From Graeme’s desk.
I have in one way or another over the last 30 years been involved in Licensing with varying companies across the world. I first started licensing my work with a company based out of New York called Alaska Momma and ended up working with about 4 licensing agents over that time. If your work is suited to the licensing market and I must say that most artist’s work is not, then you can do financially very well if there are a number of companies that would like your images on their products. How do you as an artist get into licensing and does your work suit the licensing market. Is your work original and different enough to be looked at by a licensing agent?
Research licensing websites
My first suggestion is that each artist research as many art licensing websites as they can. There are a number of them across the world and I have just put down a few here that I have worked with
10 things you need to be aware of when licensing your work
- Create a Target List
- Register Your Designs
- Create/ Update Your Website
- Show Off Your Work’s Potential
- Exhibit at a Tradeshow
- Be Enthusiastic in Your Communications
- Highlight your Accomplishments
- Be Social
- Be Persistent/Follow Up
- Review Contracts Carefully
Here is a full list of the best U.S. Art Licensing Agents.
Art of Possibility Studios (represents physically challenged artist)
Kids-Did-It! (represents children 3-14 years old)
Meehan Design Group (formerly Herrin Design Group)
So the scenario would be that you have looked at all of these websites and assessed the work that was in there and found a couple that might be able to work with your images.
Let’s say that you are lucky enough to get interest back from one or two of the companies you have approached. Inside their email or letter is a licensing agreement/contract. This is where most artists just sign off on something and hope that things work out. Artists can be so desperate to get their work seen or sold or distributed that they simply cast all caution aside on many occasions and just sign and away we go.
Lawyers and Attorneys are expensive but I have found over the years that they can save a lot of grief and even more expenses in the end if something was to go wrong.
Colour in Your Life works with Rebekah O’sullivan Lawyers, Rebekah is an arts and entertainment lawyer as well as an immigration lawyer, so she can handle all aspects of contracts and visas for the artist. If you need more information for Rebekah please just contact us.
I have heard some horror stories from artists over the years that have either signed away their copyright or done deals with people with a handshake.
“He/she seemed so genuine when we shook hands!”
I have heard that numerous times when artists have come to me asking me what to do, 95% of the time there is nothing the artist can do. Their work is either gone or their copyright has been assigned to another company where they just simply keep printing and using the image for as long as they want with no repercussions at all.
Licensing basics we need to know
The word “license” means the “freedom to do something”. So when you give a company a license to use your art, that means you’re giving them the freedom or ability to use your art in a certain way, on a certain type of product, for a certain period of time, and with certain restrictions on usage.
Another key concept has to do with the difference between “copyrights” and “reproduction rights”. While you own the copyright to your art for 75-90 years from the time you created it-whether or not you’ve registered that copyright with the U.S Copyright office. You also own the reproduction rights to your art. That means that no one can reproduce your artwork without your permission.
When you sign a license with a company, you’re selling them the right to reproduce your art in a very narrow, specific way and for a very limited period of time, generally 3 to 7 years.
The best way to avoid things going wrong in this type of business is to get a reputable licensing agent. As I said I have worked with a few and know the industry well.
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REF: Porterfields Art Licensing