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


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I hope no agents read this post…

I just got my copy of Darren Hardy’s new book – both print and audio – The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster.  As I sat painting a new collection for my trip to Atlanta next month, I attached the external disk drive (Oh Apple!  WHY did you get rid of disk drives??) and listened while I worked.

I’m sure I will listen to this content and read the book several times over.  I’m only through the first few chapters but there is GOLD in this content!

One thing that stuck out was a discussion about a genie in a lantern.  Darren Hardy suggests that you have found a lazy genie – no three wishes for you but just ONE area that he will help you with in your business.  He then goes through options and why he thinks they would be  good or bad.

His conclusion:  Ask for amazing sales and marketing.

Success in Biz - Darren Hardy

Hardy suggests that the success of a business is based 10% on the merit of the product (art, in our case) and 90% on the sales and marketing.

Wow!  I’ve said it before and will certainly say it again – it isn’t the best art that makes it on products in art licensing, because maybe no one knows about the best art.

The art that is chosen is the best fit based on a few criteria:

  • The known options (this is where sales and marketing is key!)
  • The opinions of the decision makers about which options are most likely to sell the products (there are ALWAYS several choices that will do the job)

Once those two filters have been applied, other factors come into play.

  • The relationship with the agent or artist – are they easy to work with and do they come through on time or early?
  • Does the art or artist have a proven track record of sales?
  • Coin toss. (I don’t have confirmation on this one but I think it’s often a factor…)

In art licensing, royalties are usually split 50/50 if an artist works with an agent.  The artist does the creative work, the agent does the sales, marketing and contract negotiations.  Can you imagine if they read this book and decided they should get 90%? ?  It won’t happen because there simply isn’t enough money in a deal to make the artist create if they only get 10%.

This concept is, however, good food for thought when you think about your business.  Whether you are doing your own sales and marketing or have or are looking for an agent, consider the importance of GOOD and CONSISTENT sales and marketing efforts.  Your success has more to do with how well you market yourself and your art than the art itself.  This will upset many.  It will make others feel a little more hopeful.  It should make those looking for agents ask that many more questions and check referrals that much more closely.

You aren’t actually in business if you aren’t selling – or licensing – something.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  Want some help with the sales and marketing side of things or help finding an agent?  I have some ebooks to help!

How to Find, Interact and Work with Manufacturers Who License Art (to do sales and marketing yourself)

How to Find an Art Licensing Agent (how to find someone to do it for you)

And if trade shows are part of your marketing plan, the newly released Art Licensing Trade Show Success Secrets is what you need!

Thriving Artist Summit with Bonnie Glendinning begins January 5, 2015

Last December, my friend Bonnie Glendinning interviewed me at The Thriving Artist Summit. It was a great experience for me and so many artists around the world. And, The Thriving Artist Summit will be back January 2015.


This online conference is featuring a fantastic lineup of 20+ speakers and is a not-to-be-missed free event.

Though I am not a speaker this year, I do have a special deal for you in the Summit Swag Bag. But, you have to join us to get it!

Whether you’re trying to figure out how to get started, or need some inspiration to stay motivated, this is definitely the place to be come January.

>> Click here to get free access here <<

During this special community summit you will discover how to:

  • • Make Your Creative Biz a Real Success
  • • Build Your Brand for Your Ideal Buyers
  • • Price for Real Profit and Growth
  • • Increase Your Sales with Marketing, PR, and Social Media
  • • Diversify into Licensing, Wholesale, and Direct-to-Consumer
  • • Get Into Galleries, Shows, and Raise Project Funds

I’d love for you to experience this yourself and JOIN US FOR THIS FREE summit.

The summit will be held from January 5 – 18, 2015 and the audio replays will be available for 72 hours

Thriving Artist Summit ScheduleThis is an amazing opportunity to expand your horizons about what options are available for artists to make a living and how to do it!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Pantone Color of the Year 2015: Marsala

Drum roll please… (if you haven’t seen 15 posts about this already of course) – Pantone’s color of the year is Marsala!

Pantone Color of the year - 2015


As usual, it is being met with mixed reviews.  Some love it, some hate it.  Some think it’s old fashioned, others think it’s drab.  However, the color of the year always shows up in fashion, gift & home decor…

The question is:  Will you use the color of the year or skip it?  And how will you decide?

Artists are always looking for the hot new trend – whether it’s a theme, style or color.  Will it be the key to profitable licensing deals?  Can I spot trends at the beginning and ride the wave to riches?  Can I be a trend-setter?  Trends, trends trends.

Don’t be a trend junkie.  Not all trends will work for all artists.

Here are three things to consider before jumping on a trend:

1.  Does the trend make sense for your art?

Not all trends should be adopted by all artists.  If everyone created all of their art around a color, things would get a bit boring.  Some colors won’t make sense either and if you try to force a color into your work just because it’s the hot color (or theme or pattern) – it probably won’t work well.  For example, I don’t see artists who traditionally work in soft color palettes doing a lot with Marsala.

2.  How much will you use?

If you decide that yes, you like the color and it makes sense, the next thing to consider is quantity.  Will you bet your entire portfolio on this trend or just one collection.  Will it be a focus or an accent?  There are many ways to incorporate a trend – decide what resonates and makes sense to you.

3.  What process will you go through before adding it to your portfolio?

Every artist has a different way of working.  Some wake up, feel inspired and follow that inspiration.  Others are more methodical, doing research to see what is in the marketplace and then deciding how they can add their unique contributions.  Will you jump wildly or make a plan?  Will you talk to clients about what they think of the color or add it to your portfolio and show that you are “up on trends”.  I don’t know that there is a right or wrong way, but have you ever even thought about what YOUR WAY is?

Personally, I like Marsala and think it makes sense for my art, themes and color schemes I’m known for. You will see it in my portfolio and hopefully on my licensed products.  I still need to decide how much, when and where…

What do you think?  Will you use it or ignore it?  Would love your feedback in the comments!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  CLICK HERE to read Pantone’s big reveal post about Marsala…

Want to sell your art online? The Art Business Launch by Chris Wilson may help…

While I know my focus is primarily art licensing, I also know that many of my blog readers are investigating many ways of earning an income with their art.  The other day, artist Chris Wilson reached out to tell me about his eBook – the Art Launch Blueprint – and to let me know he is doing a contest to give one away.

I was busy but slightly intrigued so I marked the email to make sure I went back to it.  When I did – I became intrigued.  One, by the way he is doing his giveaway – will have to consider that format for personal use! ;)

Second, I was impressed by the sales page for this product.  It looks solid, he answers lots of questions and it looks like he really knows what he is doing.

I decided to enter to win a free copy (deadline to enter – November 22, 2014) and thought I’d share his contest and information with the group.  (My kindergarden teacher would be so proud!)

I haven’t purchased or used this content personally and I won’t benefit if you buy it – just letting you know it’s out there and you can decide.  If you do make a purchase, I’d love to know what you think!

Here is a little more information, taken from his book sales page at

Who’s this course for?
Artists who want to earn a living from their art, obviously, but more specifically, artists who want to sell their art products and attract commissions online. Think visual artists like painters, designers, illustrators, filmmakers, photographers, crafters, and more.

Who made this course?
This course was created by Chris Wilson – I’ve made a living selling my work online and doing commissions with different creative studios and brands around the world.

What if I’m just starting out?
This course is designed for creatives who have a solid portfolio of work, but the processes will work for beginners as well. In fact, starting fresh could work to your advantage, because you haven’t picked up bad habits yet.

Want to enter to win a free copy?  Go here >

Here’s to your creative success – through whatever avenue that comes!

– Tara Reed

Art Licensing Info Ask Call – Social Media with Michelle McCullough Replay is now available

I feel better and more informed about how to use and manage social media after our call with Michelle McCullough last night – do you?

Time management and social media used to be mutually exclusive topics but more and more, social media is one of the biggest distractions / time sucks entrepreneurs face.  We are bombarded with messages that say we HAVE to be on every social media site if we want to be successful.  But few people are talking about how to decide which sites will best fit a particular business so it feels like a lot of time and energy is wasted as people throw information willy-nelly around the net in the hopes that it works.

All of this connecting, liking, plus one-ing, pinning and more takes time.  That is time that you could be doing other things – creating art, implementing other marketing strategies or, dare I say it, relaxing and living your life.

I’m really excited that Michelle McCullough agreed to talk to us about both of these important topics and that I can offer the replay from the call for free.

I met Michelle a year ago at Tiffany Peterson’s Elevation event and also had the chance to learn from her at a more intimate business workshop. I love how she helps people create systems and figure out percentages of time they should shoot for for different tasks, based on their business.  She isn’t a one size fits all.

Michelle really knows how to manage her time! She has 2 young kids and 3 businesses.  She is the Managing Director of the website – a website that helps entrepreneurs (mostly female but men can learn a lot there too!) with every aspect of starting and running a business.  She is a speaker and coach and a wiz when it comes to marketing, social media and time management.  She also runs a promotional products company – and you all thought I did a lot!

I hired Michelle to do a marketing review of my art website and got lots of great tips and tweaks to take it to the next level.  I will warn you – she talks really fast!  I have come to look at that as an asset because we will get a ton of information from her in our hour!

When I first scheduled this call, I thought the focus would be on time management.  Then I added social media as an option… Well, since these calls are created by questions submitted by artists like you, the focus is going to be on better understanding how to productively use your TIME on social media.

free replay about social media and time management with Michelle McCullough and Tara ReedHere is what we covered on the call:

We talked about the 6 main social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram & Google Plus.  Who is on them, what their strengths are and why they may or may not be worth your time and energy. Michelle made some recommendations for artists who are not only interested in art licensing but also sell directly to consumers through their own or other websites like Etsy, Society6, Fine Art America, CafePress and more…
We talked about the four basic types of social media posts and how and when to use each.
We talked through some strategies for Instagram and Facebook and a bit about Google + and LinkedIn too.
We wrapped up talking about how long  you should spend on social media and how to manage it so it works for you and doesn’t control you…

If you don’t receive the email updates about the Ask Calls – which you should have received with a link to this replay if you do, register below to get your free mp3 replay.

Find Michelle online at – she has lots of free audio content.  You can get her Social Media Blueprint product for only $97 thru 9/25/14 at I got it! :)

Next up… I’m excited to announce that our next guest will be an attorney from the Library of Congress – Copyright Office.

Library of Congress Copyright Office talks with Tara Reed about copyright concerns of artistsThe call will be on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 but we aren’t sure of the time yet.  It will basically be whatever time they want it to be!  (The replay will be free as well so no need to worry about the time – although it is great to have all the energy of the artists who choose to listen live!)
Watch the blog and eNewsletter for updates as I have them.

Who wants to join me at the School House Crafts conference in Seattle – Sept 27 & 28?

It’s back-to-school season – don’t leave yourself out!  If you are an artist, crafter or other kind of maker – this is going to be a great event!

September 27-28, 2014 – School House Craft – Live Conference in Seattle, WA

School House Craft fall conference for artists - Seattle WAThis is the 5th year of the School House Craft program and I’m honored and excited to be participating!  There will be two days of focused small business classes and workshops led by some of the community’s most knowledgeable and inspirational speakers along with many opportunities expand your network and connect with your peers.

The 2014 School House Craft Conference will be held at the Sunset Hill Community Club – a beautifully restored two-story Arts & Crafts style clubhouses located in the heart of the friendly Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, WA.

I will be teaching an intro to art licensing class on Sunday and a Goal Wheel for Artists class on Saturday.  In addition, I will be hosting one (or two?) lunch roundtables and of course hanging out and having fun.

This conference isn’t just about art licensing – I’m one little piece of the puzzle.  It is for:  Artists, Crafters and Makers, both emerging and experienced, who are looking to invest in their businesses and learn a wealth of information that will help them start, run, and grow their small creative businesses more efficiently and with greater success.

Live in the Northwest and want to learn more?  Visit

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

P.S. If you are coming – let me know so I look for you!

3 ways to uplevel your art licensing business in September & October

Wowie is fall looking like fun!  I am going to be doing 3 different events in September and October that give you several ways to uplevel your art licensing business – the question is, are you ready?

September 27-28, 2014 – School House Craft – Live Conference in Seattle, WA

School House Craft fall conference for artists - Seattle WAThis is the 5th year of the School House Craft program and I’m honored and excited to be participating!  There will be two days of focused small business classes and workshops led by some of the community’s most knowledgeable and inspirational speakers along with many opportunities expand your network and connect with your peers.

The 2014 School House Craft Conference will be held at the Sunset Hill Community Club – a beautifully restored two-story Arts & Crafts style clubhouses located in the heart of the friendly Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, WA.

I will be teaching an intro to art licensing class on Sunday and a Goal Wheel for Artists class on Saturday.  In addition, I will be hosting one (or two?) lunch roundtables and of course hanging out and having fun.

This conference isn’t just about art licensing – I’m one little piece of the puzzle.  It is for:  Artists, Crafters and Makers, both emerging and experienced, who are looking to invest in their businesses and learn a wealth of information that will help them start, run, and grow their small creative businesses more efficiently and with greater success.

Live in the Northwest and want to learn more?  Visit


 Art Licensing Academy – next group coaching program starts October 8, 2014

Art Licensing Academy group coaching program with Tara ReedThe next Art Licensing Academy is open for registration!  We meet on Wednesday and Fridays in October (if you can’t listen live, everything is recorded so no worries!)

Succeeding in art licensing – or any business for that matter – requires more than just the core skills or talent.  In art licensing, the “core skills” would obviously be artistic talent.  If you have the talent, you then need to learn how to apply it in a way that works for products.  You need to learn to see trends and decide if they make sense for your style and focus.  I consider the core skills the art related skills.

Beyond the core skills, you need business skills –  sales & marketing, building and nurturing relationships, understanding and negotiating contracts, etc.

But don’t forget about your “personal” core.  Without understanding yourself and what motivates you and what might make you sabotage yourself, you won’t have everything you need to maximize your success.

I have designed the Art Licensing Academy to support you and help you grow in all three of these areas.

There are free bonuses for artists who sign up by September 20th.  Get all the details and save your spot at

License 2 Grow – Live Event – October 20, 2014 in Kings Beach, CA (Lake Tahoe!) with Tara Reed & agent Kimberly Montgomery

License 2 Grow - art licensing event with Tara Reed and Kimberly MontgomeryTara Reed & Agent Kimberly Montgomery of Montage Licensing have teamed up to create a day long event for artists looking to dig in and get serious about licensing their art. Their combined 30+ years of experience in the industry – Kimberly as an artist and now an agent and Tara as an artist and educator – ensures you will leave with a solid plan for what to do next and a the excitement to make it happen!

This event is for artists who are ready to step up their game. If you have an open mind, are ready to learn and then take action – we’d love to have you join us!

Artists who register for the License 2 Grow event by September 20th can also join the Art Licensing Academy – for half off!  Details are on the website at

 SO… who’s in?  I’d love to have you at one, two or even all three – the choice is up to you!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Social Media and Time Management – what questions do you have?

Michelle McCulloughOur next Ask Call expert is brand new to the Art Licensing Info team –  Michelle McCullough.  I was first introduced to Michelle at Tiffany Peterson’s Elevation event last Sept (want to come this year? More details further down…)

Michelle talked about social media and more specifically, how to manage your TIME on social media so you still get other things done.  Genius!

Later she was a guest speaker at one of the Inner Circle meetings I attended (a 6 month program I participated in – again, with the amazing Tiffany Peterson).  This time we talked about marketing AND social media.  And a little bit about Time Management.  I knew I had to share her with you!

I hired Michelle to do a marketing review of my website and was thrilled with some of the tweaks she suggested.  There were a lot of “Why didn’t I think of that?” thoughts going through my head as I furiously wrote down all the ideas she had that I later implemented.

Basically – I’m a Michelle McCullough fan.

Michelle will be joining me on the September 17, 2014 Art Licensing Info Ask Call.

We need you to start submitting questions about time management and social media as soon as they come to mind.  In fact, why don’t you do it right here, right now??

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More about Michelle McCullough:

Michelle is the author of The Time Blueprint for Entrepreneurs (affiliate link) Michelle will share her years of experience in helping entrepreneurs make the best use of their time.

She is also a co-founder of -a website dedicated to helping women grow businesses.  (And they have helped men too – in spite of the website name!)

Other places to learn more about and connect with Michelle McCullough:

I’m looking forward to the call – mark your calendar for 9/17/14 so you don’t miss it!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  Want to join me at the Elevation event in Salt Lake City, Utah – Sept 11-13, 2014?  It’s only $197 for 2 1/2 days and you will leave a changed (for the better!) person.  Learn all about it at (affiliate link) If you decide to come, let me know – I’ll be there!

Tiffany Peterson's Elevation 2014 event

Art Licensing FAQs

Did you notice that there is an FAQ tab on this blog?  This is the place to find quick answers and links to more detail about some of the most common questions artists have when they first hear about the concept of licensing their art.  I encourage you to take some time to look at that info and read the blog posts.

Here is a brief rundown of the basic WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY, HOW and HOW MUCH of art licensing.


Artists who want to share in the “success or failure” of a product vs. being paid for their time for art often choose to license their art.  Traditionally they are paid a royalty based on the sale price of a product and based on the quantity sold – similar to a sales person who works on commission.


Art that works well for licensing is art that is pretty mainstream that a wide variety of people would want to have on products.  The art’s purpose is to sell product.  Extremely abstract art and portrait style art doesn’t usually work well in licensing.  Art that is more mainstream will – for example, people always want Santas or Snowmen for Christmas products and look for new options every year.


Manufacturers and retailers from around the world may choose to get their art by licensing it.  There really isn’t a geographic boundary.  A great place to connect with those manufacturers are at licensing shows where artists exhibit and manufacturers and retailers come.  Here are the main shows that I’m aware of and a few I found today while writing this post –


Manufacturers and retailers can get their art in 4 primary ways:

  • in-house artists
  • buy art outright (copyrights and all)
  • use stock art from factories who create their products
  • license art (either traditional royalty based agreement or a flat fee but still based on a contract that defines term, product and territory and the artist retains the copyrights to the art)

Manufacturers often choose licensing for the following reasons:

  • Exclusivity.  By licensing art they can usually negotiate exclusive use of an artists design for their products – ensuring their competitors won’t bring the same thing to market.  This isn’t always the case if they use stock art from factories.
  • Flexibility.  By licensing art, companies can work with artists with a wide variety of styles that they might not be able to create with a group of in-house artists.
  • Cost savings.  When a company licenses art, they pay the artist based on how well the product sells.  So while their costs can vary, they are always directly related to the income from sales.
  • Design support.  Many artists who license their work become like a part of the design team – working together to get the art just right and often setting it up to templates for production.  This saves the manufacturers labor costs of having their own graphics team or at least lightens the load on the team they have in place.


Art licensing is done through contracts.  An agreement is made between the artist and the licensee (manufacturer or retailer) about what art is being licensed, for what products, to be sold in what territory and for what time frame.  Payment amounts and time frames are also included as well as many other details – but these are the key points. (Learn all about contracts from the eBook How to Understand Art Licensing Contracts by Tara Reed & Maria Brophy)

Artists can do their own marketing and work directly with licensees or choose to use an art licensing agent for that side of the business.  (read the blog post: Agent or Not)

There is a lot to the “HOW” piece of this puzzle – how to create art for licensing, how to connect with people who license art, how to negotiate a win-win contract…  More information is available in the FAQ page links, from eBooks or the Art Licensing Academy.


The “how much can you make and how long will it take” question is pretty much impossible to answer.  There are so many factors that go into it – including but not limited to:

  • how much art an artist creates for consideration for licensing
  • the relationships an artist develops with licensees – how many eyes can you get on your art?
  • how well the art fits the market, the product, etc.
  • how well the product sells, where it sells and the price point
  • how much you make in royalties or a flat fee

I know artists who make $1,000 a year and some who make mid to high six figures.  This is both good and bad – the sky is the limit (that’s good!) but when you are beginning it is hard to get a feel for how you will personally do.

You have to take a long-term mindset if you jump into licensing your art. While I can’t guess what you will make, I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be fast money.  It can take 2-5 years to get enough in the pipeline to start earning any kind of consistent income, so have a way to pay your bills in the meantime.

SO… where do you go from here?  If you are interested in seeing what you can do with your art in the art licensing industry, I recommend you do the following:

  • Read through the FAQ page and associated blog posts on this blog. (just click the tab at the top of the blog!)
  • Subscribe to my bi-monthly eNewsletter – you will get a free audio about the industry when you sign up and each newsletter has links to blog posts here as well as links to other articles and posts I think are of interest to artists learning about art licensing.
  • Participate in the bi-monthly Ask Calls.  Every other month I host an expert in the industry for an hour-long teleseminar (a seminar conducted by phone) where we answer questions submitted by artists like you.  Send us your questions.  Listen to the calls.  Check out the replays.  There is SO MUCH knowledge to be had through this program!  Learn more and bookmark
  • Consider the eBooks and audios available on specific art licensing topics.  Learn more at
  • Really ready to dig in?  The 4 week group coaching program – the Art Licensing Academy  – might be a great next step.  Visit the website to see when the next session will start.
  • Take action every day!  Create art. Build collections.  Build your portfolio. Get it in front of decision makers. Repeat.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Usage considerations when having professional photos taken

Since I’m pretty sure everyone is picking out outfits and researching photographers in their area to get new photos done, I thought I’d bring up on point to consider when making your choice.

Ask the photographer about usage rights.

photographerJust like we own the copyrights to our art, photographers own the copyrights to photos – even if your smiling face is in it and you paid them to take it.  I have met different photographers who all have different theories about usage and fees so you want to know them up front.

In my opinion, if you are getting photos taken for business, you need to have some serious flexibility.  I need to be able to use them on my website, on social media, marketing materials, for magazine articles that need headshots and more.  I also wanted to be allowed to print one and give it to my dad without paying extra. :)

Ask around.  Some photographers will include the right to do all those things in their price.  Others might want a higher fee than if you are getting photos done and buying prints from them.  Some might want a copyright notice on every usage, others might just appreciate being tagged if you show off your new pics on Facebook… Remember that they get to make the rules for their business and you get to decide who you want to do business with!

It is in your best interest (and good karma) to respect the copyright usage boundaries you agree to.  We make a living in art licensing by expecting others to respect our copyrights and pay us for usage so we should do the same.

Here’s to your creative success – can’t wait to see your new headshots!

– Tara Reed

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