Sunday, August 28, 2016

Chat with Tamra Sundboom Voigt - Masterpiece Studios

Hey Everyone!
Quick post letting you know Tamra Sundboom Voigt with Masterpiece Studios will be chatting with us at the upcoming "2nd Thursdays" text chat group on (for paid members).

This is open to anyone interested in Art Licensing: Manufacturers, Art Directors, Retailers, Agents, and Artists :-D . Sept. 8th 2016, 6:30 pm CST USA/Chicago time.
Send questions to me! I will post them here a day or so before we chat. 

BIG THANKS to Tami for joining us for a fun hour of chatting!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Agent Spotlight - Laurie High - Creative Connection, Inc.

How long have you been in business and how did you come to be an agent?
Parker Fulton, an artist herself, started this business with two others in 1991.  After they secured 50 artists to represent very quickly, one of the partners dropped out almost immediately leaving a large work load for 2 people.  They asked me to join, and that began my journey into this business.  Not long after, the other partner dropped as well.  Parker (who is also my mother) and I have been running Creative Connection, Inc. ever since. So, I kind of fell into this, but quickly learned the ins and outs of the business including marketing, bookkeeping, contracts etc.  My college education and jobs prior to Creative Connection, Inc. did help prepare me for my roles in this business, however.
Who are the manufacturers you work with - how did you establish those relationships?  
Almost every year including 1991, Creative Connection, Inc. has had a booth at Surtex.   In the beginning, for several years, we also had a booth at The Licensing Show.  We secured many of our clients through those two shows.  We've walked shows and exhibited elsewhere, but Surtex has always benefited us the most, until recently.  We stopped showing at Surtex a couple of years ago and changed our tactics, due to the lessoned show traffic.  We signed up for in the beta stage, and we now focus most of our attention on face-to-face meetings where our clients are located or at our office.  This seems to be working, but we won't rule out Surtex in the future.  I also spend time surfing the Internet to find clients, reading blogs, watching videos and reading newsletters, etc.  The clients who license from us the most include puzzle, needlepoint, fabric, greeting card, stained glass, and garden flag manufacturers, however there are so many other products that our designs are licensed for throughout any given year.

Do you have employees/help?
No, we don't have any employees currently and haven't since the Internet took off so dramatically making our marketing efforts easier and faster.  I occasionally hire a graphic designer to manipulate artwork or help me create marketing materials. Some of our artists provide their art, ready to market, on promo sheets like Jessica Sporn has done with her Wildflower Collection below.  If you scroll further, you will see another promo sheet that Karen Rossi has created - Winter in the Mountains. 

How do you market artists? 
Email is the main way that we market our artists.  If appropriate for the client and seasonal needs etc., artwork is sent to clients almost immediately upon receipt. I create promo sheets on a regular basis to email or post on our web site.  Some of our artists provide their artwork, ready to show, on promo sheets which aids in getting art before the clients quickly.  In addition, I regularly update our website, send out a monthly newsletter, advertise in at least one printed publication per year and utilize Social Media.  As stated above, we have taken a two-year break from Surtex and have been meeting with clients either where they are located or on Gibson Island where we are located.  This is working for now, but it is important to remain open to trying new things, and we are.

What do you look for in an Artist? 
First and foremost, really great art, so if an artist is sending through something that is not their best, then I'm likely to say no before delving any further.  Something different is important, because I am not doing my artists any favors if I bring on someone doing the same thing.  Available artwork is important also because most clients are in such a hurry that they cannot wait to commission a design.  And, finally something that compliments what we do have because this is the kind of art our clients seek from us. We are always willing to review an artist's portfolio according to the guidelines on our website, however, we are full and have been for most of the 25 years we've been in business.

How much work do you expect an artist to create? 
This depends on the artist and the style and what's currently happening in their lives.  Ideally, I'd like to see new artwork every week, but that is not always possible, especially with the highly detailed designs.  I do send periodic requests to our artists of needed designs and trends so that they always have something to work on or towards.

