Artists who license their work can self-represent, they can exhibit at trade shows, or they can work with agents who represent them. Would this work for you?
Many artists want to work in the studio, creating only – but not representing themselves. If you have a spouse, relative or partner who wants to be the marketing and sales end of the business, this can work. Otherwise, the idea of an artist’s agent and manager who will take over all these tasks is mostly a fantasy.
However, in the world of art licensing, there are agencies that represent groups of artists to manufacturers and others, who are the customer base for this industry. Licensing agents have tight connections with potential customers, and understand the business well. They can prospect and pursue accounts, participate in negotiations, and advise their artists on contracts. Agents also understand trends, what their customers are looking for, and follow projects from beginning to completion.
Art licensing agents will take, as their fee, 50% of the royalties on any licensing contract that they secure for their artists. This money is earned because of their expertise and connections, and the time and effort they save their artists. Theoretically, the time savings gives the artist the ability to spend their hours creating in the studio and being more productive, rather than focusing on marketing, prospecting, closing sales and securing contracts.
However, artists who license need to completely understand their role in the licensing process. It is up to the artist to create an appealing portfolio which is appropriate for licensing purposes (most art is not right for licensing) and they must come up with fresh designs to offer. They also have to be flexible, and willing to adjust to the needs of their manufacturers who contract with them for their art. Although their agent may advise the artist on their portfolio, all parties have to be highly professional and ready to work together to produce, sell and deliver images ready to be used on products for the marketplace.
Is it difficult to get a licensing agent to represent your art? Yes, there are thousands of artists who would like to license their work, and the number is growing all the time. Established art licensing agencies are approached constantly by artists who would like representation.
Art licensing agencies represent groups of artists whose work fits well with the type of manufacturers that they serve. If you artwork isn’t a good match for them, they will decline to work with you. If this is the case, don’t take it personally. No agent would be able to properly represent an artist who doesn’t fit their audience, and it would be a waste of their time and effort in doing so.
If you are searching for representation and know that your work is very licensable, investigate the agencies out there to find the best possible match. Have an understanding of the industry, which products your work is suitable for, and a professional presentation ready to go.
Artist credit: Studio Alex