1 Nov 2009
3 Examples of Art Licensing Online Scouting
In a recent article I wrote about the reasons to join Zazzle, one of the reasons I listed was new talent scouting by manufacturers and Licensing Agents. Since then, I was wondering a lot if this really happens. The vast reaches of the Internet, combined with its accessibility and growing usage, makes it one big marketplace with its pros and cons. On one hand, you are there, therefore you exist and someone can find you. On the other hand, there is so much “out there” that could be quite overwhelming for anyone trying to find something they are actually looking for.
I posted this question on the Art of Licensing group on LinkedIn, and one of the replies was that someone at Etsy was discovered by Target. This triggered me to look for more. So I asked around, posted questions on Twitter and Zazzle forum, and did my own Googling, and eventually found few artists that were discovered, just like that, through their online presence. I would love to share with you their stories.
The first one was actually one of my new Zazzle friends who helped me when I started my virtual shop, artist Jude Maceren. While chatting with Jude (on Skype of course, one of the 5 different Instant Messengers I use), Jude was interested in information about Art Licensing, and while talking about it he said something like “I really want to go into licensing, how do I do that?”, and few sentences later, he tells me how Farfalla Wines, a wine maker from Oklahoma , found his art online, a painting of a butterfly with red poppy flower (while searching for butterfly images, or Farfalla in Italian, that will fit their business) and commissioned him to create a new painting for them to use on wine labels, logos and stationary of the winery! My immediate reaction was “here you go, you already did license your art!”
Inquiring a bit more with Jude on his art business history, I also found out that he started as an illustrator, and has more than 300 illustration licensed through StockIllustrationSource.com, and several other online stores, using eBay, Etsy, Zazzle (where I met him) and BoundlessGallery.com. Jude is also very active on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The winery deal came about after a year or two of online presence.
There are few ways to license art. One of them, which most people are familiar with, is by royalty. You license a piece of art to a manufacturer who will use it for specific time frame, on specific products, in specific distribution area. You, the artist, retain your rights to your art, and can give similar rights to other manufacturers for different type of products. In this method, you usually get royalties based on the sales of the products carrying your artwork. The second type of licensing though is by selling your artwork outright to the manufacturer, who is now the owner of the art. You do not have any ownership in it, and the buyer can use it as they wish. Here the purchasing price is fixed, and usually quite high, to make it profitable to the artist.
When Jude sold his painting to the wine maker, he basically used the second method. The buyer now has the rights on the artwork, and is planning to use it on branding and promotional needs. (Note: this is NOT similar to regular art purchasing when you buy a painting from the artist. In this case you do not buy the ownership to the art’s copyright, you only buy the physical representation of this art. The artist still own the rights, and can sell copies of the image to other buyers, license it, etc).
After posting requests on the Zazzle Forum, Maria G contacted me . Maria is a designer with passion for Photoshop and online marketing. Starting in 2008, Maria opened her first Zazzle store, and now she is the proud owner of 14 stores, specializing on anything from wedding invitations to business cards, cool Ked’s shoes and more. In order to spread the word she has used Squidoo lenses, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Google ads, Kaboodle, and anywhere else she could. And the hard work paid off! Back in July, Patty Meyers of BloodHound, a stock photography research company, stumbled upon Maria’s Zazzle Christmas shop and the wide range of Christmas cards. She contacted Maria, who was first skeptical about the email, and requested to license 50 card designs to be used on TV commercials for a bank in southern USA during the upcoming holiday season, featuring their employees within the card design. Usually people will buy customized cards on Zazzle for their own private use. But in this case, the TV commercial producers needed the artist’s permission to broadcast it. Therefore, Maria sold them the rights to use each design with one employee photo, and to be shown on air in 30 seconds commercials during a four-month period. I hope Maria will share with us some of these ads once they are available.
In this licensing example, Maria’s online efforts being in as many stores as she could, with as many products, and marketing her work in multiple channels, helped her to get Patty’s attention, and the licensing deal with the TV ad producer. Although Maria will not get royalties on the deal for each usage of the designs, but a one time fee to use it based on the agreed terms, she still keep the full rights to her designs, and is able to license them further to many other companies.
My last find was by the old familiar way, what one of my friends calls Rabbi Google. I asked the “Rabbi” for artists who licensed their art, and found artist Laura Barbosa blog post about licensing her pug dog painting to Icon Shoes. I contacted Laura and got the following story from her:
I started selling my fine art prints approximately 6 years ago on Art.Com. This was my first try at getting noticed and within 2 years, a scout from All Posters spotted my dog portraits and signed me up to license my art with their company. After realizing that exposure gets you noticed, I started joining every free art site I had time for and eventually moved on to On line Galleries, Graphic Design Companies, Social Art Networking Sites and started my own Blog. Imagekind was next on my list and I uploaded my original paintings, digital art and graphic designs.
About one year later I was contacted by a well-known photographer and book author, Kim Carlsberg. She asked if she could print one of my digital works in her new book. I felt honored and very lucky that she somehow found my work on-line. Kim is the Author of a book entitled “Beyond My Wildest Dreams” subtitle “Diary Of A UFO Abductee”. Her new book is a compilation of other peoples experiences with alien abduction and UFO’s and she is showcasing my art piece titled ”SHAPESHIFTER” in this book.
The most important and greatest licensing opportunity that came my way was Icon Shoes. A scout found my painting entitled “Pug Dog” in one of my on-line gallery portfolios. Icon Shoes contacted me via email. They wanted to use my artwork for their handbags, golf shoes, belts, purses and accessories. I quickly researched their company and found out that Icon had become a leader in the luxury, casual-comfort category of shoes and a trend setter in handbags and small leather goods.
Laura’s Icon Shoes designs were just published and you can view them on Icon Shoes website. Laura’s story is quite amazing. Some of us don’t realize sometime the endless options for art licensing and the products art is used on. Laura was able, just by online presence, to license her art to a poster printer, book publisher/author, and a shoe & accessories manufacturer. The last one will give her both the steady income of royalties, based on the sales of her designs, but also the entrance into the art-for-product licensing, where the art need to fit the product (and not vice versa), since the art is not printed on a flat rectangular surface (like posters or book covers) but on a three-dimensional item.
If you have similar stories about licensing your art and being found online, or know of someone who does, I would love to hear about them, so please don’t hesitate to share them. Just add a comment to this blog, or send me a note.
Here are some last words from the three talented artists featured:
Having all these websites selling my work I made sure tha I constantly market them by joining some social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and I created a blog. I also regularly send a simple email newsletters to all my clients showing my latest work, exhibitions and promotional offers. I can see that it is really important to be active online doing marketing!
To visit Jude’s virtual world, go to http://www.judemaceren.com and start from there looking at all his other sites.
All bits and pieces help [in your online presence –MM]. Market anywhere you can, be totally shameless abut it, you never know when or how people might discover you.
To visit Maria’s virtual world, go to http://www.zazzle.com/xmasmall and start from there, linking to all her other stores.
I’m not sure how scouts go about finding the work of artists but I do know that having your work available to viw on many sites will help them to find your art. The other on-line galleries, graphic design stores and art shops I use are Etsy, Boundless Gallery, Absolute Arts, Yessy, D’ART, Fine Art America, Artflock, 1000 Markets, Cafepress, Printfection, Artist Rising, Imagekind and more.
To visit Laura’s virtual world, go to http://laurabarbosa.wordpress.com/about/ and start from there looking at all her other sites.
If you would like to read more about Art Licensing, please check these articles: