Angela Davis - Art Licensing Agent

Happy New Year from the Art Licensing Show! We are happy to bring you another Limelight Licensor feature article! We have a plethora of talented folks in the ArtLicenisngShow.com (ALSC) community and we are honored to introduce you today to an agent that represents many accomplished art licensing professionals. Today we spoke with art licensing agent Angela Sauro Davis. She has a background in publishing and fine art licensing, working with fine artists and licensees for 22 years.

 

Q: Please introduce yourself and tell us more about what you do in your professional art career.

My name is Angela Sauro Davis, I own Ansada Licensing Group, LLC. I started in licensing in 1996 working with an art publisher, and in January 2010 I started my own agency. This agency stemmed from taking over that company’s licensing program, with their cooperation. That’s why our portfolio looks so familiar to many people. Since then I have signed many more artists and expanded. Although I represent a few artists that will create for licensing, 95% of the artists I represent create strictly for their gallery and museum market and then that art is presented to licensees for licensing consideration.

 

Q: How do you describe your agency’s style?

As an agent, I represent artists who create traditional, representational artwork. From there, subjects are pretty varied. We do have a particular strength in our wildlife representation, but also represent some of the world’s finest artists in figurative, historical and landscape work.
Herring

 

Q: What kind of products have you worked with?

We have worked with many, many products, including puzzles, cards, calendars, wall art, apparel, giftware, flags, fabric, apps, home textiles, shoes, wall paper, checks, and stationery.

 

Q: How did you find out about art licensing and what did you do to break into the business?

I moved to Florida after grad school and an employment agency found me a job as a Marketing Assistant at an art publisher. Within a few months I was working in licensing. With two business degrees, I knew I’d end up in an industry I knew very little about, but I knew the business side and would learn the industry nuances. I never dreamed of being in the art field, but it’s been an amazing journey. Now, 22 years and many mentors and artists later, I have a pretty good art appreciation background. Still no artistic talent though!

“I practically fell into Art Licensing.”

Herring

 

Q: How do you get an agent?

I work with artists mostly through referrals, either through artists I know and work with, or through our licensees.  I’m so grateful that those that I work with trust me to refer their colleagues.  Although I do accept art submissions, and I do legitimately review them, referrals and art shows are the primary way I find artists.

Q: How does having an agent help or hinder your Art Licensing career?

I guess I’m a little biased! Ha! But of course I would say that having a GOOD agent helps your career. My philosophy is for everyone to do what they do best. Artists should be creating. For an artist to do both the licensing and art is very difficult and time consuming, not to mention that not all those that review your art are objective and kind. An agent helps to buffer you from that negative, mostly unnecessary, feedback. There are artists out there that have had great success with an amazing partner or spouse that does the business side of their work, and sometimes that includes licensing. There’s so much to the business side of art, that even with a great partner to work on the business, licensing still takes a back seat to art creation and selling originals and many times licensing falls by the wayside. Sometimes artists will say, “But if I don’t have to pay an agent, I’ll make more money.” This can be true on an individual deal, but in the long term, they will make more money with an agent. Where individual artists can fall short is that they don’t regularly send out their new work for consideration. They wait for licensees to reach out to them for new work, and most licensees don’t have the time to do that, especially to reach out to each individual artist. One of the perks of working with an agent for a licensee is that they can access many different artists with one point of contact, that in turn is a big perk for an artist to be seen. Of course, with an agent, an artist has more time to create.

Q: Do you have advice for artists seeking an agent?

Ask around.  Talk to artists you admire, see who is representing them.  Talk to artists that are already represented by an agent you are considering.  Most are very willing to chat about their agent.  Ask licensees that you already work with and see who they have an enjoyable, productive relationship with and who they might recommend for you, you can even ask for a direct recommendation to that agent.  Even licensees are happy to help artists find good representation if they are looking for it.  An agent can tell you how things are going to be, but only another artist or licensee that already works with them can tell you how things actually happen from their perspective.  Then it comes down to personality, style, and what you’re looking for in a business relationship.  An agent/artist relationship is ideally long term and it’s an investment of time and effort on both parts.  You want to start off on the best foot possible and set expectations as to how the relationship is going to work. Changing agents is not fun under any circumstance, especially if a relationship has soured for some reason or it’s not what the artist expected.  Trust is paramount in our industry, and especially important in an agent relationship because you have to be confident that your agent is going to bat for you. Sometimes artists think they need to be the “only” one with an agent doing a certain style or subject, but this can backfire, because licensees may not look to that agent for your subject or style which can create an uphill battle.
Herring

Q: What’s your art background?

22 years on the job training! My degrees are a Bachelors in Economics and a Masters in Business Administration, I seriously think I took ONE art class in college and it was an art history class. I was then introduced to the art publishing and licensing world just months after graduation. I remember learning about print making in that class and thinking later that it never occurred to me at that time that people were BUYING these items today. No one really talked about the business or commercial side of art, I still hear that complaint from artists that are going to art school. Since then, I’ve taken part in and attended many, many art shows, taken artist workshops and classes and then taught about licensing at artist workshops. I’ve had many, many great mentors in this industry and I’m grateful for every one of them.

 

Q: What’s an achievement in your career that you are most proud of?

Transitioning into my own agency. I wanted it, but was unsure of what the road would be like. A few people backed me and encouraged me, without me even sharing that this was where I felt I was headed and it just reaffirmed what I needed to do and I just went for it. My husband was incredibly supportive. We weren’t actually even married when I started the agency.

“We weren’t actually even married when I started the agency.  We were married later that year, but he was behind me all the way.”

Q: If you were starting over today, what is one thing you would want to know?

I was so young when I started. I honestly don’t know that I would change anything.  The whole journey was revealed before me as I went along.  There were hard lessons that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  There is a piece of advice that a colleague shared with me shortly after I went out on my own, and she said that there are going to be difficult situations, it comes with the territory, but each time you make it through, you’re going to earn a duck feather, and over time, you’ll earn many duck feathers so that the difficulties will roll off you like water rolls off a ducks feathers.  She was right, I have grown as a person through any challenges I’ve been through and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  So I guess I wish I knew back then that I would constantly be growing and learning, always, there’s no point where you’re “done.”  Growth is a lifelong process.

 

Q: What is the most valuable thing to you in the ArtLicensingShow.com community?

Relationships. This is incredibly important. Relationships with artists, licensees, industry professionals, even the artists and licensees we don’t work with yet. You never know who you might be able to collaborate with, or who you can help.

Q: What is one goal that you would love to achieve in the next five years?

We would love to do more books. This is a lifelong love of mine and I cherish the ones I’ve done in the past. They are among the most fun and satisfying projects!

 

Q: What advice would you give to those starting out in the licensing business?

Establishing a licensing business can be a long road, be open to change, and then more change and don’t listen to those that tell you your business is going to be a certain way. There’s a fable about a deaf frog that’s too long for me to share here, so I would encourage them to look it up. You can succeed in this business in ways that some of us haven’t imagined yet, despite the challenges that seem inevitable.

About Angela Davis, Ansada Licensing Group, LLC.
Since Ansada only specializes in fine art, Angela has a special sensitivity for fine artists and their concerns regarding the balance between commercializing their art in licensing and preserving their time to focus on creating paintings that will sell in the originals market. It’s an honor for us to be trusted with an artists work for licensing.

10 responses to Angela Davis ~ Art Licensing through the Agent Lens

  1. Thanks for sharing! it was a great interview with lots of helpful information. Don’t know if this is the right forum but I have a question. My wife is an artist and after a two year break (her mother was sick) she’s know looking for representation again. The Agent presented the standard 50/50 deal and added that the artist must pay a 2500 trade show fee and pay to get their own copy write on their images, Is this the new norm?

    • Hi Jay, Thank you for your question. There are number of variables from agency to agency. If you are looking for a new relationship or agent, sometimes its good to speak to a few agents and also definitely speak to artists they work with to find the best fit for you. I know when artists are considering me as their representation, I always happily ask them to reach out to any of my artists to learn more about me. Best of luck in your search!

  2. This is a great interview! Thank you for sharing it from the perspective of an agent.

  3. Thank you for the interview! I am new to art licensing and this is all great information to gather and learn!

  4. Wonderful interview Angela! Thanks for your insights.

  5. My two cents’ worth from someone not a member of ALS: Angela is spot on in this interview, one of the very best I’ve read with a professional art licensing agent. I couldn’t agree with her more. You’re fortunate indeed if you have her as your agent.

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