I’m glad to see there’s fellow cartoonists and artists who appear to be benefitting from the previous articles I’ve written regarding licensing. To hone the topic down further and more specifically, I’ll describe how to identify, research, and submit artwork to greeting card companies.
As in the previous articles on Cartoon Licensing and More About Cartoon Licensing, I stress the fact that I’m not an expert, nor am I describing the only way to approach these markets – I’m simply describe my way which has worked pretty well in the past.
I described briefly one approach to researching markets most appropriate to your work – going to your local gifts stores and retailers who carry products adorned with art that is similar to your own. This is exactly the method for greeting cards. Walk the aisles and seek out cards with cartoons or humorous art, then flip the card over and have a look at who produced it. On my Iphone I have a little notepad app and I write down the information there.
After gathering the preliminary information, it’s time to fire up the laptop and dig a little deeper. Look up the companies you’ve written down, and learn more about their various lines, and see if it’s a good fit for your cartoons. On most greeting card websites, you’ll see a hyper-link for their submission guidelines. Have a look at how many samples they’d prefer, when they want submissions to be sent and in what format, are they looking for specific event or seasonal material, and do they prefer emailed or snail mail submissions – all important to know if you intend to present yourself as a professional – and you should.
In addition to walking along the aisles of local businesses, have a look at the Greeting Card Association website page of companies seeking submissions - another great avenue to explore. The GCA website is filled with helpful information and industry insight.
In our global, instantly connected marketplace we aren’t limited to our own borders either. As you seek homes for your work, think about other places where your work might be well received. What about Canadian greeting card companies? Great Britain has a vibrant greeting card market which I’m told is bigger than that of the United States. And they have their own Greeting Card Association UK with a very long list of member companies - these are not as clearly delineated as those of the US version – you’ll need to go to their respective websites and see if they accept submissions, but it’s a long, no doubt fruit-bearing list with the right research.
That’s a lot to get started with, right? Well, there’s more – the Australian Greeting Card Association and its list of members who may (or may not – you’ll need to check) accept submissions from freelancers.
With all the resources listed above, you should have plenty to get you started in creating the royalty-based end of your cartooning or art business. Stay vigilant, know your markets, follow the guidelines, submit only work that’s suitable, and never give up – it’s a competitive market and it may take time to get through the rejections – but it’ll happen if you keep working at your craft. Best of luck and email me some success stories – I love to see my fellow cartoonists succeed!