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How to Make a Living Licensing Your Art

1. MAKE THE DECISION to create an art licensing business 

In order to earn money from creating your own artwork you must first make the decision to create a successful business and put in the hard work.

You need to act on your inspiration, put it into usable form and then find a way to bring it to market.

Dedicated licensed artists work more than 12 hours a day.

Hard work means:

- Wake up with the intention of working hard by focusing only on your art.

- Have your supplies set up for the day.

- Know what you are going to work on the day before.

- Put in a full day of creating.

- Being proactive.

- Creating high quality designs.

Creating a successful business means:

- Knowing exactly how you will make money consistently with your art.

- Know how to streamline your process.

- Learn how to organize your art production.

- Know exactly who you will be making your art for.

- Connecting with the buyers and agents who will work with you or represent your work.

2. KNOW HOW you will run your business

- Have a focused schedule on what you are creating and for whom.

- Find 5 manufacturers or licensing partners excited to work with you and licensing your art.

- Consistently create art at a prolific level.

- Consistently send art to your manufacturers or licensing partners for review.

- Make your time in the studio count.

- Know that your art must be attractive on products to sell them.

- Have an online art website for your buyer to see your newest work.


- Do only one thing at a time.

- Know why you are doing it.

- Be purposeful in your task.

- Be mindful of the need for your art to be out in the world.

- Be positive. Your art needs to be out in the world.

Finding your partners:

- First discover what market channel you want your art to sell into.

- Then find out what licensees sell similar products into that same channel. 

- Get in front of the art director or creative director at that company.

- Research manufacturers in your local stores by looking at labels and then send them an email.

- Find out what their art needs are. They need art! All the time!

- Send a small jpg sampling email of your art so they can see your style. 

- Be professional. Be upbeat. Be helpful to them by being very acomodating.

- Once you have some contacts, keep in touch with them to let them know you are accountable.

- Follow art submission instructions.


- You need to think in 'product format'.

- Look for insight into how your art will stand out from others.

- Be aware of the resolution, format, size, shape you want your final art to be.

- Know the themes that you want to work on.

- Make sets of themed art. 2 or 4 possibly.

- Experiment during your art-making. Be new with your ideas.

- Create digitally or with your paintbrush. Anything is possible.

- Know your color wheel. 

- Make compelling compositions.

- Know if your art needs to allow space for type above your work. [greeting cards]

- Keep your art files on a separate hard drive, back-up system.

Be prolific:

- Make great beautiful art that sells on products.

- Start a new piece of art every day.

- Be true to your style.

- Create sets of art for best selling ability.

- Make your art stand out by being unique.

- Become your art buyer's first go to artist for your art subject.

- Make a LOT of art. That's the key.

- Make art that you can send once a week to your customer to review.

Send art:

- Send your lo res art sets out to your buyers to review several times per month.

- Mock up your art to show its use in the marketplace. ie: dinnerware, textiles, fashion.

- Be in the flow by staying market current with what you send out.

- Keep your email short and simple with your art attached.

- Art expires. Trends move on. Send new ideas always. Refresh your portfolio regularly.

~ Karen

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