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SURTEX 2015

10 Things about the Current State of Art Design Licensing You Need to Know

If you couldn’t make it to last month’s SURTEX conference in NYC, here are key takeaways about the current state of licensing of surface designs for home goods, fashion, paper and other goods, courtesy of consultant Jeff Grinspan who put together the conference program:

  1. Although the industry is more competitive than ever, it’s also rife with opportunity;
  2. More retailers are turning to artistic design to lure customers into stores;
  3. Designs must be constantly refreshed to maintain the allure;
  4. To succeed in this environment, artists must constantly come up with new designs;
  5. Artists must also be “authentic” and in touch with cultural trends;
  6. Tattoos and graffiti are a leading source of inspiration for modern art design;
  7. Artists must also design for their target—manufacturers, retailers, consumers;
  8. Artist royalties are lower than ever;
  9. “Guarantees” and “advances” have become endangered species.
  10. As licensing revenues decline, artists must pursue outside ventures to make a living.

Art Licensing: Sales & Royalties

Total retail sales of licensed art properties in the U.S. and Canada, including not just surface designs but fine art, generated $5.54 billion in 2014, according to TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey.

Among the 13 major property types tracked by TLL, art was one of only four in which average royalty rates fell in 2014. The average royalty for art properties was 6.25% in 2014, down from 6.30% a year earlier. The art and artists subcategory had a slightly higher royalty rate than museums, but it fell more year-over-year. The average royalty for art and artists was 6.35%, a decline of 1.2% from 6.43% in 2013. Museum property royalties averaged 6.15%, down just 0.5% from 6.18% in 2013. The range of royalties is 4% to 12% for art and artists, and 4% to 15% for museums.

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