Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Artwork Licensing Interviews Part 3

Here is Renee Charisse Jardine with a fabulous answers and a valuable perspective on licensing artwork.

What inspired you or nudged you toward licensing your artwork? I was selling my hand painted furniture in a local shop. The owner, who was an artist as well made decorative wall hangings and it was very exciting news when she was picked up by Enecso, one of the leaders in collectibles. When I heard the news I asked, what does that mean, “picked up”. That was the first I had ever heard the term licensing but, as soon as it was explained to me my first thought was, “Really…., well I can do that”. It was to my advantage at the time to be na├»ve about the whole thing.

I think a lot of artists have reservations about licensing their work. They believe that they will get taken advantage of or that licensing will reduce the value of their original works. What do you have to say to those artists? When I first licensed it never crossed my mind. Once I became more involved in the business I learned that there is that slight possibility that you can be exploited in a number of different fashions. My advice is, as it would with any venue that you need to trust, do your homework first. Know who you are handing your portfolio out to, know who you sign a contract with by doing background checks. Before signing a contract go as far as to ask the company if one of their current licensed artists could contact you so you can get feedback on their experience. Any reputable company should be happy to oblige.

Do you have a vision for the success of your licensed artwork that you would be willing to share? I have met many of my expectations and part of it was because I really didn’t know what to expect. Having over a dozen contracts at one point in time was a highlight for me. At this time in my career I am happy to keep going the few contracts that I have. It takes a lot of time and devotion to keep viable in the market and I have cut my workload back in recent years to spend more time with my family.

How long did you spend creating a body of work before you were satisfied that you had a portfolio worthy of licensing?
I already had a portfolio before I knew what licensing was. In the 1990’s a home computer and digital photos were not very common if at all an option. I began my art career painting on furniture and took photos of everything I painted. My portfolio consisted of furnishings, many of them being tabletops. It was the many photos of tabletops that helped me to land my first licensing contract.

Do you create artwork with certain products in mind?
Once I got into the game of Licensing, absolutely, all of the time. Every image had a focal point, different background choices and borders. And, many of my designs included sets of four.

What is your favorite piece that has been created featuring your work?
Calendars by Avalanche featuring butterflies and Ceramics from Santa Barbara Ceramic Design, one line featuring a fruit pattern called “Fontana” and another
featuring a rooster called “Tuxton Rooster”.

How does that piece make you feel?
Proud and lucky.

Do you approach manufacturers yourself, or do you have an agent for that?
For the first two years I worked on my own and I acquired an agent, Kathy Lally and worked with her for 9 years. For the past 3 years I have been on my own.
Having Kathy for an agent was really needed and a great experience.

What role has your Etsy shop played in licensing your artwork? Because we cannot sell our mass produced items on Etsy I have not used them as a venue to show my licensed products. What Etsy can do for a Licensed Artist is show the viability of ones art if their art is in good demand and their store shows success. My Etsy shop has been more related to the next chapter in my art career and that is making one of a kind jewelry. I also sell prints that have been used on products out of my Etsy store.

Any words of caution for fellow artists?
•If it seems to good to be true it probably is.
•Stay calm and focused and realize that 99 rejections and 1 acceptance IS a good ratio.
•Be business smart and keep your artwork in that mental frame. The artist who is strongly personally attached to their art may need to work on letting go of the emotional side to think in a business manner.
•Meet every deadline always.
• Never end a phone conversation or leave a message saying “I will wait for you to call me back or can you please call me”. Always say, “I understand that you are busy so if I don’t hear back from you within a couple of weeks I will call you back.
• The average amount of time a marketing campaign takes to get up and running is 3 years. YES years! If you are wanting to become a licensing artist for real, for the long haul keep at it, work hard, don’t give up and you will find your path.
• Make a business plan to have a booth at the Licensing Show in New York no matter what the cost.
•Licensing is very much like trying to be an actress in Hollywood. The competition is high. You have to keep auditioning. Sometimes you land a commercial and sometimes you get the staring roll. And, sometimes you get cut out of the film.

Any words of inspiration for fellow artists?
If you love what you do it will love you back and with hard work and focus you can find a way to be successful with your art or craft. Know where you do and don't fit in, find you path and follow it. Don't let anyone else tell you differently because there are just as many individual tastes in style as there are artists.

Just in case a manufacturer or licensing agent is reading this article, do you have anything to say to them? Don’t ever underestimate Etsy as a place to find who you are looking for.

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