There are a lot of artists who have incredible talent -- but they have no idea how to turn that talent into an income.
Part of the problem is that artistic talent and business knowledge, while not mutually exclusive, don't necessarily develop equally at the same time. Many artists think that their only option to make money from their work is to sell it off, one piece at a time. They don't realize that it's possible to use licensing agreements as a way to both promote their art and allow pieces to be duplicated and sold -- while still either reserving the original for sale later or selling the original to a single buyer.
A licensing agreement can do that for you. Through a licensing agreement, you essentially loan or rent your art out -- you control the purpose your art is used for by carefully crafting the terms of the licensing agreement. Once the licensing agreement has expired or the art has been used according to its terms, you regain full rights to your work through a reversion.
For example, imagine that you are interested in submitting your photography to a modern pinup calendar. If you assign your work to the calendar's makers, you are essentially selling it for good -- you won't be able to use that photo for anything else. However, a licensing agreement would allow the calendar's maker to use your work for their calendar while you retain your ownership of the piece. You could then use the same image on t-shirts, limited edition prints or other marketable merchandise that appeals to your audience.
Not everyone's art has a strong commercial appeal, so a licensing agreement may not work for you. However, if you are considering the possibility of licensing your work for something like limited edition prints or another commercial venture, consider talking to an attorney who can help you with licensing agreements and the preservation of your intellectual property rights. For more information on how our firm can help, please visit our page.
The author's opinions expressed in this article are strictly his/her own and should not be attributed to any others, including other attorneys at Klein DeNatale Goldner or the law firm as a whole.