Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | October 8, 2009

Launching my Zazzle online store and thoughts about Self Art Licensing


 Launching my Zazzle online store and thoughts about Self Art Licensing


Mikanovsky Zazzle Store

Mikanovsky Zazzle Store

Diversions from plans could be harmful to the original plan, or could they? Here is my theory – as long as the end result is clear, and making diversions will support the goal, then they could be beneficial. The main thing is to remember our goals, and if changing the strategy is required, then the diversions might be just the right way to do it.

And why am I talking about diversions while trying to announce my Zazzle store? Here is the deal – few weeks ago I launched MA5X4 project, in which I set very specific goals for the next 8 months. The goal was to produce enough artwork to present it to Art Licensing professionals at SURTEX 2010. Since then I did painted couple of new paintings, which I didn’t post here yet. And… I had couple of diversion from the plan!

The first diversion was more networking I did, an interview I gave, and an art show my painting was juried into. The second diversion, which actually took much more of my time, was setting up my Zazzle store.

Now, I believe these diversions from my main project are for the best, and will contribute to my end goal. There is a lot of talk online about social networking and its benefits in expending any business and building your artist and brand awareness. Same goes to interviewing with other artists, and with building a respectable CV with juried shows. 

But what I really want to talk about is why I joined Zazzle and how I hope it will help me with my goal –  becoming a licensing artist.

First of all, let me give you a bit of a background about Zazzle. There are several mega stores online that allow anyone to upload their images to customize products. I have registered to a few of them, and did my share of reading about the pros and cons of using them. But it wasn’t before I chatted with Jennifer Goode that she suggested for me to look at Zazzle (she has a store there too). Under one virtual-roof, they have a very large choice of items such as T-shirts, aprons, hats, bags, shoes, greeting cards, stamps, coffee mugs, stationary, magnets, and much more! The customization options are very impressive, and I also found it quite simple to create products. Using the Quick Create feature you could even create up to a 100 products from the same design, all in 3 steps. And moreover, their marketing tools are very useful, all centralized in one place, and giving each store owner many different way to promote their store.

Now, going back the Art Licensing business… In addition to trying to make few more bucks (I hope!), here are some other thoughts I had about why I should open the store. I call them “Reasons to Zazzle” –

  1. Product Mock-ups and Collections– one of the common advices of the Art Licensing professionals is to make product mock-ups in order to show how your designs can “work” on products, not just on the paper or canvas. Creating customized products on Zazzle can achieve this goal quite nicely! Using only one design, the “Seen by an angel 1” painting, I created several items under the product-line “Seen by an angel”. There are greeting cards (generic, and a customizable template using your own photograph!), postcard, US post stamp, mouse pad, coffee mugs (with many options to choose from), and even an apron. Now all I have to do is either get screen shots of these mock-ups and create my Art Collection to potential licensing agents, or simply direct them to my Zazzle store to view them online. 
    Mock-up Products

