Monday, December 21, 2015

Bo's bLAWg - Certificates of Authenticity



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!



It’s that time of year – the time of year when I am privileged to receive Seasons Greetings from  many of my wonderful artist clients.  And one I received yesterday reminded me of an issue that should be of interest to all of You artists:  Certificates of Authenticity

Often, I receive a gift that is clearly a print, but there is no specific information accompanying it other than the artist’s copyright notice and a note.  As an attorney, seeing that the artist has included a copyright notice on the artwork is good, but as a collector, I am interested to know more about the subject matter of the work and the medium:  lithograph, serigraph, pochoir, monoprint, monotype, etching, woodcut, screenprint, digital print or counterproof?  (Yeah, I Googled “kinds of prints.”  Even so, I DO want to know!)

And, if applicable, for valuation and insurance purposes, I need to know the specifics of the Fine Print Edition.  This is where Certificates of Authenticity come in to play.

There are more kinds of prints than ever before.  Unless the recipient of a gift reproduction is provided information about it, there is no way for them to know how truly special it might be. From time to time we also hear that someone has issued a fraudulent edition of some famous artist’s image, and the market has been flooded with prints that may or may not be authentic, damaging collectors and destroying the market for that artist or her Estate.

In California, this problem was so prevalent that the Legislature decided to do something about it.  They passed a Fine Print Disclosure Law that not only protects “consumers” (buyers), but the value of the entire edition for collectors and artists alike.  In short, Civil Code Section 1740 et seq provides that retailers of Fine Prints and limited edition sculptures and photographs priced at more than $25, unframed, must provide purchasers with basic information about the edition.  This law provides for disclosure in writing of not only the identity of the artist, but the medium, whether the multiple is a limited and if so the number of multiples in the limited edition, the time when the multiple was produced, and if a “plate” is used, what becomes of it.  (i.e. Is the plate destroyed so that a new edition cannot be made from it?)  See:

The consumer remedies in the event a seller does not comply with this law is return of the artwork and a full refund regardless of any claim that “All sales are final.”  If an art dealer in California willfully fails to provide this information, they can be liable for three times the value of the work, and a civil penalty of up to $1,000.  And if the buyer has to sue to enforce these statutory remedies, they will be entitled to recover their attorneys’ fees and costs!

While there may not be exactly comparable statutes in your state, I still strongly recommend the use of Certificates as a way to both inform people about your prints and impress them with your business acumen.  The client who brought me his multiple customized his Certificate and made it a collectible in its own right.  (See above.)  However, the form of the Certificate can be quite simple and straightforward, including the following information, which you can copy and paste:

Compliant with California Civil Code §1744

Title:    _____________________
Artist/Photographer:    _____________________
Signature:    Each print is hand signed.
Release:    [December] 201_
Copyright:    © 201_ ___________________
Description of Edition:    Limited Edition of ____ [11x14] prints plus Artist Proofs.
Print Date:    [December] 201_
Print Size:    [11x14]

A few words about this image:

This is to certify that all information and the statements contained herein are true and correct. I created this fine art multiple from [photographic matter]. [This image is printed on archival paper, and with proper care your artwork should last over 100 years.]
___________________________        ___________________
Artist                        Date

So, make your holiday Limited Edition print gifts even that more desirable by providing a Certificate of Authenticity.  Especially to your attorney! 

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, December 18, 2015

Behind the Scenes of Waterways Art Collection - Muted Colors

Happy Friday Creative Souls!

I have done a few post where I let you in behind the scenes :-) For this post, I am focusing on muting the images in Photoshop for a yummy twist! There is a link under the second photo to a similar post, so you can see how I paint a bit backwards in order to get a lot of icons to play with in an art collection. (click images to view larger).

I always start with sketches, some I color a bit with color pencil. In the end, I have 21 icons and 8 paintings. For example, the lighthouse above is a painting, the anchor is an icon. I also painted 2 backgrounds: An ocean/sky background and a background of circles.

Here are some progress photos of one of the paintings. Most of the time I paint the 'icon' first (in this case the sailboat) and scan it in, then finish the painting and scan the finished piece. If you want to see more of this process check out this post: Behind the Scenes: Building a Painting in a Collection.

I didn't like the large cloud! :-)

SO, to add a twist I soften the colors in Photoshop. I chose a simple way to do this. In Photoshop, open up the original painting scan. In the file menu, click on 'image', scroll down to 'hue/saturation'. Turn down the saturation to mute the colors.

Now I need to set up some repeat patterns and product mocks for this collection!

