Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Should You Sell Your Art to Manufacturing Companies?

You’re excited. You’ve been submitting your art to manufacturing companies for a while now, and you’ve finally received a response. A relatively big company is returning your calls and you’re feeling like you’re finally making some progress. You answer the phone when it rings and speak to the representative from this big company and after some talking back and forth, he says the magic words: “we want to buy your design.”

Yippeeeee! Right?

Wrong. While it’s definitely a good thing that they are interested in your art (it means that out of all of the work that people submit to them every week, they looked at yours and felt that it fit their products and brand – this is a VERY good thing) the last thing you want to hear is that they want to buy your art.

Unfortunately, this happens pretty frequently. And if you are an artist that is new to the art licensing industry, or you are submitting the work yourself and you don’t have an agent, it is very likely that you will make the mistake of selling your work to them.

“They want $500 for this design that I spent 4 hours on? That’s $125 for each hour of my work! How wonderful!!”

Here’s the catch. They will spend $500 on your design. Then they will take that design and put it on 5,000 t-shirts that sell for $20 apiece. It will sell well, so then they will put that design on more t-shirts, as well as hats and mugs. When that sells well, they decide they’re going to make some alterations to your design, and sell it all over again. And they continue to make an absolutely massive profit off of a design that you created – and were only paid $500 for. They now own that design, and you have no claim to it whatsoever any more. You no longer own your art; they do.

If you kept the rights to your work, and instead worked out a deal where you made only a 1% royalty, you would have made $1,000 just from the initial t-shirt sales instead of $500. Not only that, you would have continued to receive royalties in the future as they decided to put your art on more products. More importantly: you still own your art. 10 years down the road, when this company is no longer licensing that particular art piece, it is still yours to do what you like with it. You could license it to another company if you wanted.

Big companies will often say, “This is just the way we do it. We always buy art. We don’t usually do royalties.” They do this because in the case of the little guy, or the unrepresented artist, it often works. The artist thinks that in order to get a deal, you must be willing to sell out. This is only ever the case because companies can continue to get art this way. It’s important to be willing to walk away if the deal is not in your favor.

But even more than that, this is why it is so important to have an agent. Agents understand these types of deals and they will push back and fight for a deal that is beneficial for you. In the case of OC Designer Source, we are in an even better position because we create deals that are a major benefit for both the artist and the manufacturing company because we make it easy for those companies to find high quality art without all of the typical headache of searching for artists and then trying to work with them when they often don’t understand high resolution files, contracts, and other aspects of the industry.

We are the middleman that takes on the workload for the artist and manufacturing company and makes it a breeze for both to work with. The company gets exactly what they need without any hassle, and the artist makes more money off their work, retains their copyright, and doesn’t have to spend time trying to hunt down manufacturing companies and figuring out how they work and attempting to get in contact with them. We make it easier for everyone to make money and be successful in art licensing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment box below and I will be happy to get back to you with a response.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Time For Giving Thanks

"Rose Cottage" © Richard Harpum

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States, and most of the country will be taking time off from their hectic schedules and busy lives to be with their family on this special holiday. Some people not may be able to, due to work, finances, distance from their loved ones, or other responsibilities and circumstances. For those of us who are able to be with our friends and family, it is an excellent opportunity to remember how lucky we are.

"Autumn Haze" © Mona McGuire

"Vines of Gold" © Marsha Tudor

In our everyday experience, it is far too easy to take the people we love for granted. We get caught up in the business and stress of day to day life, we run around juggling responsibilities, and soon the days and weeks have passed without much thought. Unless we have experienced it recently, sometimes we forget that those we care about that are here today might not always be here tomorrow. Sometimes it’s good when we can recognize this and take the time to stop and appreciate what we do have here and now.

"Tommy" © Richard Harpum
"Country Road" © Tom Griffithe

And so, even though I am a major advocate of appreciating things on a regular basis, not just on the holidays, I love that the holidays give me yet another unique opportunity to appreciate them yet again. So in honor of the day when everyone across the country is giving thanks for the blessings in their life, I am also giving my own thanks.

"Warm Horizons" © Paul Henderson

"Red Orange Callas" © Roberta London

I am thankful for this amazing country that we live in – what it is founded on, and what it stands for, in spite of all of the difficulties and disagreements. I am thankful that I live in a place that allows me to be free, and have rights, and make choices. I am thankful for the home that I live in, and the things that I have, from the food that I eat to the clothes that I wear to the money I earn to the phone and computer that connect me to the world as well as all of the other wonderful amenities that make living more fun.

"Misty Morning Flight" © Paul Henderson
"Morning Coffee" © Tom Griffithe

I am thankful for the journey that my life has taken, and for the experiences that I have had. I am thankful for the talents and skills that I have been given, and that I have the opportunity to use them to benefit others. I am thankful for the growth and learning that I have discovered along the way. I am thankful for all of the difficulties in my life, as well, since they have turned out to be some of the greatest gifts of all.

"Emergence" © Steve Henderson
"Rock Wall And Gate" © Mona McGuire

And more than anything else, I am thankful for the people in my life. My family and my friends and people I work with, and even those people that I don’t know that well. I am so thankful for every beautiful moment that I share with my loved ones, and for the things that I have learned from them, and the love that they have each given me. The people in my life are truly what make life worth living. I am incredibly blessed.

"Frequency of a Hug" © Emelina Figueroa

"Fall Flowers" © Tom Griffithe

A thank you as well goes out to the incredibly talented artists who are a part of our team and who shared their beautiful art for this post. And I am thankful to YOU, for reading this blog, for being a part of this company, and for being the amazing person that you are. Let’s all give thanks this week for the people that continue to make a difference in our lives. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

"January Jewels" © Marsha Tudor

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Creativity Booster: Uncovering Your Inner Genius

Edward de Bono said it beautifully... "There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all." And the truth is, you are more creative than you realize. 

How do I know this? 

Because you are a human being. Human beings are creators at heart. The only thing that holds you back from harnessing your true creative power is (you guessed it) - you. Just about everyone has felt disheartened at some point by their own creative abilities. And it is this feeling of not being good enough that holds us back. 

"In order to perceive, you must first believe." 

You are never going to experience your own greatness if you aren't first willing to believe that you are great! Remind yourself of this next time you are doing something creative, and give yourself permission to be great - even if it's just for ten minutes. Say to yourself, "for the next ten minutes, I am a master at what I do." 

Pretend. Imagine. Dream about it in your mind, until you begin to believe. You are an actor and you get to step into the skin of the genius expert who takes the most beautiful photographs, or paints the most beautiful paintings, or creates the most incredible designs in the world. 

Creativity is the very force that propels us forward in every single aspect of life. It is creativity that gives us new possibilities, that innovates and streamlines the way we do things. It is creativity that inspires new technologies, that has transformed the human race from a life of pure survival to a society that is increasingly more entertainment and joy-based than ever before. 

The shortest path to discovering your greatness as a creative individual is the one of FUN - and not caring how anything turns out. All great creations come from a place of total acceptance and letting go of the end result. Trying to be something, trying to be great, pushing circumstances to come together to create an end result is the slow path to good creations. Letting go and creating purely for the joy of creating with rocket you forward into great creations.

Pure creativity is not usually logical. It doesn't follow the rules that anyone who has gone before us has laid down for us. It breaks them all, against all odds, and reinvents the way we look at things. It comes from a whole new way of thinking and being. That's why I'm such a huge advocate of just playing - going out and taking photos for the fun of it, or painting pictures just for the fun of it, and not worrying about the classes and the rules. Not so much because you don't learn from classes - (you do, in fact) - but the classroom mindset gets in the way. 

All beginners are fresh and new, and ready to create. Then when you sit in class you are told that it is difficult, and hard, and there are certain things that work, and other things that don't... and the general mindset is that you are in a class full of people who are also somewhat talented and there's a pressure to stand out, to do better, and everyone is constantly comparing your work to everyone else's and then the beginner gets stuck in their head - the pressure to be better gets in the way of actually getting better. Instead of just enjoying the learning process they are trying to prove themselves, and then when they can't create genius right away, they begin to doubt their abilities as well as the possibilities. 

Become one of those people that constantly inspire us by stepping outside of the box and doing new things, experimenting, and most of all -- being willing to make endless mistakes. Create for the joy of it, not because you are trying to be successful at it. Find love in the journey, and you will amaze yourself. 

You are a valuable resource of powerful creativity. And you are great. 

Don't forget it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to use Scarcity to increase Your Art Sales

It’s a known fact: we want what we can’t have. We also want what is rare, hard to find or acquire, and unique. When something is a dime a dozen down at the corner store and everyone who wants one can have it, it becomes less valuable in our eyes. It’s a tried-and-true principle that has been used over and over again in sales, and you can use it, too.

So how can you use scarcity to increase our art sales? By finding creative ways of making your art just a little bit more special, and maybe even just a little bit more difficult to acquire. You don’t want to overdo it – you still want your art to be accessible to people. However, just the right mixture of availability and scarcity can boost your sales.

  • Price your art so high that nobody but the wealthy can afford it (unless of course you are already famous and your paintings are selling like hot cakes.)
  • Price your art too low so that the value is lost.

  • Make different options available at different price points. Original fine art should have a higher price tag based on how much time and talent went into it. Offer high quality giclĂ©es and prints of your work at various sizes and prices so that people who don’t have as much money can still purchase your work and enjoy it.
  • Sell only a limited number of each print – and make sure that you number and sign each one on the back. If only a certain number is printed, it creates scarcity and brings the value of your work up. You don’t have to raise the prices because they are limited edition – they are simply more likely to sell.
  • Create a certificate of authenticity for each original and print, and include one every time something is purchased. Little details like this will bring up the value of your work, and will also help the buyer realize exactly what he is purchasing.
  • Offer a few VERY limited edition prints – say, only five prints total. Sell them at a higher price point.

How you create scarcity will vary depending on your art. Each artist is different and might have other options or ways of using this principle to boost your art sales. Brainstorm with a friend on ways that you can make your work a little more rare or special. You might just come up with a brilliant idea that spawns a dozen new successes!