Atlanta and some Snippets

After 15 years of wandering her 7 million square feet of showrooms, the Atlanta Mart has become kinda like that old friend who never changes. That friend you aren’t sure you want to spend time with until they show up, then you immediately drop back into the groove and pick up where you left off last time. At least until you get tired and wish they would go home.

Every time we go hoping to find new and exciting trends, enthusiastic partners and huge opportunities. It does happen – after some markets we have worked and planned all the way home, flush with exciting new options that spark creative fire. Others have been more toward the “meh” side of the spectrum. Like this one. It was quiet this year, sometimes eerily so. On occasion you could look down a hallway and there was nobody in sight. For a hundred yards. Empty elevators and bathrooms, extra free lunches being tossed, and room to move at cash and carry. Our clients were taking the “it’s slow but steady” reporting path, but of course they have to keep the faith. I have been there enough times that I’m not buying it. But that’s just me. Hopefully they had a big weekend.

Millions of square feet but not much in the way of new and noteworthy. Loads of shiny stuff, metallics, bling accessories and of course lots of apparel in the gift showrooms. Camo is mostly gone, chalkboard greatly reduced, but words are still everywhere. Farm to table and country designs are staples. We did see simple primary colors showing up on garden and outdoor products, that was interesting. The handcrafted look is definitely taking front stage now. Real or ersatz cut and paste, stitchery, block printing, found objects, raw wood and rustic signs – the maker movement has come to production product. Hmm, how do you balance that?

The Snippets, however, were flying about as usual. Most are from this market and a couple from conversations and meetings over the last few weeks:

“I keep telling him ‘I love it but I can’t make money off it’”. – company VP about a concept that keeps getting presented

“There’s so much good art out there now that unless your art is stupendous – it’s just more art.” – an agent

“It’s the if’s, that’s how Surtex sucks you in: if you get one decent deal, or if something good happens, or if you won’t know for six months, or if this year it will be better…a lot of if’s for that kind of money.” –an artist who doesn’t do Surtex anymore

“Where there used to be 100 suppliers now there are 1000. Literally. We’re working in a very different world.” – a salesman talking about placing products

“They’re all so desperate to license something that they don’t realize the value of just playing around with an idea until something good pops up. It usually takes a few tries before it’s right for anybody.”
– an agent talking about their artists

“What’s coming next is the ‘scanning model’, where no one gets paid until the product scans out at the retailer point of sale. Some companies, like Cracker Barrel, are already doing it.” – a sales mgr

“People who are fast on their feet and can do customized development for the client, they will be OK. The rest, well….” – a rep talking about licensed product

“He represents a big customer so we have to work with him, but no one can stand it because he has no enthusiasm for the business.” – an art director about a sales rep

“There’s a certain fatigue that comes with trying to push that same rock up that same hill over the years.”
– a successful licensed artist

“We don’t look at portfolios anymore. They have to send it to us, or have an online site we can look through, or we pass.” – the owner of a stationery company

“We have worked with this factory for years, and our lead time was always 30 days. Then it went to 60 days, then it went to 90 days, and now they tell me they need the new designs 120 days ahead of production. All in two years. Sorry to rush it but we need these to them by August.” – gift company owner re: additional product designs…mid-July…

“It’s not about having the most SKUs, it’s about having the most relevant SKUs.” – a sales manager re: recent restructuring

“We show them (a mass retailer) the art, but we don’t want to show them unique formats because they are closely aligned with {a big China factory}, and they just knock everything off.” – from a gift company

“Resin products aren’t doing well so we are only producing the top sellers, no extras or add-ons, while we move in other directions.” – a gift company owner

“They insist tomorrow will be another day like today. They don’t want to think about what these showrooms will look like five years from now. It’s a problem.” – sales manager about the company owners

“This place has turned into an accessories and fashion market.” – from a gift company

“You generally have to kill someone to get on an elevator – this morning I could walk right on. Where are they?”
– a rep in a hallway

“There is so much flat art out there, to get my attention they need to think in product format.” – an art director

“Good things will come from any show. Just putting yourself in the middle of the action generates results.”
– an agent about doing shows and markets

And my favorite:

“Mock this up. We have to present our ideas to four people who cannot visualize anything unless it’s a mocked up product. And they are in the gift business—go figure.” – an art director

The Thrill Is Gone

First, my best wishes to BB King’s family. When I wrote this he was battling serious health problems, and now he’s gone off to the Big Jam. But can’t you hear him singing it?

Remember how thrilling the whole idea of a digital revolution and social media used to be? One big party where everybody shared fresh ideas, important life moments and the added bonus of marketing your work for free. What could be better?

Well…once again, things ain’t what they use’ta be. The digital revolution is over and digital won. Time to forget the revolution moniker, it’s just how life is. A whole generation now in the workforce has not known it any other way. A constant barrage of pitches (and new pitchmen), messages, ads, IM’s, pokes, posts… to the point where everything gets tuned out.

Google doesn’t just want to provide information anymore they want to own it all, and then sell your personal info to top bidder while sucking billions from advertisers just because they can. (Ads that they now know are ineffective, by the way…)

Facebook has become akin to an extortion racket: if you have a popular business site you are no longer allowed to reach your thousands of followers unless you pay to promote posts.

Linked In has deteriorated into phony profiles posting promos, and misguided people who repost anything and everything hoping to get some exposure; meaningful discussions have all but disappeared.

Cable companies have moved from offering a fresh new viewing alternative, to doing their best to give people no alternative except to pay grossly inflated prices.

Apple has moved past innovation and amazing design into pushing for profits, profits, profits (we miss you Steve.)

Verizon buried the desire to be the best under the desire to make the most, and publicly states they don’t need those customers who complain about high prices.

The list goes on. The big digital companies are so big, so pervasive in our plugged-in lives that you don’t hear about all the other little start-ups who hope to take back a little market share—unless you go looking for them. DuckDuck for search, or Ello for social, or a hundred others who still have that revolutionary spirit.

And then there is art licensing.

Just as creatives need to look at licensing as one leg of a many-legged platform for making a living, social media is just one leg in a many-legged platform to introduce your work to a vast world. What was a golden river of access and opportunity has turned into a tsunami of content, and being discovered while bobbing around in the raging water is difficult. And here’s a shocker for you – visibility on social media has little or nothing to do with success in art licensing. Most of the people whose names are on those products in the stores are seldom seen on art licensing forums, actually most are never seen there at all. (The flip side is also true – the most visible are not the most successful).

Likes are vanity, sales are reality.

It has long been said that ideas are worthless but execution is priceless. You need to act on your inspiration, put it into a usable form and then find a way to bring it to market. Or as is often the case now, find multiple ways to bring it to market. “I made this picture, I posted it and now I want a licensing career” doesn’t cut it, never did. Even if you did pay for a Make Art That Looks Like Everybody Else’s class. Bringing something to market is hard work, starting with testing your concept in the real world, then finding a market fit, identifying the players in that market and then getting in front of them. And that’s just the first round. Then you review the feedback, redo what isn’t working and repeat all the steps above. All while working on improving your skills. And the beautiful part is—that’s what still works. It actually helps you stand out from the crowd.

So this is what remains after the thrill is gone. The hard part. The bump that bounces so many people off the licensing path: test it first. What all those really successful people are busy doing, over and over again. Get offline and head outside. Some of the biggest names in the business are still doing art fairs, and we often run into them at various retail shows. They are out talking with their customers, trying out new designs, doubling down on the best sellers and shelving the rest. They have Etsy followers and Zazzle sites that feed them info. Create it, test it, send it out, rinse and repeat. It may not have immediate gratification like posting a pic on Facebook and reading the accolades that follow (which is NOT qualified critique BTW), but I can assure you if you do the hard work and then manage to get that product into the market – the thrill is definitely not gone.

Break It Down

So, you want to license your chicken designs, or woodland creatures, a particular unique pattern or maybe your poem or clever saying. Good! But before you head off down the yellow brick road, portfolio in hand, recognize that what may seem like a single assumption on your part – that you can license your (whatever) for (whatever) – is actually an entire set of related hypothesis. Such as:

1. The art/design is good enough. Licensed art has to be “good enough” on any number of levels. It is a given that the artist needs to be skilled. But wait, there’s more! Is the concept fresh, is the subject matter acceptable to the consumer, is the design composition handled well, are the colors and the technique reproducible on products, and so on. When a client evaluates art for licensed product there are many factors that come into play, and any one of them may torpedo a deal. Also note the opposite of good enough isn’t necessarily “bad”, many times it just means not usable.

2. There is more value derived from using my art than that of my competitor. If this is not true, then why would they use your art? There will be a number of factors that contribute to its “value” for the licensee: the style is currently popular, the art is already finished, the designer is easy to work with, they have a history with you or they just like you or your agent more than the next in line (seriously), they believe you are capable of creatively expanding a line when the other person is not… the list goes on. Note that some of these may be only perceptions of the licensee, as opposed to reality, however they carry full weight.

3. There is a need for the category of product. Maybe you could design the best ever figurines, calendars, posters, TV lamps, lunchboxes, CD cases, picture frames, clocks or checks. But why would you? Your client is making a product to sell into a fickle and changing marketplace, so strive to be in categories that are healthy, not declining.

4. You can find the right licensee. First you have to determine what market channel this product will sell into, and then you have to identify what licensees sell similar products into that same channel. Then get it in front of the right person at that company. Easy? Not always, but you need to do that work.

5. People will have the required “Me Too” reaction. Every product has to connect with the end user on some level or it won’t sell. Period. They have to need it, or want it, or want to give it, or want to say it. More often than not your art is the face of the product, so people must connect with your art and/or your message. Hopefully you have already proven they will – art fairs, Etsy, other licenses, your own line of products – there are many ways to validate your “concept” that will give you a leg up with a client. If nothing else you will quickly learn what does and doesn’t work.

This is by no means a complete list, and if it seems complex, well, that’s the point. It can be. No decision is made in a vacuum, and while you cannot address all the different factors it helps to first recognize that they exist, and then start thinking about how they will influence whether you get that license or not. Work on talking to yourself in complete sentences:

“People like my poems” is nice. “People like my poems on greeting cards because that helps them say things they otherwise cannot say, and I have 24 of them arranged as a collection” is so much better.

“I want to license my woodland critters” is nice. “I want to license my woodland critters as a repeating toss pattern on fabric for quilting, and I have 3 distinctly different versions prepared” gets you much further along.

The good news is, the more you practice looking at the components of the big picture, the easier it becomes to see it.

Dude, Like, How About My Stuff?

As someone who has been in the sales business for many years, I was horrified to receive the following email solicitation recently (from a company we all know and many work with):


Hello my name is Xxxxxx. I’m with xxxxxxx xxxxxxxx. I’m here to see if you were ready to place an order with us for this season. I noticed you have been purchashing the coasters, the every day greeting ccards and the seasonal cards. Please check out our website to see if there is anything else in there that might catch your eyes.
www.(abcdefgh).com Also be sure to check out the SALES we have going on for this month. Don’t miss out on some great items. IF you have your order ready please call us at 800-999-9999 or try our fax at 800-999-9999
I know you just placed an order with us a few months back and I thank you for that. I just don’t want you to miss out on our monthly sales.

Thanks, hope you have a great rest of the week!!!

Xxxxxx Xxxxxxx
Senior Exectutive Manager
Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Phone 800-999-9999
Fax 800-999-9999


Seriously? I have left the misspellings, missing punctuation, odd spacing and more intact – this is, other than the deleted info, exactly how it was sent. Yes, we have a tax number, yes we could function as a retailer, NO we don’t sell those products and NO we have never purchased anything from this company.

We license TO them.

A few tips on writing your cover letter/intro email to someone, such as an art director or agent, in our industry:

1. While art licensing may be appear to be a bit more casual than typical ivory tower business, it is still a business solicitation and you need to be professional, both in tone and construction. Look up how a business letter is crafted and do it correctly. Especially important if you are cold mailing.

2. Do your research, do your research, do your research. It’s that important. You lose all credibility when you misspell a name, assume they make items they don’t, or send them art that is not related to their product categories and/or art styles.

3. Be brief and to the point. Do NOT try to “sell” in the cover letter. Identify yourself, note that you are an artist asking for consideration, include maybe one or two sentences about you and your style and then sign off; that’s about it. (Make sure your contact information is included). We often get long, rambling intros included with submissions, and trust me on this – they don’t help your case. Quite the opposite.

4. The best approach is to send a link to designs that can be viewed online. In that case it can also be advantageous to send ONE small jpg as an attachment, however if you do send one make it your best shot, think of it as a teaser. If you don’t have an online gallery, send ONLY A FEW appropriately sized, carefully selected lo-res jpgs that show your style and expertise. Do not send a giant PDF or a big portfolio unless you are invited to do so. Be sure to have your name and phone or email on every image, they can easily get separated from your message.

5. Follow up in a couple weeks to see if they received it, not to get an answer. If they like it and want to see more they will be contacting you. If they haven’t had time to review, or don’t see a fit, you may or may not hear back from them. When submitting, just remember they are under no obligation to acknowledge receipt or give you an answer – some will and some will not, and there’s no telling which it will be. It’s business, not personal, so don’t take it the wrong way.

Good luck!

Snippets – Atlanta 2015

Well we made it past the normal incubation period, so apparently have managed to get through another Atlanta without catching colds or flu. This year had us worried with all the hoopla about the expanding pandemic and the ineffective vaccine. Gettin’ soft, I guess. Or just gettin’ old… nah, couldn’t be that.

It was a good show, not a record setter but now that we have sent out a bunch of stuff to a bunch of people we are maintaining our optimism. It seems a lot of the licensees are still reacting to the kick in the teeth of the last few years and are concentrating on stabilizing their business while they adapt to a changed market. Inventory control, cash management and staff reductions are still at the forefront for many, and necessarily so. The focus will have to turn back to growth at some point, and that will be good for licensors because the only enduring way to grow a category is through new product and new customers, which directly translates into more opportunity for fresh ideas and good design. Of course not everybody will get there at the same time, and then there’s always the retailer wildcard (since that’s ultimately where all of the decisions come from) but I think it’s what companies will look to next in the progression. Grow or die, you know.

So: Snippets. Lot’s of them. Last January’s unbridled optimism seems to have given way to guarded optimism, as in “things are going well but we’re not out of the woods”. Some people are happy, some not, but it seems like most everybody is still in the game. And really, what more could you ask for?

“People are more practical and less indulgent now and that has definitely affected our market.”
– a sales manager

“Artists need to realize that not every saying works as a wall plaque. They need an audience.” –an agent

“Nobody should ever get into the apparel business because of the huge inventory required.” – somebody in the apparel business

“This is so funny but I don’t know what to do with it.” – an art director

“You can’t make anything for children under three anymore, the entire category has basically been eliminated by safety concerns.” -CEO of a gift company

“That’s often how it works – they tell you it’s great and are thinking about developing a program. Then they disappear and stop answering emails, and it’s generally because some new shiny object has popped up in front of them.” – an agent

“We like it but don’t think it can work. Anytime you have to explain a product past a half-dozen words it becomes difficult to market.” – gift company manager

“We are not putting anything new into production yet, we would need more positive market information to justify the inventory risk.” – a gift company division manager

“Sometimes we reject portfolios because we can’t see who the person is – the art may be cute but there’s no story to follow.” – an agent

“It’s a very clever idea, would be a pure impulse buy. This is a soar or crash item, I only wish we knew which one it will be.” – a licensee in a product meeting

Ronnie: “So I noticed you don’t have any women’s lines. Is that by design?”
Manufacturer: “No, it’s probably because all our lines are picked by three men.”

“Every little variation or new product in the market is not necessarily a trend.” – an agent

“It’s an old look but not old enough to be retro – so it’s just old.” –comment in a hallway about a new product line

“It’s funny but year after year the big lines are still the big lines.” –an agent

“She’s going to find out very quickly that just because you send some art out, that doesn’t mean they will pay any attention to it. There’s a lot more to it than that.” – an agent who just lost an artist

“Tell them I already have their stuff.” – a licensee blowing off a meeting with us

“Management hates these, but women are lining up and taking them off the displays as we set them, so I guess they’re wrong.” – rep overheard in a showroom

‘If you have something good send it anytime. We don’t do call-outs anymore, we just got too much junk.” – a licensee

“So here’s the problem: we have good buyer data from our own DTC (direct to consumer) website, but if the reps don’t agree with us, or don’t like it, it’s still not going to sell.” – owner of a gift company

“We meet with a lot of different artists, and unfortunately not a lot of those artists think it through to the product.”
– creative director at a major gift company

“When words are the main feature I think people get tired of reading them. Patterns work better for us.”
– in a meeting

“It’s not so much the molds and resin as it is the detailed painting because labor costs have gone up so much in China. We use a lot more printing now.” – gift company owner

“I’m climbing this ladder to get there, but I’m not sure where “there” is anymore.” – a widely licensed artist

“The problem with introducing textiles is they have to sell well right out of the chute because the MOQ’s (minimum order quantity) are so high. Management wants items to be selling well in six months, and to sell through in less than 12, so taking 15 to 18 months to build a program is no longer an option.” – a sales manager at a gift company

“I like the sayings but the art is not where we will need it to be.” – an art director saying no

“Unfortunately they needed to draw a line somewhere, and they did it by sales numbers so it becomes arbitrary what skus stay and what skus are dropped.” – a company mgr explaining line cuts

“Garden flags are a dying business.” – from a gift company
“Our flag biz is up 39% over last year.” – from a flag company

“Product needs to be fun. If it’s fun they will buy it.” – gift company owner

“They’re all looking for something that looks like something else successful.” – an artist

“It has been good, and that’s kind of a relief. I think we’ve got it this show.” – president of a gift company

“I look for products that I can sell for 19.99 or less, but they need to look like they cost a lot more than that.”
– a small retail shop owner

“As a creative in this business I have to be working all the time, and artists who don’t get that are done for.”
– a successful licensed artist

“It takes a lot of energy to bring a product line onto the market. You need to create a wave that picks up not only your own people but the reps and retailers as well. If you can do that – and then it actually sells too – well, then you’ve got something.” – gift company owner

And then my favorite:

“No owls. We’re done with owls.” – in a meeting
“Any new owls? Owls always sell well if they’re cute.” – in the next meeting

Exploring 2015


I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth, then I ask myself the same question.
– Harun Yahya


So here we are – one day we woke up (in Dallas, TX, fyi) and the calendar has turned over to 2015, and if you’re like me you wonder how the hell that happened. Wow.

Our Word of the Year last year was “FOCUS”. And for the most part we did, starting with a hard look at our basic business model and how can we make it better. The answer? Change it. Do more of what works and stop doing what doesn’t (anymore). Search for the best, match it up to the results and set the rest aside along with old traditional method. We didn’t stop there, nothing was off limits right down to how and where we work and live, and how that affects (and effects) a creative life. More on that someday.

And now we’re into a new year. The market for licensed art has not diminished as much as people like to say it has, there’s plenty of opportunity. The fundamentals are the same – you still need a creator who has mastered their tools to create products that tell a story. But the percentages have changed – what that story is, how it’s delivered and what will be paid for it is in constant flux.

But here’s a secret: it has always been that way. We focus in on our little microcosm of “art licensing” and compare today to how it “used to be” a decade ago and of course it’s different; some things are more difficult, some less. Easy digital submission means the bandwagon is getting crowded, to the point where clients are tuning out all the noise (along with some of the substance because when everyone has a megaphone no one gets heard). Advances are gone, shelf time is minimal and trends are vague. Just as no one can predict the future, in today’s hyper-active paranoid retail market no one can predict licensing success either. But it takes more effort now to get less, that much we DO know. Which is pretty much the same lament heard since the dawn of commerce.

So this leads us to “what now?” I think in a rapidly shifting market artists that want a licensing career need to become light on their feet. Change the statement “I do this…” to “I tried this…”, and use the phrase “well, that didn’t work” more often. The ability to take a step back, evaluate the impact of your work on the market and then allow the results to impact your work will be paramount.
This is an important facet of our Word for 2015:


It’s more than just sales numbers however. It’s all the other words we did not choose as well: interesting, exciting, intriguing, exceptional. It’s moving off the path of what used to work and how we used to do it, and heading down the road of what we LOVE to do–what’s interesting, exciting, intriguing, exceptional… because when you do those things the story shines through. And if the story doesn’t resonate with the market then we go looking for a different story. Learn to move on – grinding yourself into dust by continually executing on a plan that doesn’t work is such a waste of talent and opportunity.


It’s a big world. Passion is not supposed to be a prison. It’s the fire that powers you and you get to steer it, not the other way around. Just as creativity is not random, neither is your passion and you can re-direct it to find a workable audience. Ignore any voice that says you can’t including your own.


In business, the chances of getting it exactly right the first time are infinitesimal. There is a reason concepts like pivot, iteration and minimum viable product are all the rage – because that’s how it works, that’s how you get there. It’s a process. “Well, that didn’t work” is much more than just an acknowledgment, it implies a course of action: Next!


Because you love it. Open oysters looking for pearls, search for the tenth Muse, throw things against the wall because it’s fun to throw things against the wall. Work your idea machine. Businesses go through hundreds of ideas to get to the right one, so it’s crazy to believe that it will be different for you. Continual experimentation is the new normal. You want to create something magical to rise above the clutter, and once you get there it’s temporary, so keep that river flowing. The worst you can hear is no, so get out there and EXPLORE!

Happy New Year!