How many paintings do you paint in a collection (or central images :-) ? More? Less?
Thank you for visiting, commenting sharing on social media - this is a fantastic community of artists we are apart of!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Agent Spotlight - Jan Draheim, Painted Planet Licensing Group

I got to know Jan and a couple of her team members at Surtex last spring - What a treat! - NOTE, click images to view larger.


How long have you been in business and how did you come to be an agent?
My family founded an arts and craft supply distribution company, Viking Woodcrafts, Inc., 35 years ago. The timing was perfect, as my husband and I had recently moved back to Minnesota from Illinois so I became the first employee. Eight years later Viking Folk Art Publications was formed, a new division focusing on publishing decorative painting books. My husband and I purchased the publishing division in 1996.

Our company published books for artists from all over the world –from Canada and the UK to Australia, Argentina and Japan. Our knowledge and understanding of color and the process of reproduction led us to the exciting world of art licensing, giving us another service to offer our artists. Painted Planet Licensing Group was formed in March of 2004, and today we represent 21 talented artists from around the world. I thoroughly enjoy being surrounded by such beautiful artwork on a daily basis and watching our business grow and evolve.

Do you have help/employees?
We are fortunate to have a great multi-tasking team to assist our artists and licensing partners. Leah Cochran is our Licensing Coordinator. She works hard at matching our extensive library of artwork with the right manufacturer, along with keeping our licensee and contact databases up-to-date. Alyssa Christian serves as both the Public Relations Coordinator and Account Manager, promoting and branding our company and artists via numerous outlets (check out her blog on our website!), while also handling record maintenance and royalty payments. My husband, Larry, is our part-time Accountant.

What do you look for in a manufacturer?
Currently we have strong, long-standing partnerships with manufacturers of various different products—from burton + Burton, who produce gifts for all occasions, to Leanin’ Tree, an industry leader in greeting cards, to tableware manufacturer Certified International and fabric forerunner Red Rooster. We’re always looking for new manufacturers to partner with. Our artists represent a wide variety of styles, allowing us to satisfy the needs of a diverse range of companies.

Quality of products, good communication and willingness to promote the artist’s name or brand are some of the key elements that we look for in a new manufacturer. Establishing a good working relationship is critical to everyone involved. There’s always a risk involved when signing a contract with a company we’ve never worked with before but we’ve found that some of our most profitable ventures and strongest partnerships have stemmed from taking that risk.

Do you prefer royalty deals? Flat fee?  
Typically we prefer royalty deals versus flat fee but there are times when a flat fee can be the right route to take. If the production run is small, sometimes the guaranteed flat fee is better. Also, there are some card companies, and companies that print for non-profit groups, that will only pay a flat fee. It’s important to weigh all factors of the specific situation when negotiating a fair payment. Whether signing a royalty or flat fee agreement, we advise our artists against selling their images outright in order to allow them the flexibility of licensing the same artwork again in the future for different products.

How do you market artists? Who pays for this? Anything different for new artists?
One of the most substantial ways we market our artists is by exhibiting at Surtex every year and occasionally at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. We also meet with art directors year round—at their offices, twice a year at the Atlanta Gift Mart, at the Houston Quilt Market and usually a specialty show such as the Chicago Housewares Show. We’re in constant communication with existing and potential clients, responding to hundreds of callouts a year and submitting artwork to companies for consideration on a weekly basis. We frequently send out mailings and e-mail newsletters to promote new artwork or a new artist.

We’ve recently revamped our website, making it easier for art directors to navigate portfolios and stay up-to-date with new artists, upcoming shows we’ll be at, etc. Our new blog, Painted Planet Perspective, features a monthly “Artist Spotlight” interview. We have an ever-growing social media presence, marketing our artists daily via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. We also encourage our artists to maintain their own personal websites, blogs and social media, which we link to from our website.

When we sign a new artist we assume all costs for exhibiting at shows, portfolios, advertising, etc. We recoup our costs by sharing any royalty revenue 50/50. Because of our initial investment, the decision to sign a new artist is very deliberate and well thought-out.

What do you look for in an artist?
When considering a new artist, we want to make sure that the artist is bringing something new to the Painted Planet family. We look for artwork that is fresh and on trend, and styles that complement yet don’t compete with what we currently have to offer. We also take into consideration our current licensees to determine whether the artist would be a good fit for them.

Equally as important when considering a new artist is their willingness to put in the necessary hard work and treat this as a job, not just a hobby. Licensing is a commitment, and an artist should be prepared to meet deadlines, be asked to make adjustments to their work to meet a client’s needs, and create new artwork on a regular basis. It’s also extremely helpful if an artist has certain software experience, such as Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator, and has the capability of creating product mockups.

Any advice or other information you would like to share?
My best advice to any artist considering licensing is to take a shopping trip and look at how artwork is being used on products. Can you envision your artwork on similar products? We receive submissions from some artists who produce amazing fine art but the licensing possibilities are too limited. Don’t become discouraged if your first submissions to a licensing agency or manufacturer are rejected. If licensing is truly something you want to pursue, do the research, ask the questions, be flexible, and keep refining and working on your artwork.

I feel very fortunate to be able to sit in my office, look around, and see the fruit of all our years of hard work adorning the walls and shelves. I get just as excited opening a new box of samples now as I did opening the very first one over 10 years ago.

You can find Jan:

Phone:  (507) 835-8009

I REALLY appreciate all of you that help spread the word about my blog. Happy Holidays!

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, December 4, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Kimberly Baxter Packwood

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self-taught?
A little bit of both actually.  My aunt taught me how to stitch at the age of seven and my paternal grandmother taught me how to hand sew and use a treadle Singer sewing machine at the age of nine.  I continued to seek out different crafting techniques until the 1990’s when I switched my degree from Chemistry to Art Craft Design at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I’m a Mixed Media Fiber Artist and have recently started licensing my designs.

For the past twenty plus years I have worked with natural dyes, rust, earth pigments, and oxides on fabric which I then further embellish with hand and machine stitching.  My work depicts the prairie and plains both in ancient times and in modern times with corn as the unifying theme.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
I gather inspiration from where ever I am at the moment. My favorite place to visit is a natural marsh and native prairie north of Ames where migrating birds come to nest and feed every year.

I’m intrigued with the microscopic world of lichens, mosses, and liverworts; these lifeforms inform the base texture of each piece I create.  I spend a lot of time studying birds, cows, bison, corn, native plants, and the wind, which figures predominantly in my work. 

What are you working on now?
Currently I am taking an online drawing class which has been a wonderful refresher, given that my last drawing class was some twenty years ago now.  It has caused an intense need to re-examine my work, the corn, crow, and bison pieces, so I’ve been drawing a lot recently exploring these subjects in a way that stitch doesn’t allow due to time and material constraints.

The other project I’ve been working on is mastering Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop so that I can digitize my original art into repeat patterns, and designs for fabric, paper, household goods, and the gift market.

Any great advice for our readers?
Advice No. 1:  Don’t be afraid to go back to the fundamentals of art.  Take a beginning drawing, painting, lettering, or design class.  There is much to learn again and now you will see it through the eyes of experience.

Advice No. 2: Observe.  Be still, listen, what do you hear, smell, taste, see, or feel?  All of this information informs your artwork, study it and your work will reflect this valuable information.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
Don’t give up! If at first you are told no, just keep asking!  It took two years from the time I submitted my first design to the time I saw my first royalty check.  Don’t give up, these things don’t happen overnight!!!

Are you an early riser or night owl?
I’m a Night Owl and have been for the better part of thirty years now, my best works occur late in the evening/night when there are no distractions like a ringing phone.

What is your favorite food?
My current favorite food is Sushi and Raman bowls the real stuff not the stuff in the package.

You can find Kimberly:  
You can also find me on facebook, twitter, flickr, linkedin, instagram, and youtube @kbaxterpackwood

"Fear is an addiction to failure". - kbaxterpackwood

I REALLY appreciate all of you that help spread the word about my blog <3

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 ;-)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Grateful for YOU! Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to do a short post on how GRATEFUL I am for all of you! You all make this blog work by visiting, sharing, following, commenting, guest posting and more!  A BIG Happy Thanksgiving for those of you who celebrate this holiday.  I heard someone say on the radio today that we should think of and write down everyday what we are thankful for. Great advice.

Hope all of you and your families are well,

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bo's bLAWg - Return of License Rights after 35 Years

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!


Last month I wrote about the way I look to protect an Artist client’s rights in her image preemptively by making the license subject to mutually agreeable minimum annual earnings.  That is a way to get back rights to images being used unproductively in the relatively short-term.  (Last month's bLAWg)

However, the Copyright Act, Sections 203 and 304(c)(3), also addresses the return of copyright interests to Artist in the long-term. In short, for works originally published before January 1,1978, an Artist or their heirs can reclaim her copyright interest after 56 years.  For works published since January 1, 1978, the right to claim a reversion of copyright is available after 35 years.

(See and

While most of my transactional work over the last 30 years involves works created and licensed after 1977, I have had occasion to advise certain composers and rock and roll poster artists on the way to recover the rights to their works that were exclusively in the hands of record labels and publishers for as long as 56 years beginning in the 1950s and 1960s.
For works published from 1978 on, the 35 year reversion right became operative as of 2013.  This year, works licensed in 1980 became subject to reversion.  Next year will open the door for recovery of works licensed in 1981, and on and on.  Each calendar year, thousands of copyrights will be available to be reclaimed by their Artist authors or their heirs should they choose to avail themselves of this right.

It should be clear, however, this right only applies to copyrighted works that were licensed (exclusively or non-exclusively) or “assigned” (sold) in the first instance, not those that were created by an employee for her employer or as bona fide works-made-for-hire.  (For more particulars on what is a work-made-for-hire, see my bLAWg from March 20, 2015 click here ).  Nor does the statutory reversion right apply to copyright interests that were transferred by will.

However, it also applied to derivative works that were made from the original.  So, if an illustration was issued for all kinds of paper products but mostly greeting cards, but was subsequently sub-licensed for a jigsaw puzzle that became a best-selling puzzle, termination of the original license terminates any sub-license as well.

So, why would you want to terminate the license of the sub-licensee who is still selling lots of puzzles?  Because if the Artist is only getting a nominal royalty out of a successful illustration, she can look to renegotiate that royalty rate as an alternative to the termination, or look to obtain a much more lucrative license with another puzzle publisher upon termination!

There is a formal Notice process that applies to both statutory reversion rights.  Rights under Section 203 may be effected at any time during a period of five years beginning at the end of 35 years from the date of original license.  For instance, if an Artist granted an assignment of copyrights in a one or more of her illustrations on January 1, 1978, the earliest date upon which termination of such grant could be effected would be January 1, 2013; the latest date would be January 1, 2018.  So, for those licenses commencing as of 1978, we are right in the window of time to recover those rights. If Notice has not been given in timely manner for this work, the reversion right will be lost for the duration of the copyright term, the life of the Author Artist plus 70 years.

Additionally, the written Notice must be served upon the grantee or the grantee's successor-in-interest not less than two years or more than 10 years before the effective termination date. And, of significant importance, the effective date of termination must be a date that falls within the applicable five-year termination window. So, in our example above, if the rights holders wait until January 2, 2016 to give the minimal two year notice, their window will have closed!  For those who recognize that they are presently in the 10-year window, they can look to exercise their right now, to be effective as soon as the 5-year eligibility period commences.  Make sense?

With copyright interests reverted, the Author Artist and her heirs will have the right to look for other publishing and/or licensing opportunities, presumably on much more attractive rates then were originally offered.  And these recovered copyright interests will last for the remaining part of the copyright  term, 70 years after the death of the Author Artist.

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, November 13, 2015

Agent Spotlight - Suzanne Cruise, Cruise Creative Services, Inc.

I first ran into Suzanne Cruise, after I posted a question in an art licensing group. She contacted me directly with information that was SO helpful! Read on to get her perspective on art licensing. (click images to view larger).

How long have you been in business and how did you come to be an agent?
I started as an in house artist at Hallmark Cards (they are headquartered here in Kansas City) around 1980, I quit a few years later to freelance. There were so many companies that needed vast amounts of art I figured my income potential would go up, which it did. At the time, there were fewer than 50 artists skilled at what Hallmark had taught me, so I came to see that I was extremely fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. I had so much work, I was at my drawing board 7 days a week. I had to take time to sleep and eat, other wise, I would have taken on even more work. By 1990 I had become fried, burned out...and wondered why no one was representing the work of an artist like me. I knew that with an agent I would have more time to create art. There was no one I could find repping us, so I decided to  become a rep myself for product artists. I put the word out and w/ in 2 weeks, 25 people had contacted me. In less than a year I was paying over 150 artists, and still turning away work.

For several years, very very few companies were licensing art, they wanted to retain all copyrights. Around 1995 it swept thru the creative community that the artists were no longer willing to sell their copyrights out right, so I gradually moved all of us into that realm. We were doing a tremendous amount of book illustration at the time, the fad back then was to illustrate the Bible for the kids market. Since we had been illustrating huge numbers of children's books, I submitted samples to a number of religious publishers and ended up doing 4 out of the 7 Bibles that eventually came out in the market. Unbeknownst to me, one of them was done on a licensing basis. I was so new to licensing that I signed all the papers w/out thinking or knowing what I was doing....little did I know that, that contract would totally change the course of my direction as an agent. Once the quarterly royalties started coming in, I knew that art licensing was where I needed to take us. It was a tough sell at first, but in time, manufacturers realized that licensing paid off for them, and gradually it became the standard. As manufacturers started down sizing their creative in house staffs  (freelancers were  now readily available), the demand for art was climbing rapidly to its peak. I believe the peak hit in 2006, a year before the recession began to show it's ugly economic head. Prior to 2007, those years were the salad days in licensing.

I survived the recession, and in 2010 realized I was writing a lot more contracts than I had written in the prior 2 years. And while licensing income has not quite reached what it had been in the salad days, I no longer feel like the wolf has the door wide open and I am face to face w/ his full set of teeth!!! Retail and the dynamics of retail have shifted, and to remain successful, we have shifted with it.

Do you have help/employees?
Yes, I have two other, highly experienced and successful licensing agents, Ellen Seay (who was Paul Brent's sole agent for years) and Hong Campbell  (who worked many years with a large agency in the east). I also have 4 part time people, 3 are tech people (my senior tech guy has totally rewritten and developed a new, state of the art, highly efficient business tracking system, the guts of my business, actually). Two manage the libraries..... cataloguing, categorizing and numbering art, sending out hi res once it is licensed, and the last person is my book keeper and contract manager. I also have two 20 something tech/digital guys who are developing and building an exciting, entirely new and proficient web site for our agency. This should be live before C'mas.

Who are the manufacturers you work a lot with?
I work with manufacturers who produce almost every product category there is to license artwork on to. The only reason we are not in a few given categories is because we do not have the right art for those manufacturers. I am fortunate to have not only terrific and highly skilled people who work in two dimensional graphic illustration/design, I also rep quite a few artists who specialize in three dimensional product design and development, a niche that is highly sought after.

How do you market artists? Who pays for this? Anything  different for new artists?
Once we take on an artist, their library is numbered and catalogued in our system, they will be put up on the web site as a "new artist", and will be labeled as such for 4/6 weeks. Then, each of the three of the agents shoot samples to all of their clients (we each have our own categories that we divide, that way, the artists will probably work w/ all of us at one point or another). We put together several digital post cards featuring the art/artist that are then sent out to all our clients in an email blast. If we have any art calls that we are working on, the work that is appropriate is sent to answer those art calls. Of course, the library is loaded onto our iPads, and when we exhibit at the trade shows, the art is shown to attending manufacturers, both existing clients and potential clients. We walk most of the major trade shows, the work is shown to clients at each of these shows. We also schedule a lot of on site appointments with our licensees, again, taking our iPads and showing any work that is  a potential license for that manufacturer on a one on one, person to person basis.
As is standard in this business, we work on a 50/50 split, we cover all expenses (travel, food, transportation, promotion, in house services, etc.). The only thing the artist takes care of financially is copyrighting their work.

What do you look for in an artist?

Several things: the breadth of the library (how many images are in it), the color palette, the technique and the style the artist is using, how trend savvy the art/artist is, how familiar the artist is with licensing and what sort of art gets licensed onto product, any background they may have (if any) in licensing (do they have prior experience licensing their work and/or working w/ an agent prior to coming to me). If they are new to the biz, how flexible are they in taking art direction, how quickly do they turn out new art, how much or little hand holding do they require from me or the other agents. Their ability to evolve their art as they move forward in licensing is beyond critical, it is the key to their long term survival.

They must be a team player, I will not take on a prima donna, or I will drop them if they turn out to be a diva, or the male equivalent, thereof. Do they take the time at least once a quarter to get out into retail to see what is on the shelves, what products are being offered and what sort of art that is on them? Do they look at and try to analyze who are the shoppers, their approximate ages, family sizes, possible income level, what they are putting in their baskets, trying to perform a very unscientific study of the people/women who are supporting the artists' licensing efforts? Do they window shop on sites such as Etsy and Pinterest to see what is being offered, what seems to be trending there and how would that relate to the artists' work and techniques?

Do you feel an artist needs an online presence?
Yes, any supporting marketing efforts the artist has in effect only helps us to do our job, so a web presence is invaluable. Any activity the artist exerts in social media is a huge help in our making money for the artist, and for us, as well.

How much art do you expect and artist to create in a year?
That is like asking how high is up. Some artists do highly detailed, complex images, so they will be a lot less prolific than an artist who employs a simpler approach to their look and style. While an artist must continually feed the licensing machine, I much prefer quality over quantity any day, week or month. With the exception of times where the artist has to deal w/ personal and/or medical issues, which naturally subvert all creative urges, or the times where the artist just hits the creative wall and needs to take time away to regroup, an artist should be working on art every day, or night if they are a night owl. The artist is running a business, and while the majority of the people I rep are consummate professionals,  it has thrown me when a few of them have shown the laissez faire side of their personalities. If you are not willing to make a serious commitment to building and restocking your library, you are not licensing material.

How has the Art Licensing business changed over the years?
The recession changed just about everything in the art licensing world. 
95% of the products that art is licensed on to are bought by women who represent a variety of  demographics. When the recession hit its peak, very few women were in retail, shopping, much less spending their money. I saw sales grind to almost a virtual halt in early 2008. Between the lay offs, the home foreclosures and the banking crises, a lot of us were almost done in. Women were not buying. Banks were no longer lending money to manufacturers, not even to the old, well established companies. Many went belly up in less than 48 hours. As did many of my colleagues, we had to really scramble to earn enough money to keep our doors open. I am not sure how we did it, but we made it thru the eye of the needle. I tell people I do not have the slimmest hips in the world, so it took me longer, and a whole lot of work to finally wiggle thru.....but I did it!!!!!
I am grateful for our ability to hang on, many of my associates had to throw in the towel.

Any advice or other information you would like to share? 

Yes, do your homework before you attempt to jump into licensing, then do it again. Educate your self as to all of the mechanics of licensing. Whether you want to go it alone, or if you are wanting an agent to do the biz for you, know that licensing is an undertaking that is not for the weak of heart, regardless of who is looking for and then doing the deals. This is very much a relationship business, it can be a formidable task to get a toe hold in with a manufacturer. I often suggest that artists new to licensing should spend time repping themselves, one of the best ways to really understand at least the basic mechanics of this biz. Once you get your feet wet, you will have a much better appreciation as to how hard an agents job is and how hard we have to work in order to make a living for you and for the agency.

Understand it takes, on average, 18 to 24 months before any money begins to come in. That is quite a dry spell, and many artists are not ready for it. Prepare your self well if you want to pursue this field. Don't ask your friends or your mother what they think of your work, most have no idea what is good, licensable art is all about...what that looks like, what products it could truly go on, who would want to purchase that product w/ that art on it. If you do not have a professional colleague who can give you the naked truth, ask a few of the agents if you can pay them to critique the work. Some will not have the time, some will make the time. But asking them and being told no, well....that's one more part of that learning curve.

There are so many incredibly useful blogs out there written by artists who have cut their teeth in licensing....subscribe to them, follow them, ask the bloggers questions. Many are a wealth of information, and it may all be free. The other artists who share on those blogs offer an incredible array of information you will be able to get nowhere else.

If your art ultimately ends up not cutting the licensing mustard, there are other creative positions you can possibly hold, creative jobs you can apply for, that come with a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction, not to mention a steadier paycheck.

You have to be tough, determined, a little stubborn, a bit pig headed at times, patient as a saint, and possess an open mind and an open heart if you are going to succeed in licensing, with or without an agent! Most of all, you have to have the right talent and often times be in the right place at the right time, otherwise, while licensing can be incredibly rewarding, it can also be a dog eat dog endeavor.

You can find Suzanne:
Phone: 913-648-2190

I REALLY appreciate all of you that help spread the word about my blog <3

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, November 6, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Jill Meyer

Hello Annie, and thank you for including me in your Artist Spotlight.  I am honored and delighted to be included among the talented people who have come before me, and those who will come after. 

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
As soon as I could hold a crayon, I began making art.  I remember sitting on the floor in Kindergarten and coloring in blissful contentment.  I wanted the coloring to go on forever.  I have always thought that the real basis for my making art is that I never seemed to be able to get enough drawing, coloring, cutting and pasting in Kindergarten! Several more years of cutting and pasting, and I earned five teaching credentials, a degree in art from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Southern California.

I later spent a number of years studying calligraphy.  My love for letters eventually led to many years of teaching calligraphy to adult students from beginning through advanced levels.  In an effort to put more color and art into my own lettering, I used watercolor painting, trompe l’oeil painting, paper sculpture, computer graphics, and many offshoots of these disciplines.  Rubberstamping was very new at the time, and it caught my interest. Then I did some more drawing, coloring, cutting and pasting and this time it led me to designing a line of about 300 card size rubber stamps that were produced and marketed in chain stores and stamp stores for many years.  None of these or my other art adventures would have been possible without the unwavering encouragement and support of my husband, Dave.  He truly is, and always has been, the wind beneath my wings.

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I actually work in every medium that traffic will allow.  I bring it all together and try to make everything live happily in Photoshop.  I draw on any technique that I think will help move my work forward.  No holds barred.  If it works it stays, if not I often save it for use somewhere else.  A nice thing about art is that it has an indefinite shelf life, and can always be used in so many different ways.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?

