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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Art Licensing Editorial: Is There a Formula to Successfully License Art?

Licensing art to manufacturers is a challenge. The competition among artists to license their work is growing as more and more artists enter the licensing industry. Different ways in selling products to consumers is evolving with the advent of Internet E-stores and kiosks in shopping malls as print-on-demand stores. These stores allow the production of popular custom and personalized art on products that has a wide range of art styles and themes. The different generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y/The Millennials, Gen Z) are influencing the type of products sold at retail. Each generation views the world differently and thus they purchase products with a diversity of art on them. As the majority of purchasing power is transitioning from one generation to another there is constant changes in art styles and themes needed to effectively sell products. And because of these fluctuations, there is NO set formula that an artist can follow to successfully license her/his art.

However, there are certain fundamentals that artists can pursue to have a better chance in licensing their work. Below is a discussion on some of them that should help to get deals.

• Create art that sells product
Artists new to the art licensing industry often make the mistake in creating art with themes that “they” like but may not be what consumers want. The art MUST appeal to the mass market so that manufacturers can entice a profusion of consumers to purchase their products. Even if the art is extraordinary it may not be licensable if the themes or the art style does not appeal to enough consumers. It is difficult to find manufacturers to license art themes that are unlikely to sell products. Thus, artists that want to be successful in licensing art must create art with themes that consumers want.

Get tips on creating beautiful licensable art by reading, "How to Create Art that is Licensable". And read the article "List of Art Trends" for themes that sell products year-after-year.

• Be prolific in creating art
The more licensable art an artist creates, the better chance she/he has in getting deals. Submitting lots of art with a variety of themes gives art directors more choices when selecting art to be licensed. Also, as art licensing agent Jim Marcotte states in his article "10, oops, 17, Things You Need to Learn to Make It in Art Licensing", "The majority of what you create for licensing will never be licensed, so you need to create constantly and keep feeding it into the pipeline."

It is SO true that a lot of the art generated is not licensed. But, do not despair that the art is kaput. Unlicensed images can be refreshed to look new or parts of it can be used in other images.

• Build relationships with art directors (AD)

It is not always possible, but working directly with a manufacture AD is better than just submitting art to a submission committee. By building a relationship with the AD she/he becomes more familiar with the artist work and also enables the artist to ask questions. Learning about the company and what themes are trending and/or big sellers is invaluable for creating new art.

Hint: Being easy to work with, willing to compromise, and willing to alter art helps create a friendly relationship and gives the artist a better chance to get deals.

• Submit art at the right time
Knowing when to submit the correct art themes to manufacturers may determine if the art will be licensed or not. Unfortunately there is no standard time of the year to submit the different art themes. Although, art is usually chosen by manufacturers at least 12 months in advance of the season or holiday.

Each manufacturer tends to have their own deadlines so it is important to contact them. A few manufactures have art licensing guidelines and submission deadlines on their websites but the majority of them will need to be contacted. Some manufacturers periodically send emails to artists that are on their art call-out requests. Ask art directors if they request art by doing call-outs and if they do ask to be put on the list.

• Do not give up

Licensing art is VERY frustrating because getting deals is hard, VERY HARD. Artists can submit a lot of art that they know is perfect for the manufacturer's product line and they never hear back from the AD. However, unless they are persistent in submitting art they never will license their art.

Every successful licensed artist has gone through the frustrating process of submitting art and not getting deals. The one thing they all have in common is that they did not give up. Read artist Barbara Johansen comments on not giving up in the article "Don't give up Your Dreams and Grow a Thick Skin - Part 1" and artist BJ Lantz comments in the article "Don't give up Your Dreams and Grow a Thick Skin - Part 2". Both these articles were written in 2009 and the information the artists shared still applies today.

It is crucial to create, create, create AND submit, submit, submit art to successfully license it. Getting a deal takes time, sometimes M A N Y months, so be patient and do NOT give up!

Everyone has an opinion on what it takes to become successful in art licensing. Below are opinions by three-experienced agents. But, beware that these articles were not recently written. If the authors are asked today about how to license art their opinions may be different due to the transformation of the art licensing industry.

1. "What Does it Take to Make it in Art Licensing?" by John Haesler of MHS Licensing

2. "Ten Secrets to Success in Art Licensing" by Lance J. Klass of Porterfield's Fine Art Licensing

3. "Break It Down" by Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios

4. "10, oops, 17, Things You Need to Learn to Make It in Art Licensing" by Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address. For example:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Art Licensing Editorial: Dwindling Number of Exhibitors at Art Licensing Trade Shows

With less than three months before the two 2017 United States licensing trade shows take place (SURTEX and International Licensing Expo), there is a significant decrease in the number of exhibitors than at the 2016 shows. The organizer of SURTEX, Emerald Exposition, reported in the press release "SURTEX Welcomes More Than 80 First-Time Exhibitors From Around the World to Launch New Art and Designs" that there were over 250 exhibitors at the 2016 show. However, as of 3/3/17 only 168 exhibitors have applied for a booth at the 2017 show. Previous to the 2008-2009 recession in the United States, SURTEX had a minimum of 300 exhibitors every year. The International Licensing Expo website states that the 2016 show had 489 exhibitors. But as of 3/3/17, only 299 exhibitors are listed for the 2017 show.

Unfortunately, the number of exhibitors for both shows has been decreasing each year. And of course, it is not good for their livelihood. Why is there a decrease in exhibitors and how does that impact the shows? Could it signify the eventual demise of them?

The following discuss the two licensing shows, the impact on SURTEX because of the dwindling number of licensors (artists/agents) exhibiting at the show, and what artists and agents are doing to find licensees (manufacturers) instead of exhibiting at licensing shows.

Licensing Shows
Licensors (owners of art and designs) exhibit their work at licensing trade shows so that licensees (manufacturers) can view the licensors art for consideration in licensing it for use on their products. Licensing is the process of leasing a legally protected (trademarked or copyrighted) entity – a name, likeness, logo, trademark, graphic design, slogan, signature, character, etc. The previous sentence is from the Licensing Expo website.

Even though SURTEX and Licensing Expo are both licensing shows, the emphasis on the type of categories is different. Licensing Expo exhibitors show a wide variety of categories such as Animation, Apparel/Fashion, Art & Design, Automotive, Brands & Trademarks, Characters, Entertainment, Food & Beverage, Sports/Outdoors, etc. SURTEX narrows the categories to artwork, designs, and art brands.

SURTEX will be held May 21-23, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York and in conjunction with product trade shows NSS (National Stationery Show) and ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). Of the 168 exhibitors in the 2017 SURTEX show, 57 are in the Atelier section [1] and sell all rights to their designs. Thus, only 111 licensors of the 168 exhibitors are licensing art and design. Those include 23 first timers that are exhibiting in the Design District section [2] and 12 agencies.

The cost to exhibit at SURTEX keeps increasing each year. For the 2017 show, the Design District 5 by 10foot booth rental cost is $2700 ($54 per square foot). An 80 square feet (8 by 10 foot) booth cost $4200 ($52.50/sq. ft.) and a 100 square foot booth (10 by 10 foot) costs $5000 ($50/sq. ft.).

Show admission is free to qualified art buyers and licensees (manufacturers). Suppliers to the trade and non-exhibiting designers, design studio/agents will be charged $495 in advance and $595 onsite. In the past, SURTEX offered three days of seminars by art licensing experts on the essentials, business, strategies, and trends needed to license art. Unfortunately, no seminars will be offered during the 2017 show.

[1] The Atelier section is where textile design studios from around the world sell their surface designs to a multitude of product categories including interior textiles; craft, bedding, and fashion fabrics; wall coverings; and paper.

[2] The Design District has small less expensive booths and is available only to first time SURTEX artist exhibitors. 

• International Licensing Expo
Licensing Expo will be held May 23-25, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. After 30 years of holding the show in New York City, the annual June show moved to Las Vegas in 2009 to be able to reduce the show cost. The price of booths or rental of show space for those exhibitors that bring their own booths is not listed on Licensing Expos website but supposedly it is less than if it was held at the Javits Center in New York where SURTEX is held.

Although Licensing Expo does have a section for art licensing, its main emphasis is world wide licensing of character/entertainment, collegiate, fashion, sports, and corporate trademarks/brands. And thus, the major attendees at the show are interested in those licensors and not art licensors. Unless art licensors have brands that appeal to the majority of the attendees, it is not cost effective to exhibit at this show. Less than 25 artists and art licensing agents will be exhibiting at the 2017 show.

This year the show date was moved from June to May to better fit the timing for the global business cycle. The May 23-25 date for Licensing Expo show does conflict with SURTEX (May 21-23). But this does not seem to be the reason why there are less art licensor exhibitors at the two 2017 shows. Only a hand full of art licensors has been exhibiting at both shows.

Registration to attend the Licensing Expo is free (including artists). The show offers over 25 classes related to the licensing industry. Of those classes, only one is specially aimed at licensing art. The fee of $170 grants attendees access to every conference session.

SURTEX: Reasons for dwindling number of exhibitors
For years SURTEX has been a successful way for artists and agents to meet licensees, show them art, and license it. With the increase of artists entering the art licensing industry the competition is great and getting licensing deals is more difficult. Also the retail industry has changed, with products having a short shelf life resulting in less revenue for each deal. Thus, licensors have a lower budget to put towards marketing their work and exhibiting at SURTEX.  Note: It is different for the design studios in the Atelier section of the show that sell their designs outright because they earn revenue from their designs up front. Not all the following discussion applies to them.

• Cost
The main reason that many art licensors are no longer exhibiting at SURTEX is because it is no longer cost effective. For most artists and some agencies the increase in cost for a booth, travel and a hotel room besides other incidental costs such as banners of art and decorations for the booth now exceeds the potential revenue that they MAY earn by exhibiting at the show.

• Licensee Budgets
Many companies have reduced their travel budgets. Before the 2007-2008 recession, several people (art directors, owners, head of product lines, etc.) from each company would walk all three days of the show. Now only one person may attend for one or two days. That means licensees rush through the show and probably miss licensors art that they would have normally viewed and possibly licensed if they had more time.

• First Time Exhibitors
To entice licensors to exhibit, SURTEX offers a first time exhibiting artist a smaller booth at a lower price in the Design District section of the show. If those artists exhibiting in the Design District wish to exhibit at future shows, they will be required to pay the price for a larger booth. However, many of those artists probably will not be able to afford to pay the price for a full booth and will not return.

• Agencies
There are over 50 art licensing agencies in the United States and the majority are not exhibiting at SURTEX. Only 12 will be at 2017 show. In the past there were many more agencies exhibiting at SURTEX but the number has steadily declined. For those agencies that have been exhibiting at SURTEX for years, they are looking for new licensees that have not previously attended SURTEX. Agencies are already connected with those licensees that attend year after year and they submit new art to them via the Internet. Even though it is good to meet in person, it can be a waste of time unless the agency has new art to show the licensee. Not enough new companies are attending SURTEX so some agencies have stopped exhibiting because there is not a good enough reason to pay the cost to exhibit.

• Catch-22
Sadly, SURTEX seems to be in a no win situation. As the number of exhibitors drop because the cost to exhibit for art licensors is not cost effective, the promoter of SURTEX (Emerald Exposition) is forced to increase prices the following year to cover their expenses and make money to put on the show. And because there is less art to view, licensees will eventually stop attending since it is not worth the cost and time. And with fewer licensees attending more licensors will probably stop exhibiting. If the number of exhibitors continues to decline, and it probably will, Emerald Exposition will ultimately discontinue the SURTEX show.

Alternative Ways Licensors Find Licensees
Instead of exhibiting at licensing shows, the following are some of what artists and agents are doing to find manufacturers that license art to put on their products.

• Research, Research, Research
Looking for manufacturers that license art can be very time consuming but is necessary in the art licensing business. Below are a few ideas on finding licensees.

– Search the Internet for licensees. Searching by product type can yield lots of companies that can then be researched to see if they use art on their products and do not have in-house designers. If they do not use in-house designers, it is a good possibility that they license art.

Viewing the websites of retail chain e-stores is another way to find licensors. is also a good source.

– Constantly survey chain and specialty stores to find the names of manufacturers using art on their products. The gift industry licenses a lot of art so checking out gift stores is an excellent way to find manufactures that license art.

– Look at advertisements and the sections on "what's new" in gift trade magazines aimed at retailers. Those magazines often show products of manufacturers that license art. Either subscribe to the magazines (some are free) or pick them up at no cost when attending trade shows. The magazine Gifts & Dec is very informative. Other useful magazines can be found on the Internet by searching with the words "retailer gift trade magazines".

– Search the Internet for articles that mention manufacturers that license art. For example, read the article "Art Licensing: List of Manufacturers that License Art".

• Join Art Licensing (ALSC)
Another way to find and connect with licensees is to join ALSC. It is a protected art portfolio hosting website for artists/agents to privately show art to licensees. Licensees can join at no cost. All ALSC members can see examples of art by hundreds of artists but only licensees are allowed to ask portfolio members (artists/agents) for permission to view their portfolios. ALSC portfolio artist and agent members can also connect with the licensee members and share their art portfolios with them. Note: All artists and agents are allowed to join ALSC at no cost but unless they join as a portfolio member they will not be able to share their work with licensees. Learn more about ALSC by going to their website

• Attend Product Wholesale Trade Shows
Walking product wholesale trade shows is a great way to find manufacturers that license art. Manufacturers or distributors that they hire exhibit products at these types of trade shows for retailers to purchase. Often art directors attend the larger shows and many times licensors can make appointments with them to show art for licensing consideration. Note: Retailers/buyers can attend trade shows at no cost but it may be difficult for artists/agents to attend these show unless they have retailer credentials.

The gift industry uses a lot of licensed art so that attending gift trade shows is a perfect place to find licensees. The largest gift show in the United States is the Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market that is held each year in January and July. For more information about the show, read "Art Licensing: 2014 Atlanta Gift Show - the amazing Americas Mart campus". This article also has links to two additional articles about the show.

Great ways to find licensors is by attending trade shows for other industries besides gifts such as for apparel, sports, tabletop, crafts, stationery, and many more. A list of some of them including gift shows can be found on "Gift Trade Show Calendar" and "2017-2018 Wholesale Trade Gift Shows".

• Market Art
Let licensees find you by aggressively marketing licensable art.
– Send press releases to product magazines when art has been licensed.
– Have a blog and often post interesting and informative articles on it.
– Showcase art on social media (Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube). Some licensors have reported getting licensing deals by posting art on Instagram and belonging to LinkedIn they should not depend on only using them to connect with licensees because  few art directors have the time to search for art on social media. Also, beware that copyright infringement often occurs when art is posted on social media sites.

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address. For example:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Art Licensing Editorial - 2017 January Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market Trends / Record-Breaking Attendance

 AmericasMart Atlanta, the home of the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishing Market, reported a VERY successful show in the article "Record-Breaking New and International Buyer Increases at Atlanta Winter Market". And, that was easy to believe that attendance was up, "WAY-UP", from the previous years because the showrooms and temporary booths were crowded with buyers and the reps were busy, "REALLY-BUSY", taking orders. Of course, it was slow going with so many people moving down the corridors, through the showrooms and booths, using the elevators (forget that) and escalators, and standing in line to purchase lunch or use the restrooms. And another drawback I found with so many buyers attending the show was that two of my appointments with art directors were cancelled. The art directors were needed to help show products and write-up sales so they did not have time to look at art. But, all of these inconveniences were worthwhile because a successful show means the likelihood of a successful art licensing year.

Note: It should not be surprising that attendance and buying at the show had increased because the consumer confidence for 2016 was the highest level since 2001 resulting in pumped up consumer spending as stated in the article "Holiday Sales and Searches Up for 2016". That meant that retailers needed to replenish their merchandize at the Atlanta Gift Show resulting in its huge attendance. Also read, "Holiday Consumer Confidence Up, But What About In 2017?

• Products
The Atlanta show is all about product and viewing it is mind-blogging as you walk down corridor-after-corridor on floor-after-floor in the three buildings. So it is not always easy to determine what type of products/art/colors are trending. But, according to the articles I read, "United we stand - made in America" label is stronger than ever. Also, pet related, coastal, words/inspirational phrases, and of course Christmas products is huge. The article "Direct from Atlanta Market: Excitement Fills the Air at Americasmart" stated that " . . . there is a growing demand for fashion and personalization, and retailers and consumers are wanting more."

A new direction in the decorative flag industry that will be seen in 2017 by several flag companies is state and even city themed flags that will increase flag sales. Because many flag manufacturers now produce their own flags in the United States, they can do print-on-demand short production runs with names of cities or states on them that is not feasible for companies that outsource their flags to China. For example, retailers will be able to order not only decorative flags with the VERY popular word welcome on it but will be able to order "Welcome to (city/state name)". In the article "Holiday Decorating Tips", Studio M said that ". . . retailers can expect to see some state-themed products from Studio M at summer markets in 2017".

• Trends
Art themes that started as a trend and have proven over time to be consistent sellers of products are considered to be evergreen (timeless). These themes are seen on all kinds of products. They include flowers, birds, butterflies, cats, seashells, lighthouses, roosters, pumpkins, fall leaves, turkeys, Santa Claus, snowmen, snowflakes, Christmas trees, pinecones, poinsettias, and reindeer.

Not surprising, last year's huge fad of adult coloring books were not prevalent this year at Atlanta. Although coloring books and other products that can be colored are still selling well for some manufacturers. Chevron and Polka-Dot designs are still popular and are not only used as standalone designs but are now incorporated into art. At Atlanta these two designs plus plaid and gingham were prevalent on kitchen products.

According to Gifts and Decorative magazine in the article "Direct from Market: Trend Spotting at Americasmart" trends include stylized geometry on jewelry and fashion accessories, bringing the outdoors-in with the coziness of Hyyge (Danish meaning "well-being"), whimsical images of ice cream, millennial pink color throughout all product categories, coastal, personalization of products, and more.

Below are pictures and discussions on 2017 Pantone Color of the year and the widespread trends of words/phrases, coastal, and Christmas art that I saw at Atlanta. 

– Pantone Color of the Year
At Atlanta I attended Laurie Pressman's (vice president of the PANTONE Color Institute) presentation “Home 2017: At a Crossroads for Color + Design”. She stated in her presentation that color influences 50 - 85% of product purchasing decision. Product purchases also depend upon experiences and yearning for familiar comfort. The way consumers purchase products has change because of technology and type of expected service. The speed in processing so much information has made consumers want to pare back the clutter (less is more) resulting in the popularity of minimal color (white on white, dusty pinks); versatile, tranquil, stable, chic and sophisticated grays; warm browns; and luxurious reds. And, the importance in well-being has lead to nature and the desire to rejuvenate and revitalize resulting in Pantone's 2017 color of the year "Greenery", a zesty yellow-green shade of green. Note: Pantone 2017 color of the year "Greenry" has been trending for years on paper products, tabletop, gifts, home accents, and whimsical Christmas decorations. And now it is also trending on fashion and home furnishings products.

