A Short Guide to Art Licensing

Art licencing appears to be a somewhat enigmatic process to many, and is one that seems to be seldom discussed. It is potentially, however, quite an important facet of the art industry that would enable artists to make money and be compensated for their work without making use of the traditional gallery system. In this way, it would be potentially quite beneficial for artists to be familiar with.

What is art licensing?

Art licensing is a means with which artists can receive payment for their work by coming to an agreement with a manufacturer or a company and ‘renting’ their work to them. In this way, the artist gives the manufacturer permission to use his or her work on their products in any way that they desire, and in exchange for a payment to the artist of the work in question. The artist who licenses his or her work would therefore licence their images in order to enable their use for commercial products, and would thus not be able to sell any originals elsewhere.

How does it work?

Approaching companies and businesses in order to collaborate and thus enter the world of art licensing would therefore require a much different approach than the one artists would use in order to sell their art using more traditional means, such as through collectors or galleries or by directly selling original works. Many companies source the art that they implement on their merchandise, and subsequently sell to retailers, from freelance artists. An artist must be willing to collaborate with a third party if they are interested in licensing their art, and the process itself might be quite gruelling.

One must be prepared to market themselves and their work constantly and to create and potentially even alter their work into a shape that best fits the specifications dictated by manufacturers. They must work within the legalities of a contract and be prepared for the possibility of not receiving immediate income for the work that they create.

The first steps involved in art licensing:

In order to have work to licence, the first step is to trademark your business. This may be a daunting prospect, however it is a necessary step in order to enable you to sign contracts and implement your artworks on products or in stores. The second step is to create and establish your own library of work. Organizing this is vital as it will enable the manufacturer, agent or brand to look through your work with ease. Updating this library of work is also important as it will potentially enable you to book more licencing jobs in the future. The third step involves the process of attempting to book a licencing job. One potential route to take is to book an agent who will take care of any contracts and negotiating processes with companies, however this is not strictly necessary. The following are a few tips that could be beneficial if you are seeking to book any licencing jobs:

1.The first tip is to do a lot of research. This is of vital importance because becoming knowledgeable of trends, knowing who your competition is, and the specific things that attract brands to work with will aid you greatly. The market itself is quite competitive, and extensive market research is therefore necessary.

2. Another tip is to create a pitch deck to showcase all of your work and ideas and to present to bands that you could potentially work with.

3. It would also be a good idea to attempt to try out online marketing platforms. These platforms are beneficial to get you started and to enable you to take that first step into the vast world of art marketing. This is because they allow you to create a profile and upload your artworks. In this way, you are able to promote your work to others, which is highly essential.

In order to delve into the world of art licensing, one must be willing to create art according to the requirements of popular trends and schemes that are more likely to reap benefits in the process of selling merchandise. One must also be willing to work with third parties and make any changes to their work that they deem to be necessary. However, despite not being for everyone, art licensing can potentially be a deeply rewarding process. If you’re comfortable with working with companies and creating artworks that will be put and sold on merchandise, even on a part-time basis that will enable you to receive a supplemental income, art licencing can be highly beneficial for you. 

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *