Want to use my artwork? Licensing Guidelines

First of all, thank you so much for your interest in my creative work. I am delighted you want to use my work in your project. Licensing is a standard process that basically allows you to use or ‘rent’ photography or artwork.

When you license photos or any creative product, you are entering into an agreement that outlines exactly how the images/creative can be used—and for how long. Licensing protects the creative’s work from being used in a way they did not agree to (infringement of copyright) and also ensures the creative is paid for their craft and for providing a service or product and/or helping you grow your business. 

I endeavour to look at each request on a project-by-project basis (no two projects are the same) which is why it’s not helpful to provide generic ball park figures here. I can, however, share some generic industry standards. If you are an individual, a small business or sole trader, we may be able to discuss additional contra-deals, or special payment terms, if budget is an issue (and assuming we are a good fit) so do reach out to discuss your project further. 

It’s common practice for Greeting Card publishers, manufacturers, SMEs, or corporates to use quality artwork, illustrators, and photography across a range of products and channels to promote and grow their business. If you work in an Editorial team or in any Marcomms department, you will already be familiar with the process and costs involved, but if this is the first time you’ve contemplated approaching a photographer, illustrator, designer – someone like myself – then these Guidelines are for you.

The first thing to state upfront is all projects and prices are scalable – but the ‘process’ is generally the process. This is a very basic guide and does not cover ALL scenarios/ environments but it will give you a basic grounding.

So let’s get started.

Best practice dictates there are FOUR key elements to a Licensing Agreement. I say there are FIVE because people forget the most important element, which is … drumroll … Copyright! The very reason we have Licensing Agreements at all.

Key Elements of a License Agreement:

  • Which specific products/drawings/illustrations do you want to use?
  • Will you require a new commission to meet your needs?
  • How long do you require to use the product for?
  • Where and how are these drawings being used? (e.g. one time use in a magazine? Long-term use on Merchandise? Long time use on Greetings Cards or Stationery?)


Where, geographically, are you using the artwork?

  • Local community
  • Council/Region wide
  • Scotland
  • United Kingdom
  • Europe
  • Other
  • Online (Global reach?)



How long do you wish to use the artwork for?

  • Less than 1 year
  • 1 Year (12 months)
  • 2 years (24 months)
  • 3 years (36 months


We now come to paying the creative/artist for the use of their work. 

Once the answers to the previous questions have been scoped out it will become obvious which License option is the best fit for you. 

Obviously if you wish to use an existing image for one month only, this is going to be at the lower price point compared to an exclusive series licensed for three years.

  • Standard (non-exclusive) License
  • Extended (exclusive) License
  • Royalties
  • Upfront Fee with Royalties


Remains with the originator/creative throughout the process regardless of License type (and regardless whether the artwork has been commissioned specifically for someone else – unless a transfer of copyright has taken place).

That’s right – the Licensing Agreement is all about allowing others to use an artist’s work (the artist is ‘renting’ it out to you to use) – but the Artist RETAINS the copyright – the ownership. That means there has to be an agreement in place outlining exactly what is being ‘rented’ out – and whether this is an exclusive (rental) license or a standard (rental) license and whether this is for personal use or commercial.

In the case of an Extended (exclusive) License, Rights revert back to the creative at the end of the Agreement.

OK, so that’s the basic elements that have to be addressed before proceeding to the actual License type.

Which License is for you?

Standard (non-exclusive) License

What is a Standard (non exclusive) License, how much does it cost and is it for you? Personal use, sole traders or small business

Extended (Exclusive) License

What is an Extended Exclusive License, how much does it cost and is it for you? Corporate, commercial enterprises or global use


Want to know how Royalties work in the publishing industry? If you prefer to pay via a series of Royalties this model could work for your business depending on percentage terms available

Royalties with Advance

You've heard of authors receiving an advance for a book in the works? Here's how it works for creatives who are originating artwork exclusively for publishers or those using a Royalties model.