How to Get Started in Licensing

May 27, 2013

How to Get Started in Licensing (part 1)


Once you have decided licensing is right for you, you may be wondering where to start. There are some important steps to take before you begin to pitch your art to either an art agency or manufacturers.

The first thing to consider is whether you want an art licensing agent to represent your art to manufacturers or if you want to self represent and work directly with manufacturers. After you have made that decision, the following steps will help you become ready to present yourself to either an agent or manufacturer.

  • Learn as much as you can about the art licensing business. Read trade magazines Total Licensing, Art & Design Licensing, and Art Buyer. Join art licensing social media groups and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Visit the Surtex site and read the articles and news. Sign up for there e-newsletter "On the Surface". Surtex is the licensing show for artists, agents and manufacturers.
  • Create a logo using your name. This is an important part of branding. When someone sees your logo you want them to think of you and your art. Keep it simple and clean. Too much detail won’t translate well when it is printed small on products or tags. Also make sure it’s not too trendy because it needs to transcend time. Also, your logo should reflect the style of art you create. Spend some time online looking at artist’s logos if you are struggling to come up with an idea. Here art a few examples:

  • Order business cards. Make sure you use your logo when designing your card. I get my cards through Moo. They are more expensive, but you can have an image of your art on one side and all your contact information on the other side. When someone leaves with my card, I know they won’t get back home or the office and think "what did she do?". Below is what my card looks like.

  • Make a marketing and licensing plan. Lay out a plan (or goals) so you can evaluate your progress year to year. You need to know where you are going in order to get there.
  • Work on creating your collections. The more you have to offer, the more interest you will attract from manufacturers and the more you will be taken seriously.
  • Create a blog. Your blog needs to reflect who you are and have your beautiful art as the focus. I have had a couple of sites built for me in the past but the downfall was that I couldn’t make changes and updates myself, I had to ask my site designer. This caused me much frustration (mostly because I am impatient). Also, you want a blog, not a website. A website is static…the homepage doesn’t change. A blog’s home page is where you write articles. This keeps your blog current and relevant. See my TV Episode "Simple SEO Tip For Your Blog" for a better understanding. My current blog was my own creation. I can make changes at any moment and maintaining it is simple. I am in the process of writing a step by step instruction e-book on how to build your own blog for the best SEO possible.
  • Get your sales presentation in order. When you send out a presentation package to either a manufacturer or agent, you will need a cover letter on your own letterhead (create your letterhead in photoshop or your desktop publishing program and save as a template to make sending letters quick and easy), product mockups (if you are pitching to a company that makes stationery use photoshop to create mock ups of cards, envelopes, letterhead, stickers, and notepads with your art), print outs of your art and your business card.
  • Get a list together of the top manufacturers or agents you’d like to work with and send out your presentation packages. When sending your art to a manufacturer, find out the name of the licensing manager or art director and address your package to them. Use priority mail or fed ex so you can track it and know it was delivered. Wait a week and do follow-up phone calls.

You never get another chance to make a first impression, so be prepared and be professional but most importantly get started!

Do you have any questions about licensing that you would like to see me write an article about? Was this article helpful to you? Post your comments below :)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle Palmer May 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm

LOVE your posts! I always learn from you…
Thank you for sharing a link to me, too~ you’re a gem :)


Rita Bomberry June 4, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I love this series, so nice to get real advice from an artist actually licensing. Thank you!!


tkogut June 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm

You are welcome, Rita. If you think of a topic you’d like me to write about, don’t hesitate to let me know. I want to help if I can!


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