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The Top Five "Do's" of Art Licensing

The Top Five "Do's" of Art Licensing

Tara Reed

No matter what you want to accomplish, there are certain things you can do to increase your chances of success. Some things are actions to take, others are mental attitudes.

For example, if you want a baby to learn to walk, you help them stand upright and build the muscles in their legs. If you want to learn to cook, you spend some time in the kitchen. If you want to overcome a fear, say of heights, you mentally prepare for the challenge, telling yourself you “can overcome this fear of heights”.

There are some basic things you can do to increase your chances of success in licensing your art as well.

Tara’s Top Five “Do’s” of Art Licensing

1. Understand the basics before you invest a lot of time and energy. Don’t just throw on your rose colored glasses and create. Like any business, there are steps to take, things to do on a daily, monthly and yearly basis to move you towards your goal. These things include creating art collections and being willing to make changes if requested. Figuring out what manufacturers license art and contacting them, or finding an agent to do your sales and marketing side. Being willing to meet deadlines and more.

2. Learn as much as you can about the industry. There are more resources than ever to learn about the art licensing industry. When I started in 2004, it was much more mysterious and information was harder to come by. You had to attend trade shows or art events with classes on the subject or find and hire a personal coach. While those options are good and still exist, there is a lot you can learn from the comfort of your own home. Artists are blogging about it. People are teaching about it.

3. Look at the art on products that are currently for sale in stores. What themes, styles and colors do you see? Do you think your art could work on similar products? Does your style have broad appeal? Art for licensing is more mainstream than modern or self-expression based. It needs to appeal to a wide variety of people before it will be chosen to be mass produced on products and sold in retail stores.

4. Start creating art! Without a portfolio of art to show, it is hard to get started. Unlike creating art to sell in a gallery or commission work, you need groups, or collections, of art to license, not just single images. Create sets of four images. or groups of icons, that go together with coordinating borders and patterns.

5. Keep creating art. You know the old saying, “Less is more”? Well, that doesn’t apply in art licensing. The more you can create the more successful you will be. Manufacturers like choices – they like to say “no” to some art so they feel good about saying “yes” to other art. The more art you have in your portfolio the more opportunities you will have to have your art considered. It’s a numbers game!

6. Be open to constructive feedback. No matter how successful an artist is in licensing, there is always room for improvement. The market changes, what manufacturers and retailers want changes, color trends change… the only thing you can count on is change. So staying open to feedback and taking it as a form of help and not criticism is key. If you can listen to manufacturers and adjust your work for the market, your chances of success in licensing as well as enjoying the process, will go way up.

Get a jump start on licensing your art by claiming the first chapter of the eBook How to Get Started in Art Licensing for free when you visit

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