How do you even start to get into this business? I got into it by working for an art publisher, learning everything there was to know about art publishing and pushing the art developers to look at my art. Eventually they did and eventually my art was licensed on product such as kitchen accessories, clocks, journals, notepads, olive oil bottles, memo boards and pens.
If working for a publisher is not the route for you then it will be up to you to take the initiative to research and learn about licensing companies as much as possible. It is best to work with an agent because they have all the contacts. Of course part of your earnings will go to them but they are the ones covering the expense of attending tradeshows and getting your work in front of the right people.
The next step then would be getting an agent. Doing a Google search for licensing agents is one way to start and you will get your information. However I recommended attending a licensing show such as Surtex, which will be held on May 16th, 17th and 18th at the Javitz Center in New York City. The biggest names in giftware image licensing will there along with textile design firms. You will need to have a resale license to attend so if you either own your own business or can get someone to come along with you who owns their own business then do this. Once you are there walk every aisle and look at every booth. Most people attending will see right away that you are an artist. A word of warning…do not carry a large portfolio only carry something small that you can hand out like a large size postcard with samples of your images. Look for image licensors that seem to represent artists with a similar style to you but not exactly like yours because they wouldn’t need two artists that are so similar. If the licensor is obviously representing artists that are very traditional and you are very modern then keep walking. If they are not too busy in the booth then approach these people and ask for a minute. Do not steal their time however, they are there to license images to manufacturers and have spent a lot of money to be there so do not monopolize their minutes. If they are obviously busy then get a card, leave a postcard and follow up at a later date.
Once you have done this, gather your information and make some decisions about what direction to go then begin contacting the licensing agents and see if they would be interested in representing you. Don’t get disappointed by rejection. Most agents have many artists they represent and may not be able to take on new ones. Some may be looking for the next new hot artist and that could be you. Ask for submission guidelines and follow them exactly.
Above all…be honest with yourself about your talent. If you feel you are not ready for this step or are unsure of your work then wait. Develop your style; be confident about your talent. Many artists do not do well in licensing because there work does not adapt well to this business. That’s OK – not everyone does. Do your research, learn the business and do not let your ego get ahead of you. Licensing agents see a big ego coming a mile away and they run the opposite direction. Be open to new ideas, listen and learn.
I am a published artist with fifteen years in the art industry. I focus on modern digitally inspired art. I also dedicate much of my time to featuring emerging artists on my blog http://www.tuesdaymoonstudio.blogspot.com Additionally I make my art available on my ImageKind site http://www.tuesdaymoon.imagekind.com/store/. This on-line store is my internet presence to buyers looking for inspiring and originally created art for their homes, offices and as excellent additions to anyone working in the hospitality industry; great for hotels and healthcare facilities. All pieces have companion images and are offered as finished product. Art is my passion and offering my experience to others is what I enjoy.