Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | November 1, 2009

3 Examples of Art Licensing Online Scouting

3 Examples of Art Licensing Online Scouting

In 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 Agents. Since then, I was wondering a lot if this really happens. The vast reaches of the Internet, combined with its accessibility and growing usage, makes it one big marketplace with its pros and cons. On one hand, you are there, therefore you exist and someone can find you. On the other hand, there is so much “out there” that could be quite overwhelming for anyone trying to find something they are actually looking for.

I posted this question on the Art of Licensing group on LinkedIn, and one of the replies was that someone at Etsy was discovered by Target. This triggered me to look for more. So I asked around, posted questions on Twitter and Zazzle forum, and did my own Googling, and eventually found few artists that were discovered, just like that, through their online presence. I would love to share with you their stories.

Jude’s Story

The first one was actually one of my new Zazzle friends who helped me when I started my virtual shop, artist Jude Maceren. While chatting with Jude (on Skype of course, one of the 5 different Instant Messengers I use), Jude was interested in information about Art Licensing, and while talking about it he said something like “I really want to go into licensing, how do I do that?”, and few sentences later, he tells me how Farfalla Wines, a wine maker from Oklahoma , found his art online, a painting of a butterfly with red poppy flower (while searching for butterfly images, or Farfalla in Italian, that will fit their business) and commissioned him to create a new painting for them to use on wine labels, logos and stationary of the winery! My immediate reaction was “here you go, you already did license your art!”

Jude's art on Farfalla Wine

Jude's art on Farfalla Wine

Inquiring a bit more with Jude on his art business history, I also found out that he started as an illustrator, and has more than 300 illustration licensed through, and several other online stores, using eBay, Etsy, Zazzle (where I met him) and Jude is also very active on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The winery deal came about after a year or two of online presence.  

There are few ways to license art. One of them, which most people are familiar with, is by royalty. You license a piece of art to a manufacturer who will use it for specific time frame, on specific products, in specific distribution area. You, the artist, retain your rights to your art, and can give similar rights to other manufacturers for different type of products. In this method, you usually get royalties based on the sales of the products carrying your artwork. The second type of licensing though is by selling your artwork outright to the manufacturer, who is now the owner of the art. You do not have any ownership in it, and the buyer can use it as they wish. Here the purchasing price is fixed, and usually quite high, to make it profitable to the artist.

When Jude sold his painting to the wine maker, he basically used the second method. The buyer now has the rights on the artwork, and is planning to use it on branding and promotional needs. (Note: this is NOT similar to regular art purchasing when you buy a painting from the artist. In this case you do not buy the ownership to the art’s copyright, you only buy the physical representation of this art. The artist still own the rights, and can sell copies of the image to other buyers, license it, etc).

Maria’s Story

After posting requests on the Zazzle Forum, Maria G contacted me . Maria is a designer with passion for Photoshop and online marketing. Starting in 2008, Maria opened her first Zazzle store, and now she is the proud owner of 14 stores, specializing on anything from wedding invitations to business cards, cool Ked’s shoes and more. In order to spread the word she has used Squidoo lenses, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Google ads, Kaboodle, and anywhere else she could. And the hard work paid off! Back in July, Patty Meyers of BloodHound, a stock photography research company, stumbled upon Maria’s Zazzle Christmas shop and the wide range of Christmas cards. She contacted Maria, who was first skeptical about the email, and requested to license 50 card designs to be used on TV commercials  for a bank in southern USA during the upcoming holiday season, featuring their employees within the card design. Usually people will buy customized cards on Zazzle for their own private use. But in this case, the TV commercial producers needed the artist’s permission to broadcast it. Therefore, Maria sold them the rights to use each design with one employee photo, and to be shown on air in 30 seconds commercials during a four-month period. I hope Maria will share with us some of these ads once they are available.

