Bridgeman Images is the leading fine art image licensing company with offices in London, New York, Berlin and Paris. They represent artists, museums and collections for image licensing across editorial, product and advertising sectors. Clients include Hallmark, Paperchase, Penguin, BBC, National Trust, Christie’s and a whole range of others.
Recently they launched Bridgeman Studio, managed by Lucy Innes Williams, to serve their commercial clientele. For a fee, artists can post up to 100 images a year, and gain exposure to 10,000 clients world wide. Each artist has an Artist’s Profile page, and links out to his or her own website.
We met Lucy at Surtex. Recently she reached out to ask if we would post about Bridgeman Studio. The Guild Steering Committee came up with interview questions for Lucy, and three of her artists (to appear in the second part of this series).
Q: Bridgeman Images has a vast archive of fine art and photographic images. How did the Bridgeman Studio enterprise grow out of that?
Lucy Innes Williams: Bridgeman Images was founded in the 1970s to represent museums, collections and artists for image licensing to an editorial market. Over the years, the archive has grown to over one million images to encompass advertising, television, product and design markets. We have a fantastic footage collection for licensing and are proud to offer a comprehensive rights-managed service for our in-copyright artists and illustrators.
Over the last few years we have seen great growth in our product sector. This relates specifically to licensing for wall décor, textiles, greetings cards and printed packaging. We have expanded our sales team to reflect this and have developed Bridgeman Studio to enhance our portfolio of imagery for use across this market.
Bridgeman Studio was born out of a desire to really work with a commercially-minded, digitally-savvy generation of studio artists, illustrators and designers. We look for people who are enthused about licensing. They are keen to develop their portfolio and are seeking to monetise their practice by sharing their work through new creative partnerships, exclusive commission opportunities and developing their international presence.
Q: How do you see the relationship growing between Bridgeman Studio, the design/illustrator community, and the clients who license work through the studio?
LIW: We have a personal relationship with every person who joins Bridgeman Studio in addition to having designed an online platform accessible from anywhere in the world. Subscribers can access our customised analytics tool which allows detailed analysis of sales, light-boxed images and most popular page views. This is just one example of the kind of insight we provide illustrators, with a view to helping develop an ever more-popular body of work that we can successfully license for this community. We are actively searching for new illustrators who can produce a portfolio of bold, colourful and on-trend single illustrations, as well as graphic patterns and print-repeats than can be applied to a wide variety of different product usages.
Q: Is there a seasonal trend when clients are most likely to look for certain types of art?
LIW: When it comes to illustrators submitting their images to us, we curate these carefully. At the point of selecting an illustrator to join us, we consider whether we have clients for their work, as well as bearing in mind seasonality, forthcoming trends, as well as where our growing strengths are. We know that certain regions of the world are more conservative or more liberal, and so we will tailor this content accordingly.
In terms of specific seasonal trends for the product sector, the sales team will begin licensing festive imagery months in advance of each holiday season. We license a lot of illustration for Christmas, Hannukah or Easter, but not all of these are overtly religious in tone. Clients come to Bridgeman Studio because they are looking for a new interpretation of a traditional theme.
It’s fascinating to see how broadly an image can be interpreted and quite often, it is an image which conveys a general sentiment such as love, happiness or freedom which will license over and over. If a client can’t find the image they’re looking we can commission new content.
I often ask illustrators to think about their work being used for calendars, which are very popular if they can demonstrate a consistent style of illustration. Twelve or twenty four images to suit each month of the year are enduringly popular!
Q: Some textile design programs are aimed at providing students with the skills to freelance, but don’t encourage individual expression. (For an example of this you can look at my designer profile. As a fairly new designer I can knock out a presentable ikat, or paisley, but am still discovering my personal style.) Would you encourage a designer like myself to submit designs to your site, even as I work toward finding my own style?
LIW: In terms of a developing style, we absolutely encourage illustrators to reflect their own development and taste. Bridgeman Studio doesn’t have a house style and we specifically curate a range of different illustrators’ styles to reflect the diversity of the clients we work with. A subscriber can upload up to 100 images a year and so there is plenty of room for growth and collections of work.
To highlight this, we have recently launched a Student Subscription for Bridgeman Studio. At half the price of a regular subscription, young illustrators are encouraged to join, develop their understanding of licensing and benefit from our 42 years of copyright experience and negotiation on behalf of our members. We’ll take care of the licensing while you continue to create amazing images!
In part 2 of this article we hear from three Bridgeman Studio artists.