How did you start your business?
My business started as a need for a creative outlet while my main job was being a stay-at-home mom. I became an avid scrapbooker when my son was young and scrapbooking was all the rage. In 2001, I started designing products in the scrapbooking industry. In 2003, I learned about the wider world of art licensing - swore I couldn't do it but in 2004, shared a booth with a friend at the Licensing Expo to see what happened. I caught the licensing bug!
With a background in sales and marketing, licensing made a lot of sense to me and was a great fit for how I liked to create and work. Basically, I create art collections that I think could work on a variety of products. Then I contact manufacturers and see if they agree! It takes a while to build since it can be 12-18 months between getting a deal and getting paid your royalties - but once you start to get things into the pipeline it can be a great business.
There is no "typical" day - my life seems to be a constant juggling of business and personal projects. I often wake up thinking I have certain things I will do and all of the sudden a call comes in that changes my focus.
Artists in the industry and I often joke about “Art Licensing 911” calls – where you get a frantic call from a manufacturer telling you they need this, that and the other thing… in 3 days but preferably 3 hours if at all possible. So if an artist doesn’t like to change gears for potential opportunities, work quickly and work to deadlines, art licensing might not be the best choice.
I explain the reasoning behind these 911 calls by comparing it to dominoes. You know how kids love to line up dominoes then push one and it knocks them all down? The artist is the last domino in this equation.
Here’s the line-up – going from the back to the front: Artist – manufacturer – sales team – retailer
On a Thursday, a sales person calls on the retailer who says, “Oh by the way, we are selecting new products in category X next week. If you have anything for us to consider, we need it by Thursday.”
The sales person makes a living selling products and earning commissions so of course they want to have something to show and be considered. So they call the manufacturer, tell them the parameters and say they need the information by Wednesday at the latest.
Now the manufacturer has to scramble and figure out what art they have that might appeal to the retailer. They might have something on hand or they might call the artists they have worked with. The amazing opportunity is explained, but the manufacturer needs to see any art by Monday, so they have time to review their options, make choices and mock up designs to get to the sales person.
So guess what the artist has to do on Friday or over the weekend if they want a shot at this deal? Voila! An Art Licensing 911 event is born. Of course you don't have to respond to all of these last minute requests - the option is always yours.
Where do you work?I have a studio in my home and love the flexibility it offers. I've been a divorced mom since 2004 so being able to work from home and adapt my schedule to meet the needs of my son has been important to me. I can be working and hearing what is going on downstairs, make sure homework is getting done, get to doctor and dentist appointments without burning vacation time, etc. If I have things to do for my personal life in an afternoon, I can simply work at night. It's been ideal.
You do need to be a self-motivated worker to work from home and stay on task - it would be easy to let life get in the way of progress. I like to keep track of the time I spend on my business - broken down by creating art, marketing art, etc - so I hold myself accountable and make sure I'm keeping things balanced.
What is your favorite part of your business?
I love the variety art licensing offers and collaborating with clients to create art that really works for their products. Sometimes new art is something I come up with and present to manufacturers, other times it is a theme they suggest. What is constant is the back-and-forth between the two of us - tweaking colors, layout or elements to get what they believe will really sell the products.
It is also incredibly gratifying to see products in stores with my art on it - sometimes I don't even know it will be there. I might be walking through a store, turn and find something with my design - totally cool every time!
Tara is offering katydiddys readers 10% off any of her art licensing products. Just use Coupon Code KATYDID10. Please note, discounts cannot be offered on data management software or Product Mock-Up Magic. Coupon is good until September 30, 2011. Go to the Art Licensing Info website to shop now!
Material Connection Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Tara Reed's and will receive a commission for products purchased via my affiliate link.