In previous articles, I’d discussed such topics as licensing, magazines and rights, licensing agents and topics in what I hope to be a useful and immediately actionable way. Clearly the most popular and the one with vastly more visits than the others is Submitting Art And Cartoons To Greeting Card Companies where I provide suggestions based on my own experiences, and resources to get you started in that moment if you choose.
That being the case, I now offer what I hope will be an equally useful article on submitting art and cartoons to calendar companies – another great, but sorely overlooked market for many of my fellow artists.
Going back to some of the fundamentals of licensing your art, it should be among your critical first steps to research the calendar companies you’d like to approach. What sort of art do they buy? Do they have an active humor category and if so, is it cartoon art or some other form of visual humor? Have you noticed these calendars being offered by retailers near you? Are they open to freelance submissions or do they use art supplied by an exclusive source?
Another key question, and one that, like a tall glass of icewater poured down my pants, was both a pleasant and sobering point – how much art do you have available should they want it in substantial numbers? When I was contacted by Mead Westvaco in mid 2012, letting me know that they really liked my humor and my characters, and they’d like to license them for their calendars, I was excited. Very, very excited. I thought, I’ve gots lots of material – enough for a whole bunch of wall calendars. I received the proposal, and it was for a Mead wall calendar, a Day Dream wall calendar (we’re good so far), and a Year In A Box calendar – 320 cartoons. Um…what? Does that have a zero on the end? Yup, it does. Mind you, I had more than enough material, but this was a big deal, and only the best work should be considered for inclusion. I went into writing, drawing, inking, coloring overdrive to make sure that I was providing the very best I had in me, and I truly am happy with the results. As a side note, most would learn from that experience. I didn’t, and now I’m in Tasmanian Devil ink-slinging mode producing a whole new slew of work to be included in the 2014 calendar series. It’s important that when you make your submission, your body of work is large enough and consistent enough to support at least a single wall calendar that may include as many as sixteen images, and perhaps a good many more. The timelines for providing the work to their respective art departments will vary, but they’re typically generous – provided you’ve got a respectable number to begin with.
My experience in calendars is with a single producer, so the royalty ranges of other publishers are largely unknown to me, however in Michael Woodward’s book, and required reading on the topic, “Licensing Art 101″, the rate is described as between 5 and 10%. Advances against future royalty earnings are also not uncommon.
Something that I hadn’t thought about prior to working with a calendar company was the size of the image, and what that might mean if it needs to be enlarged. For example, when I draw my “Spectickles” cartoons, I use a fountain pen on Bristol board, and contain the art within a seven inch by seven inch box, with the text added below the box. That’s large enough that there’s not too much to worry about when the image is enlarged to its twelve inch size at 300dpi. On the other hand, I draw a separate cartoon I call “The Percenters” for business publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review, that would need work in order to be expanded to that size. It’s drawn smaller and on paper that, when enlarged, shows the ink bleeding into the surface of the regular bond paper. I’ve just switched to drawing them on bleedproof paper to eliminate this problem, should I have the opportunity to contribute my business cartoons in the future to this format.
Now, the meat and potatos. Here’s a list of usual suspects worth researching, and if your work is appropriate, submitting to:
Avalanche Publishing/Lang – Submission Guidelines
Andrews McMeel – Submission Guidelines
Workman – Submission Guidelines
Brown Trout – Submsission Guidelines
Mead Westvaco – Submission Guidelines
These are U.S. calendar companies – don’t forget to explore the possibilities in other calendar countries with their own thriving calendar markets.
That should be a good start, and I encourage my fellow artists to explore calendars, if appropriate, as a viable area to consider for submitting their work.