Have you been wondering if art licensing might be a great addition to your streams of income as a creative? I think it’s easy to assume a lot of things when you see people’s artwork on actual products in a store. You might think you need major connections to get that kind of deal. Or you might assume they are making loads on royalties, when in fact the money timeline in art licensing is drastically different from direct sales and commissions.

To get started in licensing I think it’s really important to learn the basics and figure out if you really want to delve into the industry. It’s not a quick and easy process, no matter how much artwork you might already have in your library. I believe you really have to be in it for the long haul and consider it as only a part of your income pie – at least in the beginning.

What is Art Licensing?
The basic definition is that you as an artist will let manufacturers use your art on specific products in exchange for a percentage of the sales. Obviously, it gets more complicated because the terms of the license includes a lot more details and it’s really important to understand exactly what you are signing off on. The enticing aspect of licensing art is that you still own your artwork rights – it’s not like selling an original piece. This means you can license to multiple manufacturers and really leverage your artwork.

Is Art Licensing For You?
Now, I’m sure you are interested because the idea of art licensing always sounds tempting and lucrative. However, you really need to figure out if art licensing is the industry for you and how much income you can truly make to factor it into your business plan. As I’ve already mentioned, the payment timeline is long! Royalties are usually paid per quarter and it takes a long time to get product designed, manufactured and into stores for sale. So it’s not the type of business that will boost your income immediately. Again, you have to be in it for the long haul. Also, you have to understand that the business comes with it’s challenges, design changes, color changes, etc… you have to be okay with the whole process in the end. Does it make you happy to work in this manner? Is art licensing really for you?

Get Serious
Finally, if you do want to license your artwork then you have to get serious and go for it all the way. There are so many amazing artists out there, so I really don’t think there is a shortage of great artwork honestly. But like any kind of business, there are other aspects that make people want to work with you instead of the next guy or gal. Ultimately, it’s a professional business and relationship, so you need to treat it as such. There is a lot of competition and it takes time to build up your clientele.

If you do a bit of research, you’ll get a feel for if you want to investigate further or not in the realm of art licensing. If you do want to go for it, I would suggest a few resources that might help you out.

Art Licensing Show
I’m actively working on my journey in art licensing and slowly but surely, getting all my ducks in a row. One aspect is putting my artwork in a secure location for interested parties to review.

Art Directors and Buyers can review my private portfolio on The grand opening is today, so it felt appropriate to blog about this subject today – but it’s been in the works for a long time now. I signed up way back in May 2014! The website is a huge community of artists and it’s basically a digital tradeshow for those of us who can’t physically get to Surtex and other related professional events for art licensing.


One of the cool things about joining the digital tradeshow, besides getting online portfolio space, is the community of artists and groups that you can connect with. It really helps to be able to ask people questions and bounce off ideas in that private arena.

Art Licensing Info
Another resource for those interested in learning more about art licensing is the Art Licensing Academy by Tara Reed. It’s a four-week group coaching program and I have already taken it, learning loads regarding how to set up my portfolio and approach manufacturers. If you are serious, she basically takes you from start to finish. It all begins June 3, 2015. You can learn more and save your spot here.

If you aren’t sure or looking to just learn a bit more before diving in, check out all the eBooks Tara has on You can learn the basics and see if art licensing is for you before investing more of your time and money.


I hope that I’ve shed some light on the subject of art licensing and the aspects you have to consider before jumping into it. As with any other business venture, it’s just one avenue for your creative success… but it’s not necessarily for everyone. But I do agree that it’s mega cool to see your artwork on products in the brick and mortar shops. Talk about a sense of satisfaction to see your work out in the world!