    Product Mock-ups


  2. Self licensing and self marketing experience– the Zazzle royalty model works similar to regular Art Licensing models, where the store owner receives a percentage of the sale price. The flexibility Zazzle gives the sellers is to choose the percent, starting from 10% and up. This way I can create sale items for period of times (by reducing the percentage), or change it for other reasons. In addition, the Zazzle store owner (me) is in charge of most of the marketing efforts. Although Zazzle gives many marketing tools, and they also scout for new talent to feature on the main page and blog, it is still up to me to spread the word, announce new products, get a fan base, and probably a lot more that I still have to figure out. Although with traditional Art Licensing the artist usually does not get involved in the marketing of the products, I think that some experience in this area will teach me more about this business, and ultimately help me understand it better.
  3. New talent scouting by manufacturers and Licensing Agents – I am not sure if this is something that manufacturers and Licensing Agents are already doing on Zazzle and similar online stores, but potentially they can browse through the billions of products available on the site and scout for new fresh designer-blood. With some luck, and a lot of hard work, one of these could be me. Being in the right place at the right time could be the difference between making it or not.
  4. Connect with other artists like me– Zazzle is not just a store, but store owners community, most of them artists and designers. And we are all trying to achieve success. Being in the community will make my artwork more visible, and I hope to connect with successful individuals, and learn from their success stories. I already mention Jennifer Goode, whose Zazzle store is selling her whimsical penguin (and other) designs on many products. I already made friends with another talented artist, Jude Maceren, whose beautiful paintings of cats, flowers, chicken and butterflies looks just amazing on all the products, and I think have wonderful potential for licensing. We have already shared tips and suggestions, and I am sure we can help each other grow.
  5. Additional place for people to view and buy my art – One of the arguments for mass production of art prints, or for that matter, any product that has the art embedded in it, is that the more people see it, the higher the originals’ value is. On the other hand, some people told me to be careful not to “devalue” my artwork by putting it on mouse pads and coffee mugs. I am not sure what the right approach is, and I hope in time I will be able to figure it out. There might be the problem of the chicken and the egg – do I first have to have a very valuable artwork and then it could be licensed to products (such as many masterworks that Museums are licensing, and selling in their own stores, to put on mouse pads and coffee-mugs…). Or, should I try to get my art on as many products and as many places as possible, and the mass acceptance will create the proper demand to increase the value of my original artwork?
  6. Let the art “work” while it waits for SURTEX 2010 and MA5X4 to finish – Last, but not least, let the art work while it waits patiently. And by working I mean generate money 🙂

And now, after this long introduction, I am finally happy to announce my Zazzle store! You can view (and buy) it here and it has some cool Flash Panel and Blog Panel for marketing, but unfortunately I can’t show them here (WordPress, my hosting blog system, doesn’t support it), so you can view them on my website. This is how it looks like (just a screenshot…):

Zazzle Flash Panel

Zazzle Flash Panel

Now I need your help 🙂

  1. If you like the store and the products, please tell your friends and family (email, twitter, Facebook or any other way), put links on your site and blog or even use my Flash Panel. If you need help on how to link, just let me know. I will also post this information on my site.
  2. Let me know what you would like to see added. Other products or ideas for products with my art.
  3. Buy as many items as you would like. You can personalize some of them. Some great options!
  4. If you are an Art Licensing or Marketing professional or interested in this area of the art business, I would love to hear your opinion on some of the points I made in this article.

And most importantly, I would love your feedback.

Cheers, and stay tuned for more


PS There is a sale going on this weekend on Zazzle!!! Use the code 1492COLUMBIS on checkout, and you will get a 14.92% discount! Check here for more details [Update: This promotion is over, but new promotions are coming up all the time. I will publish new promotion codes in Twitter and in Facebook on my fan club, so please join in at]

 [Update: This article with few small modifications was publised on on October 16th, 2009. ]






  1. Hi Moshe! Great article! Your work is beautiful plus you have a marketing talent. I’m sure you will make it to your goal! Thank you for posting my Zazzle store. I really appreciate it! I look forward to learn from you and to share what I know about art and marketing. Good luck to you!

    • Thank you Jude for the kind comments.
      I actually love sharing with everyone my passion about my art, and part of it is also all the different ways trying to get it “out there”.
      And I know that as a community of artists we can help each other!

      Thanks again

  2. Moshe –

    Flexibility and decisions based on ‘core goals’ or ‘core values’ lead to wonderful, and sometimes unexpected places. Zazzle being one for you. Wishing you much success and thanks again for a well written, well thought out blog post.

    Tara Reed

    • Thank you so much Tara,
      That’s exactly it – figuring out the way to get to the goals, and enjoying the ride!

      Thanks again

  3. Well written article.

    • Thank you! 🙂
      I love reading your blog, and find it very useful for artists in the Art Licensing business.
      Stay tuned for moe,

  4. […] (ouch), image scanning and the such. But more than that is the marketing effort involved. Like I mentioned last week when launching the store , in traditional Art Licensing the artist is not involved in the marketing efforts of the products, […]

  5. […] a recent article I wrote about the reasons to join Zazzle, one of the reasons I listed  was new talent scouting by manufacturers and Licensing […]

  6. I think your hanukkah candles are really unique. You might even expand a whole line around it and even use it for BD images.
    great job.

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