Licensing for a flat fee or royalties: how to purchase surface patterns

Jessica Jones surface pattern licensing

For clients interested in using surface patterns on products, a licensing agreement is what grants you permission to use a designer’s artwork. (By default, the copyright for artwork belongs to its creator unless they’ve signed it over to you.) 

If you’re a wholesaler or manufacturer who regularly works with designers, you likely have a standard contract to use as a starting point. If you’re new to art licensing, here’s a quick overview.

There are three typical payment arrangements for surface pattern design work: 

A one-time, flat fee (no matter how many products bearing the design are sold, the purchase price is set)

Royalties (a percentage of your sales)

An advance against royalties (an amount paid up front that’s smaller than a flat fee would be, with additional royalty payments kicking in after that amount is reached)

Jessica Jones surface pattern design licensing
Midcentury retro fabric design

Items in a standard licensing contract:

Royalties

The percentage of sales the artist will receive, and when accounting reports will be due to the artist.

Exclusivity

Whether the surface patterns can be licensed to others, and in which markets.

Length of time

How long the products bearing the patterns can be sold.

Geography

The countries or territories in which the products be sold.

Promotion

Whether the artist’s name is on the product, or only the manufacturer’s.

Liabilities

The party held responsible if the end customer sues because of a faulty product.

Looking for surface patterns to put on your products? I have designs you might like.

Custom surface pattern development

If one of my existing patterns isn’t just right, I can create a custom print or collection for you. How it works: You describe your needs and provide inspiration images. I’ll make a set of pattern options. Typically I mock them up on your product so we can see what they’d look like in reality. You pick your favorite(s). We’ll make refinements and perhaps create companion prints if needed to flesh out a collection. Depending on the licensing and pricing model we’ve agreed to, payment will either be a flat fee, royalty model, or advance against future royalties.

Surface pattern licensing for pet products

Pet accessories with surface design by Jessica Jones

Who buys surface patterns?

Beautiful surface pattern designs can make fashion, home furnishings, cookware, paper products, and environments even more appealing to customers. Maybe you’re opening a boutique hotel, bed & breakfast, salon, restaurant, or retail store, and you need a custom print for furniture, curtains, or bedding in your space. Maybe you’re an interior designer working on a residential or commercial project that requires custom wallpaper. Or maybe you’re a print buyer or creative director on the hunt for fresh patterns to license for use on fabrics, apparel, accessories, stationery, kitchen products, or home goods. 

The perfect pattern can make your product or environment sing.