Sunday, May 31, 2009

Installation #2 of Surtex info

As promised Jeannette Smith emailed with some websites to use as a basis for establishing your own licensing website. By the way, Jeanette Smith, here is her website so you can learn more about her.

Ok, here are the sites she listed and one of them I already listed so I didn't include this one. You know who you are Tara Reed who rocks the licensing world!

There was a topic which came up several times during the Surtex classes. This is the importance of branding. From a whole host of resources, branding defines as "Making something identifiable." Lets get more in depth than this though.....

I don't want to rip anyone off so check out this link to a definition "Branding"

I am going to call out Kate Harper's greeting card line.

I was sitting next to my husband and I showed him Kate's site. He said, "Yep, I know those cards, I just bought one for my mom." Her style is specific within her greeting card line. The other "CASH CAKE" for Kate is these cards are universal. It is like music. Haven't you heard a song that everybody likes and wondered why? They might not understand the words but the tune reels them in. Truly, humans love composition we just won't admit it! We seek order...things that are recognizable speak to this order.

However, there is an emotional situation to branding too. The difference between a shopper saying, "I like it!" vs. "I have to have that!" can mean a big difference for the product. Of course this is speculation because it depends on the product. High end, they might have to think about it, etc.

To this point. I've been tricked by Target before. I have come to see they only order a small grouping of girls dresses (like a high end retailer might do) at the store where I shop. If you don't buy it that day you will not get one unless you travel to a Super Target. So I fall for their trick. It is not high end so "thinking" about it is not an option. They are practically forcing me to buy cute, cheap dresses. Dang it!

The last thing after reviewing my notes from Surtex is be flexible and follow your gut. If it feels too good to be true it is. In working with a manufacturer be flexible with your art and feelings about how they see your art. The bottom line is the bottom line, you are looking to make money!

Good luck!

Monday, May 25, 2009

StUDio ANiMals

The pets decided to join the sleepy studio! Pack 'em in!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

More on the National Stationery Show and Surtex

I am going to do this in two segments or maybe more. I am having a hard time getting all of the information revised and want to share, share, share!

So here is the scoop on Surtex 2009.

From the business of licensing perspective:
Like anything, good business sense is common sense. Here are some in depth things I wanted to share but after saying all of this and learning all of this, I came to the statement I said in my last sentence.

Some contacts to get started…..
If you think licensing is for you and you want help getting started here are some contacts

Tara Reed at :

Tara is an artist who has been successful with licensing her art for the past six years. She feels being flexible is key, study your market well, be professional, solicit the companies you feel best suit your art, pursue them with a calculated plan.

Jeannette Smith
She said the artist looking to license should make their website easy to use for the agent and manufacturer. She told us to email her and she would give us some sites to look at for examples. I will post these once I hear back from Jeanette, I email her today (May 23rd)

She said it is really important to her that the site be free of personal information and only have two of the avenues you pursue as an artist. So if you are licensing and working toward-well let’s say Children’s books you could have both your art for children’s books and licensing art on your site but this is it. No stories about your dog, she said a professional blog is rare and she never has time to go read them. That one is a toss-up if you add it to your site.

Cheryl Phelps (click on workshops)

There is a group on Linked-In called “The art of licensing” I met the women who started the group, her name is Cherish Flieder and her website can be seen at:

The book Blink was brought up. Here is a clip from Wikipedia….

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is a 2005 book by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he explores the power of the trained mind to make split second decisions. - Cached

The nuts and bolts of licensing
1) The artist generally gets between 3 and 5% of the wholesale price (lower for food packaging art-because volume is higher-or you hope it is.) in royalties from the manufacturer. Advances are rare. When negotiating your contract put in there that you will do one revision as part of the contract but beyond this they will pay you an hourly fee of $X amount. Remember you are working for yourself so about 35% of your income is taken out for taxes, plus other expenses.

2) You want you and your art to be a great fit for the manufacturer. You want a good working relationship as well as a product you know is a good match for you art. (design for the price point)

3) It might make sense to sit a minute and think of where your style could be used. Could you be on fine china, paper napkins, and stationery or bath items?

Research-narrow the companies you solicit.
a) Trade shows, Internet, shopping and looking for product that looks like your style are the best way to find the manufacturers for you.
Call them-for the submission guidelines.

Questions to ask the manufacturer…..
a) How much licensed art do you use a year?
b) How many products do they make (how many skus)?
c) Are there any current needs in the market? (They might be ok with this but some manufacturers are relying on the artist to bring them trend and design in a new way….)
d) Ask who accepts the submissions in your genre and area of product interest. Ask how they like to see the art. In this be sure to ask if it is helpful for you to use templates of their product so they can see it ‘complete’ or would they like to just see the art in a photo or digitally?
e) Ask if they have templates you can download from their website or how you could come upon this.
f) Ask how often and what times of year they like to see art. When and how often do they prefer you send new samples?
g) What is their process once they receive the art? (If they don’t have any work right now but like your work will they let you know they will keep it on file?)
h) CALL with a follow-up once your work has arrived. Maybe a week after it arrives. Ask when they will review the art?
i) Follow-up again after they’ve reviewed it to see if there is potential for sending more art in the future. Also, if they don’t like the art, stay professional, the manufacturing professionals I met said “Don’t walk away with your tail between your legs.” Ask why? Can you help me from your expert opinion? On the other side of this if they say “I would like it but this way.” You could change it and resubmit it but don’t keep changing this one piece-you could be ‘beating a dead horse.’ Try to make new art, following your gut and use the better sense of direction from your experience.

