How to License your Artwork
A tutorial for the emerging artist.
First, you need to develop a series of images with your own unique style. Each series should have a main focus, wildlife, for example. Most artists stay focused in one general subject area, and develop sets of at least 4-6 images that go together.
As you work, remember that you are not just making art, you are designing a product. What will the finished product be? Painting on a standard sized canvas produces a work that translates nicely to a print or poster, but you may need to consider other sizes if you want your work to easily convert to a standard greeting card or calendar size.
You can also design artwork for more complicated products like clocks, light plate switch covers, ornaments, and more. The companies that produce these products have templates for the artists.
Design for people who buy art. If your work is dark, abstract, or outsider, it's going to be tough to get it licensed - it's not impossible but the market is much smaller. If you design bright, colorful images with cheerful subjects for women aged 30 - 60, then you're much more likely to get licensed.
Design for a worldwide audience. Images of Seattle, for example, will not sell in New York, or London.
Research licensing agencies, and the artists that they represent. What type of work do they accept? What sizes do they want? What other requirements do they have? What are the current trends?
About the contract, ideally you should have a lawyer look it over, but that isn't always possible, especially for emerging artists, so you should learn the basics of licensing. It's a good idea even if you do have a lawyer. The links below will get you started.
View a list of agencies accepting submissions in our directory:
Global Licensing Information
Porterfields Fine Art
The Do's and Don'ts of Art Licensing