5 Kinds of Products that ALWAYS Need Licensed Artwork

By Steff Metal in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice

One of the best ways to get your art into the public eye is to license it for reproduction on products. Licensing allows you to reach a wider audience, extend your brand to other mediums, and of course, make a little profit as well.

When you license a work of art, you’ll negotiate limited rights for the use of your artwork with a company or manufacturer. In return, you are paid either in royalties or a flat-fee.

But wait!

Before you ever approach a company, you’ll need to establish yourself as an artist and as a brand. A potential client will need to know that your artwork and your designs as something which will increase the sale of their product. Your work also needs to be in line with their brand identity overall.

So it follows that you will need to have an idea about why your art is suited to a particular product or medium.

Use the list below as a jumping off point, and go through several brands or companies to see which one would be right for you. Start by looking at other artists and styles of artwork currently featured on their products.

Once you’ve found a brand that fits your art, set up a meeting and put together a professional portfolio of at least ten images. Also include mock-ups of how your artwork may look integrated with their product—for example, an image of your artwork on a t-shirt or dinner plate). This shows you’ve thought ahead and researched the company you are pitching to, as well as how your work fits with their product.

Here are 5 types of companies which almost always need artwork:

Clothing and fashion

This is probably the most common medium for artists and a very useful one. Your artwork is visible anywhere, anytime, as a walking advertisement. So it comes as no surprise that there is a lot of competition in seeking licensing deals for designs on t-shirts, edgy urban apparel, hats, fashion scarves, belts, gloves, and every other article of clothing you can think of.

Which style of art works best for clothing?

A wide range of designs, lettering, images work for clothing. Anything with a high level of visual impact, simple, clear, bold, may work the best. The success of an image or design on clothing depends on the shape, size and guidelines of the brand you are pitching, so familiarize yourself very well each time!


This is also a highly competitive market for artwork. Skateboards lend themselves to street art for obvious reasons, and this is a case where the artwork needs to reflect the medium.

Due to the specific shape of skateboards, the design and placement of the images are very important for visual impact. Make mockups of your artwork based on these template shapes so the manufacturer can visualize your art on their product.

Which style of art works best for skateboards?

Graphics, cartoon images, tattoo designs, street culture, textual art.

Surfboards and boogie boards

Think outside the box with this popular medium. While beach and ocean images are the most obvious designs found on surf boards, there is an enormous range of imagery featured by many different surf equipment companies.

Which style of art works best for surfboards?

Increasingly a wider range of artwork is being incorporated by these manufacturers. One style isn’t “right” and another wrong, it simply depends on the brand, and making sure that your artwork appeals to their primary audience.


Recently Vans have produced custom lines of canvas shoes showcasing artists by personalizing both the style, skin and sole of the shoe with the artist’s work. Other shoe companies, even local ones, may be interested in following suit. Look for these opportunities, and then make the most of having merchandise, box and packaging all representing your artwork.

Which style of art works best for footwear?

Textile designs that are fabric friendly. Don’t forget the space on the sole of the shoe and the opportunity to personalize accessories such as shoelaces, and packaging..

Greeting cards

Cards are a very well-explored medium with a lot of market competition. . . so do your brand research very carefully!

You can either look for smaller, local greeting card companies, or attempt to fill a specific niche at a bigger company. Don’t think you can create every type of card! Pick what you do best, and seek out the right greeting card company for you.

Which style of art works best for greeting cards?

Anything. The style of artwork depends on the publisher. Think clean, simple, striking images which would catch your attention in a shop and you’re on the right track.

Good luck!


We'll send you articles & tutorials right as we publish them, so you never miss a post! Unsubscribe here at any time.


This post may contain affiliate links.