A very interesting article has been going around the internet about art licensing written by Jim Marcotte at Two Town Studios. The article expresses some of the harsh realities of the art licensing business. What I like about the article is that it is realistic yet it is also written on a positive note. It is not trying to discourage anybody from following their dreams but hopefully helping artists to see that it is not as simple as hiring an art licensing coach, walking Surtex and signing with an agent.
With permission this is the article Two Town Studios has posted :
Art of Reality
There seems to be, lately, a rapid proliferation of blogs, social contact groups, websites, coaching seminars and classes revolving around art licensing. In many ways this is wonderful – talented people of like mind sharing their work and helping each other grow and prosper. Unfortunately, more and more the message is reading something like the matchbook:
Can you draw Sparky? You too can have a great career in Art Licensing!
Well, maybe….or maybe not.
My intention here is not to throw a wet blanket over the aspirations of artists who want to license their art. We have had great success over the years representing artists and I will be the first to say it is possible to have a long, profitable career in art licensing. Rather, I want to introduce a voice of reason, suggest a bit of caution - take off the rose colored glasses and look at some realities of the industry with me before committing your time and dollars. Lots of time and significant dollars, I may add. We read the blogs, follow the groups, and contribute when appropriate, however there are some things that need to be said - and no one is saying them - so here are a few points to consider:
This may sound dire but of course it’s not all bad. We have a lot of fun in this business of art licensing and still do the happy dance whenever we make a nice deal for one of our artists. It’s an industry where clever and talented people come together to make great things happen, but in order to succeed you need to really, really want it. Most artists come into the art licensing business, land a few contracts and then after a couple years of the grind stop refreshing their portfolio and fade away from the market. It doesn’t take too many fingers and toes to count the recognizable names in art licensing – those that have hung in there, figured it out and made it work. This doesn’t scare you? Maybe you can have a career in art licensing - come on in and join the fray
I would like to add some more reality : One of the biggest things you will need to
take with you on your journey into art licensing is a very "strong
stomach". If you are looking to earn a living from art licensing you
must be willing to create a lot of artwork on spec, enjoy a good contest,
embrace rejection, get over being ignored, be able to live with not getting any feedback as
to why your artwork was rejected. You must also have the patience of a
saint and enjoy living in the world of "hurry up and wait". You must be able to let go of controlling of what your artwork
will look like when it is on a product. If you have extremely high
expectations of how your artwork needs to look you had best manufacture
it yourself. You need to be extremely flexible in working with
manufacturers. Although the product in the end will most likely have
your name on it (if they don't accidentally put someone else's ) you
will not have all the say about the end result. Actually you can have
all the say about the end result if you are ok with being called a
"difficult artist" and loosing clients. I love my clients and they do
their best to produce a great product within their limitations.
I see many artists deciding to get an agent because they think by hiring an agent the artist can sit back and paint while the agent handles the business. Agents all work very differently. Never assume that just because an agent is paid a substantial commission they are talented in the art of policing, you might end up having to follow up on lots of little details with your agent also. Some agents are amazing wonderful sales people with fantastic personalities but might have a different approach to handling there business than you expected . I often see people post in groups asking who is a "good reputable agent". The answer is never simple. Much of this answers lies with an artists expectations of what they need from an agent.