How to Get Started in Art Licensing: Part 3: What Exactly Do You Need to Get Started in Art Licensing

by Jeanette Smith





Once you have decided that art licensing is for you, there are several things to make sure you have done before beginning to pitch either agents or manufacturers. 


First of all, choose your goal and commit to it.  Are you determined to find an art licensing agent or build a business where you are representing your own art for licensing?


When that decision is made, the following steps will be the same for either path, but you will want to vary your materials slightly to target them for the audience and purpose you have chosen.


Next, spend some time learning as much as you can about the art licensing business. Read the trade magazines and all the art licensing blogs, join the art licensing social media groups, and take classes,  as well as attend trade shows in your areas…or even check out the trade show web sites thoroughly to learn details.

Then you will be ready to create your art licensing materials and begin selling yourself to manufacturers and/or agents.


As I mentioned in Part 2 of this series, the same materials will be necessary whether you choose to pursue an art licensing agent or represent yourself.  So while learning about the industry, start creating these key art licensing materials:


Art Licensing Key Materials List:
  • Business identity (logo) and business cards

  • Marketing and licensing plan

    • It can be short and sweet, but this road map for the year-and each year-is critical

  • Art collections

    • Design your collections specifically for the needs of manufacturers

    • Make sure your portfolio has enough volume to be taken seriously

  • Web site

    • Needs to be targeted to manufacturers and oriented toward your art licensing business

  •  Sales presentations

    • Succinct pitch letter for agents or manufacturers

    • Collection presentations which include product mock-ups 

  • Lead list of agents or manufacturers to pursue


Once you have these materials completed or nearly done, your business has been started.  The preparation will take some time, and you may need guidance along the way, but it will be worth it.  Listen to those artists and art licensors in the industry and they will tell you that approaching agents or manufacturers unprepared set them back, rather than moved their business ahead.  It’s a very competitive marketplace today.


Take the time to learn and plan…but also remember that if you never actually execute your plan and develop these materials, it’s all for naught. Also, don’t spread yourself too thin, or again, nothing will be accomplished.

Jeanette Smith has more than 25 years experience in the licensing industry, including building the Dilbert™ brand from its infancy to a global corporate icon. Today she enjoys speaking engagements at SURTEX and other events, as well as coaching, consulting and licensing fine artists, graphic designers , illustrators, animators, design firms, , and non-profits to maximize the power of their talents and offers online classes, audio downloads, e-books, workshops, and free resources including a monthly newsletter, live Q&A and blog.