The road to a successful licensing business is paved with many steps over a variety of paths. And it’s not a short journey, by any means. Joan Beiriger, licensed artist and self-proclaimed art licensing junkie (and blogger), was listening to one of my Ask J’net Q&A’s when I mentioned this.
Joan wrote: “One thing that you covered really sparked my interest. You discussed what the role of an artist is and you said that an artist needs to learn about art licensing not just at the beginning of her career but she needs to continue learning forever. And that also involves learning about manufacturing and retail to know what consumers want. Exactly what I believe in!”
I clearly agree with her. She then asked me to write a blog about the education that artists need, to skillfully maneuver the twists and turns on the road through art licensing. Here it is Joan—
In any business endeavor there are lots of things to learn and the world also doesn’t stop for anyone or anything. It does not wait for someone to catch up. Like a real estate agent re-taking their license, a surgeon updating their skills or a computer geek learning the latest software, education and learning is vital and it should be at the top of your ‘to do’ list every year.
As I focused on the various areas that art licensors need to learn about, I thought about how wonderfully diverse this industry is. I personally love that about licensing and marketing, as well. But this does mean that you need to always be open to, and on the lookout for new training opportunities, throughout your career. Here’s my list of topics, which I believe should be on your continuing education list—
ART—As artists, we should explore and expand our style and then experiment with a new one. Never stop seeking more of your creative source. Take time to play with your art and develop your own new ideas and techniques. Also:
- Keep an eye on current trends, whether for inspiration, or just information
- If sales are dropping, then consider whether your art style is slipping out of date
- Make sure you continuously update your web site with new art
TECHNOLOGY—What’s the latest technology on the landscape for:
- Business, sales & marketing
- Creating art, presentations, production files and more
- Communication, social media, publishing & entertainment (Note: they call these platforms, and if you can re-purpose your art and designs for various platforms, all the better!)
LICENSING—What would you like to learn for your licensing business about:
- Collection Design
BUSINESS—What training and skills are necessary for your entrepreneurial business to succeed:
- Marketing & Sales
- Public Relations
- Time Management
- Choose what you want to do yourself and what you want to hire out.
- Learn how to discern who is the most economical and best fit for your business. That, in itself, is a skill and one in which I often find myself guiding my clients.
MANUFACTURING—What do you understand about manufacturing? Understanding the manufacturing process for different product categories is really important. This is, undoubtedly, one of the biggest areas where I believe artists need to learn more. The art licensing entrepreneur needs to develop skills in:
- Creating art that works well on products
- Developing captivating & sales-worthy product designs
- Tailoring the work you present to a specific manufacturer to fit their production capabilities
- Preparing art for production
- Selling (licensing) themselves and their art to manufacturers
RETAIL—In addition to getting inside the head of the manufacturers, retail education is the second-most lacking area in the art licensing entrepreneurial skill set. Artists and all types of creators who want to bring their concepts to market need to learn how to think like a wholesale manufacturer, a retailer and ultimately target the consumer. Therefore, learning about retail is essential and will help you immensely as a licensor when you comprehend:
- Channels of distribution
- Types of retail outlets
- Pricing strategies
- Purchasing trends
- Promotions and new ways of attracting customers
- Visual merchandising
- Cross merchandising
- Internet sales
This list certainly doesn’t cover every topic. However, it’s a fantastic place to start. If you really want to create an income with your creations you must keep yourself motivated, stay connected to and expand into your creative source, and continue to learn throughout your career about the industry and business. Never give up on your goals and dreams. Just remember, those that don’t keep up, get left behind.