31 Days of Marketing Tips for All Art Licensors- Tip #22

22 10 2016


3 Character Building Tips from ‘Over the Hedge’ Cartoonist Michael Fry

11 10 2012

If you are interested in creating characters that will become household names, then you will appreciate these tips from Michael Fry, co-creator and writer of the Over the Hedge comic strip.  These are just a fraction of the practical and valuable information to be shared next week, October 15-17, as Michael and I (former Dilbert VP of Licensing) teach ‘Building Character-How to Cash In On Your Characters Without Losing Your Soul,’ a six-hour webinar that will guide you through the intersection between art and commerce.  (To Register or Learn More)

Character Building Tips from Michael Fry:

1. Most successful characters are extensions of yourself. Both your best and worst self. The more honestly and clearly you see your strengths and flaws, the more authentic your characters will be.

2. Audiences care about characters they can relate to. But not in a generic way. Your characters should be a specific as possible. The audience will relate to those aspects that are specifically relatable to them.

3. No one cares about your character or creation as much as you do. NO ONE! Your publisher or syndicate represents many properties. You represent one. Your interests are similar. They are not the same.

They say content is king. But the truth is that viewers and readers fall in love with characters, not content. Whether it’s a novel, graphic novel, children’s book, comic strip, web comic or web animation, characters are what attract loyal fans. Join us next week and learn, as Michael puts it, “How I got two comic strips you’ve never heard of made into a prime time TV series and animated feature film.”

This is part of the Worldwide Creators’ Intensive series from All Art Licensing, where our goal is to bring you the best information and advice for creators, at really affordable prices. Check out the details here.

Rule #9

20 10 2011

Create art that sells products.

The way to create income in the art licensing business is to create art that sells products. Remember that manufacturers have a business to run. They have products they are producing, and not everyone wants it in one size, shape, design, or color. Oh, we are so lucky to have the beauty and diversity of art in our world!

For manufacturers, your art can be the key to reaching a new audience, capturing a trend, expressing a sentiment and much more. They depend on you; and you depend on them. So however you create art is fine. It’s great!

What manufacturers want from you, however, has nothing to do with the passion, skills and creative process that it took to design your latest art collection. They are busy analyzing past sales and the newest production processes, while trying to predict the future.

Try to get into the manufacturer’s head. Think about your prospective business partner, the licensee, and give them something to seriously consider. Make sure you offer them a variety of artwork that can be produced with their production process, as well as themes that work for their key sales periods, giving-occasions—such as Christmas and other holidays—and collections that enhance their products’ design. My Manufacturer’s Mindset Class (now available as audio file+full presentation) is a great resource for this, and I taught it with a stationery industry, manufacturing veteran.

Just remember that the number one objective for your art licensing business is to create art that sells products. That is absolutely the only thing that will create income, assuming that making money is part of your definition of a successful business. Now since we all know there are many layers to the feeling of success, creating art that sells also needs to fit with who you are and what you’re all about. And if isn’t in sync on that level, it probably won’t have much appeal to consumers and won’t sell. In that case, it certainly won’t be worth it in the long run. Making money and not being true to yourself is never ultimately successful.

Rule #7

10 10 2011

Get sound business advice before sound legal advice.  

This one is a little tricky. Licensing artists definitely need a good IP lawyer—that’s an Intellectual Property lawyer. But there are definitely ways of keeping expenses in check. For example, making sure you understand your business first, before you get the lawyer involved, is one great way to keep your costs down.

Every person who hires a lawyer is looking for legal advice, but few lawyers will provide business advice. First learn the business of Art Licensing through classes, coaching, blogs, articles, and by researching online. Everything you learn about the Art Licensing business is going to save you time and money in the long run.

Educating yourself about standard terms, royalties, advances, agreements, art development, approvals, product design, manufacturers, line development, production processes and retail distribution will be invaluable when it comes to creating contracts. This is because, while the lawyer can create the contract, they don’t know what business decisions are right for you (the licensor) and your business partner (the licensee).

Let me repeat that: your lawyer can create a contract, but they can’t possibly know what business decisions are right for you and the manufacturer. And every contract has a significant part of it which requires art licensing business decisions, such as the royalty rate, advance, grant of rights, territory, length of the agreement, to name a few. These are the ‘terms’ that the licensor and licensee must ‘plug’ into the contract, and they should not (generally) be recommended by your lawyer.

So back to Rule #1 of our ’20 Rules for Starting Your Art Licensing Business’—learn as much as you can about the Art Licensing business, and I recommend getting advice from licensing experts, as well as colleagues, manufacturers and fellow artists who have experience in the business. But don’t expect a lawyer to give you advice on the business terms for your contract.

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