The View from the Other Side
You, as an art licensor, might wake up every day thinking “Hmmm, wonder who I should contact about licensing my art today?” You can start your morning thinking about new markets and potential licensees, but, hard as this may be to believe… those potential licensees are not likely to be waking up thinking about you.
Their morning will start more like this:
”Oh crap, Target has changed our meeting AGAIN, I will be in China that week and Bob doesn’t do well with that buyer. The factory that makes the wire handles can’t meet our ship schedule, and the new plush shipment has been confiscated by Customs because the testing paperwork wasn’t filed? Am I surrounded by idiots? What am I going to tell the retailers? Hey, I wonder if we ever got the factory to the price point we need on those ceramic pieces – better have our China coordinator check on that. If we can’t get the pricing we will need to drop them from the new release and that will leave a major hole in the line – that’s gonna suck. And I can’t believe we are having ANOTHER review meeting on the January release – we should have had that in the system two weeks ago and NOW they want to take another look at it? We are already working on Summer 2014 for God’s sakes, I DO NOT have time for this BS. What else was there… oh yeah, need the textile print proofs today, we have GOT to have those samples in house by the first. There’s something else… oh, I still need to go through that pile of art. Maybe we could use some on the new mugs… no way I have time for that today, maybe tomorrow… or maybe Mary can do it…”
And so their day goes.
One comment we heard often at both the Dallas and Atlanta markets was that the licensees had not even looked at the art they obtained from Surtex. They were still putting the 2014 product release to bed, or final touches on the new catalog, or just hadn’t had time, and so on… but they hoped to get to it sometime soon.
From a technical standpoint, licensing is a business model and not an industry. It is a method of commercializing your product or invention (i.e. your designs) without bringing it to market yourself. And your clients definitely do not see it as an industry, for them it is a tool to make and sell better product. Licensing is but one of a number of ways that they can source one of the components of their product. I am telling you this because, to be successful long term, it is vital that you realize how your piece fits into the puzzle. Licensees will gravitate toward those who make their life easier – whether it’s because you only send appropriate, targeted art, or your files are correctly sized, well organized and readable, or you (happily!) respond to any request within hours instead of days or weeks… it all matters. Keeping your client’s perspective in mind will help you help them, and for them, that is really what it’s all about.
GREAT article, thank you fro writing it! This actually helps me a GREAT deal as an artist to understand ‘the other side’.
Thank you *for* writing it 😉
Jim, you have the most creative ways of getting your point across. Always a good read.
I love this: “licensing is a business model and not an industry”. So well put, Jim! Another nugget of wisdom.