How long have you been in business and how did you come to be an agent?
I have been in the Art Directing/Art Licensing field for over 25 years. Initially I worked for a direct-mail greeting card company and expanded their stable of freelance artists so that resources of new art came from a variety of sources including art publishers and national greeting card companies. It was during this period of over ten years that I came across so many talented artists across the country, most of whom didn’t have a clue about marketing and promoting their art, that I decided to set off on my own and establish a licensing agency that would help new artists become established. The licensing industry was just taking off and more companies were becoming open to the idea of licensing art for their product lines. I consulted for a national art publisher for a few years, helping to build their licensing department and then eventually decided to give a 100% of my efforts to start Artworks! Licensing.
Do you have help/employees?
Most of the relationships that are established with customers come through my connections in the industry. One very important element in any successful business is the solid relationships that are formed with not only customers, but also artists. I have the pleasure of working with artists who are able to format their own designs avoiding the need for a staff designer.
Who are the manufacturers you work a lot with?
Our customers consist of a wide variety of manufacturers in both the home décor and gift markets such as Carson, burton&BURTON, Creative Converting, The Manual Woodworkers & Weavers, Conimar Corporation, C.R. Gibson, E.K. Success, Ravensburger Puzzles, KayDee Designs, etc.
How do you market artists? Who pays for this? (Anything different for new artists?)
We market artists through social media, websites, emailing, trade magazines, attending gift markets, and by exhibiting at licensing shows such as the New York SURTEX. We take full responsibility of covering all costs for the advertising regardless of the medium.
What do you look for in an artist?
It’s important that artists have a sense of who they are as an “artist” or “designer” and create a portfolio consistent with collections in various themes. We look for artists that have on-trend designs and who are familiar with some form of digital application such as Photoshop. In most licensing venues, manufacturers seek to license art that has been created in layered files so that the image can be applied to a variety of product types. We are always open to looking at an artist’s portfolio; however, we make it a point not to have significant overlap in our artists portfolios. It’s important that each artist feel they are unique, rather than competing, within the agency.
Do you feel an artist needs an online presence?
Yes, particularly now more than ever. With access to the Internet and Social Media, it is important for an artist to have a strong presence online which could be a website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. All of these mediums help support the promotional and advertising efforts that the agent provides for the artist.
How much art do you expect and artist to create in a year?
We select artists who have an existing group of images in their portfolio asking that the they continue to submit their new work as they complete it. Rather than expect an artist to create a certain number of designs in a year, we encourage the artists to add designs that may create a more well-rounded portfolio to appeal to more customers. For example, if an artist is very prolific but focuses more on Spring and Garden designs, we would suggest that they add Fall and Holiday designs to their portfolio. This creates a broader balance for customers because many times if a customer likes a particular artist’s style or that style sells well for them, they will want to consider a variety of seasonal designs for their product lines rather than limiting to one.
Any advice or other information you would like to share?
One bit of advice I would give any artist attempting to get into the licensing industry, is “don’t be afraid to be you”. Researching the market for trends and styles is a great means of staying current; however, it’s important to stay true to your own unique style rather than try to emulate other artists. Manufacturers look for art/artists that offer a fresh approach to a classic or ongoing themes. Competition is tough in today’s licensing world. More and more artists are entering the business, yet manufacturers are limiting the amount of licensing and outsourcing of art they acquire on a yearly basis. So, do your research, stay on trend, and look for agencies that may benefit from your unique style rather than agencies that already represent several artists like you.
Phone: (561) 253-8100
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