Licensing Versus Selling Your Designs Outright | Showit Blog





Licensing Versus Selling Your Designs Outright

If you are wanting to sell your designs you’ve probably heard about licensing and outright selling your designs. So what are the differences of licensing your designs versus selling them outright?

Licensing your designs

Licensing your designs is essentially the leasing out of your designs for a client to use under set conditions. You can either choose to license your designs exclusively, which means that for example, if you licensed your design exclusively to women’s wear, you wouldn’t be able to license that same design to another women’s wear designer at the same time. However, if you licensed a design non-exclusively, you would be able to license that design to multiple companies at the same time. When you are licensing your designs it’s really important to contract in place that outlines exactly what the design can be used for, where it can be used, and what the licensing conditions are eg. the length of the license

In terms of the exclusivity, you and your client can decide what the exclusivity clause is e.g. exclusive to a particular country, to a particular category etc. You need to make sure that the contract that you set in place clearly outlines what the design can and can’t be used for so both you and your client understand exactly what is what you’ve agreed upon. You do want to seek legal advice when you’re creating contracts, to make sure that they are compliant and that you have made sure that you have covered yourself.

Selling your designs outright

On the other hand, if you are selling a design outright, you’re essentially selling over all of the Copywrite of that design over to the client so they can then use any part of the design in any way that they like at any time. You no longer have any rights to use any part of that design because you’ve sold the full copyright over to that person.

So essentially the difference between licensing or selling your design outright is that you retain the copyright of your designs when you’re licensing them versus giving away full rights to the design when you’re selling it outright. If you do license your design, once the licensing contract is finished even if it’s an exclusive contract, you’re free to use that design in any way, shape, or form that you want because you retain the copyright.

I know sometimes designers are really reluctant to sell designs outright, but I highly recommend and encourage you to think about being able to do both as it will open up your scope as a designer.

Licensing Versus Selling Your Designs Outright
  1. Marie Mul says:

    Hello Rachel,
    Thank you very much for given a clear difference between licensing and selling the designs. Selling the design gives it more money? And why does it open my scope?
    Thank you for all.
    Kind regardsMarie Mul (Netherlands)

  2. Maureen Dietlin says:

    Well said and clearly explained thank you!

  3. Ariana Martin says:

    Thanks for this post! Could you clarify what the positives might be in selling your designs outright? It seems like licensing would be much more beneficial to the designer? Ariana

    • Pattern and Design says:

      You’re welcome! Some clients will only be interested in purchasing your designs outright so if you’re not open to doing that then you could potentially be limiting your sales

  4. Lauren says:

    I have many designs framed. Collections but all bespoke. I have a BA HONS TEXTILE DEGREE AND HAVE USED ONE 3m piece used in a London show house before having my twins. I am so passionate about my art but a little flustered at selling so really hope you can help me
    Lauren @

    • Pattern and Design says:

      In terms of finding clients to sell your designs the first thing I would recommend doing is knowing where your designs fit in the marketplace e.g which category etc. You then need to think about the clients that fit the sort of your work you create and you can then start contacting those clients. It is a process that will require research and time. One great place to get started with the process is looking at trade shows and their exhibitor list

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