We’re Tee’d Off

We spent a couple days in Orlando attending the Surf Expo and the Imprinted Sportswear Show which were co-located in the ORL Convention Center last week. The hundreds of surfer dudes, awesome ski boats, skateboarders and strolling bikini models quickly convinced us that our best beach days are past but we still gathered priceless information on what we can target, and perhaps even more info about what will never work for us. Both are good to have.

Over the years it has seemed like every submission we receive suggests that their art, among other things, would be good for apparel. Which in reality means tee shirts (and sweats and caps). Unfortunately, people, that falls into the “easier said than done” column:

The decorated tee business is weird. It’s a big industry but the VAST majority of it is local, both in subject and production, and often it all gets lumped into a category commonly called “resort”, where the tee decorations can cover not only regional locales but schools, sports, outdoors anything, hobbies, lifestyle subjects, humor, pets, brands and more. There are thousands of what are called “apparel decorators” ranging from one man shops up to big factories capable of pumping out thousands of shirts. Over the last few years large POD websites utilizing direct-to-garment printing, along with improved technology that’s easier to learn and use have brought stiff new competition to the game, while at the same time order sizes and market times have been dropping. Does that sound familiar? Most decorators (who sell wholesale) sell their tees to boutique level stores and that basic model has not changed for years. They print up samples, take them to shows (or use catalogs) and only produce what is ordered. By necessity. Decorated apparel is difficult because of the inventory challenges – there are many sizes, colors, styles and fabrics to deal with even for a tee shirt, and it is impossible to guess what will sell and what won’t with enough accuracy to keep you in business – so they don’t guess. It’s also hard for the retailers as they need to lay in an inventory with significant space requirements, and if it does sell well the most popular designs/sizes sell out first so they need to reorder frequently to fill in the gaps. And then there’s that whole trend problem…

Mass market tees are a bit different, they are almost always brand based and often produced overseas in a large run from cheap stock so they can be sold for ridiculously low prices. Tough business to get in or to be in.

So, what does this mean for a potential licensor? Basically, it is difficult (at best) to make decent money licensing onto decorated apparel unless you have a large platform and the potential for brand status. There are still a few decorators out there who will license individual designs and they are very picky about what they choose. We sat with one client at the show chatting about how the biz has deteriorated over the years – like many licenses, it now pays a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand. But, they do keep selling and it all adds up, so not all is lost!
I quote: “Back in the 80’s and 90’s we couldn’t do anything wrong, but now – now we’re just trying to figure out what’s next and keep the doors open”.

Yeah, ain’t it the truth.

Who Is That Behind the Curtain?

Periodically somebody in an art licensing forum will ask for some “manufacturers” to post their opinion on some subject. Fair question, but there is never a response for a couple reasons: there are only a handful of licensees paying any attention to the groups, and most of those that do will never expose themselves because of the flood of inquiries that will follow. I’d say most licensees are bewildered by all the social hoopla surrounding art licensing because all they want is to source a component of their product at a fair price without a lot of hassle.

The “Artist” licensing community is very different from the “Art” licensing community. The first is an empowering peer group, unusually supportive, generally helpful and a uniquely wonderful aspect of this business. The second, well, actually the second isn’t a community at all, we just like to think that it is. The vast majority of your licensee clients will not know each other, in fact often don’t even know OF each other. A few exceptions do exist, such as people who have moved between companies or participate in trade organizations such as the GCA, but it’s a small number. Things are a tad different when you head into brand territory, not because they are exchanging information but because most brand activity is high profile and ultimately an effort to drive sales, hence they maintain an acute awareness of their competitors. But rest assured Disney is not giving licensing tips to Nickelodeon.

In the Artist community the focus tends to be on the artist’s vision and journey, but on the licensee side of the table it’s ultimately about cost, efficiency and product performance on the market, and this is where the wheels start to come off for some people. Don’t get caught up in assuming, and then expecting, that your interests match up perfectly to those of your licensees. While they may align well enough to make a saleable product (they better) many artists are dismayed to discover that ultimately the client’s focus is always on the outcome, which is to build, ship, and sell at a profit.

The “licensing out” business model can have many variations but that one constant – that licensees on the “licensing in” side will make decisions based on THEIR endgame – is always at the forefront. Opportunities will not be doled out in equal pieces like cake at a party, there’s nothing fair about how it works so don’t drink THAT Kool-Aid. No one has the “right” to be successful licensing their work, you only have the right to try – and the right to work smarter and harder to get more of that cake.

Mmmm – love me a big slice of angel food…