Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Buffalo Works and Suzanne Cruise Creative Services join to become one agency


Did you hear the BIG NEWS! I wanted to share this press release I received with all of you. ~Annie


Joanne Olds, President, The Buffalo Works

Suzanne Cruise, President, SCCS Inc.

The Buffalo Works and Suzanne Cruise Creative Services

join to become one agency

Minneapolis, MN and Kansas City, MO (March 23, 2016) – Joanne Olds of The Buffalo Works and
Suzanne Cruise of SCCS, Inc. announce the creation of a larger full service licensing agency. This
collaboration will benefit their collective base of licensed artists and strengthen the brands they represent.

Both Ms. Cruise and Ms. Olds are 25+ year veterans of the industry, and their respective licensing
agencies are focused primarily in the art-licensing segment. “We feel this union utilizes the breadth of
our combined experience to further benefit the clients we represent. The Buffalo Works will be able to focus more fully on the branding and product development while SCCS, Inc. will continue to focus on traditional art licensing opportunities. This will allow for even more licensing success for all of the
amazing clients we now collectively represent.”

Both companies will be located next to each other in June at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas (booths
#E106-#E108), forming one larger booth to facilitate their new joint venture. Additionally, SCCS Inc.
will be exhibiting with all artists at the May Surtex Show in New York in booth #407.

You also might like this agent spotlight on Suzanne Cruise, Cruise Creative click here
Thank you all for the social media support of this blog - we are an awesome community!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 is 1 Year Old! A lot has happened:

Editors note 4/18/2016. Joan Beiriger has a very comprehensive post on here

Wow! Can you believe it has been a year since (ALSC) launched?! I wanted to wish Cherish Flieder a great BIG Happy Birthday. THANK YOU for such an amazing site.  It has brought me opportunities/manufacturers I didn't know about and sped up my ability to connect with the wonderful art licensing community. Signed a contract to be announced and have another manufacturer shopping my art around to some big stores! This and more has happened for me because of ALSC :-D Here is a link to Valerie Hart talking about the new deals she has found though ALSC:

I am one of many Founding Members and couldn't be more pleased or proud of what Cherish and her team have accomplished. This site has grown so fast in community and new features.

Here is a link to my ALSC profile page (Art Directors/Manufacturers, you can join for free!)

Here are links to other artists on ALSC that are blogging about the 1 year celebration:

A year ago I posted why I am on ALSC - It has my yellow VW bug, "Daisy Doodle Bug".  I now have a new 2012 Red VW Bug, "Doug, the Doodle Bug". I have spotted Daisy in one of the mall parking lots the other day - hope she likes her new owner :-)

If you join or are a current member of ALSC, check out my "2nd Thursdays" group. We get together and talk about any questions you may have about the site, and all things Art Licensing :-D

I am really excited about being open 24/7, no airfare or hotel needed to exhibit my art. What do you love about ALSC?  

NOTE! Feel free to leave your blog link in the comments below if you like.
Everyone, be sure to spread the love and check out all the blogs! Thanks.
If you share you own work on social media, use #artlicensingshow

Friday, March 25, 2016

Help Me Celebrate - Wed. March 30th - Right Here!

Hey! Happy Friday Gang!

I am holding off my usual post until THIS Wednesday, March 30th cuz there is going to be a party! (ALSC) is turning 1 year old! Check out my blog post this Wednesday and see what all the fuss is about. It is an open house, come at anytime, I will be wearing my PJ's & drinking raspberry tea ;-)

If you have an art licensing focused business an have not yet taken advantage of the free directory listing on ALSC - click here!

Do you want to join the fun? Giveaways, art promotion opportunities and more - you can read about 's Anniversary Celebration blog post here:

So excited!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Bo's bLAWg - Use of Quotes and Song Lyrics

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!

Could I be sued for using somebody else's quotes?  What about song lyrics?

I knew I was going to get this question sooner or later.  It is a tough one.

There are at least three legal rights that bear on the question of whether or not an illustrator can make commercial use of an existing quote or song lyric.  These are Copyright, Trademark and the Right if Publicity which I wrote about last month.

With respect to Copyright, let’s first clarify that words, phrases and titles are not by themselves copyrightable.  See:

However, when the words or phrases you want to use are contained in a larger, copyrighted work, then they are indeed protected by copyright.  The same rule applies if the phrase you want to use is a quote, whether from a copyrighted speech or a catchy aphorism used by a writer or one of her characters in the course of dialogue.  Use of the same content in your commercial product without the permission of the copyright holder, whether in a greeting card, or other paper product, is an infringement.  The Copyright Office addresses the same question in one of its own FAQs:

“If you use a copyrighted work without authorization, the owner may be entitled to bring an infringement action against you. There are circumstances under the fair use doctrine where a quote or a sample may be used without permission. However, in cases of doubt, the Copyright Office recommends that permission be obtained.”

