Wow, this is an AI created illustration but we're using this blog post to help Artists and Illustrators create artwork and illustrations that are suitable for the international Greeting Card Art Licensing Industry

Improve your Art Licensing sales by getting the rules of design for 'products' right

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.


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.


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.


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.


Weirdly, we often come across some delightful illustrations of wild mushrooms and Fairys that artists have crafted. It's evident to us from observing their artwork that they have a deep affinity for these spiritual creatures and thoroughly enjoy depicting them. That's perfectly commendable, within the context of their preference.

But here's the problem, their chosen theme and content caters to what we term a "niche" audience, given the relatively limited number of individuals in the world who actively seek out Fairy-themed products. Admittedly, there exists a market for this specific subject matter, but it remains somewhat specialized and isn't part of the mainstream retail environment. Therefore, relying on this niche market alone might not suffice for those aiming to attain both financial stability and widespread recognition through art licensing, as it remains distant from the central pulse of the consumer art market.

In the realm of Art Licensing, the consensus is that thorough research is the key to uncovering content that resonates with our buyers. A valuable starting point involves visiting your nearby supermarket and examining the themes portrayed on various greeting cards, gift bags, wrapping paper, diary covers, or mugs. By creating your own rendition that integrates these exact motifs, you aren't replicating; rather, you are crafting something that has been repeatedly tried and proven successful in the market.

This approach allows you to leverage proven concepts and tailor them to your unique artistic style and vision, thereby tapping into the preferences of a ready and receptive audience. It's not about copying, you're actually creating something original in your own style but with content that has been tested in the marketplace time and time again and found to be successful.

Rule # 6 - TRY, TRY, TRY, & TRY AGAIN

In this industry, it's a known truth that no one wants to acknowledge—neither agents, publishers, art directors, nor successful artists. It all boils down to numbers. The more designs you create, following the advice above, the more sales you're likely to secure. An average ratio for even the best artist is for every 10 designs they create we will license up to 4 or 5. Rounding that down, if they only create 5 designs we will only sell 1 or 2. And so sales = submissions.

Throughout the years, we've seen highly successful artists ease off and expect sales to keep flowing, only to witness a decline and a shift in customer preferences. Similarly, we've had new artists join Pure Art Licensing, swiftly selling out with a small portfolio, but then experiencing sluggish sales after never sending anything new.

Consistent creation will sharpen your creativity. Continuously seeking new design ideas and mastering your design process through practice keeps your creative flow alive, reducing the time required to craft a design significantly. Staying abreast of trends ensures you'll make more sales.

It's incredibly important to not give up if sales are slow, it'll only get slower if you've nothing to sell.



With extensive experience in the licensing domain, Richard Patey serves as the Creative Director at Pure Art Licensing. He possesses a wealth of knowledge in promoting artists' works, in Europe but also in the USA, and aids Pure's artists & illustrators in augmenting their earnings and building their presence in the realm of commercial, licensed art.

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