Let’s Be “Determinedly Optimistic” About Licensing Artwork for Retail


It’s almost a truism that when company’s income is down, the first thing they cut is advertising, yet that’s exactly the time when a company needs to increase its  advertising in order to increase its sales.

I would suggest another truism, that companies under stress tend to cut back on licensing artwork for their products.

The Wrong Economic Strategy

In perilous economic times, many companies ‘pull inward’, directing their in-house artists to create winning art so that the company can somehow create strong retail programs at lesser cost.

Most often, it never works out that way.

Companies that depend on the availability of strong licensed artwork for their products almost never do better taking artwork in-house unless they have some really excellent in-house creative talent already in place.

And that’s quite rare.

So cutting back on licensing the very best and most consumer-appealing artwork can be just as pernicious to their bottom line as cutting advertising and promotion.

What Works for Companies, Works For Artists As Well

And that’s good news for artists who are actively licensing their work or want to break into the art licensing market.

The companies that hold their own and even thrive in a tight market are those who create and sell products that immediately grab the attention of potential buyers and present a compelling case for purchase by the consumer.

And those are companies that use the power of the art marketplace to bring in strong licensed artwork that literally pulls in buyers.

Why Not Choose The Best Artwork?

I’ve been representing art for license since 1985 and through my own company since 1994.

I have lots of good artists and strong artwork that will increase product sales in a wide variety of commercial fields.

And there are many other art licensing agencies  as well as a whole lot of really excellent artists who license their work directly, who also have must-buy artwork, so why settle for less?

Of course, the prophets of doom and gloom are convinced that we’re heading into a worldwide depression and that virtually nothing substantial will turn around for years.

Producers and manufacturers who buy into that scenario will probably experience the worst the economy can offer.

It’s Not All Crisis All The Time

But as one of our major licensees pointed out to me the other day, what about the 70-80% of all businesses that are doing well and holding their own?

What about the 90% of the labor force that has jobs, or the 94% of homeowners who are paying their mortgages on time?

Determined Optimism

His conclusion is simple and it’s one with which I agree: those companies that  are holding on and even thriving in this market are those who are, in his words, “determinedly optimistic”.

They’re companies that have ignored the financial doom-and-gloom ‘experts’ and have gotten down to business.

They are innovating, working smart, and bringing in the most compelling, beautiful, charming, nostalgic or uplifting artwork they can find for their products.

Now that the economy is rebounding from what’s been called the worst recession since the Great Depression, I’ve seen more interest from companies that want to bring in the very best and most compelling artwork for their products.

These are the smart companies, and they’ll have a chance to take more market share because they’re licensing in new, fresh, bright, cheery and compelling artwork that makes the typical consumer feel just that bit better, to make them want to reach out, grab that product and take it to the register.

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(c) Lance J. Klass.  All Rights Reserved.  This article may not be reproduced with the expressed written permission of the author. 

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