Art licensing is “the business of leasing a copyrighted or trademarked art work by means of contractual agreement (a license), for a specified product, promotion, or service for a specific time period, in an agreed upon territory, for an agreed upon fee or royalty.” Mark Woodward..
Sounds simple doesn’t it and it very often is…if done correctly…
Art licensing is a very lucrative way to make money with your art..I’ve done it, (and will be licensing again very soon), and many artists do, but here is the caveat…it’s a mine field or if you like this expression better, it is like getting into shark infested waters…
There are many ways to license your work, from the simple greeting card to record album covers, book illustration, home decor products…the list goes on and on…at some time in their career, many artists are either approached by licensees or toy with the idea of sending copies of their art works to some of the big licensing companies
Everything you see around you in department stores was designed by an artist somewhere who is earning money every time that item is sold…
“How much you earn varies depending on where your art appears and on how many items are sold. The royalty for images appearing on T-shirts ranges from 8-10%, posters range from 7-10%, mugs pay a 5% royalty, and royalties on limited editions will net you between 10-15% of sales.
Product sales from a single artist’s first licensing agreement were $800,000 of which she earned 10% or $80,000. Over the past 30 years, artist, licensing guru, and course developer Michael Woodward has licensed over $600 million in retail goods" .info courtesy Changing Course..
But all is not gold that glitters, and the licensing business is also filled with many sad stories of artists who were robbed, who lost copyright to their works, and even lost the ability to sell the art works any where else…forever..
To avoid some of the pitfalls, first become very conversant with copyright law, and to get yourself an attorney who specializes in licensing agreements
Get acquainted with all the possibilities where your work would fit the bill…silkscreens, lithos, giclees, greeting cards, stationary and gift products, collectors’ plates, place mats and trays, needlecraft, tableware, children’s books, home décor products etc. etc.
Discuss with your lawyer the advantages of advances v.s. royalties, terms of agreement, royalty rates, and working with companies you might never see face to face…how to research the company and their reputation is very important and whether you need to get an agent once offers come rolling in..
Say you have an offer pending right now…what do you do? where do you start?
Read the contract from cover to cover and then read it again…get an attorney who is experienced in this area to vet it for you and make any changes he feels may be to your advantage…
Never sign away your copyright and keep full control of the distribution rights of your art..e.g. even though I licensed a large number of my works, I was still able to sell the exact same images here or anywhere I pleased…
I never allow sub-licensing, because then I would have no control of where my art was placed, and for how long it could be used…e.g.I might license some images for cards and if I agreed to sublicense might find them anywhere on anything, forever amen and would have no way of stopping it..
All you want to do in an agreement is simply what I said in the first paragraph, "license a ..if they ask for more, get legal advice and read between the lines…don’t let a high fee blur your vision, or the need to see your art on place mats everywhere cloud your common sense…
Believe me, it isn’t worth the loss of your valuable work..
Now I’ve scared the daylights out of you, but don’t be, with care and diligence you too can be making lots of money out of your art
Are you planning to license any of your work?
Have you been approached by a licensee or licensed any of your work.. Was it a good or bad experience?
Have you any ideas to share with our RB members?