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10 Secrets to Success in Art Licensing

Lance J. Klass


So much of the art that is submitted to us for review at Porterfield’s is just beautiful, and yet is completely unsuitable for licensing.

I know that sounds like a contradiction. How can beautiful art not appeal to potential licensees? Isn’t that what print, card, giftware and home decor companies really want to put on their products? In most cases the answer is a qualified “no” – it just isn’t that simple.

Over the years I’ve learned that there are basic rules or secrets to art licensing that will make some talented artists winners in licensing their art and reaping the potential financial rewards of doing so, while other artists who are perhaps equally talented will lose out completely because they just didn’t know the secrets of successful art licensing.

It all comes down to how you paint, what you paint, and how you present your art. What I’m going to attempt to do in this article is to give you some very basic guidelines that will help you succeed in a very competitive business.

I call these guidelines “secrets” because they are generally unknown to most artists. I make no claim that they’re completely infallible because they’re not. And I don’t claim that they will always work, or that every successfully licensed artist has used them. In fact, there are many exceptions to these rules in which artists have achieved great success simply by breaking them.

But for the rest of us mortals, they’re sensible guidelines to what tends to work, and what doesn’t tend to work, in art licensing.

One final point before we dig into them: if you disagree with any of these rules -if they don’t suit what you do, what you want to do, and where you want to go with your art – that’s fine. After all, the very first rule in art is always to seek out your own path. While it may not lead you to financial success in licensing, doing what you most want to do can bring you enormous personal and emotional satisfaction as an artist and lead to a happy and fulfilling life.

But if you want to be successful in licensing your art to companies who need really good art for their retail consumer products, then let’s get into it.

Next: Secret #1 →


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