If you’ve ever talked to any of your local friends, family or neighbors about art licensing, they have probably suggested things like this:

  • Oh!  You should join XYZ networking group down town to meet store owners.  or…
  • I think the boutique up the street does consignment.  You should totally look into that! or…
  • Why don’t you do a booth at the art show next month?

Basically – they don’t quite understand what art licensing really is.  It’s not surprising – I mean before you learned about it, did you ever really stop to think about how it worked?

Once you understand how art licensing works  – and the fact that you you need manufacturers to sell nationwide if not worldwide for your 5% royalty to add up to a living – you stop thinking local and think more globally.

Looking at bigger areas and target markets and connecting with the manufacturers who do the same is the name of the game in licensing.

However, there is still value in connecting with your consumers and some shop owners in your own back yard.

Today I’m going to be going to a Machine Embroidery Club meeting at a local fabric and sewing machine store.  I’ve talked to their quilting group in the past about fabric design and because I connected with the quilters and the store owner, they now have a standing order to buy any fabric that I create.  Always good to have standing orders!

Tomorrow will be a different group – these women might be quilters but they also own embroidery machines.  While I don’t have a current license in that area (working on it though!) I have made an arrangement with the store to offer one design that they can give to the club members for free.  We choose a coffee mug that just so happens to be on the coffee fabric that I designed and that the store sells.  Well, maybe it was very intentional – and didn’t just so happen.

I have a few goals by offering this machine embroidery design for free and attending the meeting…

  • I want to stay connected to a customer who has a standing order for my fabric.  They might do the same when I have an embroidery pattern license as well.
  • I want to meet women who sew and do machine embroidery so I can listen and learn about what they like and don’t like in fabric and designs, and what they want but can’t find in the stores. (Market research!  They will be my own little focus group!)
  • It’s simply nice to get out of the studio and talk to people who are consumers of products I design.  It energizes me creatively and is just plain fun!
  • The store and I also hope that by my meeting the women and them receiving one of my designs, that it will help sell the fabric they have on hand.  Any help in marketing and boosting sales is appreciated and builds good will with the store.

While you won’t grow your business in leaps and bounds by focusing locally all of the time, there are definite business, creative and social benefits to getting out there and talking to some live human beings once in a while!  Believe it or not – Facebook and Twitter can’t completely replace face-to-face connections. 🙂

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed