License Your Art Part II – Make a Plan

License Your Art Part II – Make a Plan

LICENSING YOUR ART PART II:  Is written by Maria Brophy, who writes a blog that helps creative people to design the career and life of their dreams.

Sigg Water Bottle


Planning out your licensing program is similar to writing a business plan.  But you don’t have to make it that complicated – just sit down with a piece of paper and good cup of Joe, and spend some time asking yourself the following questions:

What is my objective with licensing my art?  Determine what your goal is with licensing.  Do you want to focus solely on licensing and create a strong revenue stream?

Or do you want licensing to supplement the income you’re already making off of your art?

Do you want to use licensing to help create a buzz about your art?

Do you want to use licensing to help market your art?

Your objective with licensing is important, because if your goal is to make it your sole revenue stream, then you have a larger commitment to make in terms of your licensing program.

Where do I want to see my licensed products (my art) sold? There are different routes to take with licensing your art.  You can decide that you only want your art on high quality products, sold in top department stores or specialty stores.  Or, you can go the “make money quick” route and allow your art to go on products being sold in Wal-Mart and Costco.  It’s really your decision.

Sidenote:  With Drew’s licensing program, we won’t allow Licensees (manufacturers) to sell his products in Wal-Mart, Costco, etc.  We made one exception to that, with the boogie boards, but we know that if Drew’s t-shirt designs ever made it to a “basement store” like Wal-Mart, our licensing program would take a turn where we don’t want it to go.

What’s Wrong with Wal-Mart? Nothing, if that’s the direction you want to take with your art.  Selling in Wal-Mart has worked great for Thomas Kinkaide.  But for art that’s “street” or “youthful” you could kill your brand.  If Shepard Fairy sold his tees in Wal-Mart, it would hurt him greatly, because he is a “street artist” and his fans are youth that care about image.  But for Thomas Kinkaide, he markets to middle America soccer moms and old ladies, so selling in Wal-Mart makes sense.

What Manufacturers (Licensees) Do I Want to Contract With? Make a list of the companies you would most likely want to produce product with your art.

Just like Babe Ruth pointed to where he was going to hit the ball, you need to pin-point the companies you want to attract.

We always knew that we wanted a good shoe company – like Vans or Converse.  Luckily, we got the larger (and cooler) of the two, and Drew’s Converse shoes will be out next year.

Choose companies that will produce products that you like, and that sell in the stores that you listed earlier.

Am I willing to put in the Time and Money it will take? Yes, licensing is working smarter, not harder.  But, it’s a lot of work to get it going in the beginning, and sometimes it can take 10 years to build up a strong licensing program.  But those ten years will go by anyway, so why not cultivate a nice income stream that, should your art be a good seller, money will continue to flow to you year after year.

It’s important to write out your licensing plan, so that when you begin entering into licensing agreements, you keep yourself on track with where you want to go.  Otherwise, you’ll end up licensing to companies you may not want to and have your art sold in stores that are not good for your future.  Get Clarity!  You can always change it later, but you have to begin somewhere.

Stay tuned for Part III on Licensing!  Follow me on Twitter to get updates.


Spunk Brophy

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    Posted at 22:45h, 31 May

    Some more questions. 😀

    Can you approach companies directly to license? Perhaps online? Or is it basically the Las Vegas Licensing Expo?

    I was looking around on their site and maybe missed the info, but do you (or can you) set up in an Artist Alley (Like at San DIego Comic Con) and show your art, draw for people, etc? Or do you have to buy a booth? Or is it just companies that set up and you approach them?



    Posted at 22:31h, 31 May

    This is absolutely fascinating and wonderful information. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m definitely going to look into this. I’ve been kind of on the outskirts of it. Even had someone suggest the Vegas Licensing Expo to me (almost went) but it was before I really understood what that was. But, clearly, it’s a great business to get into.

    I’ve been a professional artist for 12 years, have worked for “Game of Thrones” on HBO, Ridley Scott’s “Prophets of Science Fiction” and “Meteorite Men” on The Science Channel, Marvel, DC, Topps, Upperdeck, Warner Bros, and a ton of other places, but I do the art once, get the paycheck, don’t get royalties, don’t keep the copyright, so it’s always “What’s my next project? Where’s my next check coming from???” Very stressful!!

    So, hearing that you’ve made $450,000 on just one image and continue to make money on it is just mind-blowing!!!! I HAVE to get into that for my families sake! I mean GOOD GRIEF!!! HA! 😀

    You’re awesome for sharing this stuff.

    So, the art you’re creating, are you creating it FOR companies/products, but negotiating to license it? Like are they asking for that particular image or are you just creating images, then finding people to license it to? I ask because some of your gallery images are so specifically shaped (like for a boogie-board).

    Gosh, I have a million questions! I’ve followed you both on Twitter and will be watching the blog for more. Great stuff!! Great art! You’re both awesome!! 😀



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