How to Find an Art Publisher

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Finding the right market for your work

Is your dream to see your art “everywhere”—from Home Depot, Target, Costco, gift boutiques in your home town and all over the world? If so, you’ll need to have your art represented by a fine art publisher. In this post learn how to submit your art and what to expect when working with an art publisher.

What is a Fine Art Publisher?

Fine Art Publishers invest equity in talented artists, whose work they feel meets current design trends or has “timeless” attraction to home décor enthusiasts. They market their artists and the art they represent by attending massive (and expensive) trade shows and art fairs all over the globe.

They also publish elaborate catalogues, DVD Sets and build extensive websites listing hundreds of different artworks in various styles, themes and sizes (cowboy art to sailboats to landscapes).

A publishers’ main goal is to sell in volume. They sell to art retailers, framer shops and gift boutiques. They also sell wholesale to corporations (big box retailers), interior designers and to the hospitality trade (for use as hotel décor).

Some art publishers also license “usage of artwork” to smaller publishers, product designers (gift card manufacturers and calendars for example) and at a more exclusive level, big box retailers who chose to build their own branded collections.

How does it work?

An artists work is licensed  for a set term (usually 3-5 years). Re-licensing sometimes occurs if an artwork gains huge popularity. During this time the artist holds the copyright to the image, BUT (usually) gives exclusive licensing to the Publisher.

When agreeing to license your artwork, you are authorizing another party to use your artwork in a particular way for a particular period of time. The license restricts the use of your artwork to that which you explicitly agree to in the contract. Typically, you are only transferring the “reproduction rights” of your artwork within a narrow product category.

Compensation is made to the artist via royalities. For example: The royalty for an open edition print might be 10% of the wholesale cost, limited editions usually are higher upwards to 40% of the wholesale. Special licensing projects vary and may even be a flat fee.

Another benefit of licensing your artwork is the personal satisfaction you will receive. Your artwork will grace products in thousands of homes and gives enjoyment to people who might not otherwise be able to enjoy your original artwork!

At Fidelis Art Prints, we have relationships with three international publishers (Canadian Art Prints, Casa Publishing and Bentley Publishing). We serve as a printmaker of limited editions and open editions for two of them, and the other we prepare high resolution scans for artist’s they represent in Canada.

I asked their art scouts how they go about searching for new imagery and how might an artist best get their attention.  Here is a summary of what I found out.

3 Effective Ways to Get the Attention of an Art Publisher

1. Get Yourself Noticed

Most large publishers have art scouts that do the legwork of visiting galleries, fairs and exhibitions and searching the internet for new talent. Make a plan to participate in as many events as possible—your goal is to get seen. When an art scout finds a body of work from a new artist, they work with them to “pre-select” 20-50 images that get forwarded to a selection committee. It is the committee’s job to narrow down the artworks to around 10-15, of which they will place in their catalogue and market to their wholesale art buyers.

2. Get Your Artwork on the World Wide Web

Dedicate the necessary time to creating a professional web portfolio or blog. This can be done inexpensively and often for free, by taking advantage of joining artist associations, member sites and art community blogs. If you have the funds, you can hire a website designer and pay to have your own portfolio site created, with your personal “url” (e.g. www.yourname.com).

3. Submit Often

The second method for getting the attention of a publisher involves an application process. This can vary slightly between publishers, so be sure to visit each publishers website for details.

TIP: Be sure to review the artists they already represent, no need to apply if they already have someone, or several images, with your style.

Here are some industry standards when submitting your work for consideration:

• You will need to prepare a selection of your best work. It can be in the form of hard copies (e.g. laser proofs, transparencies or photos). Be sure they are colour accurate, sharp and show your work at its best.

• Prepare a cover letter that includes your contact information, website/blog, artist bio and statement.

• If you would like your hardcopies returned, be sure to include a self addressed, postage paid envelope.

Due to the volume of applicants, some publishers review submissions as often as twice a month or more. Others have quarterly reviews making final selections based on market trends at the time of the proposed launch.

In the case of rejection, be prepared to receive a form letter. Don’t let this discourage you, publishers have very narrow criteria for art selection and there are several reasons why your work could be rejected:

• They may already have an artist with your style

• Your style doesn’t fit with the buyers they serve

• Some artwork is better suited to selling in galleries

If your work is rejected consider re-submitting the following year or once you have completed a new body of work. Pay close attention to up-incoming design and interior decor trends and remember Publishers are working 6-12 months ahead of the consumer market.

The good news usually arrives by phone. The publisher’s art scout may ask to see your originals, more samples of your work and hi-res scans of your work. Congratulations!

If you would like to submit your work for consideration for the Fidelis “Vineyard Collection” please use the guidelines above, and forward to my attention.

I hope this was helpful. Please let me know by commenting.

Karen