Get Started in Art Licensing: A How-to Guide for Success | Ronnie Walter | Skillshare

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Get Started in Art Licensing: A How-to Guide for Success

teacher avatar Ronnie Walter, Artist, Writer, Artist's Life Coach

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Intro with Ronnie


    • 2.

      Is Art Licensing right for you?


    • 3.

      Understanding Art Licensing--and How it can work for you!


    • 4.

      Products and Popular Topics


    • 5.

      Develop the Right Portfolio


    • 6.

      What if I don't fit the mold?


    • 7.

      Reaching Out to the Right Clients


    • 8.

      Contracts and Copyrights--Oh My!


    • 9.

      More Steps to Success


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About This Class

Have you been looking for another way to monetize your art and design? This introduction to Art Licensing with illustrator, writer and art business coach Ronnie Walter could be the answer you’re looking for. With over 1000 licensing contracts under her belt, she shares everything you need to understand the basics of this method of making money with your art.

In "Get Started with Art Licensing: A How-to Guide for Success" you’ll learn:

  • What Art Licensing is and how it works in the market
  • How to build a portfolio that gets noticed
  • Whether this market is right for you—and your work
  • The essential items you need in a Licensing Contract
  • Steps to take to connect with Art Director and decision makers in the industry

In just a little over an hour, Ronnie will demystify the process, help you discover what you have to offer with a list of resources to take you further on your journey. Also included are worksheets to help you keep track of your progress and a resource guide to help you learn more.

By the time you complete Get Started with Art Licensing: A How-to Guide for Success you’ll have everything you need to get started!



Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ronnie Walter

Artist, Writer, Artist's Life Coach


Hi! I'm Ronnie Walter. I'm an artist, author and coach for creatives. I license my work on all kinds of cool products like greeting cards, fabric, giftware, books, plus 17 (and counting) coloring books for adults.

I am frequently caffeinated.

I love what I do and I particularly love teaching and coaching artists to help them move further on their journey no matter where they are! My goal is to help you calm the overwhelm feelings that are bound to come up when you are building your business, discover your unique gifts, and make a game plan where you can actually see progress! I can't wait to add more classes so you can do just that!

And I have a simple guide to Art Licensing you may find helpful as an addition to the information in some of my classes. You can learn ... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Class Intro with Ronnie: Hi, I'm Ronnie Walter. I'm an illustrator, a writer, a teacher. And I'm also in our business coach, which means I help artisan writers find the best strategies to move their work further into the world so they could make more money. I discovered licensing over 20 years ago with my own illustrations, and frankly, it's been the back bone of my career for a very long time. I earn royalties on all kinds of products like fabric greeting cards, stationery, HomeGoods, giftware, wall art, all kinds of products that some of them have been paying me for many years. It's a pretty cool way to monetize your art, but I just want you to know it's not always easy to understand the methods that I'm going to explain to you. And it takes time to get things rolling. I'm not going to sugarcoat things. I want to encourage you to bring your work to the world because the world needs more cool stuffs. But that's where I come in in this class. I'm going to teach you all those basics and the fundamentals and understanding this process . I want you to understand what our directors may be looking for how you can position yourself to be in front of decision makers and how you can develop the most authentic work for you for that marketplace to help you find an audience that will really respond to your work. But remember, I started out where everybody starts out. That's one design, one product, one license at a time. It's a building block kind of a business method, and I'm gonna walk you through that. We're going to talk about contracts. We're going to talk about all kinds of ways that you can build your portfolio because I want you to understand the fundamentals. I don't want you to get stuck in spinning your wheels of trying to read 400 blog's on how this works. I'm just gonna tell you how it works. I want you to also gained the confidence to do just that. It's sometimes scary to put your workout in the world, but I want to help you craft a way that you can get it out in front of people that can make a decision about your work. That's my entire goal. It don't want to spinning your wheels. I want you to understand the basics of this business, and I want you to succeed. So let's get started. Step by step, and we're gonna work through this material. Thank you so much. And I hope you enjoy the class. 2. Is Art Licensing right for you?: So who was this Class? Four. Well, right now, you might be selling your work in other ways, like an art shows, editorial illustration or even a graphic design. And you want to expand your earning potential. Sometimes artists air approached about licensing deals, and they want to have a better understanding of how it works. This class will teach you how everything works. So you will not be cut by surprise by that question. And artists who really want explore our licensing as a main part of their income and want to explore if this is the right method for them to monetize their own art and what they should do if it isn't right now And what will you learn? Well, you're gonna learn a lot, actually, but you're going to gain a better understanding of how this business method works With the call, The common practices explained. You're gonna understand what art directors air looking for and how your work might fit in. And you're also gonna learn if your work is not right for the market and what you might do to make it so and you're gonna understand more wine manufactured, which is a licensing deal instead of other means of acquiring art because they do have choices. And why you would choose licensing your work over other methods of monetization. Actually, you're pretty much gonna learn everything you need to know to get started in art licensing by the time you finish this class. So let's keep going, shall we? 3. Understanding Art Licensing--and How it can work for you!: Let's go over the definition of art licensing, and I will. I will read this and I will explain it as we go along. And then I have an example of how this works. You are granting permission to another party to use your content on a specific product in a specific territory for a specific period of time for a specific amount of money, usually in the form of royalties. Now that sounds like a loaded sons. But let's break it down. What you are doing is you are saying to another company I'm giving you permission to use my artwork of specific piece of artwork that you're going to put on a specific product like, say, coffee mug or a tote bag or something like that in a specific territory that's geographic for a specific period of time and for a specific amount of money. Very simple. Straightforward. So here's the example. You are Susie the artist, and you have granted permission to the big Coffee mug company to use your content, and in this case, we're going to call it the sunny, sweet cupcake hurt, and you're telling them that they can put this on this specific product, and that's Lottie mugs. They can't put anything else without your permission. Just Lottie marks in a specific territory in North America in a specific period of time. And that would be, say, three years and for a specific amount of money, in this case of 5% royalty on wholesale sales. So what, in essence you are doing is you are telling the big coffee mug company that they can use your sunny, sweet cupcake art on Lottie mugs in North America for three years with a 5% royalty on wholesale sales? In other words, you are renting now the sunny, sweet cupcake cart for this period of time in this geographic region on these products for this amount of money. And why would an artist want to do that? Well, several reasons. One. It's a way for you to have your work on products that you cannot or do not want to manufacture yourself. Manufacturing can be very expensive, and distribution is a huge issue. So if you want to get your work on a on more products than you can produce in your own studio or through a print on demand, this is a way to get your work on war tangible products out in the marketplace. It's also an opportunity to generate additional income beyond what you're doing now. Many artists have, ah, hybrid career, and this is one piece of their income they might teach. They might have an Etsy shop they might to do. Editorial illustration. But licensing can be a piece of the whole pie. Lesson thing can help you grow your name and reputation in other markets than you are currently working in. So it can really enhance your other efforts by having product out in the marketplace that it makes everything grow. If you if people see your work in a store in a retail store, and then they see what an art fair there thinking, Oh my gosh, she's everywhere. This is really awesome, and so everything can bubble up because of all of your efforts working together. Okay, let's look at the other side of this. Why would a manufacturer want to license artwork? Well, a couple of reasons. One. It's less expensive than having a full time employee. There are no taxes. They have to pay, and they don't have to pay for any benefits for you, and it also gives them the flexibility that to develop new and different looks. Over the years, created staffs have gotten a lot leaner, and they are always looking for new work that they can't necessarily do in house, either because of time or their talent pool. So why would a manufacturer want a license? Artwork? Well, several reasons. One. It is less expensive than having a full time employee. There are no taxes to pay, and they don't have to pay you any benefits. It also gives them the flexibility to develop new and different looks than their in house staff can handle either through time or because of their talent pool. And over the years that creative staffs have gotten a lot leaner. So they are looking mawr toward the outside to find trendier or new looks that they cannot handle themselves. It's also a relatively low financial risk for the manufacturer to pay someone on royalties . If the product does well, there's lots of money to pay the royalties. If it doesn't do well, they're not out a lot of money up front because they're paying you based on their sales, they can work with the designers that have a track record or following already building. So if you have success in on another platform or have a large following, they love that because they can piggyback on your other success. And so all of that boy's everything up on bond can be more successful for everyone because of your other relationships and your other successes. Now let's talk about why you might choose licensing versus selling your artwork. And when I'm talking about selling, I'm talking about a piece of artwork that would still be used on some sort of product, as opposed to selling a painting to an individual. But why you might consider licensing your art work. So let's go through the licensing side first. Generally, in licensing, you're going to retain your copyright. As I explained earlier, When you are in essence, renting your designed to accompany, you are saying to them you have the right to use this artwork on these products with all of those perent parameters. But I retained the copyright as the artist, and then, um, they just have the right to use it, but you will retain your copyright. You are able to maximize any opportunity that you can on a wide variety of products. So if you are working with someone that makes coffee mugs and you want to work with someone that makes tote bags, you can do that. You can maximize your opportunities. You could be getting royalties on tote bags. You could be getting royalties on the coffee mugs. You could do ah T shirt license or ah, giftware license or something like that. But as long as those people are not competing with each other, you can really maximize your opportunities for a single piece of artwork. Theoretically, you could generate income over a long period of time. If you sign a license and the product does really well and it stays on the market for a while, you could be getting royalty payments for years to come. In fact, I do have some royal taste of some products that have stayed on the market a while now in the retail market that we're in right now. We don't have that expectation as much as we used to, but things can stay on the market depending on what kind of product it iss. One of the downsides of licensing is that if the product doesn't do well, like we talked about earlier, you could risk the income of you going. Okay, I'm gonna roll the dice on royalties, and I'm sure it will be fine. But that is the downside to licensing that if it doesn't sell well, you might not make a lot of money on it. Okay, let's look at selling. Sometimes when you sell a piece of artwork to a company that's going to put it on products , they're going to want to have the entire copyright, meaning that they would buy your artwork and they can put it on anything that they want to . And you no longer have rights to that design, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. It depends on the deal. It depends on the scope of that. And there's a lot of details to that. But it's not always a bad thing to lose. Your copyright usually has to do with how much money they're going to give you and whether it's artwork that is not that important to you. Ah, the other thing about selling us, you get paid in one lump sum, and you don't have to wait for the royalty stream to start. Um, and that's fine. I mean, I I totally understand. People need to pay their rent and, you know, hey, take care, whatever that ISS. And so sometimes getting the money upfront is just fine with you. And by selling it for a flat, see, you are also means that you're paid, no matter how the product sells. If the product tanks, you still got the money that you agreed to. Now the other side of that is, you always have to, you know, if the product is a really huge seller, sometimes that hurts a little because you're thinking I could have gotten more fortified only done royalty. But sometimes you make the decision based on the circumstances that you know about, and then you just move on. And like I said, this is a very broad brush of the difference between licensing and selling your artwork. And there are there are a lot of nuances to these decisions. And as you get more understanding the business, maybe get some help in the coaching or the legal side, or you work with an agent, you can start to see how you can decide which is the best thing for you. You can't. You can't really know that until your sort in in the business and knowing what the opportunities are for you. I know that was a lot of information that we just went over. So please bear with me. You might want to re listen to this section of the class or go through the entire class because it all will start making more sense to you as you build on your skills. So let's go to the next lesson. 4. Products and Popular Topics: So one of the things that makes art licensing different than other forms of illustration is we almost have to be thinking about product, and there are so many products in the world that have licensed art on them. But it really opens up a whole new world for you, for opportunities to make money with your art. So I've listed some of the typical categories that we see in art licensing. When you're out of the stores, you will start to notice these categories as having a lot of decorative art on them. And more than likely, many of them are licensed art from some artists that might be just like you. So let's go through these now. Fix that. Puzzles are as old as the hills, but they still require new art all the time. It's a it's a really big market. Just walk into Barnes and Noble a few weeks before Christmas, and you will see that I mean and jigsaw puzzles usually require very complex are, um, usually pictorial in some way, but they are. It's a gold mine for art. Fabric can be divided into fabric appropriate for quilting, or it might be home selling or more crafting type, fabric or home to core. So that's a very large category. Greeting cards. Hey, everyone thought they would be gone by now. They're not. Were we still license greeting cards all the time, so that's still a viable market for your art. Gift bags and wrap need to be refreshed all the time. Plus, there's lots of occasions that require gift bags and gift wrapping that includes tags and ribbons and things like that that would coordinate home decor is a rather large category that would include things like wall art, decorative pillows, garden flags, floor mats. Could be shower curtains. All kinds of things fit into that home to core area. Giftware is another very wide category that could be any number of different kinds of products. But when we say giftware, it really is exactly what we're talking about. Things that you would give us a gift. Maybe a cute coffee mug, plaques, figurines. It could be pretty wide reaching and can cross over a bit. In the home decor market, stationary is still strong. Thank you notes, writing papers and cards. I would put calendars in this category journals. All of those cute table your desktop items like, um, you know, really, I would include desktop items in there like cute pencil holders and things that you put on your desk or decorative and file folders and things like that. Ah, peril when we talk about our licensing is usually not for apparel, like clothes that you would find in Macy's or target those patterns, but more apparel like scarves, tote bags more in the accessory category as well as T shirts. Now, social expression is a term that is used in this arena. That is really about things that you would use socially like paper table wear or cocktail napkins, Mylar balloons, party invitations, decorations, things like that that falls into what we call a social expression category. And those are categories that need to be refreshed all the time, particularly in the paper table, where area now Kraft Products I. That is one overreaching category that would include things like needlework, kits, scrapbooking and stickers and rubber stamping card making things that you would find in Michael's in Joan's in that area. Also, paint by numbers are trending up, which I find interesting. So that's the craft projects, and there could be any number of things. If you just walk through Michael's in Joan's, you could start to see how many things have art on them that other people are going to make into something else. And then the last one. I'm calling publishing now in publishing with art licensing, we're really not talking about Big Five publishers were talking about either art publishers or people that make gift books that you would find on a spinner and a gift store or small books and journals. Also, calendars and planners could fall into the publishing category. So these are the product categories, and now we're going to go into some details about what the subjects and topics would be that will end up within these product categories. So the first subject and topic we're going to talk about our life events. These are things that happen all the time that always need refreshing in the market. So whether for greeting cards or invitations, paper table, where gift items, these are things that happen in life that always need to be acknowledged and marked, and usually with a card or gift or some sort of event that you show up with you go to a graduation party. You bring a card with, you know, some money in it, and at the party, they're going to have graduation paper table where there might be hats. There might be fun badges and all of those kinds of products that you see every day in life events will show up with license art on them. So when you look at life events, all of these things need to have some sort of acknowledgement from someone else. So life events always always, always need new art. The next section of subjects and topics is all about seasonal in a holiday, just like we talked about with life events. Those are things that need refreshing all the time. Well, seasonal and holiday designs always need refreshment, and they're always looking for new art. For these categories, some are more major than others with a greeting card world. You know a father's Day card is going to sell less than a Christmas card, but they still need a new father sick card every year or many new Father state cards. So depending on what your portfolio looks like an your intention for doing artwork, some of these may be like right up your alley and some your thinking and and really one do any Valentine's Day, whatever. That doesn't really matter at this point, but I just want you to understand that seasonal and holiday designs are always being refreshed for the typical things that we talked about. Giftware. Valentine's Day might be a cute little mug with a your design on it that they'll give with chocolates in it. Mother's Day might be a cute little trinket box that she'll put her rings in summer. Could be barbecue designs, Pick next beach, and then autumn harvest might be general falling leaves, Harvest pumpkins, pumpkin patch, that idea and then Halloween. Obviously, Halloween is a very big category for decoration for paper table, where for greeting cards and Halloween can range from like super scary adult imagery to really juvenile sweet Halloween. So that is a really huge category. Second Onley to Christmas, which of course has a huge amount of products related to Christmas designs, both in the social expression side of things paper table where balloons, decorations but also obviously greeting cards, gift bags and wrap decorations. All kinds of things happen around Christmas, so that is probably the biggest category that people make money in in art licensing. But frankly, I don't do a lot of Christmas anymore because I felt feel a little sexually plan after 20 years, but also I'm doing other things. But Christmas is always a huge, huge category to work in, and then general Winter and any of the seasons Spring, summer, winter, fall all have occasions, you know you do a winter one that might be snowflakes or a snowman or something like that. If it doesn't look too Christmassy. So seasonal holiday, huge subject and topic. And if any of these speak to you, then you should definitely be putting things like this in your portfolio. Another topic that we need a lot of refreshment for is general sentiment. The greeting card that you just send because you're thinking about someone or a magnet that has an inspirational phrase on it, or a coffee mug that feels like you want to give it to your friend for friendship. You know, girlfriends kind of idea. So a sentiment, just general sentiment, and it's really a me to you that it is a message that you're going to send to someone else . And and these air always really perennial categories that are very popular in licensed artwork. And the final subject and topic is what we cleverly call every day. Because these air designs that are sold every day and sometimes you think you're right, sometimes I think, Oh, my gosh, does the world need any more floral designs? Well, apparently it does, and so you'll see these kinds off general topics on everything from coffee mugs to betting to baby designs to home to core. But these are subjects that people are always looking for. Florals. Coastal is huge pattern and pattern mixing so you might have geometric or floral that has a stripe in it dot that goes with it. Wine and cocktails always big for cocktail napkins, obviously, and paper table where and maybe a set of little matching appetizer plates. Something like that. Coffee and tea. Great for kitchen, textiles or small kitchen items. Food is very big, either. Gourmet foods like cheese is, um, also sweets, of course, cupcakes because they're so cute and decorative and feminine. Then you had doughnuts. Of course, who could forget the doughnuts? Because doughnuts are a great opportunity for color and pattern, and they're just cute and every who doesn't love a doughnut. So you'll see food trends, decorative food trends, Which is kind of hilarious, but they happen all the time. And once you start understanding, if you paying attention culturally to what's going on out there all of a sudden, there might be, you know, the food of the year, which might be, you know, kind of hard to make kale look decorative, but you never know. So food and gourmet is always really important. And then the other thing about these topics these everyday topics is, even though it might have cupcakes, it doesn't mean it's going to be on some baking item or a kitchen item. You might have cupcakes on a cosmetic bag or a school notebook or a pencil or something like that. So these crossover, the product categories they don't necessarily go with like you only have traveled designs on travel items. You might have travelled designs on a journal or, like I said, a cosmetic bag or office files or something like that. Patriotic is always very popular, at least in the United States. Juvenile's an interesting category in that you can have sort of generic kid designs that might end up on kid product. Or it might end up on Cem more generic product like stationary or thank you notes or something like that. Pets Who doesn't love their pet and so you can have pet designs that end up on products that are not pet related. So you have a really cute cat pattern, and doggy patterns are mixed dogs and cats together. And so pets air really a strong every day. Imagery. There's always a place for humor. Cocktail napkins, coffee mugs, greeting cards, humor. If you If you can write and draw humor, there's often a place for you in this world, and then a general woman to woman category is really strong. It could be sentimental, and it's usually a friendship. I'm supporting you. I thought about you. Today we're all in this together, and so woman to woman can range from very sweet sentiment. Two more rockets, humor and everything in between, but frankly, women by some much of these kinds of items that having woman to woman designs and connections air really important in this market. So we have just covered the topics that land in this world. This is your cheat sheet. When you are starting to develop a portfolio for licensing, you will want to refer back to these topics and subjects and those categories to make sure that you are staying within the realm of what people's expectations are in this market. So I know I just gave you a ton of information. I would suggest you finish the rest of the lessons and you might want to come back to this one again once you have a deeper understanding and all of this will make a whole lot of sense to you. But this is the ground floor of what licensing is about. So let's move on to our next topic. It's all about portfolios. 5. Develop the Right Portfolio: Let's talk about what makes a compelling art licensing portfolio and what makes it different than a portfolio you might be developing for other opportunities. A lesson portfolio needs to be three things above all. It needs to be authentic, meaning it really does come from the heart and is your original work. It needs to be current, meaning it doesn't have to necessarily be trendy or like of the top top trendy look. But it needs to have a current look. It also needs to have some meaning to it. So many of the designs that we do end up on product that is about personal relationships, that it needs to have some meaning. It doesn't have to be heavy handed. Sometimes meaning comes from humor. Sometimes it's from a light hearted approach, but it needs to have some kind of meaning. And even if you're working in the home to core area where you think, well, this doesn't really have emotion attached to it. It still needs to be something that someone would want in their home that it feels right for them. So you have to be thinking a little further out into what people really do want with the items that they buy for themselves, each other and their homes. When you work in art licensing, there's an expectation that your work will be presented in collection. Generally, when you look at products in the stores, you will see often that they are presented in related images. So if you see, say, four coffee cups, they will have similar art styles. They may have different messaging. You'll see a lot of pattern mixing, and you will see that they are building collections. So you need to present your work in collections. Not all the time. Sometimes a stand alone piece of art would be is just fine, particularly in things we talked about earlier. Like jigsaw puzzles. They don't expect that to be in a collection. Let's go through the ones that I have shown you so I can explain to you what I mean. The first way that I am showing are the four on the left, which are the women's designs. These air, all my designs. By the way. Now what I did here is I developed a line Ah collection, if you will. That is really about empowering women. A message of you can do this, I care about you and it may be on greeting cards. Or it could be on things like cosmetic bags or something like that, even though they don't look entirely alike. They relate to each other with the elements that I have described the texture, the type style, the art style and the attitude. They relate to each other so you might develop your collection. And sometimes this happens by what your style is like. And you work in one complete style the second way that on artist might work. And sometimes I mean, I do all of these things, so it doesn't mean you can only do one way or the other. In the second example is the journal in the shopping list and the thank You note, where I started with a pattern and then built product out of the elements of the designs of the pattern. Really give a client the option of Oh, here's a stripe in here. Are these these icons you can play with? And this could become a fabric collection. It could become these exact products as is, but what you're showing the client is how your work can be designed into other things. I mean, someone could license this for kitchen textiles, and they're going to develop the products differently, But they will use my icons. They'll use the stripe. They might choose that aqua background. So you're building them. A little world in which they can build their products from the third example is the Christmas design on the right, and in this example, the story is really about the funny little sayings. So I used a very similar art style. It's all the same color, all the same type face. And what is changing out in this collection are the saves. So when you think about product in this case, they might become for little coasters, drink coasters or cocktail napkins. They could become paper table where or they may license one or two of them for greeting cards. So what you're showing is it's this singular format. This is the story, but it switches out because of the sittings. And when you start to look in stores, you will see how these things are presented and why licensing is is different in that we want to be thinking about how they might use this on product So these air three examples of how you might work in collections. And remember in the last lesson where we talked about products. This is what I mean when I when I say that you need to be thinking about product. I already know that this little Christmas grouping on the left they're related images, their funny little sayings. They have a similar style and color palette throughout, but I'm showing the potential clients how they can work in different product. Ideas on the left are obviously ornaments, but those you might envision a small ornaments that would go on a tree. But they could also be wall art, you know, big ones that you would put on your front door. The round ones. Yes, they could be plates. They could be paper table where, but they could also be balloons or cookie tens, so round shapes are really good. And then the four on the bottom could be cocktail napkins. They could be coasters, or they also could be wall pieces. So you want to think about product, and how do your designs relate to different shapes in different sizes and different components? The example on the right is a collection that I did for a company where we ended up with several of these products and I just showed them okay, there's Here's how it would look on a coffee mug. Here's how it could look in a picture frame. Here's a tote bag, and in this case I used a little note pad. So you're showing them your kind of helping them see your work not just as a piece of artwork, but how it could relate to not necessarily their product, but some products. So they understand that you understand the relationship between how artwork works and how it ends up on product. It's also important to show that you have a point of view. Everyone comes from a different place culturally, spiritually, artistically. And our customers want to feel that they want to know that you have something to say to the world and you could be very specific. Some people are all everything that they do has scripture on it. Some people have humor that might be off color to some people, but having your point of view and being true to it is really important. They This is part of the authenticity of your portfolio. Now these again are my designs on the left. We have something that I named promises, and it's a very poetic, inspirational, relationship based collection. And so this is my writing, and I put it together using typefaces. Thea artwork actually is quite minimal, but this ended up being licensed on wall art, and we have done some greeting cards with this, and so that has, you know, that has just It's just a pretty simple idea, but it has a very strong point of view. On the right is a little collection I designed called Hey Girlfriend, which is exactly what I'm saying it is. It's a communication vehicle for women to share with each other. It could be on all kinds of products, like magnets or greeting cards, cosmetic bags, coffee mugs and it really is. It holds together because it's fun little things. It's a similar body style throughout with all the girls. It is a really fun, uplifting attitude, and it has similar patterning and color throughout. So this is a way to pull something together that has humor but also has a decorative aspect and brings in some color. So this is another way to make related images and have a point of view. It's funny, it's fun, and it really is just about I care about you girlfriend. And that, to me is as meaningful as it gets. I'm not trying to be all things to all people. It's exactly what I'm telling them that it ISS So a point of view is really important in your work. Okay, and now the bad news. Not everything is appropriate for licensed artwork over the years. These are three categories that we have found. Although not impossible toe license. They are more difficult because of what I was talking about. There might not be a point of view. It might not have a strong connection to your to your customer. But that is not to say that this can never happen like abstract art. You know, abstract art as we know it's artist is very subjective. Some people love it. Some people hate it. Some people love some of it. It's just a really very subjective genre. However, abstract art might be great for fabric like you often see upholstery fabric or ah, apparel fabric. That might be a very abstract print. But again you're getting a little nici when you are trying to license abstract, so that is one of those. All you do is abstract art. You either have to pick your product categories very specifically, and then the manufacturers you're going after or think about either doing things that have more of a representational side to them, or just decide that this is not for you. Photography can be tricky. There have been some very, very successful license lines of photography of kitties and puppies, babies at flowerpots, lots of cute babies in outfits and things like that. There was a very huge trend several years ago, with little kids and old fashioned clothing, black and white hand tinted photographs that was really, really popular. But photography in general, particularly when it's things like scenes or people obvious places. It's just a little tougher to find a niche that people will accept for photography. I've certainly seen photography on specific categories, like journal covers, some greeting cards, but you have to really again pick and choose the product categories as well as your manufacturers. Specifically, that would be open to photography again. It happens, but if all you do is photography it's a little trickier. The 3rd 1 and a lot of people come to licensing because they have developed a set of character characters. Air really tough to license on their own if they don't have another connection or another platform to stand on, like if they're coming from, ah, popular book. Or, you know, if you happen to have a television show with these characters easier toe license. But characters that just are out there because they're cute or because you've established a little world without another connection to a market, they are very difficulty to license all by themselves. Think about that when you are doing it. Character grouping. Is there a book in them? And maybe you should write a book and get the book published, and then you can work backwards into the licensing. But just starting with the character Tricky. Not impossible, but tricky. I'd like to circle back to what we originally talked about in this lesson that your portfolio really needs to be authentic, current and meaningful, and even though I gave you a pile of information and details on how you might do that, really keep that to your center. However, you present, however you develop your portfolio, this is the main part of what you're going to be doing. Yes, it resonates with you. If it is authentic and has a point of view, it's going to resonate with another audience with other people that feel the same way you do that to me is what is. The most exciting part of this is that we're really providing products for people that have meaning, even if it makes them just laugh or they want to show it to their friend or it really hits them in the heart of just saying I thank you so much for saying that, and it gave me a way to say this to another person. To me, that is the whole crux of what this business is about. So keep those three things in mind as you're developing your portfolio. 6. What if I don't fit the mold?: So what if you don't fit the mold of artists that are preparing portfolio specific to subjects? Seasons, Christmas? All of the things that I just described are typical in a licensing portfolio. Well, there's good news for you. There are very successful artists who have a single look and point of view and message that have really successful licensing programs. If you already have a platform of followers or fans, you can be very attractive to a manufacturer who might want to piggyback on that success that you have built. You have done part of the job for them already. You have an audience, and if you can prove that to them all the better. Ah, lot of licensing potential because of what they have done in other arenas, like publishing or are chose or have a big social media following. Those could be very attractive stats and positions for manufacturers to say we would love to work with you. You already have this audience that you're bringing to us, and sometimes that is a better way to go. You may have longevity in the marketplace where someone else might not because of your base of fans and followers you would follow the same steps as faras, having a nice, clean website having a really compelling portfolio, and you would reach out in the same way that any other artists would reach out, reaching out to specific manufacturers that you want to work with identifying product lines . There's lots of opportunity for you if you don't fit into what we traditionally look at as licensed art, be your own wonderful self and stay with your own wonderful point of view and look for people that want Teoh enjoy that exact thing that you are doing. 7. Reaching Out to the Right Clients: Once you have developed your portfolio, the next step in your progress is to start contacting companies. And I'm just going to tell you this is really a hard part of this process. Sometimes I think doing the artwork is the easy part. But putting yourself out there and putting yourself in the position to have conversations with decision makers in the licensing arena can be really difficult, but certainly doable because we have all done it. So here are several ways to do exactly that. The 1st 1 I call the going shopping method, and that is when you were out in the stores and you see products that you like or products that look like a license. Artwork jot down the name of the manufacturer, and sometimes they'll have an artist name on there. Generally, that's where you start. You start looking at manufacturers, and then when you go home, you can check out their websites, and some of them have submission guidelines on them. And there's a reason they put submission guidelines on their website. It's because they are looking for artists and they have a very specific set of circumstances under which you can present to them now. Just so you understand, companies don't put submission guidelines on their websites if they are not interested in art, so follow their directions to the letter. As a longtime client has said, we write these submission guidelines for a reason, so we'd like you to follow them and submit your work. That way they will look at your work. Whether you hear back from them, that is another question. But if they have a submission guideline, that is the easiest way to get in front of those clients. The other thing you can do is to connect through social media. Particularly linked in which you have to remember is these manufacturers who want to work with are they work for companies and companies around lengthen the art directors have profiles on LinkedIn, and so make sure that you look there first as well to see if you can get a contact name and email. Another way that many artists meet up with decision makers in this area is to exhibit at some of the trade shows that are aimed at this market. But I am going to tell you that is not for beginners. They're very expensive and you need to have a really good, strong understanding of what you're doing, how the business works, that your portfolio is up to snuff, that it's competitive. Just do research on that and make sure that you are ready in the resource section of the class. I have listed all the trade shows that relate to this industry, and you can start to do your research on those. And when you are ready, you can start looking further into those. But there are trade shows that are aimed at this market. On the final one is call or email the company and ask. I have had success by emailing when I can't find an art director or ah, product development director or manager. I have just emailed through their customer service line and said, You know, politely said, Hi, I'm an artist. I would really like to talk to someone who makes decisions about our work with your company . Can you please direct me to the right place? And sometimes you hear back, sometimes you do not. But if you hear back, they just say, Oh, sure, call Sally And here's her email address. Sometimes I mean, that seems like a really old fashioned way to do things, but it's very effective. If all this sounds too complicated to you or you just feel like your skill set isn't there , you might want to consider working with an agent. There are a multitude of licensing agencies that do exactly what they say they dio. They represent you and your portfolio to manufacturers in order to secure licensing deals. And agencies can range from just one agent with a few select artists or a large, multi aging group with dozens of artists that they represent. The steps that you take to find clients is essentially the same steps you will take to find a licensing agent. You want to present your work professionally. You wanted to look clean. You wanna have a point of view, and so you will present, just like you would with a client. If you are considering working with an agent, either now or later on in your career, you really want to consider why you would do this. Some people and it's totally fine. You may not be comfortable with or are not capable of handling the business side of things , or you just don't want to you cannot travel to shows or client meetings, or you just are not comfortable in that situation, and you just want to stay in the studio and make art. The 3rd 1 is you are so busy with the work that you are secured for yourself, that you want a hand the whole job over to someone else. While you continue to be successful with everything you've done so far and you want someone else to do that for you. And like I said, you will contact an agent essentially the same way you that you would contact potential manufacturer that you want to work with. You will check out their website to see if your work looks like a good fit with them. And you want to make sure that you're not competing too closely with some of the other artists they have in their group because agents want to know that they have a really nice balance of artists within their portfolio, if you will, so that when they go to clients, there's no competition between the artists within their group, and some of the agents do have submission guidelines on their website to help you present in the way that they want to see it again. Follow those. They want to know that you know how to follow directions. And if they don't have submission guidelines, they always will have a contact email. And so feel free to contact them with a short message saying, I'm an artist. I would love to talk with you or I would like to share my portfolio and you essentially just have a very easy email exchange of them and see if they are interested in your work. Well, let's talk about how an agent is paid. Generally, agents are paid a percentage of your royalties on any deals that they secure on your behalf right now in the market, depending on various circumstances, there commission is usually between 35 50% depending on who is paying for what, and we'll go over that a little more closely. Some agents take care of all the costs of marketing, trade shows, etcetera as part of their commission, and those would be the agents that would probably be closer to 50% and some charge the artists for those expenses. So you need to make sure which way they work that's very important. You do not want surprises later that you're getting a bill for a trade show or travel or something like that. You want to be very clear on what they're paying for and what your responsibilities will be . Financially, I will tell you this this is really important. You will never, ever, ever give money to an agent in order for them to represent you. So if someone is saying sure I'll represent you, send me a check. Those are not. Those people are not your friend. The agent is paid based on the performance of them getting licensing deals for you. If you decide that you want to work with an agent and you have had a conversation with them and they are interested in working with you, there will be a contract, a legally binding contract that you will sign, and it will be between you and the agency. And just as a reminder, you're going to sign a contract because this is a partnership, after all, and you each have to have spelled out what your rights and responsibilities are. Who is going to do what and that everyone is clear on how that works. Now I'm going to hit just the high