– Words & Phrases
Inspirational, religious, and humorous tongue-in-cheek phrases are still going strong. Most products are brightly colored or black and white wall art and greeting cards. More prevalent this year are words and phrases on kitchen décor and accessories.

Brownlow Gifts showroom at Atlanta usually showcases very colorful products but this year they were black and white. When I questioned the Brownlow rep about it, he said that these B&W products with inspirational words and phrases are huge sellers. They make great gifts because the consumer does not have to worry that the color will not fit the home décor of the recipient. B&W kitchen products were also in other manufacturer showrooms.

– Coastal
Coastal and beach themes were very strong last year at Atlanta and it was even more so this year. Gift and Dec publication article "Direct from Market: Trending Spotting at Americasmart" stated that "According to our Gift Book consumer survey for 2017, 8 percent of consumers describe their home decorating style as coastal, up 2 percent from the previous year. If Atlanta is any indication, this number will only continue to rise."

The majority of showrooms at Atlanta had a coastal line no matter what kind of products they sell. Last year mermaids were the outstanding icon and they were even more so this year. Mermaids were on stationery, pillows, flags, rugs, jewelry, totes, tabletop, home décor, plush and even zip-up throw blankets with mermaid tails. Whale images are also very popular and the popularity of flamingos seem to be increasing. Seashells, seahorses, starfish, crabs, lobsters, octopus, and sea turtles are still a stable in the coastal line although they seem to be going neck-and-neck in popularity with ships/boats and their accessories such as ship wheels, anchors, and lifesaver rings. Ships/boats and accessory products and images tend to use red, white and ultramarine blue colors. While, the background color or portions of the art in other coastal art often use turquoise OR ultramarine blue on white/ivory colored background.

– Christmas
As usual, Santa Claus, snowmen, angels, reindeer, polar bears snowflakes, pinecones/pine-nettles, poinsettias were prevalent in the Atlanta holiday & floral/home décor (H&FHD) showrooms plus the many gift showrooms that have Christmas lines. Not so prevalent were amaryllis flowers, nutcrackers, penguins, and woodland animals.

At the Atlanta show during the last two years there has been an inkling that elves might start to trend because some of the H&FHD showrooms had elf figurine lines. But it was not until this show that whimsical elf figurines and art went viral and appeared in most H&FHD and gift showrooms that have Christmas lines. Note: The popularity of elves may be due to the recurrence of the popular "The Elf on the Shelf" children's picture book(s) that was originally published in 2004.

As seen in previous years, traditional Christmas art and décor use deep red and deep green colors. Fun whimsical art use bright red and chartreuse green ("Greenery" Pantone 2017 color of the year). And, elegant designs use silver and gold. Red and black plaid designs and burlap textures are becoming more popular in Christmas art and décor.

According to Studio M in the article "Holiday Decorating Tips" 2016 holiday décor had lots of black, white and red color schemes with burlap, muslin, and buffalo check. Natural elements such as birch, pinecones and antlers continue the trend of Nordic, woodland and forest themes. Studio M predicts that 2017 will be a derivative of 2016 with lots of white-on-white and green-and-white color schemes while textural elements and more woodland animal elements like antlers and snowy owls will continue. Note: The predicted 2017 trend depends upon the type of products. For example, white-on-white art may work for tabletop and paper products but not for decorative flags.

• Related Articles
Art Licensing Editorial - 2016 January Atlanta Market Trends

Art Licensing Editorial: 2015 January Atlanta Gift Show

Art Licensing: 2014 Atlanta Gift Show - the amazing AmericasMart campus

Art Licensing Editorial: 2014 Atlanta Gift Show - insights on walking the show

Art Licensing Editorial: 2014 Atlanta Gift Show - trends

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address. For example:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Art Licensing: List of Manufacturers that License Art

Since 2009, I have been writing articles about art licensing including 16 different manufacturing industries that license art for their products. This article combines and updates the lists of manufacturers mentioned in those articles. Some manufacturer websites in those articles are no longer available. The reason could be that they are out of business, purchased by another company, changed their business name, or no longer maintain a website.

Note: Not all manufacturers show their products to the public. To determine if your art is a good fit for those manufacturers, you should search the Internet for retail stores that sell their products.

Read "Licensing Art to the Calendar Industry" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Amber Lotus Publishing
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Leanin' Tree
The Lang Company
Trends International

Cards, Greeting
Read "Licensing Art to the Greeting Card Industry" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license.

Read artist Kate Harper's article "Artist and Writer Submission Guidelines for Card Companies" to see a list of over 50 manufacturers that license greeting cards.

Read "Art Licensing: POD E-Stores - The Best-Kept Secret of Birthday Card Designers" by Jerry McLaughlin (founder and CEO of Blow Birthday Cards) about print on demand greeting card E-stores.

