Posts Tagged ‘licensing


Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be licensing artists

snobot-bThe following is a letter I just posted to one of my Yahoo groups–“The Art of Licensing” to be specific (note: if you’re a professional illustrator who wants to get into licensing, JOIN THIS GROUP!).  Those of you who know me know how much I loathe typing, so I’m posting the note again here ’cause I hate to see so many keystrokes go to waste.

Hi, everyone–


I feel like I need to apologize or explain my absence from this board this last year.  Truth is, my heart just isn’t in it anymore.  And by “it”, I mean art and licensing, not the group!


When I first started out as an illustrator, waaaaaay back in 1982, I, like many illustrators, went to work for a big company–in this case, Hallmark, and then Current.  The money and benefits were great, and if you could stomach the politics, it was a good way to make a living.  Then, in the late 80’s, it seems like all the employers woke up and said “Hey!  If we make all the artists work freelance, we can pay them half as much and skip the benefits”.  And that was OK–I got to work at home, the politics were (mostly) a thing of the past, and the money was still pretty good.  Art directors would call me up and describe what they needed from me, I’d do it, and they’d send me a check.


Now, whenever I speak with an art director, she seems to be doing the job of six former coworkers, has no time to plan anything, and is one flat tire away from a complete nervous breakdown.  This past year I’ve had, for the first time in my career, clients go bankrupt, fail to pay me, and cancel jobs already contracted.  Sure, licensing is great if you hit it big, but frankly, I’m sick and tired of doing tons of work on spec, and hoping that someone picks it.  And then paying about what they would have paid for a freelance work-for-hire piece.  Plus, I absolutely SUCK at marketing myself.  I’d rather chew glass than cold call a potential buyer.


Yeah, I should probably look into getting an agent.  If I can find anyone that’s OK with me not creating any new work for a while.  I’ve started a new business–see — and I’m soooo much happier now.  Just got back from the Buyers’ Market show in Philadelphia (that’s a show like Surtex but where craftsmen sell their work wholesale to galleries) and have more orders than I can fill.  Some contacts from CHA are already starting to work out, and I’ll follow through on them, but after that, I’m out.


Speaking of Buyers Market and CHA–it was a real eye-opener how inexpensive they were and how lovely, helpful and accommodating the staff were compared to Surtex.  I just gotta groan every time I read a new message about Surtex.  They remind me of that routine Lily Tomlin used to do as Ernestine, the phone operator–“We don’t care.  We don’t have to.  We’re the Phone Company”.  Small wonder they’ve lost over half of their exhibitors.


Thanks for letting me ramble.  I’ve been wanting to get this off my chest for a while.  I will miss seeing you at Surtex this year.  If there’s one good thing that came out of all of this, it’s the many wonderful friendships that have developed with other artists over the years.  Best of luck, and I hope you all make it really big this year.






Greetings from cha, anaheim 2009

Oh, how I wish I had a picture to include with this post.

Maybe a picture of the opening parade.  Yeah, that’s right, a parade inside the convention center, with a Scottish pipe and drum corp.  Because nothing says “I’m here to craft” like a buttload of bagpipes.  There’s only one thing that could have made this event even more surreal.  And that would be to have the Craft and Hobby Association employees (Hi Lauri!  Hi Anthony!) all pulling craft carts like a precision drill time.  You know, like those precision lawnmower drill teams, weaving in and out in tight formation.  Man, that would be sweet.

Or the disorderly procession of large women dragging their overflowing craft carts and fleeing the building this morning.  Around 10 a.m., all the fire alarms went off, accompanied by a voice on the P.A. system that could have been Charlie Brown’s teacher, but after a while was replaced by a human voice saying something like “This really IS an emergency.  Please evacuate the building immediately!”  I dunno, maybe someone’s glue gun caught fire.  Never did find out.  Bagpipes would have been nice…

Or the celebrity guest appearance of Paris Hilton.  Some of you may be asking, “What would Paris Hilton be doing at a CHA show?  Does she knit dog cozies?  Has she written a craft book?  Can she read a craft book?”  I do not have an answer for you.  Couldn’t get anywhere near the event.  Darn.

But seriously, it’s been a really good show so far.  We (the License and Design section) are right in the middle of the show floor, not off in Siberia like last year.  The manufacturers know we’re there now, the VIP buyers have been great, and show management is working really hard to make this a viable alternative to Surtex.  As for potential licenses, it’s looking good–much better than I anticipated–but only time will tell.  Hate to count those pre-natal chickens, ya know.


We’re going to Disneyland!

cha-anaheim-2008-009Actually, we’re going to the CHA (that’s the Craft and Hobby Association) Winter Show in Anaheim, January 25-28, 2009.  But as long as we’re in Anaheim—Woohoo!  Rides!

We exhibited at last year’s show in the License and Design Section.  It’s sorta like Surtex West, for those of you in the biz.  Illustrators from around the country display their artwork, hoping to license it for use on a variety of products.  You get to meet with old friends (Hi Darci! Hi Robin!), make new contacts, maybe attend a few seminars.  So no, the “Craft” in the show title has nothing to do with the Fobots.  Although if anyone else wanted to license their images for use on, say, stickers or wrapping paper…

October 2021

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