What I've been up to!

WOW! I can't believe it has been almost a month since I've updated the blog. So sorry! I've been very busy with several projects and a handful of deadlines - most of which I can't talk about in any detail yet.

But to give you a rough idea:

1. I wrote an article for Faerie Magazine (finished and out soon)

2. Collaborated on an illustrated written project with Natania Barron for another magazine (ongoing)

3. Illustrated the album cover for Professor Elemental's new album (ongoing - and it's awesome by the way!)

4. Started rough concept sketches of full figure adaptations of some of my doll girls for a manufacturer.

5. Pulled together two proposals for two other manufactuers.

6. Illustrated the Three of Swords for the Super Punch Tarot Project.

And that last one I can now share with you!

CLICK HERE to see the full line up of amazing tarot cards from an incredible group of artists!

I'm also pleased to share that the originals of Unfair Things and Ascension were sold to a private collector after my exhibit ended. This was awesome and that influx of cash allowed me to finally be able to upgrade my computing power to a MacBook Pro - and to upgrade my programs etc. This has taken some getting used to but I'm loving it!

I know I've promised to do an online gallery show. I've been trying to find the right time - and well it's been difficult with all the work I've on my plate at the moment. I also want the online gallery show to have some newer pieces - which means time to paint these new pieces. So I'm thinking I might be holding this show later then I had planned. But don't worry I'll let everyone know. I'm definitely interested in your suggestions as to what is the best time for you as an individual - I'd love to be able to take that feedback and find the overall best time to hold the event.

The plan for this online gallery exhibit is to stream live and show you the images via a stream of my desktop. This way I can zoom in on them - kind of how you'd move in closer to see the detail if you were viewing them in person. I'll also chat live and do Q&A.

For those of you that are familiar with MMOs we'll also be hosting a live gallery opening at my virtual gallery in Second Life. That's a truly immersive way to experience the art!

Sign up for my mailing list to be informed about the dates!

I hope all are happy and well! Till next time!

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!




Thoughts about Licensing & Art Careers

A few weeks ago I went on vacation for a week to Las Vegas with my husband. While there we also attended The International Licensing Show. Wow what an experience that was! Our attendance was a little backwards - in that the companies and talents with booths at the show were seeking licensing opportunities - just like us. But that's okay since we had gone to spend our time learning and observing.

It was well worth it. What I learned only served to confirm a viewpoint I've had for some time now. That the real action - the real opportunities - are much more readily available when you are meeting people in person (such as at trade shows and events). If you want to be a serious working artist you need to really "put yourself out there" in the flesh - and no the internet isn't enough.

Let me explain. (And just by way of reference I used to be a small business and marketing consultant for a number of years so hopefully I have some small measure of credibility in this area. Let's hope!)

The internet is a powerful tool - and I'm grateful to have it. But it doesn't take the place of real live in the flesh connections. What's more with powerful website building tools and 8 year olds familiar with Photoshop the line between amateur and professional is terribly blurry. Our whole society is far more media and marketing savvy then in generations past. These days you find teenagers with business cards and individuals with a sophisticated advertising concepts and personal brand awareness. This is fantastic - but also really confusing for companies looking to license art - and frustrating for the artists looking to license.

These days companies are so inundated with licensing requests via email or internet sources that they rarely give them much attention. They rely on the old standards more then ever to tell them who the real players are in the current art market. And those players are attending shows, mailing portfolios and setting up face to face meetings. Meanwhile hopeful artists are sitting at home with lovely web sites wondering why their art won't sell or why they fail to obtain any licensing.  Well the answer to that is generally one of two options.

1. Quality - Is your art any GOOD?

Before the internet if someone wanted to start a career as a licensed artist they generally started with education. If they chose the formal route they would have received feedback and criticism from their professors. If they did not receive a formal education then the process of starting off on their professional art licensing career would be a critical one - which would serve to inform them of their suitability for the field. (The smart ones would seek out objective feedback and criticism of their work before trotting off into the professional world.) If they chose to work with an agent the agent would serve as this filter - giving valuable feedback about the quality of the artists work and what the market was "looking for". If they chose to find their own opportunities this meant hoofing it - going out with (or mailing) resumes, cover letters, promotional materials and portfolios.

All this work served as an excellent weeding out process to separate the amateur from the professional. This difference is important and the truth is that one is not a professional simply but putting that on a business card. What separates an amateur from a professional is their work and their presentation. Now I'm not talking about the STYLE of art - but rather the QUALITY. THE main component at the licensing show we attended was the QUALITY. Sure there was plenty of art I didn't care for - absolutely. And there was a vast range of very different styles. But every last booth at this show had an incredible level of professionalism. And even the art I didn't care for was of excellent QUALITY.

I understand it can be hard to objectively look at your own work. It can also be hard to find objective criticisms if you are looking to only family, friends and co-workers for critique. Even persons with an educated eye for art aren't always helpful. Many art teachers are frustrated artists themselves and gallery owners and newspaper critics come with their own sets of prejudices and biases.

So what do you do? VOLUME. Get as many opinions from as many educated sources as you can. Solicit detailed feedback and critiques. Learn from them and grow. If the only people who've ever told you that your art was beautiful were related to you then you're not doing it right. Toughen up - submit to some local juried art shows - see if you get in - and if you don't ask why. And I don't want to hear any excuses such as "none of the art shows in my area cater to my genre". Then cater to theirs. If they only want landscapes then do some landscapes. If you can paint then you can paint. Consider it good practice and remember if you are looking to get into licensing you'll need to be good at being flexible and giving the clients what they want. Very very few artists make a career licensing only what they want to paint. Most have to work with their clients to accommodate a specific concept or trend.

2. Visibility - Get out there!

Simply popping a website up on the internet is not enough. You must research opportunities and go after them. Attend trade shows. Set up appointments with licensing companies and talk to them in person. Nothing can replace that personal relationship.

Be smart and observe the type of art, trends, and quality of work you see at shows. Be professional, and be prepared. Attend shows with a portfolio under your arm that you can whip out at a moments notice.

Look for new opportunities! Think outside the box! What would you like to see your art on? What unique product would one of your images be perfect for? Go to stores and write down the names of manufacturers that appear on products. Then use the internet to look up the contact info for these companies.

DON'T BE LAZY! So many artists these days simply model their career after another artist they admire. They even hound the licensing companies of other artists to find opportunities for themselves there. That is the silliest thing! Generally the last place you want to be is with a company that already has several other artists with work similar to your own signed. Can you say over saturation? Do you want to stand out in a crowd or get lost in it?

Be PROFESSIONAL - I can't say it enough. I own a company that licenses a handful of artist for digital stickers. I regularly get licensing requests. I cannot believe the lack of professionalism on the part of most of the people that email me. An over casual tone is never appropriate. Even if you think you "know" the person you are emailing - still be professional. And always always respond. Even if you get a rejection - respond with a "thank you for your time". You never know what situation might lead to another. Even if an artist isn't a good fit for our company I keep everyone in my mind when I network with other business owners and persons in the industry. If someone impressed me with their professionalism I will never hesitate to recommend them - even if they weren't signed with my company.

So if you are going to burn a bridge make sure it's worth it. ;)


So in a nutshell if you are having trouble obtaining licensing - work these two points. If it's not one - its the other.

I hope you've found this helpful! Feel free to post comments or questions.



UPDATE: Fellow artist and friend Jessica Galbreth has just released her highly anticipated Artist Manual Book.  Great info for budding artists who want to learn more about making it as a professional.