If you’ve lived away from home, you understand there are a few ways to get shelter.  (If you still live with mom & dad, there will be a double lesson for you here!)

First, you decide between a house, an apartment or condo.  Then do you rent or do you buy?  When you are making these decisions, you are in essence, acting like a manufacturer who needs art to go on their products.  Do they buy the art or do they rent – renting being the art equivalent to licensing.

Sell vs license artNow let’s put you in the artists shoes.  Your art is now beach-front property.  You need some money so you have two choices – sell the house, pocket the money and walk away.  Or, rent the house.


If you rent the house, you don’t get as much money up front.  You have to find people who like the property and will agree to pay you money to use it for a set period of time.  If you have a nice house, you might have checks rolling in all year!  And the best part?  You still own the house so you have the potential to use it to make money for years to come!

That is the basic difference between selling your art and licensing your art.

If you sell your art it’s like selling the house. One person buys it.  They now own it and you need to find or create a new house (or more art).

If you license your art, it’s like renting the house. Lots of people can pay for the chance to use the house (or art)- your money just comes in over time.  But you still own it.

Of course there is a bit more involved in renting a house or licensing art than in selling.  If you sell, there is one contract and you are done.  No need to keep track and make sure nothing overlaps.  No need to make sure you are actually being paid as agreed to.  If the work involved in renting or licensing is overwhelming, that is when you look for an agent to handle it for you.  And agent, both in homes and art, takes care of the marketing and contracts in exchange for a percentage of the profits.  They are your partner and share in the success – be in small or large – of your property (beach-front or artistic).

Each artist will make their own choice about how to earn an income from their art. There is no right or wrong way, just the way that makes the most sense to them at the time.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed