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Taking the fear out of Commercial Licensing!

Updated: Mar 16

As an artist, the one question I receive the most is, “Can I use your illustrations on my product, and if so, is it very expensive?” Each time that I answer this question, the person is always surprised by my answer. — Yoli Fae

What is so daunting about a contractual agreement between two parties, to use one’s intellectual or digital property for personal use and/or monetary gain? Why is it so many people see dollar signs and automatically think that ‘It probably costs a lot’ to license someone’s work? In my 20-year span as an artist, I have only had one experience of having my artwork used on products, without my consent. Yes, it’s a very unsettling feeling to see your stolen work all over social media. Unfortunately, it's a very sad life lesson that so many creatives go through. After my experience, I found legal representation. My lawyer contacted the individual who had stolen my artwork, and within a week, my work was pulled from their website, and from their social media platforms.

The truth is, I was more hurt than angry. You see, I love what I do, and creating meaningful artwork that puts a smile on people’s faces, is priceless in my book. I would have gladly, created a commercial license agreement with this individual and wished them well. I would have been equally honored that they wanted to use my artwork for their brand. In the world of art licensing, it’s a pure high to a creative, for example, to walk into a department store and see their pattern designs on clothing and home decor. I remember when I went to and saw my Christmas candy pattern on dinner napkins! This experience was made possible because I joined an amazing, global marketplace called Spoonflower, which connects makers and consumers with independent artists worldwide. I opted-in to their ‘Design Distribution’, to have my pattern designs printed on their products, while I maintain full copyrights to my work. This is just one way that creatives license their work. My ultimate goal is to have my own home decor

line, under my brand name, faeDesign. That day is coming. For now, I am more than happy to license my pattern designs and illustrations out to brands worldwide.

As I mentioned in the beginning, commercial licensing doesn’t have to be daunting, or difficult. On my website,, I have made it so easy for anyone to view my artwork, as well as, purchase a commercial license agreement to use the artwork for everything from end-products to social media, to television ads. To demystify license agreements further, let’s break down one of my commercial licenses below:

Here is an example of an extended commercial license

The purchase price for the Extended Commercial License is $56. With this purchase, you are able to use an illustration or pattern design of your choice within the parameters explained in the license above. The language of the license is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. I personally hate ‘legal-eez’ jargon myself and wanted to make it as easy as possible to license artwork.

According to the license above, the artwork you choose to license can be used on 250,000 physical or digital end products. Okay, let's say that you sold 250,000 t-shirts featuring the artwork you licensed. You would need to purchase a 2nd license from faeDesign in order to sell another 250,000 t-shirts featuring artwork you licensed. Each time you purchase a license to continue using the artwork, you will pay the agreed-upon cost, which currently is $56 with faeDesign. When you think of the money that your brand will generate from selling 250,000 + products, a renewal fee of only $56 is a steal!

I hope this makes the idea of purchasing a license to use faeDesign artwork, less confusing, and actually more exciting! Yes, art licensing is my business and I love what I do. However, with the artistic talent that God has given me, I believe that to whom much is given, much is required. I wanted to learn more. I attended the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas in 2015. Donning my backpack with my laptop, art portfolio, pens, and notepads, I was ready to ‘go to school.’ Every brand from Disney to Pixar and Dreamworks was there.

2015 Licensing Expo at Mandala Bay, Las Vegas. I learned so much!

Hundreds of big brands came ready to partner with artists and creatives worldwide. I was mesmerized as I walked the show. I took a picture by the Minions advertisement and was just star-struck throughout the entire afternoon.

What are your dreams? Do you see your artwork on products, advertisements, and even on television? I am here to tell you that with every dream, there is a pathway to realizing your dream. If art licensing sounds like something you would be interested in, you can learn more at the Licensing Expo and if pattern design is your creative power, Surrtex is another amazing Licensing event held yearly in New York. I want you to succeed! I want to see you and your products at the Licensing Expo! It’s never too late. I was 46 when I attended the Licensing Expo. Whatever your path, I hope that I’ve given you some ideas and encouragement to step out in faith and not allow fear of failure to stop you before you even start. I receive so many ‘No’s’ when I ask brands if they would like to collaborate with faeDesign. And you know what? I value those ‘No’s’ even more than every ‘Yes’ that I get. There’s no straight line to success. Especially, in art licensing. When you set your GPS to get you to a desired location, I can guarantee you that your map destination will not be a straight line. There will be some left turns, some u-turns, and maybe even some roadblocks that will require, re-routing. But with patience, focus, and remembering why you chose the journey you’re on, those mistakes, and failures will not be a reason to stop, but rather a determination to embrace curiosity about the industry you have chosen to grow your brand, What are their current trends? How are other brands finding success? Be curious, studious, and willing to learn.

I’m not telling you anything that I don’t apply to my own creative journey. I know that this blog piece is titled, ‘Take the fear out of Commercial Licensing,’ but I just wanted to have a heart-to-heart with you. Even as I am writing this blog, I can’t help but feel that whoever the reader will be, they might be in need of a cheerleader right now. If I was able to give you that boost of staying power or even encourage you to get out there and open that online store, write that book, or submit your art portfolio to that agent, then I have accomplished the full intent of every word that I wrote. Despite the title, it’s not about selling you a license to use my artwork. It’s about sharing my story and showing you that if this 46-year-old woman can still dream and take on this journey to entrepreneurship, then so can you.


Yoli Fae

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