Thursday, September 08, 2011

Licensing Your Art

Dunes at Dusk, acrylic, Jan Blencowe

Art Tile Box, featuring Just Us Three, by Jan Blencowe

Almost three years ago I was contacted by a company that wanted to license one of my floral paintings to use on high end Art Tile jewelry boxes that feature paintings from artists around the globe. Yesterday, I received the first box as a gift from the company, a lovely letter and royalty check. The boxes are very well made, and the reproduction of the artwork is exceptional in color and clarity. This was something that the company spent a long time on, researching and finding the absolute best process for reproducing the art. The respect shown for the artists images throughout their whole process was very gratifying for me. My art was not treated as just another commercial image but as the valuable, original fine art that it is. If you are a retailer and would like to carry these very unique boxes you can view the collection and find information here.

A year or so ago, another group contacted me asking to license some of my sand dune paintings for Interior Designer Barclay Butera. I worked with them and you can see the results here and here.  Each month I receive a royalty check from the sale of the sand dune giclees.

Yesterday, that same group contacted me about licensing some of my plein air paintings. Right now I'm in the midst of working out that deal.

I bring this all up for a few reasons. First, if you are building your internet presence through a website, blog and social media your art will be found and purchased in many different ways. This is why I teach internet marketing to artists. In fact, next week on Tuesday, Sept. 13th at 7pm I'll be giving an Art Marketing talk for the Cheshire Art League, here in CT.

Second, in this depressed economy, and really anytime for artists, we all need multiple streams of income. Licensing your art gives you a way to continue to earn money from a single image with no additional work or time expenditure on your part. (except to go to the bank to cash your royalty check!)

Third, I believe that beauty and art should be accessible to everyone not just those who can afford to buy my originals. The world needs beauty, don't you think? So, allowing some of my images to be used as commercial products brings my work to people on a larger, wider scale.

Now, you may be wondering if this hurts or helps the fine artist. There are a number of ways to look at this. As an artist you may decide that using your talents for more commercial purposes is the right way to go. Certainly, many, many famous fine artists started out as commercial artists and many continued to do both throughout their careers. Artists have a right to make a decent living through the use of their talent and the world needs beautiful things. If you really want to get into licensing your work I will defer to Tara Reed. You can visit her website and learn everything you need to know about licensing.

Personally, I am very selective about which images and what ways my art will be used. Occasionally, and on a small scale, I will enter into a licensing agreement and allow my images to earn money as another stream of income. I have never once heard a collector complain and in reality the artist owns the copyright to the image and can allow the image to be used in any way he or she feels will be a benefit.

Ultimately each artist must decide if any commercial use of their work is the right thing for them at the time. In this economy (which I fear may take as long as 10 years to recover, if it recovers at all) artists must think creatively about ways to earn a living.

If you have experience using your images in a non-traditional fine art way that either worked or didn't I invite you to share your experiences in the comment section.

At the end of the day, I'm happy that my work is out there being viewed and enjoyed by a wide variety of people. I hope that collectors of my work, who are drawn to its peaceful, spiritual message also concur that the world needs beauty and that everyone should have an opportunity to bring beautiful art objects into their lives. 

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