Art Licensing For Hand Letterers: How To Make Passive Income From Your Lettering


If you’ve ever wondered about the complexities of licensing, well, you and me both bud!

That’s why I brought in two individuals who have all the answers to your (and my) questions!

Katie Johnson of @katiemadethat and Ilana Griffo of @ilanagriffo are the ladies behind “Art Licensing for Letterers”, a full course that teaches you how to get your art onto products.

Funnily enough, both ladies got into licensing in veryyy similar ways. After starting their own (individual) stationery lines, they were approached by companies and brands looking for freelance art to use.

AKA: Licensing.

Through trial and error both women were able to figure it out, making them the perfect duo for this topic.

Watch the full interview below (or check it out here), and read on for a full recap!



ONE: What even is licensing?

Essentially, licensing is loaning your artwork to companies for use.

Usually, at least in the lettering world, this is for product goods. Think greeting cards, canvas art, tee shirts, prints…the list goes on.

When you create art, you automatically own the right to it. You have the right to decide when/where/how your art is used and you can give someone else permission to use it!

So, how does licensing work? Usually, a little something like this:

  • Company needs art
  • Company finds art (you)
  • Company licenses art
  • Company pays percentage or royalties to artist


TWO: What is a licensing portfolio?

Your licensing portfolio is different than the type of images/artowork you might have on your website!

Your licensing portfolio is sort of like a catalog or menu of available artwork to show potential clients.

Success is whatever you decide



THREE: Mass Market

The type of companies who are usually looking for artwork have the intention of using it for mass market.

Meeeaning, they want artwork that they know will sell.

Keeping up with trends (in terms of quotes, styles and colours) is really important if you want to create art that will appeal to a bigger audience!


FOUR: Pricing

Traditionally, there are a couple of ways you can get paid:

  • Flat fee (paid in one chunk)
  • Royalties (percentage of sales)

Flat Free:

  • Can be a risk (if they sell way more than expected)
  • Less wait for payment


  • Can take a long time to get paid (12-18 months)
  • Big upfront investment for future payoff
  • Requires large time investment at first

There are so many factors in deciding what kind of payment you want to implement and both ladies go over them in the video, so make sure to watch it for those!


FIVE: Agents

Agents will help you book jobs, negotiate contracts and take a load off your shoulders, but keep in mind that having an agent is not the only way and both ladies have worked without agents in the past!

  • Agents will take a HUGE cut of your pay checks
  • You don’t need an agent to get into licensing

Katie and Ilana go over some really important qualities and question to ask when looking for your own agent, so watch the video if you want to snag those!



  • 20% of your income goal should come from licensing
  • If you want to post in your own voice and in your own quirky style, you can still create your artwork for you, just know that they might not get licensed to larger companies.
  • Figured it out what works for you by trial and error
  • Don’t allow for “not having/having” an agent be your validation


The ladies go over WAY MORE details in the video, including a question from me: what to do if someone contacts you (say, on Instagram) and asks if they can use your artwork to be printed (say, on a tee shirt).

So if you want the answer to THAT question (or if I missed anything in my notes), check out the full interview for that!!


Thanks so much Katie and Ilana for helping us all (myself included) know a bit more on the ins and outs of licensing!!

If you want to see more of their work, be sure to give them a follow on Instagram (Katie at @kadiemadethat and Ilana at @ilanagriffo) and check out their course “Art Licensing For Letterers” if you want to learn more about licensing!


Tell me what you thought!