The Business of Art Licensing with Expert Victoria Kukla

So, what is Art Licensing anyway?

Art licensing is the broad field where artists rent out their artwork to clients for a certain time!

The first few questions that pop in one’s head are: What types of artists were getting these deals? How they were finding them? What companies they were working with? How much they were getting paid?

Most times, it has hard to find information about art licensing and it is kind of scary to jump into the fields because that knowledge was so hidden.

To begin with, Art Licensing is creating art and commissioning it for different clients to put it on various products. For that, you must have a portfolio and an online presence to reach out to different clients and agents. One way to do so, is by creating an online shop on Etsy.

So if you are considering going into the field of art licensing, but you’re just really not sure how, or you’re not sure what’s right for you. Just answer these three questions:

  1. How much time do you have to dedicate to pursuing this field?
  2. How much money do you want to make? And what does that look like?
  3. What kinds of projects do you actually enjoy doing?

Because you could go into children’s book illustrations and just do that. You could draw a food related illustrations. You could be a sculptor and you could want to design home decor products! There are just so many different ways you could go in this field. Art licensing is still a new field and it still has a lot of potential for growth. It’s a great field to get into at this point in time, as licensing is the future for artists. And it’s really not a new concept.

Its good to go slow and just figure out what your passion is and just follow that. Just follow one passion that you care about, that lights you up and just run with it. Promise, there are opportunities out there waiting for you that you’d never even considered.

Additionally, a KEY tip to succeed in this career is NETWORKING. It is important to build relationships with people in the field for growth!

Get on Facebook and join other art licensing groups, join clubhouse meets and put yourself our there!  There is a wealth of free knowledge on Facebook, and other online platforms!

How to find agents?

At that point, I’ve been with my current agent now for about just over a year and I really get along with them very well. I think it’s really important to have a. An awesome trusting relationship with your agent. Uh, you know, they’re working for you and they’re helping you and, and you have a mutually beneficial relationship with each other.

And I think it’s really important to get along with them very well and have. Constant communication back and forth. So art licensing is a very broad field and it basically involves renting out your artwork. So if you want to make active income, I would tell you to do freelance and commission-based projects.

Now this is when you find a client or they find you. However it happens. And then you come up with a mutually beneficial project for that client. It could be their idea, or it could be your idea that they agree to, uh, you design the artwork for that project. And then they pay you for it, but then they also pay you a licensing fee and you allow them to rent your art for a certain period of time.

Let’s talk about $$!

It’s very very important that artists include a licensing fee in all of their contracts because it is industry standard. A lot of beginner artists do not do this and it really depreciates the value of the work in our industry.

Passive art licensing is what I tell people to do if they just want to dip their toes in the art licensing world but they’re not really sure if it’s for them or not. So passive licensing is when you build a portfolio and you are renting your artwork to various companies, to allow them to use that art on their products. The reason why licensing your work in this way is called passive income is because you’re working with specifically with retailers and the retail industry works on a seasonal or quarterly basis. So that’s how you’re going to get paid.

One can design a product and then license that, that artwork for a specific product and then not get paid for it until three months from now. So the major difference between freelance based projects and passive based projects is that.

If a company comes to you and ask for a specific design for one of their products that they want to license, well, they’re gonna pay you for your time for designing it for them specifically, but they’re also going to pay you to license it as well. Whereas passive licensing is. Just that you are not going to get paid until a few months out.

It’s going to depend on how much of those products sell. Some contracts have different negotiations involved where, they will be paying you no matter how many they print and sometimes your licensing fees that you will be paid depending on how much product sells. Art licensing is a very corporate minded field and they don’t really teach you that in art school, obviously, as artists, our work is very personal to us and I think it can be hard for some people to jump into that corporate mindset.

What you don’t need for Art Licensing:

You do not need an art degree! It’s true, you can get in Art Licensing if you’re creative and know your way around basic photoshop! Additionally, you can always build up your graphic design skills through free online courses.

What you need:

  • Lots of motivation and attention to detail! You can pick you favourite product and add your designs and art to it!
  • A laptop or tablet makes the process of learning and creating much easier. A suggestion would be to invest in one of these (if you don’t have one already!) and get started! You can add your work to ANYTHING! Literally!
  • A portfolio of all your amazing works that you want to add to different products! Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of pieces to work with. Just pick on few and create a portfolio which you are proud of, and as you create more work, keep on adding it!

Come, Let’s do this together!

Okay so now close your eyes closed and picture your art. If you could see your art on anything, what would it be? Where would it be? Would it be in stores? Hotels buildings, billboards, advertisements?

Take a moment to picture your work where everyone can appreciate it.

Now, open your eyes and write down your thoughts, write down everything you just thought about everything that just came to your mind. You can make it a reality. Those jobs are out there for you. Your ideal clients are out there waiting for you. The reality is that there is an abundance of work that needs to be done.

And every single artist can’t do everything. There are projects waiting for you. Not only that, but when artists get involved in the world of art licensing, They have the power to change some aspects of the consumer experience beyond the realm of design. When companies work with artists, they’re usually interested in collaborative terms and care a little bit more about how things are being produced and the more artists we encourage to get into this field, the more intentional our products become.

For more information regarding Art Licensing, contact:
Victoria Kukla

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