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My Step by Step Process of Working with Art Licensing Clients

My Step by Step Process of Working with Art Licensing Clients

Today I'm sharing my personal step by step process of working one-on-one with art licensing clients on custom artwork. Sometimes a client will purchase artwork as is, but this process is for anything custom or artwork that needs to be revised. Of course, each client project is a little different, but I wanted to share generally how I approach this. Clear communication and knowing the right questions to ask your clients before you begin work, is key to a successful collaboration! Read on for a detailed peek into my process: 

STEP ONE: ASK QUESTIONS

First off, you and client are already in communication about a collaboration. Maybe they reached out to you, or maybe you pitched yourself to them and they accepted. Great! (If you’re curious how to actually get those clients’ attention in the first place, check out my Art Licensing Guide here).

Sometimes clients will outright tell you their budget early on, but this process example assumes they have not provided that info. If they do provide a budget, it may be negotiable so make sure to ask pertinent questions anyway. 

Before I officially decide to work with any client, I ask them a few questions about their project to make sure we’re a right fit. Important information to ask them includes things like: their budget, what types of products the artwork will be used for, their timeline needs, how much artwork/how many unique patterns or illustrations they need, if they need the artwork exclusive to them or are flexible, the aesthetic or theme of the artwork they need, and bonus, the quantity of products they plan on manufacturing (this helps you gauge their budget and can affect your price). 

If a client is a startup or has never worked with an artist before, they may not have all of this information. But the more you can ask from them ahead of time, the better! 

STEP TWO: SEND YOUR QUOTE

Once you have their response, you can put together your quote. My quote is highly dependent on the information they have provided, sometimes how much I want to work on that particular project, and how my current schedule is looking. 

I create a pretty PDF with 3-4 different quote options (not so much that it overwhelms them, but still gives them choices). The different quotes offer a variety of term lengths (i.e. 1 year) or number of products (i.e. artwork is used for 3 product types) for example. The options I provide, and the cost of those options, varies per project. 

STEP THREE: SEND YOUR INVOICE, CONTRACT, + DISCUSS TIMELINE

Once the client moves forward with their license choice, I send the invoice for the first 50% of the total project fee. Work does not begin until that is paid, and it is non-refundable because as soon as it is paid, I begin spending time creating the artwork. 

I also send my contract at this point if they do not provide one. A contract protects you and your artwork. 

We then discuss the timeline so they know exactly when to expect the first draft of artwork from me. It’s very helpful if the client can provide a moodboard, images, or a special Pinterest board that are visually inspiring. Ask for this to help keep the process smooth! 

STEP FOUR: SEND FIRST DRAFT OF ARTWORK

The first draft is usually as finished as I can get the artwork, so that hopefully there are minimal changes with the next round. I offer up to two rounds of revisions but we usually only need one revision. Some artists start with sketches, but due to my specific artwork process I like to just go for it. If they need additional revisions beyond those included, I charge my hourly rate. 

STEP FIVE: FINAL REVISION(S)

Your client will hopefully have minimal changes, thanks to all of the clear communication you have shared with each other so far. I then send them an image of the final artwork, but wait to send final files until…

STEP SIX: FINAL INVOICE + FINAL FILES

I then send out the final 50% invoice. If they adjusted anything like adding extra revisions or other changes to the licensing terms, I add that to the final invoice. I then also make sure to include the final artwork images directly in the contract, and send them back the updated version. Once that final invoice is paid, I send the files to them via Dropbox or Wetransfer. 

See if they need anything else from you, like your logo, bio, portrait or anything they want to share if they are crediting you as the artist on the product. 

There is so much more to the world of art licensing, but I wanted to share this peek into my process with you! If you want to learn more about surface design like pricing, contracts, how to get clients, and more, check out my new Art Licensing Guide. And psst...want 15% off the guide? Join my newsletter here and you'll get a welcome code for that discount!

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