Is Your Artwork a Brand?

If you’re creating and selling some form of art products – photos, drawings, artwork and crafts – one of your most important IP assets is your artist brand.

A well-developed artist brand builds recognition, promotes sales, builds market recognition, cements customer loyalty, and generates licensing revenues. Some of the best known artist brands generate millions of dollars in licensing royalty payments and are household names. These include Thomas Kinkade, Mary Engelbreit, Debbie Mumm, and Paul Brent.

The key to building your art brand is to include it in all of your communications, such as advertising, pamphlets, websites and packaging. The internet and social media are two of the best ways to advertise and promote your art and art-related products. It doesn’t cost much and you can reach prospective clients, customers, and licensees.

Some artists set up a charity organization to both promote their art (and brand) and give back to the community. I consulted an artist who’s charity promoted kids and art, It generated a lot of publicity for his name, and increased his “brand” recognition among his current customers and to a younger market. The more visible your art brand, the more attractive it will be to licensing partners.

Low risk and more revenues are two of the biggest reasons to license your artwork. Licensing to third-party companies minimizes your manufacturing, distribution or selling risks. Your licensee pays you royalties to use your artwork to sell their products. It’s a strategy to expose your brand and art products to more consumers. You can also use licensing to turn an infringer into a partner and avoid or settle an IP litigation.

In most situations, it’s best to license your art on a non-exclusive basis, limited to specific products. That way, you can divide the IP rights and license it into other product categories to maximize your revenue opportunities. And you can continue using and selling your art IP as well.

You can license rights to use your artwork in several ways. These include permission for certain specified uses, markets, territories, or periods of time. Here are two examples:

  • Permission to use photographs in a particular magazine, book or other publication, or to display them in a particular venue.
  • Permission to copy and distribute visual reproductions of your art, such as posters, prints, or post cards.

If you’re not familiar with the licensing process or you don’t want to manage your own licensing program, then you’ll want to consider using a licensing agent. Although an agent adds to the cost of a licensing program, they bring experience, know-how and resources.

Your art brand is one of your most important IP assets. It’s core to your licensing program and is a critical part of your art business. Your success depends on what you have to license, how well your art fits the market, what you do to build your art and your brand.

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Rand Brenner Administrator
Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience run the gamut from medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He’s licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the number one kid\'s action TV show, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand speaks about licensing and is a featured speaker at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges, and startup events. He’s a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazines including The Licensing Journal, Intellectual Property Magazine, and License India.

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