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10 Secrets to Success in Art Licensing

Lance J. Klass

Secret #8 – Paint What People Want to Look
at Again and Again

It makes sense that if you want to license your art, then you improve your chances if you paint something that people want to look at not just once, but again and again. That means finding winning subject matter that will appeal to the great majority of art buyers.

How do you do that? One way is to go to your local mall, the bigger the better and walk into every giftware or home furnishings store; every store that sells prints, posters, calendars, home decor, wall decor, stationary, cards. Check out the stand-alone “big box” stores as well, and even the dollar stores. They’re all vital parts of the market.

Look carefully around you at the major displays of products that carry art. A lot of it will be junk and you’ll want nothing to do with it. But a lot of the art will be pretty good – not art gallery or museum quality perhaps, but still pretty good. Do this and you’ll have an idea of what people are buying, or at least what licensees think people are buying. That will give you some direction on subject matter, colors, style, format and a hundred other details that you can use as guides for the next time you put brush to canvas.

Is this “selling out”? Well, that all depends on your viewpoint. If you want to paint in your barn and hope that someday the world will come to you, that’s fine. It’s worked for many great artists. But if you’re interested in producing art to license and hopefully make a good living at it, then give people images that they want to see again and again.

How will you know? Show your art to a lot of people and look at their faces as they take their first look at your art. Be wary, though – friends will often tell you your art is wonderful, when it might not have a prayer on a product in a store where people don’t know you.

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