Alyson Stanfield, also known as the Art Biz Coach, recently emailed me to get my opinion on this question she received from an artist.  Since I’ve never done gallery work, I gave her my best guess and suggested she let me share her opinions with everyone over here at the Art Licensing Blog.  Here is what Alyson had to say…

Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson licenses reproductions of her collages through home retail stores. She asks:

How does this affect the gallery and or collectors who hold the originals. As the artist we retain the right to the image, yes? So, do we have to notify the gallery that it’s going into licensing? or the collector who purchased the original?

Yes, it’s true that you retain the right to the image. I encourage artists and galleries to educate collectors* of this fact at the time of sale.

No, it isn’t required that you notify a gallery or collector that their original image has gone into mass reproduction. BUT, it is a courtesy. If you want to maintain healthy relationships with people, you should look at the situation from their point of view.

Collectors of original artwork aren’t necessarily savvy about the reproduction market. They have no need to be because it’s not where their interests lie.

Imagine being a collector of originals who happens to run into a work of art you think no one else in the world owns? You and I both know that owning reproductions isn’t the same as owning the original, but it has the potential to be an unpleasant surprise to the collector.

With a little bit of effort on your part, the collector will be thrilled to own the original source of such a popular image.

Now, about those galleries.

You should always notify a gallery that your work is going to be licensed. If you think a collector might be unpleasantly surprised coming across multiples of your work, increase that unpleasantness tenfold to get a gallery’s response. Or, just say bye-bye to the gallery.

The gallery has invested time, space, and sweat into selling your work. Check your contract with the gallery first and then discuss the situation with the gallerist. I would encourage this step before signing a contract with the licensing company. I would further hope that you would discuss this in advance of joining other gallery stables.

Why risk important relationships?*

It’s much harder to overcome damage to a relationship than it is to notify collectors and galleries in the first place.

– Alyson Stanfield, The ArtBiz Coach

Thank you for sharing your insights Alyson – helpful as always!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  Alyson is the author of “I’d rather be in the studio!”* a great business reference for any artist serious about their business.  I highly recommend it for your art library.  She also has a wide array of audio and live class options that you can see on her site at*

* I’m proud to be an affiliate of Alyson’s and the links in this post are my affiliate links.  I will earn a commission if you click them an make a purchase.  I appreciate your support – it helps me keep blogging! 🙂