Monday, September 9, 2013

Snippets - Dallas Meets Atlanta



One of the great things about the gift markets is that you can interact with a wider variety of people than you will see at Surtex or Licensing. The mix of owners, reps, art and licensing directors, sales managers, retailers and our fellow artists and agents makes for some wonderfully diverse viewpoints. It also made Dallas and Atlanta ripe territory for snippet picking as you will see. It seems that while most people feel business is improving, the sting of the last few years has not gone away and “proceed with caution” is still the word of the day:

“It’s a lot of time and work to intro a new product, plus someone has to keep following it all the way through to the launch.”
– owner of a gift company

“The market is telling us something different than what we had expected on this line and you have got to listen to your market.” – about making some responsive line changes

“Do you want to make a statement or do you want to make a deal?” – an agent about difficult artists

“The shelf life of a piece of art is so much shorter. Where we used to get 4 or 5 years out of a good seller, now after one year we are looking to cycle it out of the line because sales have already dropped.” – owner of a home d├ęcor company

“Have you seen the crazies on there lately? I keep adding to the list of artists I’m never going to work with.” - an art director talking about Linked In

“The problem is they’re not asking anybody who has a qualified opinion – it’s like asking your mother over and over again “Am I pretty?” – an agent about artists evaluating other artists’ work on social media

“We have learned that our salespeople are not enthusiastic about being the first to market – they’d rather see it somewhere else first.” – an art director about fresh new concepts

“There are so many ideas coming at us now, especially with Pinterest and all that, that we couldn’t possibly do all the good ones.” - owner of a gift company

“I don’t know why they don’t have more artists mingle with the sales reps because it energizes the reps so much to meet them.” - a sales VP

“Our focus is on branded lines now, we really don’t do anything with individual designs anymore.”
- licensing exec at a big gift company explaining their new focus

“We would blow off this show if being here wasn’t a requirement to keep our (prime) location for the January show.” – an exhibitor in the Atlanta temps about the summer show

“I don’t care about recognition or awards or any of that stuff. I design for a particular market and what I care about is whether they buy it.”  - a well known licensed artist

“We don’t just want it to sell in, it needs to sell through. Selling through is what validates a product.” – sales mgr at a large gift company

“We had it priced at 11.00 wholesale but the packaging wouldn’t hang on the hook, it needed to be stronger. The redo pushed the price up to 14.00, so now it’s almost 30.00 retail and that was too much.” – about problems marketing a product

“I am so tired of seeing all these products made with horrible art and hackneyed phrases they pulled off the internet.”
– a licensing agent

“Here’s the problem: everybody and their brother has a product in this category, so it’s incredibly competitive and the margins are really thin. There is just no room to pay royalties anymore.”
– licensee explaining why they buy some shelf goods for their line

“She doesn’t seem to have anything new – what, is she on hiatus?” – art director’s remark (that you never want to hear!) about a portfolio

“I get really tired of this “we’re all sisters in this business of art licensing” thing. I am not giving you my client name just because we both have a uterus.” – a successful licensed artist

“I hate to say it, but in this business you are only as good as your last product.” – owner of a gift company

“It’s not just ceramics - everything is more expensive. We are using a lot more wood, paper and printing instead of sculpts because of the price.” – owner of a gift company

“It’s Trade Show 101 – lot’s of light and color.” – a gift show exhibitor about their bright and colorful display 

And my favorites:

"Every time a new or relatively unknown artist talks to me about developing their "brand", marketing their "brand", and how they're such a unique "brand", I just want to set myself on fire." – an art director

“I'm taking a few moments to recover from the wind burn I just got from [a gift company] whipping thru my portfolio.”
– an artist at the Atlanta Mart

9 comments:

  1. Jim, You are the snippet KING ... I just love these. They always brighten my day ... well, sort of. Ha.

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  2. Just when we get comfortable and think its safe to go back in the water, Jim comes along and lets loose reality and it come up to bite us right in the a............

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  3. its always about the sell through, unless your work can do that your not successful no matter how awesome you think it is!

    and the "well know licensed artist talking about client list" kills me- if I see another person trying to teach artists how to license and wonder why their is hardly any work for them I would have to ask them "well what did you think was going to happen when you gave away it all?".

    Hey its survival of the fittest and unless your good at keeping the companies wanting more of you as well as the public your dead in the water period!

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    1. bad spelling today mean to to say "there is hardly and work"...

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  4. Every time I start entertaining the idea of starting a blog because I think I might have something useful or funny to say about licensing, this guy comes along (again) and steals my thunder. So funny Jim, thank you. If you had a uterus, we'd be sisters.

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  5. Jim, I am curious. You said above that this quote is one of your favorites:

    "Every time a new or relatively unknown artist talks to me about developing their "brand", marketing their "brand", and how they're such a unique "brand", I just want to set myself on fire." – an art director"

    Why does that one in particular resonate with you? I am a new artist and am wondering why an unknown artist talking about developing their brand would be offensive? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      I liked it because it was funny - but I do get it. Someone without significant sales or a following talking about their “brand” is basically nonsense, and when that artist starts talking brand the licensee starts thinking "trouble". The artist’s brand is not their priority, they want to produce high quality product on a tight budget and short schedule and have ZERO interest in arguing over necessary changes to designs. Of course every artist will say “well, that’s not me” but their experience tells them different. See my earlier 5-6-11 post Branding Nonsense (and Kathy’s great comment) for more of my personal opinion…

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  6. Great post...I'm taking it all in as a newbie...maybe this will prevent me from making some horrendous faux paus! :D Thanks for collecting these!

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