In this licensing example, Maria’s online efforts being in as many stores as she could, with as many products, and marketing her work in multiple channels, helped her to get Patty’s attention, and the licensing deal with the TV ad producer. Although Maria will not get royalties on the deal for each usage of the designs, but a one time fee to use it based on the agreed terms, she still keep the full rights to her designs, and is able to license them further to many other companies.

Laura’s Story

My last find was by the old familiar way, what one of my friends calls Rabbi Google. I asked the “Rabbi” for artists who licensed their art, and found artist Laura Barbosa blog post about licensing her pug dog painting to Icon Shoes. I contacted Laura and got the following story from her:

I started selling my fine art prints approximately 6 years ago on Art.Com. This was my first try at getting noticed and within 2 years, a scout from All Posters spotted my dog portraits and signed me up to license my art with their company.  After realizing that exposure gets you noticed, I started joining every free art site I had time for and eventually moved on to On line Galleries, Graphic Design Companies, Social Art Networking Sites and started my own Blog. Imagekind was next on my list and I uploaded my original paintings, digital art and graphic designs.

About one year later I was contacted by a well-known photographer and book author, Kim Carlsberg. She asked if she could print one of my digital works in her new book. I felt honored and very lucky that she somehow found my work on-line. Kim is the Author of a book entitled “Beyond My Wildest Dreams” subtitle “Diary Of A UFO Abductee”. Her new book is a compilation of other peoples experiences with alien abduction and UFO’s and she is showcasing my art piece titled ”SHAPESHIFTER” in this book.

The most important and greatest licensing opportunity that came my way was Icon Shoes. A scout found my painting entitled “Pug Dog” in one of my on-line gallery portfolios. Icon Shoes contacted me via email. They wanted to use my artwork for their handbags, golf shoes, belts, purses and accessories. I quickly researched their company and found out that Icon had become a leader in the luxury, casual-comfort category of shoes and a trend setter in handbags and small leather goods.

Laura’s Icon Shoes designs were just published and you can view them on Icon Shoes website. Laura’s story is quite amazing. Some of us don’t realize sometime the endless options for art licensing and the products art is used on. Laura was able, just by online presence, to license her art to a poster printer, book publisher/author, and a shoe & accessories manufacturer. The last one will give her both the steady income of royalties, based on the sales of her designs, but also the entrance into the art-for-product licensing, where the art need to fit the product (and not vice versa), since the art is not printed on a flat rectangular surface (like posters or book covers) but on a three-dimensional item.  

If you have similar stories about licensing your art and being found online, or know of someone who does, I would love to hear about them, so please don’t hesitate to share them. Just add a comment to this blog, or send me a note.  

Here are some last words from the three talented artists featured:


Having all these websites selling my work I made sure tha I constantly market them by joining some social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and I created a blog. I also regularly send a simple email newsletters to all my clients showing my latest work, exhibitions and promotional offers. I can see that it is really important to be active online doing marketing!  

To visit Jude’s virtual world, go to and start from there looking at all his other sites.


All bits and pieces help [in your online presence –MM]. Market anywhere you can, be totally shameless abut it, you never know when or how people might discover you.

To visit Maria’s virtual world, go to and start from there, linking to all her other stores.


I’m not sure how scouts go about finding the work of artists but I do know that having your work available to viw on many sites will help them to find your art. The other on-line galleries, graphic design stores and art shops I use are Etsy, Boundless Gallery, Absolute Arts, Yessy, D’ART, Fine Art America, Artflock, 1000 Markets, Cafepress, Printfection, Artist Rising, Imagekind and more.

To visit Laura’s virtual world, go to and start from there looking at all her other sites.

If you would like to read more about Art Licensing, please check these articles:

My Art 5×4 Project (MA5X4) or Finding My Way in Art Licensing 

Launching my Zazzle online store and thoughts about Self Art Licensing

My Zazzle store – first week recap and new products



  1. This is an excellent article. I am going to make a posting this week and refer my readers to it. Consider taking this a step further making a list of atypical resources for online exposure (like the artists recommend) with direct links. I did this with my greeting card company submissions guideline list and it is the biggest visited posting on any I’ve written. If you do make a list, let me know and I’ll let my readers know.

    • Hi Kate,

      Thank you so much for the comments and for mentioning it on your blog! I did feel like a journalist doing a research and checking all the facts before I published it…..

      Your suggestion is excellent! I will start it and try to post something tomorrow already, to keep the momentum. I will let you know when I publish it.

      Thanks again

  2. Hi Moshe! Thank you very much for featuring me in your blog! I learned a lot in your posts and learned from other talented artists too. I have been telling everybody about this post. Twitting about it and posting it to my Facebook fan page and profile. I will be promoting this during this week. A lot of them enjoyed your posts. Thanks again!

    • Hi Jude,

      Thank you for sharing your story with me! Its always inspiring to talk with other people and hear about their success. And I said people and not artists on purpose – its doesn’t matter how we title ourselves, or want to be called, at the end of the day we are all human, and that is what other people like to hear about.

      Thanks also for sharing with all your friends, it is much appreciated 🙂

  3. Moshe, this is a fabulous post. Thank you so much for sharing these stories with us. It gives me hope to keep at it, as sometimes this economy is just so unfriendly to artists. I keep getting commissioned work, so that is a little encouraging. I have made many contacts through my internet presences… a website, 3 blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I have sold very few pieces at the art shows I have participated in this year, so I may have to reevaluate doing shows. But, licensing has become very interesting to me. In fact, I found you through the LinkedIn Art Licensing group. Thanks for linking to this post from the group discussion.


    • Thank you Christi for the kind comments,
      I read many posts recently from art marketing bloggers regarding changes and thinking about new ways to sell your art. For most artists, Art Licensing is an unknown area. I am not sure why… There are many great resources nowadays for this. Check also the blogs I list on the right hand side here.

      One idea for you could be from a blog I read some time ago, from Toni Mottiff. He suggested approaching local realtors and interesting them in commissioning house paintings for their buyers as a gift for their new home… If you got few realtors like that, you could have returning clients. Your architectural drawings are amazing!

      Thanks again

  4. […] had an interesting couple of days, after publishing 3 Examples for Art Licensing Online Scouting. I used all my social networks to post the new blog, just like I did before with my earlier […]

  5. Thank you so much for your response and suggestion. I have actually done this with two local realty companiese, and I did get an encouraging response from my visits. I even had a realtor to e-mail and tell me she wanted me to do a couple of drawings for her. I contacted her by telephone, and we agreed on a price for them. But, I have not heard from her since. I fear it is the downturn in the housing market here that caused her to reconsider. But I think that is improving a bit, so maybe it is time for me to get back out there and visit some different realtors.

    I did not visit your art website before my first comment, but I have since. Your watercolor work is really beautiful. I love the colors and the way you work a grid into your paintings. Really lovely.


    • I am sure Christi things will come back sometime soon… I know different markets are different and some didn’t suffer as badly as in the US. Here in Canada, and specifically Toronto area, they are saying things are coming back in the real-estate, and I have seen house prices rising, but who knows… I am definitely not an expert in that 😉

      If you work from photos, maybe you can even market your services on the Internet to realtors anywhere around the world. But I guess that’s what you are doing with your online presence. So keep it up. Check LinkedIn, you might find some interesting groups over there…. See my new blog post from today regarding focusing our efforts on the niche and where it works the best…

      Thank you also for the kind comments about my art. At the end of the day, this is what it is all about! 🙂


  6. Thank You so much Moshe:) for mentioning my story in this post :), a wonderful unique topic too 🙂
    love your work
    all the best

    • Thank you Maria again for sharing your story with me. It was a pleasure writing this aritcle, and I hope to see your ads soon.

      Goodluck with all the season’s sales.


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