Going to a museum is always a way to drink in inspiration. But actually, almost anything can inspire me.  I can take a walk and notice something in nature, and get an idea for a piece of art.  I can look in store windows and see colors that I would like to try in combination.  I can be talking to someone about something unrelated, and for some reason an art idea will pop into my head. I usually dream my very best ideas!  When I am not thinking about art at all, I very often have a dream, which sends me down a new creative path.  I dream in vivid color.  Do you?

What are you working on now?
I have just finished a request to make 45 seamless, repeating patterns from designs I had previously made that did not repeat seamlessly.  It was a huge task, but an exhilarating learning experience for me.  I was never really intensely interested in doing seamless patterns before this challenge, but I found it fascinating, and fun, and I am eager to do more now.

I have lately also licensed and formatted 31 greeting cards, and sent them off for manufacture and sale, and I have recently finished a coloring book, with a little twist.  I realize that I am at the end of a long line of coloring book artists. However, sometimes, it’s fun to jump into the trend and see what happens.  So far, all three of these projects are getting enthusiastic support.

Anything else you would like to share with us?   What you are grateful for?
I am grateful for all of the diverse experiences that I have had doing art professionally, and there have been many.

My varied involvement with art, I think, was my best teacher.  One adventure would lead to the next, and what I had learned from the first enabled me to build for what followed.  All experience is a dear teacher, and nothing, even a negative experience, is wasted.  We learn and grow from everything we do, and we are a summation of it all.  I am grateful for all of the opportunities, which I have had, and I eagerly anticipate what is waiting for me right around the corner. I am just going to let the art lead me where it will.  It always seems to find a new, exciting, challenging and interesting direction. I’m sure I am in for more learning and growing.  I can hardly wait!

Are you working with an agent, doing it on your own?

I have two agents, and this is the norm for me rather than the exception.  When I started out in the Gift/Stationery market, I was with an agent who licensed only wall art.  I wanted to license more broadly, in as many categories as possible, so with this agent’s blessing, I acquired another agent for all categories but wall art.  I have since changed agents, but somehow I always have two.  It seems that one agent always wanted to concentrate on wall art, and I needed to have someone else rep me for product.  Recently, my wall art agent started to take on more interest in licensing product, so she became my solo agent…momentarily!  An agent in Israel wished to rep me, and since there is no conflict in territory, my U.S. agent blessed that business deal.  So, once again, I have two agents. Seems somehow to be in my stars!  I have been privileged in the last several years to work with some of the nicest, hardest working, most ethical, and trustworthy people, as my agents.  Together we are growing our business every year. I am grateful for my warm, congenial relationships with them, and I know exactly how fortunate and favored I am to partner with them.

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
I am both!  If I have a tight deadline, I can be up much of the night so that I can be sure everything is perfect before I send it to the manufacturer.  If I have not been up at night working, then I am usually up bright and early to see if there are any requests that require my attention.  Since I do business in different times zones from my own, I need to have as much lead time as possible in the morning to fulfill requests if necessary!

What is your favorite food?
Only one?  In the interest of good nutrition, I usually (often, mostly, sometimes) try to stick to healthy foods, however,…..

A girl has got to live a little!  So, when I (infrequently?) really want to go off the wagon, I will have a nice big yummy burrito and/or crispy taco with salsa, guacamole, and chips from Tito’s, my favorite place in Southern California for such treats.  The other splurge, although much less frequent, would be a huge ice cream/gelato waffle cone.  I’ll do as many as three scoops if I think no one is watching!  :-)

You can find Jill:

web site:
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I REALLY appreciate all of you that help spread the word about my blog <3
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Contest - I sure hope I win this year ;-)


HaPpY hAlLoWeEn!

Posting the winner as of Sunday Nov. 1.  - "A" Emily's pumpkin had 57 votes when I stopped counting and "B" Ann's pumpkin had 5 votes! This is pretty much what happened the first two years, I almost get skunked! I have paid up and the winner is below holding her pumpkin. Thanks for voting - we had so much fun with this :-D

This is the 3rd annual pumpkin carving contest between Emily (daughter, 19 yrs.) and myself (Annie 51 yrs. young). No pressure, but I have lost the last two years in a row. IF Emily wins, she gets $25. WHEN I win, I get bragging rights for a year. (College kids need cash :-)

We don't tell each other what we are going to carve. We BOTH decided on owls! I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree :-) Emily suggested I buy a Speedball Linoleum Cutter for easier 'peeling' of the pumpkins. It worked great!

Please vote for "A" or "B".  You can vote in the comment section below - anonymously if you like, email me: or through any of the social media site I am on.

I will post the winner sometime on Sunday.

THANKS to all of you for voting! We have so much fun doing this and kidding each other. LOVE that many of you have asked if we were going to do this again this year :-D

Here are last years' pumpkins:

First years' pumpkins:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Beth Parker


Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
I am self taught. A great learning experience for me was participating in the All Media Art Event at Every week, I churned out a lot of paintings in a bunch of new mediums, with each being finished in 2 hours or less. It stretched me creatively and gave me a great community. I have always gravitated to a style that people recognize as Bethville.  "Art that makes you wiggle your butt."

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
My favorite mediums are watercolor and acrylic. I have recently fallen in love with polymer clay and I find that when I try new things, they sort of cross pollinate, if that makes sense. I love mixing things up in a way that carries one medium into another.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?W
I get a lot of inspiration from living in a small town. I like turning complicated things into simple, less serious versions of themselves. A patron at an art show once studied a small town painting for a long time, then proclaimed, "I know what's going on here. Someone just told a joke and your buildings are laughing." I loved that so much! It's not uncommon to see a paisley cow or a quilted pig in my art somewhere. I get a lot of joy from making people happy. 

What are you working on now?
I have been asked to do a coloring book from my small town paintings and I'm working on three welcome signs for our town, based on one of my watercolor paintings.  I have owned a sign shop for 23 years and these signs are very exciting. A local nonprofit group got a grant to do the signs and they selected the painting. I am also adding collections to  I'm working on new collections all the time.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
I like to keep busy. I have a lot of irons in the fire, because it keeps me creating and learning. Being self employed for over 23 years has taught me to diversify and to not be afraid to switch gears when the market or the client dictates it. My art is in Our Favorite Place, a made in Oklahoma gallery. I have an Etsy shop for my jewelry and a Society 6 presence for prints. The last two are new this year.

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
Absolutely an early riser. I have a studio in my home and I spend at least an hour on my art every morning before I go to work. (On weekends, I get a little more time to create.) Morning is my favorite time of day.

What is your favorite food?
Ice cream.  If coffee was a food, I'd have to pick that.  I love my coffee!

You can find Beth:


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Monday, October 19, 2015

ALSC Artists: Get in on Coloring Book!

Get your coloring pages submitted! Free marketing opportunity :-D

Thurs. October 1st to Friday October 23rd.  The earlier the better as we are already designing the final book. Preference will be given to submissions that are sent in earlier than later, so don’t delay!"

Reminder you need to be an artist on (ALSC) or your agent to submit up to 3 pages.
Just a heads up since the deadline is soon <3
Happy Creating,

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bo's bLAWg - Get Back Your Rights: Royalty Minimums


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!


An artist asked how they can get back her rights to a group of illustrations that are licensed exclusively but are not making her any money.

The main way that an Artist can look to insure she can get back her rights to an illustration under an exclusive license that is not earning sufficient royalties is to include a provision in the License Agreement that requires minimum royalty benchmarks to be satisfied on a year-to-year basis. At least that is what I look to do for my clients.  Establishing such benchmarks need not be put in terms of royalties, but can be based upon the Licensee’s earnings of sales, whether the Licensor Artist’s royalties are based on gross or net receipts.

This is part of the conversation that the Artist or I would have with the prospective Licensee in the course of negotiations. What is the projected sales income? If the Licensee’s projections compute into royalties that satisfy the Artist’s minimal royalty expectations, then look to include those sales thresholds as ‘minimums’ for the Licensee to maintain exclusive rights. At the very least, even if the Licensee insists their rights continue for the full term, it is possible that the License can be converted to a non-exclusive one – either automatically or upon written notice.

One additional term that might be included is that if the Licensee pays the Artist additional royalties to make up the difference between those actually earned and the minimum expectation, the Licensee may maintain exclusive rights. In that way the Artist can be assured that her minimums are always achieved, or some or all rights revert to her for further use of the licensed image(s).

I can provide specific language on all these terms as needed. Just ask. 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, October 9, 2015

Agent Spotlight - Carol White, Artworks! Licensing

I am friends with several of Artworks! Licensing artists and very much admire the talent this agency has. So, you can imagine how thrilled I am that Carol is sharing her perspective on art licensing. --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 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 d├ęcor 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.

You can find Carol:
Phone:  (561) 253-8100

THANK YOU for stopping by my blog and all the social media shares and support! I look forwards to your comments.

Do you want to be spotlighted? Send me an email:
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