October 5, 2008.
About a year ago I joined a Licensing Group. I heard about the group through Cheryl Phelps, who I consulted with a few times regarding licensing my art. The group meets once a month to review our goals, share successes, failures and pretty much support each other. I say the "group" instead of "me" because I have a hard time making it each month, it is an hour away and we meet on Saturdays and well, two kids, two dogs and a business....not much free time. However, when I do go it has always been helpful, insightful and well really inspirational. I don't have art classes, art critiques, or an art professor to move me along.....just lil' ol' me and some artist friends and ceramic friends on the Internet (oh that sounded kind of dirty, but you know what I mean, right?).
Yesterday it was a full house (literally we met at one of the women's homes) with excitement. You could feel it in the air, and you could also sense the nervousness - yesterday an Art Licensing Agent and a Creative Director from Mossaic were speaking. They were also going to review some of our art. And like the super-good honor student that I was (sometimes, in Art & English of course) I took me some good notes, so in no particular order:
- If you are going to contact an agent you must have your website in order. Do not make it hard for them to click through to site. They also do not want to read how you started painting in the third grade and your grandmother taught you how to sculpt and you and your 4 cats live in a van down by the river..... They look at art first, and your information second.
- The colors you choose are sometimes more important than the art. If you are using hot color combinations from ten years ago, they may never see past that. Know the trends, pay attention to what is hot now, or what is "going to be hot".
- Don't be paranoid about getting art copyrighted before sending, the agents are professional and are not going to steal your art. Some artists are so freaked about showing they end up not getting in front of anyone - show your art.
- Only show recent art, art from two years ago - forget it. You are trying to get them to represent you - show your BEST and NEWEST designs.
- Before pushing send on that email - do your homework and check the agents website. If they only do Thomas Kinkaid and Country Folk Art......and you design tattoos, um maybe pick another one.
- They also recommend submitting between 10 and 15 pieces. One piece - does not tell them anything and 456 pieces.....eh over kill.
- Put your name on everything you send. And if you are smart add your phone number, email, website, name of your parents, first pets name, social security number, driver license.....okay maybe not all that information. Do know, they look at hundreds of pieces of art and will not remember what you did - put your information on everything - create a stamp or something.
- You need to have about 50 to 100 images in your portfolio.
- These agents are looking for more painterly work, not the graphic look that is so popular today.
- Make sure your line is consistent and that it can be easily recognizable in the same family, people should be able to tell it is all by the same artist.
- They are always looking for floral designs
- They are always looking for Christmas designs, this is the most popular art. Halloween is a close second, nd then Thanksgiving and Fall. Valentines day is fourth.
- When contacting them get to the point quickly, only time to write a detailed letter or email is to list your successes in industry or other licensed agreements you have.
- If you get the hand....er if you get rejected, then wait 4 to 6 weeks to re-submit. Do NOT send same images, send something new you have done.
- The word for next year is "Comfort", figure out what that means....but know it.
Do Your Shopping Homework
When looking for new styles, new look, new color combinations do not shop at Target or TJ Maxx, those are years after the fact. Go to Gump's, the trendy boutiques near your home or Neiman Marcus, Anthropologie - shop at the top. No time to shop go to Print & Pattern's blog and read it.....religously. Restoration Hardware - nope, already watered down. This will help you identify where the art is going, the styles and the colors are going. Watch trends or colors go through the channels - starting with fashion, high end art, color combinations in the home - be aware of this. When it hits WalMart - that trend is over. Look to Europe for next year's themes and colors, they are about one to two years ahead of us.
Get the Facts
Do know that whether you go with an agent or try to get contracts alone - this is time consuming work. The ones that are successful are able to paint quick, and turn around a LOT of art. Also, if you know Photoshop and can manipulate your art - that is a good thing too. Now, there will be some that buck the trend and be able to create their own "trend or color combinations" - those are few and far between. Watch what is going on and this is not copying or plagiarism - take your own spin on the trend.....own it, make it your own.
Where are we now? We are in the re-birth of the 70's and 80's, notice the looks the colors. Where will be next - the trends are always 30 years out. How can you (or me) take the next trend to the next level? What was hot 30 years ago? What color combinations do your remember from way back in the day? I don't know about anyone else reading this blog but 30 years ago I was in second grade, watching House on the Prairie and sulking cause the boy I liked did not like me. Colors and Style? Gaucho's, knee socks and clogs? Holly Hobbie?? I may have liked rainbows.....?
What I Learned from the Meeting
I have old art in my portfolio - all the new art I just designed, should have put it into tear sheets. I need to be watching what is up next, following color trends - even if I don't particularly like the new look. I also need to realize that the companies I submitted to that never emailed me back or kindly declined (or not so kindly) I need to re-submit. And, sheesh I need to paint, draw and sketch more - oh ya I am hoping to find time to do that.
Anyone else have other thoughts, facts or questions regarding licensing do's and don'ts - feel free to comment and share. Information is golden and I am always happy to learn from others.