Through years of experience in the Art Licensing industry, we've discovered the rules or "secrets" in art licensing that can turn certain gifted artists into successful licensors, enabling them to harness the financial potential of their hard work and creativity.
Many of the new artist portfolio submissions we receive at Pure Art Licensing are undeniably beautiful, but their appeal doesn't always translate into suitability for licensing.
Success in this highly competitive industry boils down to your design skills, subject matter, formatting and trends. In this article, our aim is to provide you with some fundamental guidelines that can assist you navigate the challenging world of Art Licensing.
Rule # 1 - GET THE FORMAT RIGHT
Our sales over the past 18 years prove that the most preferred artwork format features a 3:4 ratio in rectangular dimensions, portrait (80%) or landscape (10%). Although there are exceptions with circular or uniquely shaped licensed art, the majority of art in the market adheres to standard rectangular dimensions. Designing within these parameters allows manufacturers to adjust the art for specific purposes, expanding its potential uses. While the 3:4 ratio isn't a rigid standard, larger images can be easily cropped down to 5:7 or 4:5 ratios, provided the composition allows for such adjustments as directed by art professionals. Images outside of this 'golden ratio' are harder to work with and so harder to license.
Rule # 2 - SAVE YOUR LAYERS!!!
Saving your artwork in layered files is of utmost significance for digital designs, while scanning individual layers when working on paper is essential. If your artwork deviates from the 'golden ratio' mentioned above clients are unable to utilize digital tools to adjust your design. With the reluctance to invest in reworks or redesigns, clients may opt out of purchasing your artwork, resulting in a missed opportunity for a sale. Remember, you're designing for a 3d product, with a front, a back and any number of embellishments so the more layers you create the more they can be used - and the more appealing the image becomes to prospective buyers.
Rule # 3 - THINK ABOUT THE PRODUCT USES
Consider the versatility of every design you create in Art Licensing. Imagine a manufacturer producing placemats who might also venture into drinks coasters, mugs, paper napkins, and various household items. Thus, each chosen design must allow for easy editing and adaptation. If the primary elements of your design extend beyond the page or if the background irregularly fades out, it complicates their process and decision-making regarding the design's suitability.
Incorporating bleed space around the edges of your backgrounds and layers ensures that the customer has less work to do. Ensuring that your work extends beyond the edge of the intended print area before adding bleed is essential for achieving this outcome.
While there are various niche applications for background-free images, like heat transfers for clothing, stickers, mugs, and decorative borders, such images constitute a small fraction of the market. If a company desires an image with a minimal background, and you've followed RULE #2 they can easily crop it or use a layer as needed. However, promoting an irregularly shaped image to most companies is not going to result in a sale.
Rule # 4 - CREATE DESIGNS IN SETS OF AT LEAST FOUR PIECES
We frequently encounter artists who present a diverse array of images, each distinct in style, subject, size, format, and design. While this varied approach may suit the sale of originals prints, it often doesn't align with the preferences of many art licensees. These licensees seek an artist's work to possess a recognizable "look" as part of a cohesive portfolio, reflecting the artist's unique style and approach.
Print companies, stationary manufacturers, giftware businesses, as well as wall decor and home decor companies, prefer sets of four or more images that harmoniously complement one another. They can then aim to build a comprehensive line of products and value the ability to diversify a successful image into a broader range. Moreover, consumers often prefer decorating their homes with matching sets of images rather than individual pieces.
By organizing your diverse artistic ideas into sets of related images, you can enhance the consistency and coherence of your art portfolio, significantly improving your chances for successful art licensing.
Rule # 5 - BE WARY OF DESIGNING WHAT YOU WANT OR BEING TOO 'NICHE'