Rule #16

22 11 2011

Your income potential is tied to how well your art ‘fits’ on a variety of products.

You may not think this topic is relevant, but it’s really a fundamental building block for a successful art licensing business.  Be careful not to narrow your target audience, or the product types on which your art works, because that will limit your income potential. So start by making sure that you have a wide variety of product types on which your art will work.

I want to clarify; we’re not talking about just slapping the art on anything. The best products, and usually the best-selling products, are those that feature well-integrated art and product design. This means that your art not only supports the product’s functionality, but does so by emotionally connecting with a consumer. An example might be an egg shaped mug and Easter egg art, so there’s really a fun dynamic going on between the product and the art. That’s a pretty simplistic example where there’s great synergy between the art and the function of the product.  Of course, there are many types of synergy that are less literal and just as connected.

One of the first challenges in creating your art licensing business is to learn to think in terms of different product categories.  Product categories are the various types of products and product lines that a manufacturer produces. Many manufacturers produce a variety of products that relate, such as stationery and greeting cards, or kitchen towels, aprons and accessories. Often when creating new collections and trying to build your business, it’s valuable to think about the products you want to be on before you create your art.

Ask yourself: How many product categories does your art fit on right now?  What product categories are really natural extensions of your art?  What product categories work really well for the themes you like to cover?  Does your art fit on gift items or stationery?  Will it also work on home and garden, or apparel? Does it work on home décor, domestic soft goods – like bedding and sheets – tabletop, or infant items?  What about men’s products and sports equipment?  You can license your art on more than 20 general product categories.

You’ve really got to think about where your art realistically fits. Remember that ultimately your revenue potential is tied to the number of product categories which you can license your art on.

Rule #15

15 11 2011

Manufacturers rarely take art ‘as is.’

It seems as long as the world has been changing, clients always want changes in the work you do.  Well, art licensing is really no different.  Manufacturers will be your clients; and they always want more art, more production help, more designs, more tweaks, and have tight deadlines.  So please don’t think this industry will be any different.

Art licensing is a very commercial industry, and I think this is why we are seeing so many artists who have successfully crossed over from advertising and graphic design. These creators are used to art direction from clients, adaptations, changes on the fly and other assorted, sordid requirements of the licensing and manufacturing worlds.

There is definitely, however, a limit on how much adapting and revising one should do, but that is another topic that I will have to address later.  Let me just say that you need to be flexible, as well as manage how much time you put into doing spec work and adapting final files.

Just know there will always be a tweak here and there; and sometimes there are big tweaks. So be prepared to make changes, and of course to fight for those changes your ‘gut’ just won’t let you make. At least, if you know this is common and to be expected, and you can handle it, then this just might be an industry for you.

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