Read "Licensing Art to Coaster Manufacturers" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Counter Art (division of Conimar Group LLC)
Evergreen Enterprises
Highland Graphics
Studio M / Magnet Works Ltd.
Thirstystone Coaster Company

Coloring Books and Other Products to Color
Read "Art Licensing: What's With the Adult Coloring Book Craze?" and "Art Licensing: Update on Adult Coloring Craze" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

– Coloring Books
Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC
Design Originals (A Fox Chapel Publishing company)
Dover Publications (been publishing adult coloring books since the 1970s)
Fox Chapel Publishing
Global Doodle Gems (collaboration of artists around the world to produce coloring books)
Harper Collins Publishers
Harvest House
Leisure Art
Peter Pauper Press
Penguin Random House
Sterling Publishing (look in Sterling 2016 Coloring Creativity catalog for published coloring books)

– Coloring Books and Other Products
Lang (coloring books, jig-saw puzzles,note cards, greeting cards, calendars, infuser tumblers)
Primitives by Kathy (signs and pillows)
Sellers Publishing / RSVP (coloring books, cards, calendars)
The Peel People (stickers to color for placement on all kinds of surfaces)
Wellspring (coloring books and various paper products)
White Mountain Puzzles (jig-saw puzzles)

Fabrics for Quilting and Crafts
Read "Licensing Designs to the Quilt and Craft Fabric Industries" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Blank Quilting Corporation
David Textiles, Inc.
Free Spirit Fabrics
Hoffman Fabrics
Marcus Brothers Textiles
Moda (by United Notions)
Quilting Treasurers
Red Rooster Fabrics
RJR Fabrics
Robert Kaufman Fabrics
Timeless Treasurers
Wilmington Prints

Fabric Products
Read "Licensing Art for Cloth Products" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

C & F Enterprises (bedding, throws, pillows, handbags, tote bags, etc.)
Fiddlers Elbow (kitchen towels, canvas totes, doormats, mugs, mouse pads)
Kay Dee Designs (aprons, kitchen textiles, trays, & coasters)
Manual Woodworkers and Weavers, Inc. (pillows, throws, art banners, table runners and placemats, fashion handbags, etc.)
Peking Handicraft, Inc. (hand crafted quilts, bedding products, hooked rugs, needlepoint pillows, linens and hand-painted glassware)
PureCountry Weavers (tapestries, throws, pillows, totes)
Simply Home (throws, pillows, wall hangings)
Stevens Linen Associates, Inc. (towels, calendar towels, potholders)

Flags, Decorative
Read "Licensing Art to the Flag Industry" and "Art Licensing: E-store Owner's Perspective About the Flag Industry" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Briarwood Lane
Carson Home Décor
Custom Décor
Evergreen Enterprises, Inc
Studio M / Magnet Works
Premier Designs
Toland Home Garden (view their catalog to see licensed flags)
Wincraft (sells to large chain stores) - Search the Internet to see examples of Wincraft flags sold by large chain stores.

Mugs, Coffee
Read "Licensing Art for Coffee Mugs" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

C.R. Gibson
Evergreen Enterprises
Leanin' Tree

Paper Party
Read "Licensing Art to the Paper Partyware Industry" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Creative Converting
CR Gibson
Design Design

Plates and Tabletop Products, Decorative Ceramic
Read "Licensing Art for Decorative Ceramic Plates and Tabletop Products" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Certified International Corporation
One Hundred 80 Degrees
Park Designs
Wild Wings

Plates and Tabletop Products, Decorative Melamine (acrylic)
Read "Licensing Designs to the Melamine / Acrylic Tabletop Industry" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Cameron Designs
Keller Charles

Prints, Art
Read "Licensing Art to Print Manufacturers" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Art In Motion (division of ICA Home Decor)
Fine Art America
Gango Editions
Greg Young Publishing Inc.
Montage Fine Art Licensing & Publishing
Northern Promotions, Inc
Penny Lane Fine Art & Licensing
Roaring Brook Art
Sagebrush Fine Art
The Land of Nod (children products including wall art)
Wild Apple

Puzzles, Jigsaw
Read "Licensing Art to the Jigsaw Puzzle Industry" for information about this industry and kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Buffalo Games
Elms Puzzles (wooden puzzles)
Heritage Puzzles
Masterpiece Puzzles
Mega Brands
Melissa and Doug
Stave Puzzles (wooden puzzles)
TDC Games
White Mountain Puzzles Inc

Rugs and Mats
Read "Licensing Art to Rug and Mat Manufacturers" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

– Accent Rugs
Homefires Rugs (associated with Jellybean rugs)
Jellybean Rugs (brand of Home Comfort Rugs and associate with Homefires rugs)
Park Designs
Peking Handicraft

– Mats
Apache Mills
Briarwood Lane (also a flag manufacturer)
Custom Decor, Inc. (also a flag manufacturer)
Evergreen Enterprises (also a flag manufacturer)
Studio M / Magnet Works (also a flag manufacturer)
• Toland Home and Garden (also a flag manufacturer)

Read "Licensing Designs to the Scrapbooking Industry" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Karen Foster Design
K & Company (now Simplicity)

Tiles, Decorative
Read "Licensing Art to the Decorative Tile Industry" for information about this industry and what kind of art that manufacturers want to license. Below is an updated list of manufacturers and links to their websites.