Then the question is whether or not the Illustrator’s particular use is defensible as a “Fair Use.” See my Fair Use bLAWg from last May:

Considering the four part Fair Use test: 
1)  The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2)  The nature of the copyrighted work;
3)  The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4)  The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

I believe it is reasonably clear that while the substantiality of the amount used may be minimal, (factor 3), the Illustrator’s commercial use and the fact that her use effectively eliminates the copyright holder’s market to license the same quote for similar use would be sufficient to defeat the Fair Use defense. 

When considering whether or not pithy sayings might be protectable on their own, I ran across a case by Ashleigh Brilliant ( ) who has successfully defended his copyright of his collection of original sayings.  I can also vouch for the fact that certain quotable essayists and humorists have sent out ‘cease and desist’ letters to some of my clients for their use of quotes, including the Estate of Erma Bombeck.  However, given how broadly her quotes are now disseminated online, I must wonder if they gave up trying to stop commercial use.

As for trademark, if the quote or lyric you want to use is being utilized as a trade or service mark then your use could cause someone to believe that the trademark holder is the source of goods on which you use it.  That is the gravamen of trademark Law – to avoid just such confusion as to origin -- as noted in my May 2015 bLAWg:  So, you want to make sure that you are not using a pre-existing catchy saying associated with another company to attract prospective purchasers of your goods.  Many such phrases, such as “Show Me the Money,” “ET Phone Home,” “Got Milk” and “Just Do It,” are trademarked, and cannot be used by you without likely objections, if not claims, by their owners.
Finally, if you are using a quote, and in conjunction with the quote you use the author’s name, that is a use that can easily been seen as a violation of that person’s Right of Publicity, even if it is just being used to identify the source of her quote!  What if you were to use the quote without the author’s name?  Would that diminish sales of your product?  If so, then clearly there is a commercial advantage to using the name.  At the same time, if you go to the author or her agent or publisher for permission to use the quote, it is very likely that the permission will come with the condition that the quote be attributed.  And that is a large part of the reason a royalty payable on your sales will likely be required in exchange. 

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, March 11, 2016

Agent Spotlight - Julie Ager with Artistic Designs Group (ADG)

 (click images to view larger)

How long have you been in business and how did you come to be an agent?
I have been in the consumer products goods industry for over 30 years, and the licensing business for just about eight years now.  If you are counting, that obviously means we started this business at the heart of the recession (the WE refers to my partner who is also my mom, Mary Ann Fields).  We have heard repeatedly about the glory days, but we were just a little bit late to the party.  This actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Although I had been in the consumer products industry, this was a new angle for both us, and all of the artists we represented at the time.  So we set out to learn the ropes, make our beginner’s mistakes, understand the process and most importantly build relationships.  We were very thankful for a few wonderful manufacturers that took a chance on our artists right out to the gate. We found a small group of these wonderful folks that stepped up to mentor us and have now grown from that start to hundreds of licenses for our artists and a business that managed to survive the recession.  When you start there, the only way is up and - up is fun!  The art licensing community is a generous group of professionals – the agency reps, the artists and the manufacturers. 

Do you have help/employees?
We have recently grown to five full and part-time employees.  Missy, Jenni, and Kristi are new and work with me on graphic design - preparing files for both presentations and production; account management with our existing partners, and social media supporting our website and reaching out in other areas of social media that will help support our artists visibility and provide information helpful to the art directors that we work with.

How do you establish working relations with the manufacturers and retailers that you work with?
We have a few dozen manufacturers that we work with at any given time and our desire is to meet their needs and continue to build on those efforts.  The key thing we look for in a new project is a product development cycle that will sell significant volume for both the producer and the artist with a reasonable amount of pre-work on everyone’s side.  Most of the manufacturers are respectful of the value of the artist’s time, but we have in the past participated in development cycles that took so much prep time on the artists part that it made it very difficult to make a return on that time.

Do you prefer royalty deals? Flat fee?
Perfect follow-up question.  Overall we prefer royalty deals, however, there is a time and place for flat fee licenses.  Especially if we are dealing with a product line that we know will only be on the shelves for one season.  Either way, it’s critical that the artist maintain the copyrights! 
We are also finding that guaranteed minimums and advances have not met their demise as many had prophesied.  More and more these days this is a way to make sure that the artist is guaranteed a reasonable pay day from a given contract.

A few years ago I was waiting at the elevators unpacking at Surtex and got into a conversation with a couple of artists that sell their artwork.  It was interesting to hear their perspective, they really could not understand why we would license when the end payout was so far in the future and really an unknown to some extent.  I explained that we had a hard time understanding why they would sell their rights outright for what we would see as a very small ROI.  The reason I share this story is that I have found that there are even times when the sale of the design is the right decision, it’s just not our normal way of doing business, however, we have explored it for industries such as fashion apparel where the licensing model isn’t the accepted norm.

How do you market artists? Who pays for this? Anything different for new artists?
We have a variety of marketing strategies from trade show booths at shows such as Surtex and the Licensing Show; walking certain product trades shows such as Americasmart and the other regional gift markets,  or specialty shows such as home and housewares, quilt market, ABC Kids or Toy Expo.  We also meet one on one with both new and existing partners, we advertise in licensing trade magazines such as Total Art Licensing and send out email blasts on a regular basis.
In addition, we submit scheduled submissions based on our manufacturers product life cycle calendars and respond to their all calls with appropriate work.  The entire cost for all of our marketing is born by the agency.  The royalty from product sales is then split 50/50 with the artists.

What do you look for in an artist?
There are three things that we value most in an artist – 1) their foundation of talent, 2) their willingness to grow from where they start and always evolve, and 3) their willingness to be a participant in their success beyond just the creation of their art.  This last one might make an artist take a step back – what do you mean participate beyond my artwork, I thought that was your job?  What I mean here is that if I have two talented artists(1) and that are willing to grow (2), the one that is willing to go the extra step (3) is likely the one that will be the most successful.  For example, in their spare time they can shop and see what the trends are doing, they can pass along possible manufacturers that they see on these shopping trips, etc that would blend well with their style, and / or they could attend one or more trade shows each year (we are happy to get them in) just to absorb what they see on the floor and what the manufacturers who meet with us are saying, they could maintain their own website to multiply their visibility.  None of this is required, but it all helps!  P.S. Patience helps!  It normally takes a while to get started.

How much art do you expect an artist to create in a year?
There is no real magic number.  There are so many variables such as the style and detail of the artwork, the size of the collections the artist creates, and the other reality is sometimes life gets in the way.  When we begin, I like to encourage at least six new collections a year, but like I said that varies.  The key is that we need to keep our presentations new and fresh or the manufacturers and retailers will stop looking.  Why shouldn’t they if they are not seeing anything new?

How has the Art Licensing business changed over the years?
I believe the biggest challenge that we face these days is the commoditizing (yes, I looked it up, it’s a word☺) of many of the product lines that have traditionally been using licensed art.  I believe this comes from the increasing number of manufacturers sourcing their products out of Canton Fair or other similar shows in the international product source locations.  It is also affected by the increasing number of Print on Demand vendors popping up on the internet.  And, lastly by the decrease of time any given product line stays on the shelves.  All of these have affected the market by sending a more simplified, more cookie cutter product to the consumer.  I truly believe that this trend like many others like it in the past will ultimately swing back.   However, in the meantime I believe the artist that creates the most unique work, listens to the consumers and the manufacturers and makes it easy for the manufacturer to deliver a cost effective successful product line will be the most successful.

Any advice or other information you would like to share?
Be patient and persistent!  There is not an industry where the words “If you don’t succeed try, try again” are more true.  However, don’t keep trying the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Listen, Learn, Grow and Persevere and your chances are increased exponentially.

You can find Julie at:
Social Media: More coming soon!

Really looking forward to hearing what you have to say in the comments below!

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, March 4, 2016

Artist Spotlight - Cherish Flieder, artist and designer of Something to Cherish® and founder of®


Hi Annie! Thanks for the opportunity to be in the spotlight. It’s a honor to be here and share with you and your readers. - My absolute pleasure! (Annie)

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
I have been “self-teaching” since before I can remember. I grew up creating art and little gift products to give and sell to friends and family. My parents were very supportive and encouraged me to take some extra art classes, and enrolling me at University of Colorado when I was 16 years old to study painting and life drawing during the summer break. I won numerous awards for my art and enough scholarships to put me through a few different degree programs in college. I took classes in ALL the art majors and as many non-art electives as possible at a total of 4 colleges! In 4 years, I had earned the equivalent of a triple BFA in Illustration, Graphic Design and Fine Art with a minor in Leadership and emphases in French and Biblical Studies. You can probably tell by now that I LOVE to learn. I have never stopped taking classes in areas of the arts, business and marketing. Every job I do and every person I meet is an opportunity to learn something new. I feel very blessed for all the teachers, bosses, and clients that influenced me. I also follow current artists/designers of many disciplines, including the many greats that came before us. There is so much out there to explore and learn if you make a point to do it.

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
Combining and mixing media tends to be the best method for me. Water based media like watercolor, gouache and acrylics, are just fabulous for the way I like to create. Inks are also a favorite to add to the mix. Colored pencils, pastels, markers, and even 3D elements like paper collage, fabric, and embroidery have made their way into my works over the years. Working digitally is also easy for me. I enjoy using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, but prefer the handmade look and feel of traditional artwork. I’m always looking for a new way to approach a medium and add it to my art making toolbox. Recently, I have been exploring gold and silver leafing. Someday, I wish to do some more encaustic painting, as well.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
Thinking and problem solving is what I do most, thus an idea can come from just about anywhere. Nature, especially florals, and COLOR are a great influence on me. Experiences that I’ve had or idealized experiences and stories can be a great jumping off point for a new collection. Traveling is very influential when I get the chance. My hard drive is over-stuffed with thousands upon thousands of photos of my curious explorations from Canada to Mexico and from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and everywhere in between.

What are you working on now?
All kinds of things! I just finished teaching an intensive 8-week class on Illustration Marketing that I developed for Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design. I’m working on some 3-D garden decor pieces, stationery items, repeats for fabric and home accessory items. We just signed a deal for stamps to go with our Something to Cherish® stencils. I can’t wait to get some to play with! I’ll be posting about these projects and more on my blog ( and on Instagram ( and Facebook ( in the coming months. Stay tuned!

I am also excited to be co-leading an art retreat called ArtBizJam this fall ( It’s the perfect 3-day getaway for any art licensing artist who wants to re-energize their creativity and level-up their business. I’m honored to be teaching my top art marketing tips and tools alongside of very talented artists Lori Siebert and Phyllis Dobbs who will be teaching from their areas of creativity, product design and licensing expertise. The best part is that we have a marvelous guest speaker, Susan January, art director VP at Leanin’ Tree. She will be sharing her expertise about the greeting card industry all 3-days, looking at portfolios and answering questions of all the attendees. It’s going to be a marvelous opportunity to learn even more about the world of social expressions in a small classroom environment.

However, the project that takes up most of my time that I’m super excited about is the It’s thrilling to hear back from so many artists who have signed deals by using the site. The art directors are loving how easy it is to login and see lots of FRESH, NEW art for licensing. It’s free for art directors/manufacturers who license art to join (similar to joining LinkedIn for example, once you are in, you can connect with the artists). Any pro in the business is also invited to sign up for a free listing in the Ultimate Art Licensing Directory (artists, agents, attorneys, vendors, coaches etc…). You never know who will be looking for you! Also, for artists who are super serious about both protecting their art online AND submitting it to key art directors at the same time, this is the place to be. There are several affordable membership levels that allow you to upload and privately share your work with the people you want to work with most. Best of all, you keep 100% of your profits from any deal you sign from using the site. It really is a virtual art licensing show. We have many things in the works for our upcoming 1 year anniversary! It’s an exciting time.

Of course, you know all about it Annie, since you lead our most popular group on Art Licensing Show called 2nd Thursdays ( Thanks for asking me to share a little update. ;)

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
Night owl is my original nature, but lately with the winter cold, I’ve enjoyed getting up early to enjoy more warm sunlight in my studio.

What is your favorite food?
Chocolate, of course! I especially like the dark kind with a fruity pairing like orange, cherry or raspberry. I also drink a lot of herbal tea. :)

Any great advice for our readers?
Do whatever it takes to find the courage to follow your dreams. It’s not easy, but life is short and precious. It’s worth facing the fears, it’s worth the sacrifices, and it’s worth the extra measure of forgiveness to have an open heart and free mind to focus on your passionate callings. Take every opportunity you can and MAKE even more opportunities to be the person you are created to be.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
I just want to say that I’m profoundly grateful for all the incredible people in our vibrant art licensing community. When I exhibited at my first international licensing show, I knew that I had finally met “my people.” Having been in and around people in this business for so long, I know for a fact that the creatives who make it in this business are the hardest working artists on the planet. They are extraordinarily passionate about making a contribution to the world. They are incredibly dedicated to do all that is required and they are always willing to lend a helping hand to someone on the way up. Hats off to ALL of you! May your generosity and kindness be rewarded and your creativity never fade.

You can find Cherish online at:

Something to Cherish®
This is the place to find my blog, art boutique, craft DIYs, and links to all my social media. <3

Learn more about Art Licensing Show at

Thanks so much Cherish for shouting out my "2nd Thursdays" group and for letting us get a peek into your very busy world. I am inspired!

Do you want to be spotlighted? email me Make my day and follow this blog! Leave your thoughts and reactions in the comments below - thanks :-D 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...