How has the Art Licensing business changed over the years?
Marketing has completely changed and really is much easier now for several reasons - very few color copies or mailings are needed now, high res files can be instantly sent to the clients instead of original artwork for scanning, Photoshop allows for quick manipulation of images to suit various products, and the Ipad allows for complete portfolios of our 20 artists to be carried in a brief case or shoulder bag.

Any advice or information you would like to share?
Always show your best.  Always paint what you love to paint.  Be yourself, but also grow yourself.  Read "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert which is about utilizing your creative energy to the max! 

You can find Creative Connection, Inc:
View our portfolios:
Connect with us on FB:
Connect with us on Instagram: artful_inspiration


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Friday, August 19, 2016

Bo's bLAWg - The Copyright Term


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!


Bo, several of your bLAWgs have mentioned that once a copyright term has expired, the works are then in the Public Domain.  Are my mother’s illustrations from the 1940s still subject to copyright so I can license them as copyrighted works, or are they in the Public Domain? 
Thank you!  Janet

Good question, Janet!  It gives me the opportunity to provide more particulars regarding the extension of copyright terms under the 1909 Act – applicable as to artworks published before 1978, as allowed by the 1976 Act.

The Copyright Act has been amended several times since the first was passed by Congress.  I think the original term under the first US Copyright Act from 1790, copied from Great Britain’s,  was for only 14 years, plus a renewable 14-year term!  Then again. people did not live as long in those days, did they?  As of 1900, the Term was extended to 28 years plus an additional 28-year renewal right.

That Term remained in effect until the “new” Copyright Act of 1976 came into effect Jan. 1, 1978.  The Term was extended under the 1976 Act to conform with those of many other countries:  The lifespan of the Author plus 50 years.  The 1976 Act also addressed with particularity how the Terms for works copyrighted under the 1909 Act would be treated under the new Act. 

The question of whether your mother’s 1970 artworks are still copyrighted depends upon whether or not they were ever published.  If they were published with a copyright notice as required under the 1909 Act, the Term became 95 years from date of publication.  (If the copyright had been renewed, 67-year renewal term is deemed added to the initial 28-year term.) 
If the original copyrights were not renewed by your mother or her heirs, her published works from the 1940s would be in the public domain.

So, if my calculations are right, if all of your mother’s works were published for the first time in 1940 with a copyright notice, her copyright on those illustrations will not expire until 2035.

If your mother’s illustrations were never published, those works are entitled to a Term of copyright protection through the 70th calendar year after her death, whenever that may occur.

In 1998, just as the Term of Walt Disney’s copyrights on its Mickey Mouse character were about to expire, Congress passed the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) sponsored by Congressman Sonny Bono, better known as “Cher’s first husband.”  This Act amended the Copyright term to the life of the Author plus 70 years instead of 50.  For Disney and other works created by corporate entities or under “work made for hire” agreements the Term was extended to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier.  For the time being, Mickey was saved from ignominious treatment in the Public Domain! 

The effect of CTEA was to "freeze" the advancement date of the Public Domain in the US for works covered by the older fixed term copyright rules. Under CTEA, works made in 1923 or afterwards that were still protected by copyright in 1998 will not enter the public domain until 2019 or afterward (depending on the date of the publication).  For works created by authors who died in 1932 or earlier, that day was January 1, 2003. 

However, as mentioned last month, any artwork published before 1923 was deemed to be in the Public Domain.  Anyone can use such works here in the US for any purpose, without any license or permission.

Since I want my bLAWgs to be super helpful, here is a chart that spells out the different operative Copyright terms: 

If you have a special case that needs to be analyzed, let me know.  We’ll see if we can figure out whether or not that work is still subject to copyright protection or in the Public Domain.

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,

Have a legal question? email it to I will forward it to Bo. It might be a blog post! You can search "Bo's bLAWg" to read more posts. I am looking forward to your comments and thanks for sharing this great information on social media.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Artist Spotlight - Elizabeth Silver


Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?  
I’ve always been what I call a left-brained creative. I have a head for logic and math, but also love to make pretty things, so when I went to college, I chose an art program within a larger university (Syracuse University) because the idea of ‘art school’ seemed too freewheeling for my taste. That actually turned out to be a really serendipitous choice because SU is one of very few schools in the US that had a Surface Pattern Design department. I didn’t know anything about it when I first enrolled, but Surface Pattern is a perfect discipline for me. Designing with an end product in mind and reworking motifs to fit them into a repeat really appeal to my left-brain. Now I split my time between patterns and illustrations, but of course licensing is still all about surface decoration, and I’m so glad to have gotten into it right from the start. After college I was lucky to gain tons of design and product experience in home decor and apparel, working at 2 home textile companies and then switching over to work as the print stylist for babyGap for a few years before going into business for myself.

Do you work in just one medium or style? Several?
I create art for licensing as well as for companies in a freelance capacity. For my personal portfolio, I mainly stick with vector artwork. Sometimes that starts with hand-drawn scans and hopefully most of my work has the personality of more hand done designs but I enjoy a modern look and love the flexibility of Illustrator. For my clients, I do a little bit of everything. I’ve designed everything from super traditional jacobeans to dinosaurs on skateboards so I’m pretty adept at switching styles. These days it’s primarily vector art, hand-drawn textural prints, or watercolor designs.


What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
I love conversational prints, so I’m always looking for offbeat icons to mix in with more saleable imagery like florals and geometrics. My favorite motif has always been fruit. I love the bright color and the variety- there is something so cheerful about them to me- and so when I’m a little lost on direction I try to take it back to that. Recently I was working on a collection that I wanted to be about hot air balloons, and as I was designing, it wasn’t really coming together as anything special. In the end I turned the balloons into lemons and pears, and it’s so much happier now!

How did you start licensing your art?
After working for 10 years in New York City, I was ready for space and green grass and the suburban American dream, and so I left my job to start freelancing in order to move to the outskirts of  Raleigh, North Carolina. For a few years I was only working behind the scenes at a variety of textile companies, but after taking the inaugural MATS courses with Lilla Rogers I was inspired to look for an agent. In late 2013, I signed with Jewel Branding. It’s been a learning curve for sure, but I now have a well-rounded portfolio that I’m really proud of, and I love the flexibility of designing for my own purposes.

What are you working on now?
This summer I’ve been working hard to create a lot of new collections. I love so many types of products, it can be hard to focus, but for the next few months I’m concentrating on kid’s art, greeting cards, and bolt fabric. I’m also almost done creating a course for that I think is going to be something relatively fresh for all the artists who have honed their artistic skills but still don’t have many (or any!) clients that pay them for their work. Definitely keep an eye on my instagram (@esilverdesign) for more on that, it’s scheduled to launch at the end of August.

Any great advice for our readers?
Take the time to tag and organize your designs. I use Adobe Bridge and created a ton of relevant keywords that I can check off  for each design.  Shortly after I started licensing, I made it a part of my process to finish each collection by tagging all the new work, adding copyright info to the metadata of the files, and putting it in my “Licensing Complete” folder. When I had slow work days I took the time to go back through my archives- files created for clients and old jobs- and tag them as well. I also tag any jpegs that I may have downloaded as reference, i.e. photos of animals. Now when I want to to do a new collection based on Christmas ornaments, I first search and see what ornament I already have in my archive. I don’t always find something useful, but especially working with vectors, it’s nice to have the basic shape created already in order to modify for a new project.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
In addition to my course, I launched a newsletter in February that focuses on market trends, and I have become a total convert to trendspotting! I love scanning the stores for gift and home direction and have fun putting it together every other week. Artists can subscribe to a version that highlights resources, business insights and Adobe tips along with trends and palettes. Creative Directors can sign up for a separate newsletter that features new art and market analysis. (

Are you an early riser or night owl?

If I had my way, I’d be neither- sleep is pretty much my number one self-care method. I have a 16 month old little boy, and he is a great sleeper like his mom, but with an early bedtime he does wake up at 6:30AM so even on days when it’s my husband’s turn, I’m up by 7:30 at the latest.

What is your favorite food?

I have a wicked sweet tooth which I am always trying to curb. In the summertime it’s definitely ice cream!

You can Find Elizabeth
IG: @esilverdesign
Periscope: @esilverdesign

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