I'd like to tell you a story. About six years ago, I first had the idea to build the ArtLicensingShow.com site. (We call it ALSC for short.)
These have been some of my goals since the beginning:
- Protected portfolio-hosting site for licensing artists.
- Place where art directors can come and with one password see thousands of images of art from top notch professionals creating innovative art.
- Site to network and do business directly with each other without a third-party website asking for a cut.
- Directory to find and connect with all the awesome people working in the industry of art licensing.
- And best of all, a community where we could come together in one place to stay in touch, discuss specialty topics in groups and so much more!
As you can see by the basic description above, I like to dream big. Very big.
I started making website prototypes and researching all the pieces I would need to make this happen. It started as a "someday" plan, but the more I brainstormed possible solutions and the more I shared with my colleagues, the more it became real it became! The ArtOfLicensing.com group I founded in 2009 kept growing and becoming more active, while it could offer all of the information and business advice in the world, the ability to see a true art licensing portfolio was nearly non-existent.
In the last two years, the technology available to us has increased drastically making it possible to design this site for multiple applications and devices. I decided to take the risk, I took a loan to hire a team of developers, took on as many freelance jobs as I could handle to scrape by and embraced this project head-on about one and a half years ago. (That's about the time many of you started to hear about this journey.) I haven't regretted the decision to climb this mountain for a moment and I've never turned backed.
Meanwhile, some things have been getting worse out there on the Internet, sometimes get better, and sometimes get worse again.
- Amazingly talented artists are putting their gems on the public sites and blogs and nearly every day there are reports of one kind of copyright theft or another.
- The social media platforms keep changing how they want to use our content and keep sneaking in royalty-free licensing clauses for their own benefit.
- And exceedingly gifted artists are being pressured to put their life's work out there for free on the Internet with the hopes that the right person will pick it up. Sometimes this happens and when it does, it's almost magical.
By the way, our "little" ArtOfLicensing.com group on LinkedIn just surpassed 12K members... and there is still no easy way to see member's portfolios on that group with no pictures. (Honestly, this is probably a good thing if you ever take the time to read the permissions they grant themselves to use your content i.e. "a worldwide, transferable and sublicensable right to use, copy, modify, distribute, publish, and process, information and content that you provide through our Services, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or others.")
Why do they do this? What if we could build a site that didn't do this?
So, we built this site to protect your content and copyrights.
I believe it's great to keep spreading your art and your joy with the Internet; it seems to need it more than ever. Keeping a blog and a public portfolio on your own website is a wonderful way to introduce visitors to your style and work. But, for many it has been too risky to put those gems on the open side of our websites before the "right people" have had a chance to evaluate them. So, they remain closed off and available just for art directors. This seems like a good idea, at first, but then we are just making it incredibly difficult for the decision-makers to gain access so they can make those important decisions. Not to mention, our field is growing, whether we like it or not, and there are many, many more password protected websites with which we are competing. This makes for a lot of links and passwords for busy art directors to manage, especially when their email inboxes are already full of beautiful art attachments. Sadly, I have heard cases where many don't have the time of day to sift through those jpgs and pdfs as it is.
What if we could make their jobs easier? What if all the artwork shared with them could be found in a single search query on a single website?
Now it is a reality.
Greeting Card Association recently shared her experience on our groups Facebook page:
Some people have asked, what makes this site different than the many other portfolio sites available today? It is the fact that it's password protected and managed by each licensor.
The GOOD NEWS for art directors, manufacturers, publishers and anyone else sourcing fresh new artwork, is that they only need ONE password!
This site is similar to the physical art licensing trade shows that many of us have exhibited in.
However, instead of hanging your art on a wall, you have a beautiful and customizable profile page where interested art directors can gain access to your shared portfolio pieces as well as easily click over to your website and social media accounts.
Instead of waiting until that physical trade show rolls around each year, you have the ability to share new collections with the decision-makers all year long. All you have to do is upload the art and invite them to come see your work. It might even free up your time so you can make more art!
Better yet, as you make new ones they can easily be uploaded and submitted to your art director contacts all over the world. There are no longer any location or time barriers to licensing your work.
However unlike traditional trade shows, this "Virtual Art Licensing Show" doesn't come with a hefty price tag (I know that most agents and artists easily spend between $5,000 - $10,000 per trade show). As you can see below, our starting packages are even less than the average airplane ticket, not to mention adding on the cost of shipping a whole booth. There are no hotel or ground-transportation fees, and no long lines for over-priced coffee!
Now, please don't get me wrong, I LOVE meeting my clients and colleagues in-person once or even twice a year and I would encourage everyone that can make it happen to do the same. It has enriched my business and life more that I could ever describe. Even though we work digitally now, our limited time meeting face-to-face is much better spent on developing new ideas and deeper relationships, not at flipping through pages and pages of artwork. With the help of the Internet, some fancy new technology, and a lot of passionate licensors we can finally offer a true 24/7/365 art discovery experience!
So, the question is... will you join us?
This is how you can get involved.
At the most basic level, ArtLicensingShow.com is a portfolio hosting site. It's up to you to create the innovative art, upload it, and submit it to art directors. (Or if you are an agent, do this on behalf of your artists.) We are not an agency. We can't promise glory, riches and licensing deals beyond your wildest dreams, but what we can provide is a tool that you can use to create opportunities for yourself. Think of this as a virtual place to show your art safely to people you trust (you are in 100% control of who sees what in your portfolio at all times.)
It's also a place where art directors can feel safe looking at new art and discovering new talent.
As a place where you or your agent can work directly with the client to negotiate those win/win deals, we promise not to get involved.
We are now a budding community. We just recently soft-launched on January 12th. We are still in beta and are continually investing in making the entire site and experience better for all our members. Our public debut and official ribbon cutting ceremony is set for March 23rd.
If this sounds like your cup of tea (or coffee), we would love to have you come along for the journey.
Each collection can hold up to 32 jpg, gif or png images. All art is ONLY seen by you, never by other artists.
You can update it at anytime and share it privately with any art directors of your choice.
Some of the many features available on all the licensor accounts include...
If you know me at all, you know I am extremely passionate to see our art licensing industry flourish. I am not just talking about one area of licensing; I mean the whole business concept of licensing. As you know it takes a continual effort to educate people about the inherit copyrights licensor artists possess from the moment they create an original work and get it registered with the government for the extra layer of rights and protection.
On this site we are inviting licensors and licensees from every area of expertise including...
Animation, Art Direction, Branding, Calligraphy, Character Design, Children’s Books, Comics/Graphic Novels, Costume Design, Craft Design, Creative Direction, Digital Art, Drawing, Editorial, Fashion & Apparel, Lifestyle Brands, Film/Entertainment, Fine Arts, Floor Covering, Gadget Design, Garden Décor, Giftware, Graphic Design, Greeting Cards/Stationery, Home Décor, Illustration, Jewelry Design, Manufacturing, Marketing Design, Package Design, Painting Pattern Design, Photography, Print Applications, Printing, Product Design, Sculpture, Storyboarding, Street Art/Murals, Surface Design, Tabletop Textiles/Fabric, Toys/Games, Typography, Wall Covering, Wall Décor, and Web Design.
Together we have the power to take control of the technology and design the future we want to have instead of living in unnecessary fear.
For those of you who want to know more how this site works, we are developing a ALSC Knowledgebase that you can search by topic and read in detail how this site functions. Feel free to check it out here. If we haven't answered your question there, feel free to email me at [email protected] for answers.