Words from the professionals…..
Many of the manufacturers said they are looking to artists to bring the design element and new ideas. The word was American products come from this… starts from Europe in the fashion circuit. Check out magazines, then this is translated into products for Europe’s gift and stationery and home market. From there it comes to us.
Many of the manufactures said they work 12-18 months ahead. This translates to you making the art now, they will decide what products your art will encompass. Their design dept will make adjustments to your work-refitting, cropping to fit product. The manufacturer’s design group could change some colors, etc. Then you may or may not get a chance to see a proof. (Nice) and it won’t be manufactured until about 9 months later. Then distribution happens. So be ready to wait to be paid because it isn’t until there are sales and then it is still at least a three month wait because you are paid quarterly by most companies.

Because of the market they are not buying art as much as they are licensing it. When they say buying art it is convoluted and I did not get the definitive answer. So this is what I heard. Buying art is not the same as work for hire. It is like licensing but they HEAVILY restrict it. So you would sell the rights to sell the same art to another company or use it yourself to make the same products. If the image is going on tabletop items then you cannot use it in another capacity to do the same.

The “Life” of a product is 3-5 years.

a) Obviously hire a copyright, licensing lawyer with whom you jive.
b) Have it written in your contract that you can audit the net sales for your royalties. Companies might flinch at this and it might be a deal breaker so choose your path. If you miss out on some ca-ching because their process is sloppy, purposely or otherwise how will you feel?

The panel for one of my classes was asked does the manufacturer want an agented artist?
(Tara Reed(artist), Cyndi Hershey (Manufacturer-Red Rooster Fabrics), Julie Ueland(artist), Linda O’donnell (manufacturer), Edward Kaeding(Manufacturer-Certified ceramics and tabletop)

Collectively they said it doesn’t matter. However, an agent can hold you back so make sure they are doing their job. Julie Ueland said in three years she’s had three agents. She went many years un-agented and came to the point where she wanted one. She had clients with whom she regularly worked and they would call her and say her agent was holding back the product could she call them. So she fired them. Two of them and then she got a great agent.

There is the first portion, happy reading and learning!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My experience of Surtex and the National Stationery Show

I met wonderful people. I cannot believe how open and receptive everybody was. I walked away from the show realizing how I would market myself if I am headed this route.

I was on this trip with Entrepreneur #1. She and I learned a lot and I am happy to see I can now better understand the scope of her project and I am really excited. We had a blast and the synchronicity for us was amazing. While at the same time it seemed like life could be this way everyday and it was our attitude while we were there which made everything come together so nicely. I felt directed to where I needed to go the entire time. What a gift.

I also learned a lot for entrepreneur #2. Fair trade is her gig and it looks like she is on time with her project. Excellent!

I met a few artists, shared information and the really lovely thing is all of the ones who really struck me will likely work on entrepreneur #1’s project and that is awesome. Lots of integrity in these artists!

I also connected with an artist named John. You can see his work at

I am excited to have been asked to join his project by creating art in my style (for kids) to try on his product. It is a fantastic opportunity for me and I am very grateful.

Overall, I got what I went for, a better understanding of art licensing, to meet other artists and ask questions, to get a better idea of what entrepreneur #1 is doing and to find possible models and support for entrepreneur #2. It was perfect, absolutely perfect.

I will post my notes from my classes in a few days. I worked hard to get it typed on the airplane but I was seated next to a Jehovah's witness.

What's going on

Maybe I should say what I am doing so I have offered a starting spot. I am working with two different entrepreneurs. I call them entrepreneur #1 and #2. These projects flow together in a mysteriously wonderful way. I am amazed with such vastly different projects parallels seem to constantly intertwine allowing me to learn something from one and bring it to the other and vice versa. I am in awe of how I now see these projects as they come forward into a more clear light.

Attending the National Stationery Show I can now see the scope of entrepreneur #1's project and I am thrilled to work on such a forward concept and have the chance to showcase my art as a way to help the product sell. #2's project is also growing daily. I was fortunate to see a prototype today and what a catalyst it is for this project's beginnings. I will in one week be creating a design plan for products created in Thailand for entrepreneur #2. I am not kidding! I feel very fortunate to have both opportunities and I am bursting with excitement.

I hope this helps to establish a base for my posts going forward.

Monday, May 18, 2009

National Stationery Show and Surtex 2009

I am having a great time at the show. Learning a lot! I started a post with all of the information from my classes. I will get it out there very soon. I know you are all on the edge of your seat waiting for information about licensing art!

I updated my website. Have a look!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Time to get a jump on May blogging

Mountain Bike-o-Rama!

I hope to blog my experiences at the Surtex show. I will be taking classes and will of course share any hot tips I learn! I called the Waldorf and there is a charge for WiFi-come on! Well, my goal is to blog the event but we'll see how much time I have to seek an Internet cafe....