A few weeks ago I set a very specific goal. The goal was to produce enough artwork over the next 8 months to be able to present a collection of my work to art licensing professionals at SURTEX 2010.
Since then, I’ve painted couple of new paintings, but I’ve also done something else which I hope will help me with my goal of becoming a licensed artist—I’ve joined Zazzle and created my own Zazzle store.
Here are some thoughts I had about why Zazzle will help me become a licensed artist. I call them “Reasons to Zazzle.”
1. Product mock-ups and collections
One common piece of advice from art licensing professionals is to make product mock-ups in order to show how your designs can “work” on products, not just on the paper or canvas. And of course, creating customized products on Zazzle can achieve this goal quite nicely!
Using only one design, I created several items under the product-line “Seen by an Angel." There are greeting cards, postcards, US postage stamps, mouse pads, coffee mugs (with many options to choose from) and even an apron.
Now all I have to do is either get screen shots of these mock-ups to show potential licensing agents, or simply direct them to my Zazzle store to view them online.
2. Self-licensing and self-marketing experience
The Zazzle royalty model works similar to regular art licensing models, where the store owner receives a percentage of the sale price. The flexibility Zazzle gives the sellers is to choose that percentage, from 10% on up. This way I can create sale items for period of times (by reducing the percentage), or change it for other reasons.
In addition, the Zazzle store owner (me) is in charge of most of the marketing efforts. Although Zazzle offers many marketing tools, and feature new artists on the main page and blog, it is still up to me to spread the word, announce new products, get a fan base, and probably a lot more that I still have to figure out.
With traditional art licensing the artist usually does not get involved in the marketing of the products, but I think that some experience in this area will teach me more about this business, and ultimately help me understand it better.
3. Being in the right place at the right time
I am not sure if this is something that manufacturers and licensing agents are already doing on Zazzle, but potentially they could browse through the billions of products available on the site and scout for fresh designers.
With some luck, and a lot of hard work, one of these could be me. Being in the right place at the right time could be the difference between making it or not.
4. Connecting with other artists like me
Zazzle is not just a store, but also a store owners’ community, most of them artists and designers. Being in the community will make my artwork more visible, and I hope to connect with successful individuals, and learn from their success stories.
For example, Jennifer Goode is the artist who suggested that I look at Zazzle in the first place. I’ve made friends with another talented artist, Jude Maceren, as well. Both of these artists’ work has wonderful potential for licensing. We’ve already shared tips and suggestions, and I am sure we can continue to help each other grow.
5. Additional promotion for my art
One argument for the mass production of art prints (or for that matter, any product with art on it) is that the more people see it, the higher the value of the original will be. On the other hand, some people have told me to be careful not to “devalue” my artwork by putting it on mouse pads and coffee mugs.
It’s the chicken and the egg—should I first create very valuable original artwork, so it can be successfully licensed. . . or should I try to get my art on as many products and in as many places as possible, to create higher demand and higher value for my original artwork?
I am not sure what the right approach is, but through using Zazzle, I hope to start figuring it out. And if you have any advice or feedback about my Zazzle store or any of the points I’ve made in this article, I’d love to hear it.