points of this. If you do find yourself in a situation where you are looking at an agency contracting are considering it. Please get the help you need. So you that you do understand it. I cannot stress enough how important these contracts are. You should be using an attorney or, at the very least, a consultant who can walk you through the steps of the contract and what they all mean. Ah, Consultant cannot give you legal advice to tell you one way or the other. Whether you should do it on attorney, Of course, would do that. These are just the highlights of what you can expect in an agency contract. An all agency contract should cover these sex obvious things, like how long the contracts last. Are you going to be together for six months? Two years, five years? You need to know what you are agreeing to and who pays for what, like we discussed before, shows advertising. Whose responsibility is that you want to know very clearly. What the commission split is whether or not you can retain house accounts. Now, sometimes artists will license their work and they'll have some licenses under their belt, and they feel like their next step for growth is to work with an agent. You want to know whether those contracts that you have secured before you signed with the agent that you can retain those and manage those and keep 100% of the money. That is very important to know that going in where they may think that. Okay, you're turning everything over to them. And sometimes artists choose to do that, like whatever happened before you sign the contract, it's always yours. But if you decide I don't want to deal at all on the negotiation side or on the client side , I'm going turn everything over. Whatever that date of the signing of the contract is, then they will get a commission on your house accounts. Make sure you understand that that that has tripped people up in the past. You'll want to know when you will be paid. Is it quarterly? Is it monthly? Is it 30 days after they receive a royalty check? The all of that is negotiable, and some people do it differently and again that needs to be spelled out And, of course, you want to know what happens when you terminate the relationship. Sometimes things just don't work out or on. Agent may decide to go in a different direction. Or you realize that actually you do like working with directly with clients as faras the negotiation and you want take 100% of the commission. So though there are various reasons why you might want to terminate an agreement and you want to know what that's going to look like so you don't have any surprises at the end. So the these are the basics that you're going to need to see in a contract. I do in my book License to Draw. We go into this in much more detail, but I just want you to know that these these are the main points that you need to understand. 8. Contracts and Copyrights--Oh My!: So here is another really huge topic that I'm going to try to break down to the simplest terms as I can again. This is not demented teacher. Everything there is to know about a licensing contract because that's a whole other class. But it's a place to start understanding the basics of a contract. So the good news is someone just called you and said, We would like to license some of your artwork, and then where do you start? Generally, a contract will be drafted by the client, or maybe they will expect to see your contract. If you don't have one, that's another topic as well. But at some point a contract will be drafted, and these are the highlights of what will be in that contract. First of all, you want to know who are the parties in the agreement. Generally, that's going to be you and the company who was licensing the work the manufacturer. So it might be in our earlier example. It was for the cupcake artwork, and it was the big Coffee Cup company. So it's you as the artist and the Big Coffee Cup company. And what is the artwork? The artwork needs to be very specific what you are licensing to them. If you have a whole collection and they're only licensing one piece of it, you need to be very specific about what peace that is. Sometimes the artwork will be specified on what is called an addendum, and that is the final page of a contract that will spell out exactly what their licensing and for what products. So the next one is. What are the products they're doing again that might be handled in the main body of of the contract. Or it may be in the addendum. You want to be very specific about the artwork and very specific about what products This is again, where people have gotten tripped up because they haven't been specific about the products. And then the client decides to do a bunch of other products, which would be great in theory. Unless you have already licensed those categories to someone else. Little detail make sure those products are very specifically spelled out. You also want to know how and when you will be paid. Of course, that's a really important point, so you know when you can expect her money and who has legal ownership of the art. We talked a little bit about selling versus licensing. This is the place on the contract with. It will be very obviously spelled out. Who has legal ownership of the art, whether that's you or whether you have transferred the rights to that client, be very specific about that and make sure that that is in your contract. And how can the contract be terminated? Sometimes contracts were terminated because the product did not sell, and that might be spelled out. If it doesn't sell a certain amount that you can regained the rights to that artwork for something else, it might be terminated because the company went bankrupt. You want to make sure that there are specifics in the contract that talk about the termination under under what circumstances it can be terminated. And what is the geographic territory of the agreement? Is that North America is it worldwide? Is that Europe make sure that is inside your contract, and, of course, what is the time period that the contract covers? He said. The three year deal is it. Sometimes contracts renew, so it might be for three years and then renews every year until someone says that they don't want to renew anymore. All of that will be spelled out in the contract now. Like I said, this is this is work for an attorney or consultant again to make sure that you really understand that contract. If one is offered to you, you need to understand it. You're a grown up person. You really it's your responsibility to understand what you are signing. It is a legally binding document. When we're talking about legalities in licensing, we talk about contracts and we also talk about copyrights. For the sake of this class again, I'm just skimming the surface. And in the resource section, I have a link to the U. S. Government Copyright Office that will spell up all the specifics of a copyright and what it means and what it does not mean. So let's again, we're gonna broad brush this. A copyright is created automatically when an original idea is transformed into a tangible form, meaning you cannot protect an idea. Ah, concept, a method or an art style Onley tangible work. So when you actually do a painting or a drawing once you have it down on paper. Ah, copyright is implied. Even if you have not registered, I highly recommend that you register your copyright, at least in the United States. That means that you can receive damages in any kind of copyright dispute. You may have a dispute with someone about your copyright. And yes, you do have one automatically when your idea is transformed into a tangible form. However, without registering it, you cannot receive damages, and people can really dispute it by registering it. You are planting your feet on that date that this is your artwork. Understanding your copyright is really important. There are two additional things I want to tell you about copyrights. One is you will sometimes see in forums and Facebook groups that this thing called a poor man's copyright, where you take a copy of your artwork and you mail it to yourself. And you never open the envelope because the postmark from the post office documents that it was sent you on that date. This is totally wrong. There is no such thing as a copyright that you use the mail service to secure. Just do not do that. The only way you are legally registered with the copyright office is to register it with the government copyright Office. Just so you understand that I just have to tell you that and one more point. A lot of artists who are new to the side of the business, I feel a little bit funny about showing their artwork to clients that they don't know because they were afraid of someone stealing their ideas. Let me clear this up immediately. Reputable companies that license artwork are not in the business of stealing other people's ideas. I know that sounds simple, but I have never heard of a company doing that. Now that is not to say another artist would, or possibly a manufacturer that is not reputable. That is part of the risk that you take to have your work licensed, and to have it on product is that you are going to have to show your artwork to someone, so you need to swallow and get over that part of it. And as I mentioned, there is more information in the resource section for you to learn about copyrights and contracts on a much deeper level. 9. More Steps to Success: So let's talk about how you're going to put yourself out there for maximum exposure. The first thing most people use because it's so easy and of our fingertips of all times is social media. Social media is a process of becoming discovered, and you become discovered because you are out there you are plus in it. You are out there and you're interacting with other people. That's the social part of social media. So being out there and sharing your work and sharing your attitude, it's really important to find your audience and to build your persona online. It is not the only way to do this. Of course, one thing that every artist needs is a clean and easy to maneuver website. It's your home base. It's where everything happens. It's where people will discover you, what you're about, what your art is about and what your point of view is. It needs to be a nice, clean presentation so that your potential clients can come and really understand who you are in a very short amount of time. If you do multiple things, either multiple art styles or you have a fine art part of your business as well as licensing. Keep those things really clean and separate on your website so that people can can maneuver easily. Of course, this is a very big topic, but just rest assured that a nice, clean, simple website will be your friend in the long run. Another way you can expose yourself to clients and potential manufacturers is if you consider exhibiting at one of the trade shows specific to the industry. We mentioned earlier that they are very expensive, and I do not recommend exhibiting at a trade show. When you are just totally green and new to the industry, you need to really understand a little more deeply know why you were there and whether you want to risk the amount of money that you will need to invest in that if you do you love your ready to get that back. If you're not ready, it's a very big decision and one not to be taken lightly, so don't feel like that's the only way to get in front of decision makers is by exhibiting at one of the trade shows that is a big decision because of its expense. Postcards have gotten very reasonably priced in the past few years, and they can be a fun way to stay in front of our directors. What's fun about them is that if you're setting them out periodically that our director and set posting them on the wall in their studio, if they like the artwork and it's much easier for them. Teoh give you front of mind when it's sitting right there on their desk, as opposed to bury in an email some way. So think about postcards as an option as well, and develop a newsletter campaign to showcase your new work and update your client base on good news that you might have like a new lessons. For instance, you want to try to accumulate email addresses from people that, like you and people who have expressed interest in your work, you can capture email addresses on your website by asking people to sign up or if you're in a public place like a an art show or signing somewhere, you can ask people to sign up for your email list. It's It's just a really great way because those people have told you that they want to hear from you, so you need to tell them things like you have new work coming out or you have a new collection or whatever that might be that you feel is compelling for them to know. What's great about capturing emails is those stuff belong to you. It won't change because of a Social Media's algorithm. You have, um, physically, yourself, and that is a really good thing to do. So definitely capture emails as you go. So what else can you do to increase your opportunities for success? Well, just like any business, you need to just have a really good understanding of how this works. I designed this class to be a very basic explanation of how things normally work what the business is about. But there's a whole lot more information, including my book Places to Draw and other people's blog's and conversations that people have on social media. When the resource document in this class you'll find a lot of lengths to some of the blog's other ways to find information, and I encourage you to do that. However, make sure that you don't fall into what we call analysis paralysis. All you're doing is research, and you never actually put yourself out there, develop a portfolio and get in front of clients. That is the main part, and sometimes you learn more by doing that process, then just reading about it. I just wish that you could read about exercise and get fit, but unfortunately, that's not how it works. You might also consider hiring a coach to help you craft your voice and vision for the market and to help you manage the overwhelmed. Now, of course, you know that I am a coach. But there are other coaches as well as me, helping people to really hone in on where they are, what their strengths are and what you can do right now to move forward on your journey. At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, I really believe that hiring a coach even though at first you might think it's a new expense you can't afford a coach can really help you save a lot of time and a lot of heartache, because you will be able to craft some action steps that are very positive, and we'll move you in the right direction faster than you can on your own. So consider that as part of your process. The other thing that's always been important for me throughout my career and licensing is to have people that understand me, and those people are usually other artists that are working in art licensing. We get each other, we can support each other. We can share the weirdness and share the overwhelm and the insecurities. Now with Facebook and other methods of reaching out to people, it's a lot easier to find this tribe of people who understand what we're trying to do here . You have to remember that it is a give and take situation that you can't go into some of these online groups on Facebook and expect everyone to teach you how to do this. It is a sharing in the support situation, not free coaching, and the most important part right now is to be patient with yourself. I know that I gave you a lot of information in this class, but I want you to know that this is not a get rich quick scheme and be patient with the process that you were going to go through. This is a method that builds over time. Based on continuing to reach out to potential clients and refreshing your portfolio consistently that happens through the whole arc of your career. In art licensing, you're always gonna reach out to new clients. You're always going to be putting new portfolio pieces in and bringing things out and going methodically in the right direction. That's how it happens one foot in front of the other and just be patient. It does not happen overnight, and like I said in the opening video, For me it happened one project at a time. One green card, one magnet and pretty soon things build on themselves, and you get a reputation. People start to see what you do, and it builds on itself, but it always starts that first project. So be patient with yourself and be patient with the marketplace. And if you're doing what we talked about authentic, compelling, meaningful work, you will find your market can. Yes, this is a competitive business, but I always feel like, yes, I'm competing because there's only so many projects that any given client is going to do in a year. But I don't compete with other artists because I do something completely differently, and a client might be looking for something that I do this time around over another artist , and vice versa. But I keep showing up with my most authentic, compelling and meaningful work every time. That is always my goal, and it doesn't hit those marks for me. If I don't feel like if it's authentic to me, orbits compelling to anyone else or has it has no meaning to it instead of to say, Oh, that's cute. Then I leave it aside until I can bring that to the artwork and your unique voice vision and wonderful art can sign a home on all kinds of cool products that is so much fun about this way of making money. It's It's just awesome to drink coffee out of a coffee cup that you designed. It's so awesome when you see your products out in stores or you see someone pick up when you be a greeting cards. It is a really cool way to make a living, and if you are doing the best work for yourself, you will find a home in this market. So just to wrap things up, I really want to thank you for taking this class. It is my pleasure to help you get from wherever you are now to the next place in your career. And if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below, and I will help you find the answers. If I don't know it, I will try to point you in the right direction to find it. And make sure you go through the worksheets and print out that resource guide because that will help you go further and again. I thank you, and I'm so excited to see where your journey takes you.