This Interview with Lance Klass, President of Porterfield’s Fine Art Licensing, was conducted by Alex Colombo and published in his The Moon From My Attic art blog:
I’ve been working on my first licensing collection. So far I managed to not throw away anything…however, some concepts didn’t work that well after I placed them on mock-ups or templates of real products. Creating art for licensing is actually a different type of design work and I am starting to adjust my ideas to fit. It’s a learning process like any other design field I have done professionally.For another, more experienced view on this challenge of creating art for effective licensing we can read up this very informative interview with Lance J. Klass, the founder and president of Porterfield’s Fine Art Licensing. And although it’s not even close to Christmas yet, I want to also share a licensed image by Porterfield’s artist Janet Stever.
|© Janet Stever|
The Moon from My Attic: How long have you been doing art licensing?
I’ve been licensing artwork since 1985. I established Porterfield’s in 1994 as a collectibles company, with a smaller emphasis on art licensing. As the limited-edition collectibles industry went into decline, we focused increasingly on building a solid ‘stable’ of artists oriented toward the creation of art that could be licensed onto a very wide variety of commercial, retail products here and abroad.
I think Surtex is terrific, and I’ve written an article on just how terrific I think it is, and why I have that viewpoint, on my blog at http://www.art-licensing.biz. For my money, there’s no other show in or around our field of art licensing that comes close to having the exposure, impact, viability and return on investment provided by Surtex.
Surtex 2011 was a powerful and extremely successful show. After all, it’s the largest art licensing show in the world. This year the number of exhibitors increased 23% over last year, and about 6,000 people attended. That’s six thousand qualified visitors, among them creative, marketing and/or licensing directors and staff at companies that must bring in compelling new artwork for their products. You can’t ask for more from a licensing show.
It all depends on what you do, on your orientation as an artist and/or company. If you create surface textile patterns or repeat designs for fabric, rugs, quilting and bolt fabrics and are prepared to sell your art outright, then you should be in that part of the show that focuses on SURface TEXtiles. You’ll show your work to companies that buy designs outright, along with total copyright rights. If you sell designs outright, you should also check out PrintSource, a show that’s designed specifically for artists, designers, and design studios that sell concept patterns outright to individuals primarily in the fabric and apparel industries.
If, however, you don’t want to sell all rights to your images and want to be able to license designs again and again, then you belong in the extensive art licensing section of the show. That’s where I and my associates in the art licensing industry show the works of our artists.
I try to avoid guessing at trends. I much prefer studying the market, talking with licensees, seeing what’s selling and what licensees are looking for. They’re the ones who guess for their companies, and I try to provide them with what they’re seeking. Actual physical data beats trend forecasting every time.
Be as good an artist as you can. Study the market. Go into every large mall in your area as well as every big-box store, and look at every type of product that carries art. Study and learn. See what works. Look at composition, subject matter, color, saturation, format. Don’t paint for yourself, paint for women over 30 who purchase 85% of the consumer goods in America, buying products for their spouses, their children, their homes and themselves. Then develop an extensive portfolio of such works. A few of this and a few of that won’t get you anywhere. Learn from experience what works, and then do lots more of it.
Learn Photoshop, if only because you’ll need to manipulate digital files of your art. If you’re interested in painting dry on Photoshop, study it and work hard at it. If you paint wet, develop your photography skills or else find a good, inexpensive photographer to shoot your work. Or if you paint small, learn to scan your own images. You may even want to finish them digitally. My feeling is that if Leonardo were alive today, he not only would be working on Photoshop, he probably would have invented it.
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