Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An Alternative to Licensing Representation: by Guest Author agent Laurie High


This is the second post being published on this blog that has been written by a Guest Author. We thought that her article could be helpful to other artists. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts about this topic.

An Alternative to Licensing Representation, by Laurie High. Parker Fulton, along with two partners, started Creative Connection, Inc. in 1991 with a vision of securing jobs for fellow Artists and ensuring fair contracts for them as well as for the clients. Very quickly, Creative Connection, Inc. was representing fifty artists. Parker's original partners were unable to continue with the new business due to personal complications, and she had a choice to make – close up shop or find another partner. Not wanting to disappoint all of those artists, she asked her daughter (me) to join and to help run the business. While I didn't have any artistic background or experience, I did have business experience and schooling. So, together we have grown Creative Connection, Inc. to what it is today. We did, however, lower our preferred maximum number of artists to a more manageable twenty which we find to be ideal.

The pool of incredible artists is over-flowing. We receive requests each week for representation from wonderfully talented individuals. Unfortunately, we have to turn away most of them. We have been blessed to always stay at full capacity, and except for the initial search for artists back in 1991, have never needed to seek artists. This doesn't mean we will necessarily say no to an inquiring artist, because an artist's portfolio may include a subject and/or style that we are lacking.

When an artist approaches us for representation, the first thing we look for is art that is well done and compatible with our art. Secondly, we look for overlap. If the art is too similar to that of an artist we already represent, then we must decline representation. Overlapping too closely would not be fair to them or to the artist we already have with that style/subject matter. However, there are exceptions to this rule such as the need for more than one floral or wildlife artist. Third, we look for how heavily they are already licensed. If they are heavily licensed, then they are probably already working with several of our clients. In that case, we do ask for more information, i.e. the types of current licenses. While these are some of the most important things to consider, we also pay attention to how well they communicate and are reachable, if they are showing us their best art and if it is presented well, etc. All of our artists are also very kind, caring and trustworthy individuals, and that is extremely important.

When an artist is considering which agency they would like to go with for representation, they should consider the talent, styles of art and subject matter that the agency is currently representing along with the number of artists. Commission rate, exclusivity vs. non-exclusivity, reputation and term are additional things to think about.

Contracts vary from Rep. to Rep. Our commission is at the lower end of the scale, and thus we charge our artists to participate in shows, particularly Surtex. We have found Surtex to be the most lucrative show as far as securing new clients and jobs from existing clients. So, it is incredibly important that our artists participate in this show although we do not require them to do so. In addition, we are non-exclusive so the clients that our artists get on their own, they keep as their own. However, in several cases our artists have asked us to take over all of their clients thus enabling them to concentrate fully on creating. In these cases, we link directly to their personal websites, since they are listing us as the sole contact for licensing.

At any point, our contracts can be terminated with one month notice by either the artist or us. If this happens, any clients that we have secured for the artist during the term of the contract remain our clients for 2 years following termination. All current licensing agreements remain in effect as originally contracted whether or not they go beyond that 2 year period. Artists are free to contact any clients we have secured for them following that 2 year period. Agents spend years building a client base and relationships with those clients, so it is extremely important for the agency to maintain these clients for that two year period. However, on a case by case basis, we may decide to shorten this period of time, i.e. letting the artist work directly with a particular client immediately following termination. We do not want the termination of the contract to be a burden for an artist or to cause an artist to miss out on possible assignments.

Ours is just one agency, and every agency handles things a bit differently. Some charge a higher percentage, are exclusive and pay for all other expenses. We take a lower percentage but do charge our artists to participate in Surtex and other shows in which we display their art. Providing a trustworthy environment for all of our business dealings is of utmost importance to us. We value the relationships we have with our artists, clients and everyone in this field.

If you would like to visit our website, it is: www.cciart.com.
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