More thoughts on Licensing

Since my last post regarding licensing I've had quite a few people email me with more questions. (I would encourage people to ask questions here on the blog so we might all benefit from the discussion.)

One thing I liked to reiterate is that if you have any questions about licensing and the business of art especially in the fantasy genre go buy Jessica Galbreth's book - RIGHT NOW. Seriously - Jess is a MASTER at the business of art and like E.F. Hutton when she talks we all should listen so if you haven't bought it already just go do it. Go on. I'll wait. Here's the link: Buy Jess's Book

Okay moving on. There is no right approach. You have to figure out for yourself what your particular formula for succes is going to be. And while I know its scary and confusing and overwhelming. None of the artists you perceive as having more experience or expertise then you are going to be able to give you a guidebook to assured success. You will make mistakes - there will be deals you aren't happy with. Promise.

Licensings is difficult to get into. It's very competitive and I feel personally its overrated. Most of the artists I know make far more income selling directly to their fans then they do off of licensing.

But I think it's important to understand one thing. And I wrote this in an email today and I really think it's valuable so I'm sharing it here.

Far to many artists hold licensing up as the Holy Grail of success - which it is not. Perfecting your craft, your techinque, your style, your vision and your connection to your fanbase should be - and is - the holy grail.

Most licensing for most artists results in small paychecks that trickle in every quarter. Some licensors never pay you. Some sign you up and never make your products (potentially keeping you tied up and unavailable for other opportunities).

Yes some licensing can be very lucrative. Some artists make quite a bit of money at it. But like any field the people at the top making the most money are just a handful of people. They work very very very hard and there is always something "special" about these people. Something that sets them apart. (And just for the record whatever your impressions I am NOT one of the people at the top of the licensing ladder - I make very little of my income off of licensing).

The artists at the top work hard, they are prolific, they are unique while at the same time staying on top of trends. They diversify their subjects while never straying from their particular style. The quality of their work is top notch and improving all the time. They are unfailingly professional. Did I mention hard working?

To get to the top of the licensing game you not only have to be all these things - you have to be better. Because you need to make room for one more. Yourself.

This is not meant as discouragement. But rather a reality check. Knowledge is power. You need to know what you are in for.

If all you want to do is license your art with your friend who makes handmade journals and sells them at the local fair (and I'm not knocking that) then go for it. Ignore this advice - as it has little bearing on smaller ventures.

But if what you want to do is license your work to a major clothing manufacturer and see your art in every Hot Topic from here to Timbuktu - then bring your A game and cross your fingers.

I'll be cheering for you!