Graeme Stevenson has been involved as an Artist in the International Art Licensing business for twenty years. He has lived in the United States and in the U.K., and has been involved in Trade shows and Art exhibitions world wide. Currently involved with the TV show ‘Fine Art Showcase’ in the United States, Graeme sells his work to a potential audience of 70 million viewers three times a year.
Graeme has dealt with a number of the worlds leading Art agents as well as many international corporations that license Artists images for their products world wide. Although licensing is not suitable for all Artists, the Artist who’s work is suitable can expect an International audience to eventually view what they do and also make another line of income that may not have been available before hand.
What you should know about licensing…
Licensing your artwork basically means that you are giving somebody the freedom to use your work. This can be as a product, or for a certain period of time.
Copyright means that you own the rights to your art for a period of time from when you created it. You also own the ‘reproduction rights’. These rights protect your artwork from being reproduced without your permission.
By signing a licensing agreement, you are selling a company the right to reproduce your art. Depending upon the contract, this can be in a specific way, on specific products, or for a period of time.
The license should include:
- Specific names of the work you’re licensing
- The types of products your work will be reproduced on
- A period of time in which the company must bring to market products with your art, or else give up the licensing rights to use your work
- A written agreement to put your copyright notice on every product and advertisement for the product
- An indemnification clause that says the company will protect you from any lawsuits that may arise from their business activities related to any products with your art on them
- The countries where your work will be sold
- You should make sure there is a statement allowing you to cancel the agreement if the company does not abide by the terms, or if the company should go bankrupt
- Termination date – this can be two – three years or more depending on your choice and the companies offer
- A specific statement that non-refundable advance payments are to be made to you against future royalties. The specific royalty percentage should be paid to you on a quarterly basis, and there should be a requirement that each royalty cheque is accompanied by a clear statement of how the company came to that amount
There are some ‘dont’s’ involved with licensing as well. These can include:
- Do not allow a company to gain the copyright for your work
- Do not allow a company to gain complete reproduction rights to your work
- Do not allow a company to sublicense your work to other companies without your signed approval
A company can purchase your original works, but be wary of companies replicating these works without your permission. Even if a company purchases your original work, it does not mean that they own the copyright to it.
While there are misguiding or misleading companies that may take advantage of your lack of knowledge, there are also companies that will give you a fair deal because it is a better way to do business if they want more of your work later on. If handling licensing is not something you wish to do personally, there are licensing agents/agencies that can take over. Make sure that whichever agent you contact is a member of the International Licensing and Manufacturing Association. This association requires members to uphold a certain ethical standard in representing artists.
Unfortunately, we are not currently looking at licensing other artists work. We hope to be able to bring licensing for artists on board at a later date.
There are several good licensing companies that have great information on their websites if you’re interested. We recommend ‘Porterfields‘.