Agent? Coach? Do I need both…or either?

The business of art licensing can be a lonely and confusing place. Not as lonely and confusing as say, a post-apocalyptic world in which you and Kanye West are the only remaining souls but still – lonely and confusing.

You’ve read the books, scoured the internet for every conceivable blog, tweet or Facebook mention of Art Licensing and you’ve slaved over your portfolio following All. Those. Rules. And still, you take a long sip off your 4th cup of coffee of the day and say to the cat,

“But how does this really work?

How do I fit it in?

What the heck am I supposed to do next?”

This is where a coach can come in. A good coach will help you sort out your questions, prioritize your ever-growing to-do list and help you find clarity in your voice and vision while you negotiate your path to monetizing your art. And they do it in a supportive, logical, cut-out-the-clutter kind of way.

I’m often asked what the difference is between a coach and an agent, and whether an agent will also act as your coach. OK, those are two different questions, so I will take them one at a time.

A typical art licensing agent is the person who represents your portfolio to manufacturers with the intent of securing a licensing agreement on your behalf. In exchange you pay them a share of the royalties generated by that agreement. They do this through their extensive (you hope)  list of contacts, by attending and exhibiting at appropriate shows, by targeted campaigns sent to their client list and more. They do the work and leave you with more time in the studio to drum up more fabulous concepts for even more potential deals.

Coaches usually work on an hourly basis. They help you clarify your intentions for your business and brand, guide you toward discovering your best artwork and unique voice, help with presentation and suggest action steps you can take to move you forward with your goals. Coaches can also help you noodle a solution to a problem you might be having with a client—or an agent—or move you along when it seems like your career has stalled or the market has shifted away from your work.

So can your agent also be your coach? Well, yes…and no. Once you sign with a good agent they will certainly work with you to fine-tune your message and presentation, however they are going to expect that you are ready to roll out your art when they sign you. Believe me, they are not signing on for a year of development and training. A coach can get you out in front of that expectation, working with you to move closer to your best work and therefore your launch—whether you are planning to go it alone OR would prefer to work with an agent.

Working with a coach at any point in your development can save you oodles of frustration and lost time by getting you on track with a plan in place and your emotions in check. In my over twenty years in the business as an artist, agent and now as a business coach for creatives, I have viewed hundreds of portfolios and spoken with many more artists. I love being able to help artists discover their most authentic work and negotiate a path toward a successful career – it’s always satisfying to see someone move from a place of “I really want this” to “I really can do this.”

P.S.This article first appeared on the Art Licensing Show, a website connecting artists and decision makers for licensing. If you are not familiar with them, head on over (click here) for oodles of information about licensing your art on products. Plus I just happen to know (wink, wink)  that they are rolling out some super fun bonuses to celebrate their Third Anniversary!

P.P.S. The next cohort of The Licensing Ladder starts on April 24, 2018. For more information, click here!