This past weekend, I attended an art licensing and textile design show called SURTEX in New York City. It so happens that my illustration professor, Linda Solovic, had some of her work exhibited alongside the other artists. As I walked the massive floor at the Javitz Center, I immediately recognized Linda’s designs with their playful and animated style. (The image above is part of her display at the show.) It was exciting to see her projects in a professional setting outside of the classroom.
A large component of my illustration class focused on the business of making art. We created our own images, while simultaneously reviewing art licensing techniques. For those who don’t know much about this field, licensing art is trading the rights to use your art in exchange for payment. This could mean selling art to a greeting card company, or getting paid to create visuals for a magazine spread. I love the concept of selling my art as a design for mugs, wallpaper, or other home décor items.
Linda often spoke to the class about her art and where it’s been over the years. She has created art for invitations, gift-wraps, and prints. She has also hand crafted everything from ornaments, felt pillows, greeting cards, shadowboxes and magnets. With these products, Linda was able to successfully translate her passion for making art into a business. It was important to learn that as artists, we are marketable. Our designs are valuable, and we can sell them to make money.
Before I took this illustration course, I posted my drawings on Instagram as a form of recreation. I enjoyed sharing my art with my followers, and of course, getting “likes.” My friends often commented things like, “Can you make this to hang on my wall?” or “I want this in my bedroom.” It never occurred to me that if my friends wanted my art, maybe others would too. After learning about art licensing, and seeing how it works it first hand at SURTEX, I have a new perspective.
As art students, we must begin to understand that much of the “adult-world” is a business. We can take our drawings from our sketchbooks and make t-shirts. We can make posters, to advertise, to promote social change, to spread messages, etc. We can make greeting cards. If we, in some sense mass-produce our art, the possibilities are endless. Although I am currently pursuing an Architecture degree, what’s stopping me from exploring the world of art licensing? I think I just might.