Artwork on Tile
Cape Cod Treasure Chest
My Backsplash
Pacifica Tile Art Studio
The Tile Mural Store
Tile by Design

The above lists show only some of the manufacturers that license art.  More can be found by searching the Internet, looking at products in stores (especially gift stores), attending trade shows like the Atlanta Gift Market, and joining the Art Licensing (ALSC). 
Related Articles
How to License Art to Manufacturers
Art Licensing: When do you Submit Art to Manufacturers?
Art Licensing Editorial: Tips on Getting Deals
Art Licensing: Tips on Negotiating Contracts
Art Licensing Editorial - Should Artists Sign Exclusive Agreements?
Advantages in Getting Multi SKU Licensing Contracts
One Painting Can be Licensed for Multiple Products - Right?
Art Licensing: Hurry-up and wait . . . and wait . . . and wait
For Art Licensing Success, Know How Manufacturers Make Products
Marketing: Manufacturers Use Facebook to Promote Products & Connect with Customers
Art Licensing: Should you sell art on POD stores?

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address. For example:

Monday, October 17, 2016

Art Licensing Editorial - Should Artists Sign Exclusive Agreements?

In the art licensing industry it is often heard that artists should NEVER sign an exclusive agreement because it will restrict them in being able to get licensing deals and earn revenue. However, that may not always be true. Just like so many other things in this industry it depends upon the artist and what she/he hope to achieve in licensing her/his art. The following discusses exclusive and non-exclusive agreements that apply to 1. art licensing agencies that represent artists, and 2. manufacturers that license art for their products.

• Exclusive agreement with an agency
The majority of art licensing agencies in the United States require that their artists agree to an exclusive representation. That means the artists use only one agency to get them licensing deals in ALL product industries worldwide. Although, if the agency does not license art to foreign manufacturers, the artist may hire another agent to only represent her/him in foreign countries. Note: The reason agents want to do exclusive representation is to avoid the confusion if several agents submit an artist art to manufacturers. Not only do the manufacturers think it is a waste of their time to view the same art shown by several agents but if they are interested in licensing any of the art they would not know which agent to contact.

Some agencies do non-exclusive representation because they concentrate only on particular products such as fabric or wall art. Thus, some artists do have several agents. However, it can get sticky if one of the agents decides to license the art for products that they were not hired to.

• Exclusive agreement with a manufacturer for a specific product industry
Some industries are very competitive and want to use artist brands to sell their products. For instance, many fabric companies that sell their products to the quilt industry require their artists to be exclusive to them since they are showcasing and promoting the artists. That means those artists are not allowed to license their designs to other fabric companies. As artist Tara Reed points out in "5 Things to Consider Before Signing an Exclusive Art Licensing Agreement", an artist may decide to enter an exclusive agreement if they will ". . . guarantee a certain amount of sales per year (hard to come by at the moment), guarantee that they will bring out a certain number of products, promote you and your brand in specific ways… you want something in return for cutting off other opportunities for a few years." Also read art licensing agent Maria Brophy's article "Should you Sign an Exclusive Agreement - What to Consider". It has excellent examples on when Maria DOES NOT and when she DOES sign exclusive agreements.

• Exclusive agreement with a manufacturer for a specific image(s)
The most common exclusive agreement in the art licensing industry is when manufacturers license an image for their products. In fact, most product licensing contracts have this stipulation in it. The agreement requires that the artist NOT license the SAME image to other manufacturers in the SAME industry until after the contract expiration. The purpose of this exclusivity is so that the manufacturer is not competing with other manufacturers that are selling to the same consumer base. An exception is in the wall décor industry where non-exclusive agreements are offered. That is why the same image for posters and prints may be in many print-on-demand wall décor Internet stores.

However, the same image may be licensed to different manufacturers at the same time and for the same product if their customer bases are different. For example if the image was licensed to a manufacturer that sells only to general retailers it may be okay to license the same image to a manufacturer that sells to the mass channel (chain stores) and to non-profit companies. Of course, you should inform the companies that are involved to make sure they have no objections in licensing the art to another manufacturer. If you do not inform them, you may be infringing on contracts since you may not be aware that besides selling to general retailers the manufacturer also sells to chain stores.

Note: A difficult situation could occur if an artist license VERY similar looking images to different manufacturers that produce the same products. Manufacturers want to sell art that is different from their competition. They would be unhappy if the images are so similar that customers would mistake them for the same art. It is always wise to inform the companies involved to make sure there is no conflict.

• Contracts/Agreements
Read all contracts and agreements closely and make sure you understand all the terms and clauses in it including "exclusive". If you are unsure, I recommend that you hire an attorney experienced in art licensing legislation to look it over before you sign it. It is less expensive to pay an attorney to make sure the contract is fair to you than to find out later that you signed a contract with clauses unfair to you.

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address. For example:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Art Licensing: POD E-Stores - The Best-Kept Secret of Birthday Card Designers

E-Stores (online/electronic stores) are becoming more and more popular on the Internet. Consumers have found that it an efficient way to search for products with the best prices, find products that local retailers no longer stock, and search for unique and personalized products for gifts. Depending on the type of product(s) sold, owners of e-stores can take advantage of printing on demand (POD) to keep a low inventory, and sell personalized products. Personalized products appeal to a smaller number of consumers (niche) and usually are not available in retail stores.

The e-store Blow Birthday Cards is a wonderful example on why Internet POD stores are created. As founder and CEO, Jerry McLaughlin explains, “Somewhere around my 50th birthday I realized that I wasn’t doing a good job of sending real birthday cards to my good friends. I always meant to, but I often missed the opportunity. Too busy with work, too busy with kids, not enough time to get to the store, etc. I wanted to be the person that always remembers to send a card, because my friends are very special. I knew I needed a system if I was going to be able to change my ways. I created Blow Birthday Cards so I could always get a birthday card on time to each of my special friends – and now I do :) “

Below is an article by Jerry about why he thinks an POD e-store with unique greeting cards is fulfilling consumer wishes that is lacking in retail stores.

The Best-Kept Secret of Birthday Card Designers

By Jerry McLaughlin
Founder & CEO of Blow Birthday Cards

Birthdays are a gift – a once a year chance to tell our friends and loved ones that they are special to us without either of us having to feel weird about bringing it up.

But even on a day dedicated to celebrating a special person in our lives, saying what we want to say can be hard. So, for the same reason that the President has speechwriters, we rely on birthday card designers to awaken shared memories, make us laugh or blush, and give voice to our deepest feelings.

But is that what birthday card designers are doing for us today?

Not so much. Yes it’s true that Americans bought 1.7 million birthday cards today, just like they do every day. But most of those shoppers say they would have liked to find a more special card.

What makes a birthday card special?
A special birthday card recalls for both the giver and the recipient a specific shared memory, revels in a shared sense of humor, or reveals a sincere feeling.

To evoke a shared memory we need a specific trigger. For example, let’s say you and your wife shared your first kiss on a camping trip with friends; you know she’ll appreciate a card that captures a couple kissing outside of a tent or a whimsical camping scene.

Why aren’t we making specialized cards that customers crave?
The historical root of the problem is in the high cost of running a retail store. Every successful retailer knows space in the store is precious. So before they dedicate some of that precious space to a birthday card design, they’ve got to expect to sell a lot of that same design. Therefore they have to offer designs that will appeal to almost everyone that comes in looking for a birthday card. The result is a lot of cards on the shelf that are suitable for anyone, meaning they are special for no one.

Designing for online is different
In my view, too often independent designers are trying to out-Hallmark Hallmark. They are designing cards that will have the broadest possible appeal. But rather than fight the big card companies head on, designers can make cards that reference very specific interests, objects, activities, experiences, or sentiments. These specialized cards don’t appeal to everyone, but they appeal very strongly to enough buyers to make the designer very successful, and appreciated. The watchwords of the successful independent birthday card designer are “specialized” and “insightful”.

At Blow Birthday Cards, we also focus more on finding great designers than on finding great cards. We look for designers whose birthday cards have visual or verbal elements that relate to some narrow interest or specific aspect of life. For example, we prefer a yoga card to an exercise card. The more specialized the card, the more perfectly it will fit someone.

Writers (more than) welcome
While visual artists have created some great birthday cards, people that think of themselves more as storytellers have designed many of the best birthday cards. The great birthday card is an effective communication, like a great advertisement.

So-- what’s the best-kept secret?
In a country with 330 million birthdays this year, a card that is so specialized that it is perfect for someone you know will be perfect for 100,000 other people too. Those are the birthday cards customers cannot find in stores. Those are the birthday cards that sell online. Those are the birthday cards customers really want.

Note: Blow Birthday Cards is a member of Art Licensing Show (ALSC) and artist members can connect with Jerry McLaughlin. Artist "profile members" can also show him their art on the ALSC website.

Your comments are welcome. Click on the comments section (below) to write your comment. Note: Some people have a problem in leaving a comment. The most successful method is to comment as Name/URL (your name and website or blog with a "complete" URL address. For example: