Ask Agent Kimberly Montgomery about art licensing free call replay


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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

Why you should get professional photographs taken…

The short answer:  because you are a professional and need to present yourself as such.

But if you are at all like me, it isn’t quite that simple.  :)

I have been using the same headshot since February of 2011.  I’m sure you know the one – black top, leaning on my elbow and holding my paintbrushes under my chin.  It was a great representation of what I do at a glance (no one was going to think I was an accountant) and I liked the picture.  I was lucky that that one turned out as well as it did considering it was taken by my then 17 year old son.

A few months ago I was asked to give some opinions for the SURTEX On the Surface eNewsletter with a gentle nudge to “please give us a new photo”.  It could be in my studio, whatever… they were just tired of my favorite headshot.

I didn’t have a lot of time and I REALLY didn’t want to invest in professional photos (more on that in a minute) so I had a friend who has a pretty good eye come over one day and we did some new pics.  My studio doesn’t have the best light and is a weird shape so getting good “at work” photos didn’t really happen.  Did a few shots and then we decided to do something fun outside.  To pull the “northwest” feel I played around behind a cedar tree in my backyard – with my paintbrushes – and we captured an expression I was happy with.  That was used in the eNewsletter and a magazine.

Lots of people said how great the photos were on Facebook and I was just happy they were done.  Let’s just say I haven’t been feeling like the best version of myself lately… the stress of juggling work, life, my dad’s illness, etc. caused me to gain a bit of weight.  Well… to be honest, THAT didn’t, it was the fact that I dealt with all of that by eating that did it.

Lee Harris, the charming photographer husband of artist Karen Harris, sent me a kind email saying that he agreed that I looked good but that the photos themselves were not where he thought they should be for me or my business.  I admitted that I didn’t want to invest money having photographs taken of me in my current shape and here is his response…

“As a friend and photographer (amateur SHRINK) I’m telling you that YOU ARE worth the investment. I shoot models and model portfolios and none of them think they ever look as good, are as slim, etc as the could be. Women from 9 to 99 are taught that they are too short or tall or could lose a few pounds – if I had to wait on every women to get to where she feels 100% about herself I would be out of business. You would be surprised at the number of women who I have photographed who have cried when they say the finished images. A professional is worth the investment if you simply are not felling as good about yourself as you should (because you are AWESOME) and can brighten you day with quality images. BUT for you as a creative and a BRAND you MUST have quality professional images done. A good photographer can control a little extra weight with poses and lighting and post editing.

You design beautiful things – your brand is about style and your personal style should come through in any photos that are represented of you anywhere. You don’t post designs that did not quite make the cut? It’s not going to cost a ton of money for some professional photos. But it is well worth the investment and YOU MY FRIEND are well worth the investment.

Did you forget how big I am?? don’t make me come out there ;o)”

I will admit tears were shed during this whole exchange.  And he is big… he used to play basketball so at the time I was really glad he lives in Ohio!

This reminder that we need to embrace who we are in the moment and put our best image forward – especially when it is for our business, was the catalyst for me getting professional headshots taken.

Value of Professional Photos

I will also admit that there was a lot of internal stress and worry and self-judgement that almost caused me to cancel my appointment on more than one occasion.  But I went and the photos turned out great!  Lee is right – a good photographer can find a great angle to bring out your personality and make you feel good about yourself.  (And, added bonus, no red-eye!)  They also do a little photoshop to make it even better.

I am so glad I fought my fear and did it anyway.  I really debated sharing this whole story but decided that I would because maybe it would help others change their perspective about investing in who they are and having the best version of themselves online.

Thank you Lee Harris!  (If you live in Akron, Ohio and need headshots – check him out.  You can find him on Facebook

Thank you as well to Colleen Cahill Studios in Troutdale, Oregon (close to Portland and Vancouver, WA) – if you are in my area, I highly recommend her – great to work with! You can find her on Facebook at

So I encourage you to rethink your feelings about pictures and make sure your image represents the professional that you are!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed


Thriving Artist Summit free replays end this Friday, 1/31/14!

Thriving Artist Series

Tick-tock! Tick-tock!  If you haven’t registered for and listened to the amazing interviews with artists of all kinds, your time is running out! You have through this Friday – January 31, 2014 to join in the learn.

Bonnie Glendinning is the Founder of and The Thriving Artist Summit. She is on a mission to help artists be successful and thrive, not, just survive. Bonnie has brought together 20+ highly successful artists, experts, and mentors to share their key insights for real success.

You will probably not be surprised to know that I shared about art licensing…

>> Don’t miss out on this great opportunity (I told you it’s FREE, right?)  Click here to register <<

The interviews cover the following topics and more:

  • 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

So if you haven’t done it yet, what are you waiting for?  Go.  Now. :)  >>Click here to register

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed


A Special Invitation to Be A Thriving Artist

Thriving Artist SeriesAre you ready to create a real business with your art? Are you wondering how to create your art full time or on the side? Are you looking for inspiration to stay focused and motivated?

I know you are. That’s why I’m excited to share this excellent opportunity coming up December 02-13, 2013. My friend Bonnie Glendinning is hosting The Thriving Artist Summit to help you discover how to get your creative business to the next level!

Bonnie Glendinning is the Founder of and The Thriving Artist Summit. She is on a mission to help artists be successful and thrive, not, just survive. Bonnie has brought together 20+ highly successful artists, experts, and mentors to share their key insights for real success.

You will probably not be surprised to know that I shared about art licensing… I can’t wait to hear all of the other amazing artists that Bonnie has gathered as well!

>> Find out more right 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.

WHAT: The Thriving Artist Summit

WHEN: December 02 through December 13, 2013

HOW LONG: Approximately 1 hour, replay available to registrants

>> Secure your spot: <<

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

p.s. A replay will be available, but you still have to register to receive access!


Do you want to take a BIG LEAP? What is holding you back?

You might be surprised…

Since I seem to be telling everyone who will listen that they should read The Big Leap, I thought I’d blog about why I am so head-over-heels with this book.

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

(All of the links in this post are affiliate links – if you click them and buy the book, I think I will make 40¢.  If you aren’t ok with that, don’t click them, k?  Now, back to my thoughts… the FTC should be happy with my transparency :) )

Have you ever heard writers or motivational speakers talk about our “inner thermostat”?  That we all have a set point that we are comfortable with – when it comes to the temperature of our bodies to the amount of money we are comfortable having.  When things get too far from our set point, we do things – both consciously and subconciously – to get back to our comfort zone.

Temperature is a great place to start.  I like to be cooler than my husband.  He LOVES summer – sitting out in the sun and sweating in 90+ degree weather is his idea of paradise.  It’s my idea of Chinese torture.  I like the upper 60s and low 70s – where it is nice but I don’t work up a sweat walking across the street to the mailbox.  I HATE to sweat and will do all kinds of things to avoid it.

Some people are like that with money.  If they hang out with people who think anyone with more than enough to barely pay their bills are bad people, then you will do your best to stay at the “just scraping by” level yourself to fit in.  There are story after story of lottery winners who couldn’t handle the sudden and drastic change in wealth and what it did to their relationships and life that they lost it quickly.

These things aren’t always as dramatic as that… but I bet you anything you have certain beliefs or fears about SUCCESS AS AN ARTIST that you don’t even realize.  And if you don’t realize the beliefs, you are even less likely to see the things you do to sabotage yourself.  I mean really, there is some serious group-think about what it means to be an artist – does it mean you aren’t “real” if you make money?  Are you “selling out” if you can pay your bills?  Does almost everyone you meet assume you don’t make money when you say you are an artist?  Society and artists have a lot of predisposed ideas of what being an artist means… read this book and get out of your own way.

As part of the business program I am in, we had to read The Big Leap before we got started.  At our first in person even we spent a bit of time talking about what we discovered about ourselves.  As the two days went on, we discovered even more as we talked, were heard and really thought harder about how we were holding ourselves back and why.

This isn’t easy work… there were lots of tissues and tears but with them came some major breakthroughs in understanding.

The Big Leap by Gay HendricksIf you are willing to do the personal work to better understand yourself and the things that make you tick, you can really shift the results you get in other areas of your life – from relationships to yes, business.

