’ll take it.
Give us any rule, we’ll break it.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true.
Doin’ it our way.

Nothin’s gonna turn us back now,
Straight ahead and on the track now.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true,
Doin’ it our way.

There is nothing we won’t try,
Never heard the word impossible.
This time there’s no stopping us.
We’re gonna do it.

On your mark, get set, and go now,
Got a dream and we just know now,
We’re gonna make our dream come true.
And we’ll do it our way, yes our way.
Make all our dreams come true,
And do it our way, yes our way,
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you.

Last week to submit questions for next week’s Ask Cathy Heck Call!

Our next call is NEXT WEEK -Wednesday, March 11, 2015!

We need all of your questions by THIS THURSDAY – I need time to organize them for Cathy to review and ponder.

Ask Cathy Heck about art licensingAll the questions that come in the day before or day of the call are sadly wasted… and they often outnumber the number of questions we receive by the deadline.  So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE – submit a question now so we have a nice variety to choose from! (Yes – I’m begging… again…)

Cathy is going to share how her business grew to include her now-grown daughters as well as her husband. I can’t wait to learn more about how they separate business and family time and make it all work.  In addition – she will answer questions submitted by artists.  We have only received a few so far so PLEASE… what questions do you have about art licensing??

More about Cathy Heck:

Cathy is an idea person who never runs out of new concepts. She is also an artist with a gift for producing attractive, imaginative artwork on demand. Cathy began her career as an art director for Young & Rubicam, NY, so she understands an art director’s needs. Equally comfortable with paints, pens and software, Cathy enjoys a collaborative approach to a project and the energy of a busy studio.

It’s a family business! Cathy and Jim started their family thirty years ago. Little did they know that they were creating their own work force. Each artist has her own style, which helps keep everything we produce fresh and new. But, at the same time, we love to collaborate, sometimes completing the work of another.

For over twenty five years, Cathy Heck Studio has been creating original and inventive artwork licensed for products from baby books to stickers, dinnerware to wall coverings. From three studios across the country, we deliver every aspect of a project from the first concepts to final press-ready electronic art, collaborating with our clients to create designs that customers love and buyers love to sell.

Learn more about Cathy Heck Studio at

They can also be found on Facebook at

Is Art Licensing a Good Way to Make Money from Art I Have Just Sitting in my Archives?

Short answer:  No.

Art Licensing Info AnswersI’ve come across this question several times over the past few months so I thought I’d throw my opinion out there.

It is hard to do much in art licensing if you don’t want to continue to create in a certain style, theme or category.  Retailers (both brick and mortar and online) want to know that if your designs do well for them, you will create more.  With the speed at which everyone wants new products, the life and therefore profitability of a license – were you to get one – with “old art” would likely be limited.

For the same reason, I highly doubt an artist would be able to get an agent to help licensing a portfolio of art the artist doesn’t want to adjust or add to.  There are so many artists hungry to get into this business and the agents need to work with those that will become art creating machines.

While I applaud artists for trying to figure out how to monetize what they have already created, art licensing isn’t going to be the answer unless they want to continue to create for licensing.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

How I organize my art files

The other day I was asked how on earth I organize all the files that make up the collections that make up my art licensing business…  so I thought I’d give you a sneak peek.

Staying organized so you can find things when you need them is important to your success and your sanity.

You don’t want to waste time searching for files people want to review or that you want to work with so creating a system that makes sense to you is key.  Emphasis on makes sense to you.  What I do will work for many but I’m sure some of you won’t like it. That’s fine, you get to make up your own system for your work.

I work from an external hard drive so the majority of my computer power is available for Photoshop – it’s an amazing program but also quite the memory hog and works best when it doesn’t have to compete with all the files you’ve ever created.  In addition to the external hard drive that is a “working drive”, I have a “BIG 4″ from LaCie that has 4 hard drives in it.  That’s my fail safe – at least twice a day that drive automatically “mirrors” to my working drive – making sure it matches so I have duplicates of all my work.

It isn’t a matter of IF a drive or computer is going to fail, it’s WHEN.  So it’s important to save your work in multiple locations.

I also save everything to an online backup plan – I use CrashPlan.  Backblaze is another favorite of artists.

I have a simple folder system.

1.  Folders by theme.

2.  Folder for each collection.

3.  Folders within each collection for icons, images, patterns, borders, marketing files, etc.

Using the same format consistently makes it easy to find what I need in any collection, whether I made it yesterday or 10 years ago.

Organizing Art Files - Art Licensing Info


If you don’t have your art organized, take a few minutes today to create a system.  You will be amazed at how quickly you can have a lot so the sooner you have it organized the better!

Here’s to your creative – and organized – success!

– Tara Reed

If you liked this, you might also want to check out how I code my art to make it easier to track and talk with clients about on the phone or via email.

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