A few days ago, I posted an article on art licensing, and, today, I have an example to share. Blogger Dave Wernli has posted a great article on dealing with Emotional pain. In it he tells a very interesting story about the difference between stampeding buffalo and stampeding cattle. For the entry he uses my Bison Stampede as an illustration.
I get asked this question quite often. Someone contacts me and wants to use one of my artworks on their website, novel cover, album art, etc. This is different from an illustration contract in that the artwork already exists. Someone just wants to use it. Enter the world of art licensing.
What is art licensing?
Art licensing is how someone can legally use art for their book cover, product label, website, etc. When you license an artwork, you enter an agreement with the artist that allows you to use the artwork with the permission of the artist. Generally, you of course must pay the artist. Compensation usually takes the form of a flat fee, royalty, or both.
When it comes to art licensing, a flat fee is a one-time payment. It can be, and often is, just a simple fixed amount. Sometimes though the amount can vary based on the number of units of the product that will incorporate the artwork (note that when an artwork is put on a non-media product, such a coffee mug or tie, it is called a “design”, and when it is placed on a media product, such as a book cover or album cover, it is called an “illustration”). For example, say you wanted to use an artwork on a line of coffee mugs. The artist might charge a base fee of $100, but an additional fee of $0.001 for every mug you intend to produce using that design. The thing about this form of licensing fee is that you pay the artist up front.
A royalty fee, on the other hand, is something you pay the artist after a period of time. A royalty is a percentage of sales you made for your product that used the artwork as a design. For instance, using the coffee mug example again, say you sold 100,000 mugs for $1 each. If you had a 1% royalty agreement with the artist, you would owe that artist $1,000. When it comes to royalties, there is usually some form of payment schedule, e.g. annually.
Exclusive vs. Non-exclusive
Something else to consider when it comes to art licensing is whether you want an exclusive or non-exclusive agreement. In an exclusive agreement, you have sole right to use the artwork, whereas, in a non-exclusive agreement, the artist is free to license the work to others. Naturally, exclusive agreements tend to run a great deal more expensive, that is, if the artist is even willing to enter one.
One last thing to keep in mind is that licensing agreements generally have a time limit. That is, they are only good for a few years. After that period has ended, you can no longer use the artwork in the production of more of your product unless you renew the license, and, depending on the success of your product, the artist may wish to renegotiate the terms.
In order to make things easy, some artists will use a service or agency to handle licensing of their works. For instance, I use a website called Pixels.com. You can license just about any of my works through it. Here is the link:
So, if your looking for some art to use for your commercial projects, think about licencing existing works. It may take a bit of searching to find the perfect work to fit your needs, but it can save you loads of time and money over contracting an artist to create a work from scratch.
P.S. If you liked this article, please consider signing up for my newsletter. I send it out every Wednesday and it includes links to my latest artworks, articles, and videos, as well as discounts, deals, and freebies!
Perhaps you think that your art is not good enough to sell, or worse, maybe you are worried that what you are making isn’t even considered art at all. You look at what you have made and ask yourself, “Is it art?”. Well, if you meant for it to be art, then the answer is “Yes”.
First off, you may not be exactly sure what is and what is not art. Modern art has made it rather confusing. Now, technology also confuses the issue. I can’t tell you how often I have people dismiss my art as “not art” simply because I use a computer to make it.
For most of the era of modern art, ever since the impressionists deviated from the rules of the art academy, the question has been asked “is it art?” The response usually comes from someone who has an agenda: a collector who wants to increase the value of the art they own, a gallery owner trying to eliminate the competition, a politician trying to cancel public funding for the arts, even from the artist trying to justify their own body of work. The answers from these people tend to boil down to an attempt to narrow the field. They are trying to increase the importance of what they CONSIDER to be art at the expense of everything else.
So what is art? It’s anything made by a person that is considered to be art by that person or any other person. I know, it’s a bit of a cyclical definition, but that’s the truth of it. Art is what we say it is. That is not to say, though, that everything is art. Naturally concurring things are just that – things that happen to be there, and the vast majority of things made by people are just for utilitarian purposes, things that no one considers to be art; therefore, such things are not art.
So, if you think you are making art – you are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
However, just because it is art does not necessarily mean that it is likely to sell well, but we’ll get more into that later.
Note that I do limit the definition to things made by people. You might argue that there are a few animals capable of creating art, but quite often such art is really the result of a human trainer. Also, in the future, there may well be machine intelligences making art, but at this time, art created by machines is really done so by a person directing or programming the machine.
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Okay, so you’ll see a picture of me in the first article posted in the blog. It’s part of my introduction, but it is also my first piece of advice: try not to be too anonymous. Art is not a typical product. Unlike toasters, televisions, or sofas, when people buy art, the person who made it can be as important to them as the art itself, if not more so. The Internet makes it easy to be anonymous, but for an artist, anonymity can be a turn off to potential collectors.
I’ve created numerous online galleries using names that hide my identity. Weather it was a company name, or a snappy online ID, my sales where always slow or non-existent. Once I started using my real identity though, the art sales started coming in much more often. Art buyers just seem reluctant to buy from someone like SuperArtist1973, but as “Daniel Eskridge, Artist” I become much more approachable.
Now you could create a believable psuedonym, that is, a first and last name that could be that of a real person, but I believe that there’s more to to using your real identity. I think that it has something to do with that once you attach you real self to your art, you are much more concerned about putting your best foot forward. Your art suddenly becomes a matter of pride, not just profit. You real reputation is on the line.
So use your real name for your online presence. Also, let people see you. Use real pictures of yourself for your online profiles on sites where you sell your art. Let your customers see that you are an actual human being.
Being a digital artist who uses FineArtAmerica (now called Pixels.com) I’m a bit biased, I prefer to use them…but I have tried getting my art printed from a few different places including Costco, Walmart, RedBubble, Staples, Snapfish, Zazzle, and Shutterfly.
For the most part, print quality is all the same between them, generally above average and perfectly acceptable to everyone who has ever bought a print from me. In fact, the word is that all of those print on demand sites actually use the same clearing houses to produce prints.
The only one of lesser quality was Walmart which was not THAT bad, but a little below what I would consider acceptable for a sale – though perfectly okay for my own personal prints. However, because they print on site at the store they are fast and less expensive.
If you want exceptional quality, then you need to look up your local professional giclee print house. They are generally quite expensive and you’ll have to go on word of mouth to know if they are any good.
I also owned my own Epson Stylus Pro 7600 for a time to print my own stuff. I would not recommend going that route. It was VERY expensive and very difficult to get quality prints.
In addition to being an artist, I worked my way through college in a frame shop.
My first suggestion would be to hire a professional framer to do it. Framing can actually be quite difficult, but, if you’re the do-it-yourself type:
First off, your painting needs to be stretched. Most likely it already is as canvases sold in art supply stores are sold prestretched on a wooden frame, but if it is not, I suggest you take your painting to a frame shop where you can have a professional do it. Stretching a painting is actually somewhat difficult and does require some practice and know-how.
Assuming you’ve gotten to the point of having the painting stretched, you need to find or build a frame that fits the dimensions of your painting. This is where oil paintings on canvas have a disadvantage over something like a photographic print or a painting on paper. You cannot use mats to alter the side ratios or increase the size of the work up to a larger frame. You have to have a frame that exactly fits your painting.
You can build a frame by ordering the frame moulding from any number of vendors then assembling with corner fasteners (usually provided by the vendor along with the moulding), or, if you are handy with carpentry, making your own with wood and house moulding from the local hardware store.
Oil paintings are generally not framed under glass.
It’s better to have frame that is deeper than the depth of the canvas’s stretcher bars, but it is not strictly necessary so long as the frame is wide enough so that no one will see the sides of the canvas from any reasonable viewing angel.
To mount the painting in the frame you can use metal canvas clips (even if the frame depth is less than the canvas depth), or, if the frame IS deeper than the canvas, you can use nails, brads, or staples partially sunk in the inside of the frame to hold the painting in.
Use two screw eyes 1/3 of the way from the top on the back of the frame as anchor points for the hanging wire.
Hanging wire is a braided metal wire that you can buy from just about any hardware store or big-box store. Be sure to get something that is rated with a weight strong enough for your painting.
Run the hanging wire through the screw eyes, then cut it leaving several inches on each side. You might want to wrap a bit of tape around the ends of the wire to prevent cuts. Bend the ends of the wire around the screw eyes then wrap them around the rest of the wire (the part between the screw eyes).
Perhaps you like my art, but just don’t have any wall space. Well…I have many other ways you can enjoy my art. For instance, you might want to have a coffee mug featuring my art, or a phone case, or a tote bag. They’re available in my Art Gift Shop!
One of the nice advantages of the fulfillment service that I use is that they offer much more than just wall prints. They also will print my art on a whole variety of gift objects. As such, I’ve just added a gift shop this site featuring some of those items.
Have you made any sales of your artworks through social networking sites like Facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram?
This is a question I’ve gotten a couple of times.
Yes, I’ve made numerous sales through Facebook. To do so though, I have a fan page that I use to market my art. I would not recommend using a personal FB page to do your art business.
I’ve spent several years building a following on Facebook, and it has required lots of time and some money for advertising.
If you want to learn more on selling art through Facebook, check out my quick start guide to selling art online.
I’ve made a couple of sales through DeviantArt as well, but that site tends to be more social rather than commercial when it comes to art.
As for Twitter, I have a couple of thousand followers. Whenever I post art there for sale, I usually only get one or two click through’s to my website, and, if any of those pitiful few have ever converted to a sale, I didn’t catch it.