How to License Your Art and Protect Your Rights
This is first in a series of articles to help other artists as well as possibly helping my own art career.
“You’ve just received a letter back from a company you’ve contacted that’s very interested in licensing your art to use on their products. At last you feel you’re on your way to financial success doing something you’ve always wanted to do.
But there’s a long licensing agreement enclosed with their letter and every time you read it you come upon more and more things you either don’t understand or aren’t sure of. Yet you don’t want to take a long time getting back to them and you may be afraid that if you ask too many questions, they might just change their mind and go with some other artist instead.
So what do you do?”
Artists can supposedly make a lot of money from licensing our artwork. Read this fascinating account of how it’s done:
“When I began as an artist, I was really enjoying the experience of selling my work directly to people. It was so much more exciting than hanging it on a wall in a gallery.
I had more control over my work, when it was available and where I could place it for sale. There was no middle man involved and I preferred it that way.
But something was missing.
I wanted to find other avenues of making money from my work, but I wasn’t sure how. I saw artists launching clothing lines, doing book signings and licensing their art on collectables with well known brands.
I wondered how they were doing that. Did the company find them? Or did the approach come from the artist? It appeared a daunting and impossible achievement.
“Those artists must be veterans by now,” I figured. “They have thousands of fans and their art has to be in galleries everywhere.”
I had no idea how licensing worked or what was expected. Interestingly enough, it was simpler than it appeared to be, thought not without some work.
Extra income, extra exposure
When I began licensing, it was through the well known site, Art.com. Back in 2005, I used their Print-on-Demand program for artists, which means they print orders as they are taken. They offered a decent typical market royalty to artists for every print sold and even later, a small percentage on their framing, which they do in-house. It was a great option, because I didn’t have the equipment or funds to offering prints directly from my studio.
I then discovered other Print on Demand sites like Imagekind.com and FineArtAmerica.com. It would turn out to be a great option for extra income as well as exposure to future collectors. For a time, because of Art.com’s program, I was exposed to a broader audience than I could’ve encountered through my site alone. This was invaluable to my business and helped me grow as an artist and a business person. I even acquired several custom commissions from clients who wanted something ‘larger’ than what the print sites were offering.
This was ironically a great way to also acquire new licensee clients. They found my art through sites like Art.com and emailed me to ask how they could put my work on their products. Because of sites like Art.com and Imagekind.com, I have signed on with product companies that now feature my work in stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and art shops across the US.
It was wild when just one day, opening up my email to find requests on a regular basis. I built a larger following and soon had regular paychecks coming in the mail!
Residual income builder and gap filler
What’s great about licensing is that you are able to fill in the gaps when art sales are at a low or in a seasonal slump. This helps immensely when you need to get the bills paid! If you want to do this full-time, then you have to expand your multiple streams of income. Licensing is a continual, residual income builder. . . .
Read all of the article here. Let us know if you have success doing this!