Interviewing Art Licensing Agents

10 10 2010

Of course you need to make a certain amount of money annually to stay in the art licensing business. But I wonder if you also know how much your agent needs to earn to keep working with you? If you have an agent, ask them how much revenue they must generate with your art in order to keep you on the roster.  It’s a crucial question that you should ask.  That way you will know if you are sitting in the green with them — or in the red.

(c) Erin Sparler

I know many artists are looking for agents.  And it’s a very competitive environment today.  That still doesn’t mean you should take any agent that shows interest in your work.  I have counseled many artists after a relationship went bad with an agent. I can testify that changing agents is much harder (and more expensive) than getting the right one in the first place.

These issues can usually be prevented, if critical questions are asked before signing on with an agent.  That way if you have different needs or expectations, whether in terms of dollars and sense or work-style, both of you will be informed before proceeding

  • Exactly what services do you offer?
  • Do you have in-house legal counsel?
  • How many other artists do you represent? (You probably would have had a good idea of this number before you approached the agency, since it’s important to decide before approaching agencies if you want a large group with lots of artists and a big sales team, or a smaller more personalized boutique agency.)
  • What is your planning and sales process look like?
  • How often will we be in contact, and what does the communication look like?
  • Do you have manufacturing contacts in all product categories, or do you specialize in a certain area?
  • How involved are you in the creative process, such as providing trend research, concepts, evaluation, etc.?
  • How much contact will I have with the manufacturers?
  • What does your approval process look like?

After you have the answer to these and other questions, you can look at their contract and make sure it’s in order…which we’ll review in a separate blog. Please remember that it’s not worth proceeding with an agent, if it’s not the right fit in terms of energy, work style, philosophy, design style or ethics.  You don’t want to have to change streams later, having lost even more valuable time.  Be patient as agents are getting pursued by lots of artists today.  Keep in mind that the agent you want may just not have room for you now on their roster.  Have some kind of strategy in place to run the business and stay positive while you are looking for an agent that is just right for you.

Today’s Featured Artist is Erin Sparler, who specializes in creating double, triple and even quadruple exposure photographs inside of the camera. “Seating Downstream” was shot on 35mm film and is part of her “Environmental Photojournalism” body of work.




One response

30 05 2011
H. Miller

I applaude you for your efforts in assisting artists in at least making ends meet –

I’m the Works-Master for Ducallier Studios and my commissioned work goes for $3.5 – $6 million USD.

Yet, surprisingly, I too am always looking for agents world-wide to represent me and, of course, the Studio.

Getting a solid relationship is paramount, and one has to have an inventory or work available.

For example, I have on the Ducallier website -160 watercolours using a primitive dry-brush style of a Traveller “Coming Home” –

in all actuality there are well over 300 paintings on this winter theme.

The ideal, is “abundance of work” and if an artist is seeking a place in the mass-marketing of their work; it only makes sense to have an inventory suitablely large – also, they may have to promote their work themselves,

Ducallier is a premier Studio and I, as their Works-Master, have literally hundreds of free-agent specialists – goldsmiths metal-casters, miniaturists etal, building the art-pieces we produce.

True, it’s not easy to get started, but unless there is a “nitch” for the art style – they face failure and, die-off comes quickly.

So, it can take years to “nitch” in one’s respective field – remember agents look for abundance of work – makes it easier to represent to their clientele.


H. Miller
The Works-Master
Ducallier Studios

Just a few thoughts on the subject

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