What do you need to have accomplished before you begin?
I submitted some of my artwork about a year ago before I knew anything about much of anything along the art licensing line, and my artwork was rejected. I feel that some of that rejection had to do with my preparation, some of it had to do with my presentation, and some of it had to do with what I hadn't yet accomplished. So, it occurs to me to put down in writing - and also to invite comment - on:
What do we need in order to get started? Here is my current checklist.
1) Polishing. I appreciated my artwork and loved it. But it needed a bit of polishing in order to look product-ready. I needed backgrounds for some of my work, and I needed color for some of my black-and-white work. I needed to look at work of successful licensing artists and compare - not harshly, but honestly - my own work's "look", to theirs. And while I continue to grow in artistic sophistication, I can now hold my work up proudly and without hesitancy. That means I'm ready to show my work. Polished and ready? Check!
2) Website! I had to have a website up. Does that mean it had to be perfect? Nope. But it did have to be representative. I've got that going on, so...check!
3) Protection. I have to protect myself. I have to know something about copyrighting so that I'm aware of that part of the business. I know a heck of a lot more now, thanks to my research, the friendly folks at the Copyright office, and my friends at the Art of Licensing Group on LinkedIn, and I have chosen some ways in which I feel that I can protect myself (image size, copyright watermark, etc. - see previous blogs). I have changed my online images and will continue to learn: Check!
4) Tracking Spreadsheet. Someone needs to keep track of who I contact, and I guess it's going to have to be me! So I made an Excel spreadsheet with many fields, some of which are: Company Name, Preferred Mode of Contact, Address, Phone, Email, Date of Submission, and Outcome. It's rudimentary, but it will do until I get going, and it will keep me out of trouble. Tracking: Check!
5) Research and a Zen Attitude. Finding those places that will probably like my artistic groove seems like the most enormous job on earth, until I realize that if I just let this be fun, exploratory, and interesting, it will unfold without my adding my totally useless and self-punishing stress and over-efforting. Research: Check! Zen Attitude: Growing!
6) Release. Call it release, or faith, or surrender, or just a oh-what-the-hell-you-gotta-jump-sometime attitude, there is a letting go that has to happen; a moment when you tell yourself, "I have everything I need; why don't I try?" This one seems to be the biggest of all because it is in a major sense not an outside job, but an inside job. It is a willingness, a shift - whatever you call it, it's something that has to be done within you. Here are a few thoughts that have proven useful to me, as I submit my first really prepared artwork today!
§ Licensees are always looking for new artists - so they could be looking for me; if not today, then tomorrow, or next week, or next month! The fact that I don't know when is actually a good thing; it means I can be pleasantly surprised.
§ I'm in it for both the long haul, and the short return: both!
§ This is supposed to be fun - so why not let it be? So my attitude to the licensees to come is:“Who wants to play? Will it be you? And you? Yippee!”
§ If I don't try, the answer is already "no". I wasn't given this kind of talent to use it in private.
The actor River Phoenix was discovered when he was an Extra in a movie! Who says you couldn't be similarly discovered. Let go, hold your nose if you have to, and jump!