flasherMade you look!  Do I need to say it?

Art images of nudes is not a fit for art licensing.

Sure – someone will find a coffee mug in a museum gift shop with a famous artist’s nude painting on it and tell me I’m crazy, but that is the exception and not the rule.  In general, you won’t have much luck trying to license fine art nudes into mainstream art licensing for products.

So what kind of art DOES work well in art licensing?

art styles that work well for art licensingArt that works well for licensing is art that is pretty mainstream that a wide variety of people would want to have on products. The art’s purpose is to sell product. Extremely abstract art and portrait style art doesn’t usually work well in licensing. Art that is more mainstream will – for example, people always want Santas or Snowmen for Christmas products and look for new options every year.

There are, of course, exceptions to these rules and different things that work better in different product categories.  Here are a few generalized examples:


Fine art works well in the art publishing market – or the market where things are printed on paper, canvas, giclees, etc with the intention of putting the image on the wall.  I have also seen beautiful coasters, trivets and cutting boards with fine art images.


Art that is a design and set up in repeat can work for fabric, home textiles (curtains, rugs, pillows, furniture), kitchen textiles (aprons, towels, potholders), bedding, gift wrap and gift bags, stationery products (journals, note cards) etc.


Seasonal and holiday art lends itself to seasonal products.  Garden flags, dishes, paper partyware, napkins.  Perhaps ornaments for Christmas, serving pieces, etc.


Everyday themed art can be licensed for use on a wide variety of gift products, tabletop items, wall art, stationery and more.

As I said, these are some general thoughts to get you thinking.  The best way to get a feel for what art works best on which types of products – so you can decide who to show your work to – is to go shopping.  Look in all kinds of stores from high end to mass market.  Look at all kinds of products.  Look at images and types / style of images on the products.  As you do this – ask yourself if your art and style could be a fit…

Not all art will be a fit for art licensing.  Not all artists will love the day-to-day job of creating art for licensing.  Learn more about the basics on my newly updated website on the FAQ page.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed