November’s One-A-Day Q&A – Question #2

2 11 2016




Q: Is it ever too late to start a new career? How do you know when your artistic style fits the art licensing field?

A: I personally don’t think it’s ever too late to start a new career, but of course it depends on what you want to get out of that career and how far you want to go with it. I love working in new fields and learning lots of things, and maybe you do too.

I believe what’s important is to ask yourself:

  1. Is there is a large enough market for your art? (For example, abstract art is tougher than traditional art to license).
  2. What you would like to get out of being in art licensing – is it a certain income, products in stores regionally or around-the-world, and brand recognition? Everyone has different response as to ‘why’ they want to do things. The clearer you are in establishing your goals, the faster you can focus your efforts in the right direction and achieve them.
  3. In what time frame do you want to accomplish these financial, product and recognition goals (or whatever your personal goals are)?
  4. Do you have the skills necessary to provide art to manufacturers in the format, computer files, they will require.

I would spend as much time as possible learning about art licensing, about the types of products that you would like to create and the type of companies that you would like to work with—exploring those manufacturers’ web sites, perhaps, or industry web sites such as International LIMA (Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association). Unless you already know through your own sales experience, or in looking at the marketplace, that there is a large demand for your style of art, it is a good practice pay for an evaluation of your art and get some solid advice on how to start your business.

Additionally, I’d do some retail shopping, and start looking at the types of products that have your style of art on them.  Frankly, this is your competition. I also feel that attending trade events is a great way to learn the industry and see what’s going on…not to mention, a super way to meet colleagues and prospective manufacturers and agents!

One final note.  I know this one blog can’t completely answer your question.  I have found that many people considering art licensing as a career change found this blog ‘An Art Licensors’ Continuing Education’ to be very insightful.

31 Days of Marketing Tips for All Art Licensors- Tip #27

27 10 2016


Licensing Expo Recap and Mastering the Next Steps

14 06 2015

AAL Booth C13 at Licensing ExpoFrom set-up to break-down, the Licensing Expo delivered on its promise of bringing together worldwide brands, creators, artists, retailers and manufacturers to build business partnerships. We shared information daily from exhibitors and attendees in our blog…both from the Art+Design Zone, but also up-n-coming character properties.

Direction at Licensing Expo is so important!

Direction at Licensing Expo is so important!

I heard from many people, there was plenty of traffic and the leads were excellent.  I don’t think Licensing Expo has posted their ‘official’ attendance count yet, but the first day was pretty strong and the second day was even stronger with, of course, the inevitable slower third day. But for the Resource Center it never slowed down. We were still taking appointments even as the Booth was being demolished around us.

What a wonderful whirlwind. As Licensing Expo’s Art+Design Resource Center, we gave away 30+ free consultations, to exhibitors and attendees alike, as a part of our services. We also gave one of our new video classes and our 80+ free Minicourses to everyone, charged cell phones and laptops, printed urgent papers, and handed out bottled water to the thirsty.

Carlos Neville moved from the Art + Design Zone, closer to Characters, with his Pop the Balloon.

Carlos Neville moved from the Art + Design Zone, closer to Characters, with his Pop the Balloon.

Everyone participating in the Expo seemed to be very excited about the variety of prospects. While many artists mentioned they couldn’t get meetings with their ‘A’ list potential manufacturers, I heard later that several persistent artists caught their attention and managed to get those exciting appointments after all.

Joan Marie Celebrates Art in her first booth.

Joan Marie Celebrates Art in her first booth at Licensing Expo. She joins those who will be back in 2016.

Two hot topics throughout the Licensing Expo event were global exposure and digital media. Manufacturers from around the world met with artists and new properties and every corner of Asia was especially well represented at the Expo. All properties, new and evergreen, are seriously considering how they will gain and maintain exposure in this new digital world. And today it’s not just about exposure and the numbers, it’s all about ‘engagement.’

Debra Valencia and I catch up in her beautiful booth, designed as a brand concept store.

Debra Valencia and I catch up in her beautiful booth, designed as a brand concept store.

Engagement is how your audience will choose to interact with you and your brand. Also, who will help bring your products and brands into the limelight. Whether an artist or a property, there is a big trend in utilizing celebrities to increase exposure. Strategic alliances are well and good, as long as you have engagement once the audience grows. While this may not seem relevant to those of you who are new to art licensing, specifically, it does relate. Many new artists are turning to manufacturing some items on their own to develop their ‘following.’ Then online marketing and sales efforts will build your audience and strong sales numbers will absolutely impress manufacturers. It gives you something to leverage.



There was also a great deal of chatter about artists, designers and new properties getting high-level leads with companies the exhibitor didn’t expect! Each freely admitted they were in product categories they had never even considered would be interested. Exposure to so many types of properties and product categories at Licensing Expo is always an eye-opener and fuels broader business goals and plans.

Of course I heard complaints too, such as, ‘There is no room for new artists or properties.’ ‘How can we get anywhere when it’s all about the big-guys?’ ‘You need TV before you can do licensing.’ Or ‘You need publishing before you can get TV.’ But I was witness to several artists and properties who made great strides by being well prepared and really understanding what media players and manufacturers would want from a ‘newbie’ in the industry. Let’s see if they can stay the course and keep moving forward.

So now the final results for everyone is in the hands of our attention to detail and follow-up.

Mark Lubratt  and his Mom Linda spoke to many prospective   partners about Zoonicorns and will be attending Licensing Expo in 2016.

Mark Lubratt and his Mom Linda spoke to many prospective partners about Zoonicorns and will be attending Licensing Expo in 2016.


Now everyone has to sort and make decisions about how to follow-up with each and every person they met.  We have two classes this week to help you with these processes.  One is our FREE Ask J’net Q&A, in which I’ll focus on ‘After the Trade Show Questions.’  Feel free to ask about things: you saw at the Licensing Expo; that maybe didn’t make sense for you as a first-timer; which you are still confused about; and how to make the most of your time there through your strategic follow-up.  Ask any questions important to you right now and put them on your registration form. This Ask J’net Q&A is scheduled for Tuesday, June 16th at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT (you will receive your Classroom Access Information at least one-hour before the class). Register Here.

Art+Design Zone Action

Art+Design Zone Action

Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques

You won’t want to miss Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques. on Thursday, June 18th at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT. This live phone event will be 1.5 hours and the cost is $75. After your purchase, you can attend live or after the event you will receive … an audio (MP3) file, 60+ page PowerPoint presentation (PDF format) and video link to watch the entire class at your convenience. We know everyone has a different way of learning, so we offer more ways to learn than other training events in the licensing industry.

This class has 3 parts which cover the 1) Organization of your follow-up, how exactly to 2) Follow Through carefully and accurately on your leads and 3) Sales Techniques that will close the deal and grow your business. You may place your questions on the registration form, and they will be answered during the live event.

The training will focus on characteristics of licensing sales which you won’t find in a traditional sales class. You will receive your Classroom Access information the evening before the class, June 17th, via email. Register Here.

Hope you can join me for one or both of the classes this week! Please share all this information with those who might want to attend the Expo next year or learn about our business. Thanks.

Art+Design Resource Center, Year 2, and Jill McDonald Design Exhibits for First Time at Licensing Expo

8 06 2015

20150608_174800 (1)The Art+Design Resource Center in Booth C13 will be open for business tomorrow for its second year, as we kick-off the first day of Licensing Expo. There is so much happening at our booth, so here are just some of the resources being offered for Exhibitors and Attendees.

I’ll be posting my blog multiple times a day from the Art+Design Zone of the Licensing Expo. Attendees can view and read the blog on the UBI Advanstar wide-screen monitor in our booth or go online to Licensing Expo’s Show Blog. Included in the blog will be news and interviews with many captivating people from all facets of the industry.

We will be giving away a free ‘Introduction to Art Licensing Essentials – Profits, Promotions and Protection’ class to everyone who visits our booth. This is a comprehensive, nearly 2 hour course, and one of All Art Licensing’s many new, just launched, Worldwide Creators’ Intensive video courses.  We are scheduling appointments for free consultations, as well as helping new and veteran exhibitors in the Art+Design Zone with advice, directions, printing services and a phone charging station. Just as we did last year, manufacturers and retailers can also come and get advice and pointed in the right direction toward creators, artists and designers who will fit their needs.

20150608_174213As I began setting up the Art+Design Resource Center at Licensing Expo today, I was thrilled to see Jill McDonald of Jill McDonald Design is my (across the aisle) neighbor.  Not long ago we met over Skype for what turned out to be a really interesting and fun interview.  I am a big fan of Jill’s art and style, which appeals to kids and especially Moms.Ahoy Ocean

Jill has exhibited at Surtex for 11 years and is now expanding her marketing efforts by exhibiting for the first time at Licensing Expo. This is a longer interview, but it really shows a delightful level of honesty. I know you’ll enjoy learning about her experience with a manufacturer who is doing a line with more than 50 items, her new foray into publishing children’s books and her less-is-more philosophy!

For those of you not attending Licensing Expo this year, let All Art Licensing be your eyes and ears on the show floor, sharing a wealth of information.  Join me.



Heartfelt Art Licensing Lessons- An Interview with Joan Marie

13 02 2015

DotHeartFor my valentine to everyone, I wanted to share this story of Joan Marie, a vivacious artist who is re-launching her art licensing business this year. Having great success early in her licensing career, 20+ years ago, only to have the business plummet, has taught this artist a few heartfelt lessons.

J’net Q: How did you get into the licensing business?
Joan Marie A: Mary Engelbreit inspired me. Watching her business flourish was very exciting. Then I began to see the bigger picture and it really intrigued me.

Q: You have a fine art background, is that right?
A: Yes, my undergraduate degree was from Washington University in St. Louis and my MFA was from both University of South Florida, in Tampa, and Lindenwood University in St. Louis.

Q: How did you get your first deals and what kinds of licensing have you done?Joan Marie
A: I researched companies by going shopping and by attending some national conventions to find the best companies to work with. I wrote down tons of names. Then I would call them to see if they were interested in working with a freelance artist. If they were interested, I sent them a hardcopy of my portfolio with 10-20 images. And I got rejected a lot. When the company that was to be my first licensee called, they first offered me a flat rate. I had been so excited to get their call, then my heart dropped. I told them, I can’t work that way, I must have a royalty. And the manufacturer said they don’t work on a royalty basis. So we both hung up. At the time, I was pretty desperate and I paced and fought myself NOT to call them back. Then he called me back about 4 hours later…and they offered me a royalty. Next I had to create the contract, which I did, through a volunteer organization that offered legal services to ‘starving artists.’ From there I followed the same procedure to get more deals, and really persisted. It took a long time to get going. Then my art sold very well for about 10 years on apparel, stationery, back-to-school and gift items. I had one cat design that sold over 1.5 million t-shirt transfers, which was amazing. And creating 2 lines of collectible plates with The Hamilton Collection was such an exciting time of national recognition. But all of a sudden the public totally stopped buying kittens and unicorns; the market was really saturated with the themes I had painted.bird in flight

Q: What is your favorite part of doing art licensing?
A: Knowing your art can add a smile, some excitement, and warm someone’s heart while using everyday products. It just feels like crazy fun to me. It makes me so happy. I think this is a sign that I am in the right business. “Life is supposed to be FUN!”…and that’s how it feels to be in this industry.

Q: So how has your art changed since those earlier days?
A: My art has covered many styles over the years. Early on I was primarily realistic in my imagery using classic oil techniques. Then I went through a purely abstract phase. Today I combine the ethereal and gently romantic quality of my past realistic art with my new confident intensity. It is very exciting to express so many of life’s emotions in one work of art. My new art is bolder. It captures the high energy passions I see in life.Zebras

Q: What was your biggest hurdle to get where you are today?
A: To stop being concerned about what will sell. Instead to create art that expresses my true vision and passion for life. If your focus is on creating what will sell, you may make a survival income, but you will never discover your unique voice and say something that will truly speak to others. If it doesn’t come from your joy, or your soul, it has no chance to gain a huge following. It is also a challenge to never give up and keep going through the ups and downs in this industry. One of the best words of wisdom I have heard is: “There is a lot of room at the top.” This artist was telling me that very few artists are willing to do what it takes to get to the top, so keep the faith and keep loving the process of getting there.

DoggiesQ: How has the art licensing industry changed since you were in it 20 years ago?
A: Oh wow! BIG changes! Artists were not using computers!!! No Photoshop or email! Can you IMAGINE that??! Finding companies to submit to was so much more challenging…and OH MY!!! I felt so ALONE. We really had nowhere to turn to get help understanding the business! There were NO J’net Smiths at the end of the phone or computer to give us endless valuable information and help!!! All we had was the “Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines,” which was and still is really valuable. But that’s it. And mailing hard copies of portfolios was expensive. Then learning how each company wanted their submissions was a much bigger challenge.

Q: What’s the biggest ‘from the trenches’ tip you can offer to newcomers to art licensing?
A: My advice is to learn how to use your strengths and go to others for their strengths to help you get the job done. There are so many more resources available today; it’s such a blessing. So learn who and where those resources are and get out there and use them. I need to focus and not insist on doing everything myself. Read, talk to people and get professional advice. I am thrilled to get assistance on my branding, promotions, publicity, leads and more. We are meant to help each other and not work alone like an island. That’s what I used to do. Secondly, I think you really need to have great passion for this industry, as I’ve mentioned. If that deep drive and excitement or the love of the entire process and of being in business for yourself is not there, then the challenges will surely beat you down. I would also highly recommend having some savings to invest in the start-up of your business. You have to be patient, because it takes a long time for the volume to build up and to make the kind of dollars you want.

Q: In art licensing today, what is your biggest challenge?7WsexhilSM (1)
A: Not to fall into self-doubt or fill my mind with thoughts of feeling stressed…AND to not be concerned about what will sell instead being true to what I am here to express through my art. Gaining wisdom through the years has given me the ability to step out of those old patterns. Now I say: “I believe”…“I trust”… I know in my heart that everything is going perfectly, just as it should. It’s fantastic to feel grounded and excited all at once, knowing that this is what I am here to do.

To see more of Joan Marie’s Art That Celebrates, click here to visit her website.

%d bloggers like this: