Friday, February 27, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Teresa Woo-Murray

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Ann!  I'm honored!
I attended the Fine Arts Program at the University of Washington, Seattle taking ceramics, graphic design and filmmaking. I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but could not decide which kind of artist, so I tried a little bit of everything! After college I somehow became a professional musician and I played piano with bands that traveled through out the country for the next ten years until I decided to return to art as a career. I got my first "real art job" as an in-house production artist and worked my way up to senior designer/art director in 8 years. After that, I struck out on my own as a freelancer and immediately had great clients and plenty of work. I attribute this to being an in-house artist where I was able to soak up everything I could from my very talented colleagues, on-the-job training, I suppose. The company believed in giving their artists improvement opportunities and I jumped at the chance to take Photoshop and multi-media courses. To this day I continue to take as many continuing education classes as I can. The most recent courses were in Textile Design at Otis College of Art and Design. 

Do you work in just one medium? Several?

I mainly work in digital, but many designs begin as pencil sketches just to get the ideas flowing and then I will either ink my design elements or go directly to the computer. Occasionally I will paint with watercolors or gouache.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?

This is one of those tough, but easy questions because the best answer is - it comes from everywhere.  Books, magazines, conversations, nature - I love animals! - or just sweating out a deadline.  Sometimes I'll look at other artist's work, but that can become distracting. If I do look at other artists they tend to be illustrators from the 50's and 60's like Mary Blair and the Provensens. I'm a huge fan of Mirosav Sasek and I am trying to collect every single one of his books!

What are you working on now?
I'm starting to work on Christmas and after that will work on Everyday. I just finished up some Valentines. These designs are for specific licensees.  I hope to have time soon to work on some new collections, just some ideas I've been dreaming of doing and hope to drum up interest later. 

Anything else you would like to share with us?
I was exhibiting last year at Surtex and had a few samples out on the table. While I was away from the booth, a former licensee from a few years back stopped by and saw one of their products. They said they'd return later, which they did. While looking through my portfolio, the art buyer said, I want these three designs! I reminded her she had licensed them years ago and the contract had expired.  She said I don't care, I want them again! That's the beauty of licensing!

Advice? There is a plethora of art licensing advice out there these days in the form of personal coaches, seminars,  blogs, linkedin groups, online courses, etc. which is great. The most important thing is to try and find your own voice/style or styles that reflect who you are. Next, get yourself out there! This is advice from someone who is shy and embarrassed to toot my own horn. As a freelancer, I didn't have to do that because work steadily came from recommendations. Art licensing is a business and the artist must learn the business of making, licensing or selling art. I've also been slow to use social media and promote myself, but if they can't find you, how are they going to know you're there? I've been getting a little better at using social media. Isn't that how you found me Ann? (Me: Yes!!)

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
Early riser. Contrary to my musician days.

What is your favorite food?
All food. I cook almost everyday. It's great way to relax and get away from the computer.

Thank you again for featuring me! I can be found at these following places:

Facebook.  Please stop by and like my page and leave a link to yours:

Linked In:

If you are interested in licensing my artwork and wish to see my online portfolio:
Call 818 242-3465 or email me at

THANK YOU for stopping by my blog!
Do you want to be spotlighted? Send me an email:
Make my day and follow this blog :-D Don't want to miss the good stuff? Sign up for my newsletter ;-)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bo's bLAWg - What should be in an art licensing contract with a manufacturer

MJ Bogatin (“Bo”) of Bogatin, Corman & Gold, is an Arts and Entertainment Attorney in San Francisco.  He is also Co-President of California Lawyers for the Arts.  Bo is available to answer some of your questions surrounding the business of Art Licensing. - THANKS BO!


I have a list of some 30 issues that should be covered one way or the other in a visual art License Agreement with a manufacturer.  Some of them are what you would consider “legal boilerplate,” but there are good reasons for such provisions to be included.  Others are more particular to most any agreement that pertains to a copyrighted image.  Then there are some that are unique to a visual artist’s agreement with the manufacturer of goods.  I will identify the most important to me from the last two groups.

Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Rights

The first and most important issue to me is whether or not the license is to be Exclusive or Non-Exclusive, and whether the referenced exclusivity pertains to the goods for which the designs are intended, or the designs which are being licensed, or both.  On occasion the nature of the exclusivity is uncertain.  Consider the following provision:

“Artist grants to Manufacturer the exclusive right to Artist’s illustrations on Schedule A attached hereto to reproduce, manufacture, have manufactured, use, sell, advertise, promote, and distribute in domestic and/or foreign markets in the Licensed Products in accordance with this Agreement.” 

What exactly is the exclusive right that is granted?  A literal reading could be interpreted to mean that the Artist has licensed exclusively only her Scheduled illustrations to this manufacturer, but retains the right to license other of her images, whether or not similar to those licensed in this agreement, to a competing manufacturer of the same kinds of Licensed Products!

If the Grant of Rights is Non-Exclusive, then the Artist maintains her right to license to other manufacturers of the same or similar goods.  If Exclusive as to goods, then the artist will not be able to license to competing manufacturers for the duration of the agreed-upon Term of the license. 

A well-drafted Grant of Rights provision, in concert with a set of Recitals (“WHEREAS” provisions that I recommend at the start of an Agreement that identify the parties and the underlying intentions of the Agreement), should clearly state the nature of the Exclusive Rights that the manufacturer expects to acquire and the limits on their use.

If the Exclusive Grant of Rights bars the artist from licensing the same or other illustrations, make sure that the bar extends only to competing goods rather than any other kind of manufactured goods.  The goods that are encompassed under the license should be listed.  These are often called “the Licensed Products.” 

Furthermore, depending on the length of the Term, make sure that the Exclusive Agreement requires a minimal level of sales for each year of the Term.  You do not want to tie up your best illustrations (much less all of them!) in a deal that does not net you a reasonable minimum income.  Where the manufacturer is unwilling to guarantee minimums, it is possible that they will accept the prospect of the License becoming Non-Exclusive as to your illustrations and their goods if the royalties do not come to an amount that the manufacturer itself believes is the minimum you should be earning for Exclusive Rights on its anticipated sales.  The minimum for each year can change, depending on the kind of goods, expected promotional efforts and the market.  It is not unusual for me to come up with an acceptable ‘bell-shaped curve’ of a minimum in royalties, low the first couple years, spiking at years three and four, then receding again as the product is supplanted. 

A significant Advance on sale royalties is another way to insure a decent income on the license, particularly if the Advance can be recouped only on the first year or two of sales.



The next most critical consideration is whether or not the manufacturer will be sublicensing manufacturing rights to another entity.  As you can imagine, such sublicenses can result in significantly diluted royalties to the Artist.  You might expect to negotiate for the right to pre-approve proposed sublicensing terms.  To be more attractive to you, a sublicensing arrangement could involve a big up-front fee in which you would share.  Otherwise, look to establish a minimum royalty per unit sale regardless of manufacturer sub-licensing rights.



A related issue is the manufacturer’s right to discount its wholesale goods.  Sales to big chains and Amazon can include huge discounts due to the volume of sales involved.  Again, as long as the Artist is entitled to a minimum $um on each unit sold, discounts need not grossly decrease the Artists 4 or 5% royalty rate.


Audit Right

It is one thing for a manufacturer to supply an Artist (and her accountant!) with statement of sales and computations of royalties due; another for the Artist to have the right to audit the manufacturer’s records to assure the accurate reports on sales.  While I have nothing to support the opinion, I think that the threat of an Audit, particularly with a financial penalty attached in the event of the discovery of any erroneous accounting, helps to insure that the accountings are in fact accurate; while absence of the provision pretty much assures the licensor Artist that they will never know if the accountings were accurate or not.


Copyright Notice / Trademark

Wherever possible the Artist should look to include a legible copyright notice associated with the illustration being used in the product.  Don’t forget to include the notice in product packaging that might well include the artwork.  I urge clients to include their own trade name as long as they are certain that it does not infringe another entity’s trademark.  The Artist can expect to warrant that she has rights to any trade-name and trademark used.  Including a URL as part of the name credit in the copyright notice (or otherwise) can be a significant promotional benefit to the Artist.


Quality Control

The quality of the item and the Artist’s illustrations as used is not the issue it was back in the Analogue Age.  Correct use of Digital files pretty much assures that the reproduction of the illustration will be decent.  However, the product itself may not be.  The Artist will want to satisfy herself up front that the manufacturer makes quality goods and that her reputation will not be sullied by association with crappy goods.  The right to pre-approve the product and quality of the reproduction and copyright notice and name credit, along with free samples after approval and manufacture are still legitimate terms to include.


Dispute Resolution

If there is a dispute that crops up, whether on name credit or accountings or termination rights, it is likely to be an unreasonably expensive proposition unless there is a prevailing party cost and fees provision included in the Agreement.  Otherwise, to bring a claim, the Artist will be out-of-pocket for attorney’s fees and costs to bring an action in court on a dispute that cannot be resolved between the parties.  A prevailing party costs and fees provision makes it much more likely that a party will not have to pursue a meritorious matter in court, or sue on one that lacks  merit.  

A much better alternative than the threat of court process, however, is the prospect of mediation and/or arbitration as the contracted way to resolve disputes.  Such Alternative Dispute Resolution process has become much more acceptable to manufacturers over the last few years.  95% of the matters that I have had occasion to refer to mediation – a three-way discussion facilitated by a trained mediator -- are resolved in the course of that process. Arbitration, if necessary, is a quick, private and relatively inexpensive alternative to court.  Prevailing party fees and costs can still be awarded in arbitration if provided in the Agreement.  I strongly recommend that provision still be included as a means to leverage settlement of a legitimate claim and avoid specious ones.

As mentioned at the top of this bLAWg, there are many more issues that need to be included in the typical Manufacturer’s Licensing Agreement, but they are for the most part all reasonably included by both parties if requested (or required).  If you have raised these listed issues in negotiations, I suspect you will be respected for your level of sophistication about licensing terms, and may well be able to get better terms than other Artists of whom the manufacturer’s business rep might otherwise take advantage.

If you have further questions about this that you want to direct to me personally, I can be contacted through my website linked below.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is not intended as legal advice. Because the law is not static, and one situation may differ from the next, we cannot assume responsibility for any actions taken based on information contained herein. Also, be aware that the law may vary from state. Therefore, this website cannot replace the advice of an experienced attorney. Receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. MJ Bogatin, Bogatin, Corman & Gold,

Friday, February 13, 2015

Peek into! - Next Opportunity to Register

 Hey Creative Souls!

I have been getting questions of what the NEW and fabulous looks like.
The above image is what an art director will see when visiting my profile. (Click the image to see it larger). That will give you a much better idea of how the site navigation is set up, what your profile page might look like etc. You can connect with other members and join groups too! :-)

You can feature up to nine collections on your profile page. (You can upload as many collections as the plan you signed up for allows). I think of those images as 'teasers'. Art directors and manufacturers can request to see your portfolio. Or in my case I have selected the option to share my portfolio with all art directors and manufacturers. This site is set up for you to choose the amount of privacy and control you want to have with your art - nice! is in Beta, and holly cow is it amazing and working wonderfully - yes, I am excited about it :-)

I can only speak from my perspective, but I would think art directors and manufactures would love the one-stop-shopping with NO travel expenses! They can join for free. I could gush on, but those two are big benefits.

I also imagine the same goes for agents (they do have to pay to join just like artists do). They can use this site as their privacy protected art catalog :-)

Next opportunity to register:

I asked Cherish, Founder of if she has any news to share. Here is what she said: "We are thrilled with the way the new (ALSC) community is already blossoming in it's early Beta stages. So far, we have about 250 art licensing professionals registered, including agents, artists, and art directors/manufacturers. Art licensors are very busy uploading thousands of pieces of work that can be shared with ease and searched with art directors they select. There is an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm in the air for the way this new tool has the ability to create opportunities for creatives and licensee companies alike.

Our next opportunity to register for portfolio membership on the site is March 2nd
. All information will be sent to our email updates list. If you want to get on that list, be sure to click over to to sign up.

Qualified art directors may email at any time for details on how to set up a complimentary account."

I want to take a second and thank ALSC for the great profile they posted on me! I REALLY appreciate it. If you are curious about it, you can see it here:

Join a group:

If you have joined or do join ALSC, join a group! There are already several groups on the site. It is a way to get together to talk about the business or ask a question. I started a group called "2nd Thursdays" and we had our first get together last night. We had a great turn out - what a blast! :-) Even though I have picked a time and place for us to hangout, you can post in the group at anytime. Hope to see you there!

Thanks a bunch for stopping by the blog, sharing it with your friends. If you don't want to miss what is going on, be sure to follow this blog and/or sign up for my newsletter. Happy Creating!

Next week's post: What should be in an art licensing contract with a manufacturer. - Bo's bLAWg.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Traci Bixby

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?

I’ve been painting and drawing all my life. When I was in high school I knew I wanted to go to art school. I ended up in Seattle at an amazing school called The School of Visual Concepts. My dream was to be an illustrator. I took such amazing classes from working artists. My favorites were figure drawing, watercolor and color theory. 

Do you work in just one medium? Several?

I’ve always been primarily a watercolor artist and have strived and worked very hard to learn some digital skills. I’m still learning PhotoShop and Illustrator and am having such fun with both tools. I begin everything though with a pencil or pen and a brush. 

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?

I am inspired by so many things. I have sketchbooks full of ideas and I go back through them all of the time to get inspired. Many of my drawings or paintings are from a simple doodle or sketch. I’m so in awe of our world and those small moments in time that make up each day. I just keep sketching and writing down my ideas and that’s what keeps me going. 

What are you working on now?

As of now I am doing personal work and adding to my portfolio. I am so interested in licensing and have begun working on creating many collections.  I’ve taken a lot of courses from such amazing artists and I’m putting all of my new knowledge to use. I’m definitely pursuing new licenses and illustration work. 

Are you an early riser? or night owl?

Definitely a night owl!

What is your favorite food?

I love pastries. All kinds, scones, muffins, breads, cinnamon rolls and of course pie!

You can find Traci:

THANK YOU for stopping by my blog!
Do you want to be spotlighted? Send me an email:
Make my day and follow this blog :-D Don't want to miss the good stuff? Sign up for my newsletter ;-)

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