Jackie Frerichs’s Licensing Tips
1. Keep on top of the industry. Browse stores and malls often to study what’s popular on shelves. Don’t forget to peruse gift catalogs, too. Frerichs recommends a subscription to Greetings Today, a quarterly magazine that covers the giftware industry. Attend a stationary or gift show, such as the annual show at the Javits Center in New York. (You’ll find a calendar of upcoming shows in Greetings Today.) Or you can save your soles with a trip online. Many card companies offer their wares on the Web, and digital card shops may display the work of those who don’t.
2. Read more about it. Frerichs found Greeting Card Design, by Joanne Fink (PBC International), inspirational. If you can’t find it, your local library should have copies. She also recommends Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators.
3. Research companies. Reade the listings in the Greeting Cards, Gifts & Products section of Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market carefully, so you know exactly what products each company manufactures – then, tailor your submissions to fit target markets. Thomas’s Registry of American Manufacturers isn’t a reference to set on your shelf – it’s 21 volumes, but your library should have them. Caryn Leland directs you to the first 12 volumes, which list 50,000 manufacturers by product.
4. Consider signing with an agent. Fifteen to twenty-five percent is a typical cut – pruned from your average royalty of five to ten percent. But if browsing through the aforementioned 12 volumes is daunting, pay the price and let an expert find the best market for your style of artwork.
5. Keep the ball rolling. After one company accepts artwork, don’t wait until the card or product is actually manufactured before submitting the same artwork to additional companies for other product categories.