I have found the information in this book to be invaluable and I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface of how I am holding myself back.  I’m trying to get a lot of my friends and those in my support system to read it too so we can discuss it and help point out places where we are “upper limiting”.  Those who have have joined me in a new way of looking at things, supporting each other and even talking.  (Have you ever had anyone say “you are upper limiting yourself?” before and do you know what it means?  You will if you read the book!)

SO… if you want to better understand how and why you might be holding yourself back from what you say you want – go get AND READ this book!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Artsy Shark is looking for artists to feature on their blog…


Call for Artists – Submit your work for consideration to become a featured artist on Artsy Shark may apply between November 6 –14, 2013. This is a juried submission process. Each selected artist is featured in an individual article on Artsy Shark, sharing their story in their own words, and presenting their portfolio. Articles also include a prominent link to the artist’s own website.

Each featured artist article is emailed to thousands of subscribers, promoted extensively on social media, and seen by many of the 30,000 unique visitors to each month.

Interested? Learn More and Apply here

Artsy Shark

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  don’t leave a comment and expect to be considered – follow the link above and apply directly to Artsy Shark

Build your Gratitude muscle with this amazing (& free!) series from Tiffany Peterson

I have a complete and utter crush on Tiffany Peterson.  She is A-MA-ZING!  She was the person who put on the Elevation event that I went to in September.  So inspirational and and helped me get out of the routine and really think about what I was doing in my head, my heart, my business and of course my life.

I was so drawn to her and her approach that I signed up for a 6 month intense Inner Circle program that include in person masterminding in Salt Lake City (just got back from #1 of 3!), group calls, Q&A and personal coaching.  Wow!  I see big shifts and changes in my future.

You can get a taste of this amazing woman this month.  Each November she hosts a free Gratitude Series and it starts tomorrow – November 6th.

Here is Tiffany’s brief synopsis of what the Gratitude Series is all about…

Tiffany PetersonHi, I’m Tiffany Peterson and I’m thrilled to invite you to go deep with true, lasting success principles this November with myself and my very special guest experts. When you study what creates lasting success, you will discover timeless principles – Gratitude and Generosity – foundational influences for creating a life, business, and income that you love!

I look forward to this series every year for you will feel great, perhaps shed a grateful tear or two, and get centered in creating ultimate success in your life! Join me as my special guest in this series – and share it with your friends! Together, we will all experience more of the good stuff in our lives – and in doing so, have more to share with others.

I’m signed up – who wants to join me?

Head to and join in the inspiration!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

When it comes to SEO… every little thing matters!

SEO – or search engine optimization – can make or break your website being found when someone does a search in Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.

Over the weekend I was reminded that EVERY last thing you do in regards to SEO can make or break your website being found.

My new website is  My brother wanted to show it to someone and instead of putting it in the url bar, he went to Google and searched Lets Personalize It.  Didn’t come up.  So then he tried it with an apostrophe – which I use in the logo and voila! There is was.

But how many people would think to search Let’s Personalize It (with the apostrophe) and think it would make a difference?  Not me.  But it did.

He called and told me about his search and that when he found the site he noticed that the title of the page had the apostrophe.

I got off  the couch and went right upstairs to remove all apostrophes from page titles, image alt tags and descriptions.

magnifying glass artistThe next morning I asked his to Google again. Lo and behold I had the #1-4 spots on Google for Lets Personalize it.  That isn’t a huge coup since it is pretty specific and isn’t what someone who didn’t know about the site would search… the goal is to get on page one for personalized gifts, personalized iPhone cases, personalized cutting boards and the like… but that will take more time because there is more competition.

Perhaps today would be a good day to take a few minutes (or an hour because these things always take a little longer than you expect) to go into your website and double check the things that affect your website’s SEO.  Look at your page titles, image tags and page descriptions – then search for yourself and see where you show up.

Here’s to your creative success! (And being well -ranked in search engines!)

– Tara Reed

P.S.  Want to learn more about SEO?  Check out Daniel Tardent’s SEO for Artists – it’s an easy step-by-step guide to setting your website up for success!



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