If anyone has experience in branding and especially building a brand based on an individual and lifestyle, especially in art licensing, Paul Brent is the go-to guy! Paul will be sharing his in-depth knowledge on the subject of branding, to be unveiled at ArtLicensingInfo.com in early 2010.  For now, here are some timely thoughts from Paul and lessons to be learned from recent current events.


Well, it seems that today’s news is constantly bringing us examples of how branding works.  Licensing artists can all learn from current events how not to build a brand and how to destroy one. The White House gate crashers have sought recognition and brand building by succeeding in their audacious attempt to attend a White House reception.  Their brand is now firmly entrenched in the public’s mind.  We can only hope that they have a plan for how this will help them secure their place in reality TV or result in jail time.

Licensing artists can learn that audacious acts need to be well planned and researched. Sometimes the risk is warranted other times it can backfire.  In the early 90’s I was working with an individual who had a trained Florida panther and who was doing educational presentations with the panther to bring attention to their plight.  I painted a portrait of the panther and arranged to have the panther appear in my booth at two trade shows.  I did have to clear this with show management and the facilities management.  The panther behaved and we were certainly recognized at those shows.  Everyone in attendance knew there was a panther on the floor.  If the panther had misbehaved the whole gamble could have misfired.  Luckily the panther and trainer lived up to expectations and built my name recognition at a time when I needed something spectacular for people to remember me. So when planning an occurrence of this type be sure to think out all of the possible rewards and drawbacks before proceeding. I am not sure that the gate crashers were this astute.

Tiger Woods gives us another lesson in brand management. I have often said that you are your brand in art licensing.  In Tiger’s case that extends into marriage partners, family and sexual partners. His brand was built to match his sport where family values predominate in a conservative, business leader demographic of fans.  It is too bad he did not live up to his fabricated image and has damaged, possibly irreversibly, one of the greatest brands of all times.

While few licensing artists achieve the celebrity of Tiger, we all must insure that what we promote about ourselves rings true.  I once knew a talented artist who painted what would sell but dismissed her work to people who know her, belittling her work and making negative comments about her customers who bought it.  While I never heard of that getting back to her customers I think it could have been a potential time bomb for her career in art licensing.

It is far safer to stick with a truthful image of yourself and your art and not risk the pitfalls of negative press. Some of the most negative comments I hear about artists from manufacturers are late delivery, difficulty in contract negations and relentless control issues concerning quality and color.  Developing a good working relationship and being reasonable, not a pushover, is going to serve a licensing artist well especially over the years as design directors and manufacturers licensing directors change jobs in the industry.  We have many times made lasting friends with individuals who then bring us along as they change jobs and we certainly enjoy the referrals they give to others within the industry.

So just because you are not in the media’s eye, you, too, can learn from our newsworthy celebrities about how to achieve success in art licensing.

– Paul Brent, www.AskPaulBrent.com


I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to be in the media’s eye in the way that Tiger or the Gate Crashers are! Thank you Paul for letting me share your insights on the blog. If you are interested in learning more about building your brand, be sure to watch the blog or eNewsletter for more information about Paul’s upcoming “branding project”. For now, it’s * TOP SECRET *!

Here’s to your branding success!

– Tara