Thursday, April 10, 2014

To Awaken a Sense of Wonder - Artist Nicole Piar and the Lovely Ink Project

Sometime ago I received an invite to be part of a project called Lovely Ink. The purpose of the project is to uplift, to awaken wonder, and sprinkle inspiration around the world. I thought it was a good mission to contribute to.

Artist Nicole Piar is the soul behind this inspiring project and has been curating its launch and marketing. All in all, we are ten artists, including myself, Nicole, Cori Dantini, Jessica Swift, Dari Design Studio, Rachael Taylor, Anne Waters, Lizzie McKay, Kat Kalindi Cameron, Anne Bollman, Karma Voce, and Victoria Johnson.

Each month you will receive a lovely illustration from one of the above artists including a poetic quote or snippet of wisdom to inspire you. This "Lovely Ink" will come as both desktop wallpaper and as 8″x10″ High Res Printable Art. This month I was the lucky artist being featured on Nicole's blog and you can download my art for free through the end of April.
© Alessandra Colombo - Desktop Wallpaper

I invited Nicole as my guest to tell us more about her own story as an artist and to share her unique and lovely art:

Artist Nicole Piar
The Moon from My Attic: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your art? I grew up in the forests of New Hampshire and spent a lot of time in solitude. My interior world of dreams and imaginings held just as much weight and depth as the "real" world around me. To this day, I lean into the mystery exploring the borderlands between the subconscious and the conscious where stories, characters, and landscapes emerge and I capture an impression of them in paint and ink. Intuition is my trusted guide, meditation – my key, and faith – the door that opens. My mission is to awaken a sense of wonder, to inspire wild flights of fancy, and to build a bridge between my inner world and yours.

TMFMA: What is exciting about your creative work? It is that moment of wild unknown that I dive into each day as I paint and draw. I might have seen a flicker of an image in my mind that I am trying to coax out or maybe all that's there is the blind faith that something will rise forth out of nothing. Either way, when a painting begins to take shape and I am greeted by a new character or flower or world, I feel the absolute thrill and wonder of a child seeing something for the first time. No matter how many times I experience it, it is always pure magic.

TMFMA: Is there a person or thing that has influenced you in your artistic efforts? Wow! Hard to choose one so here is my abbreviated, off-the-cuff list: forests, wild-free dancing, meditation, nature, the vast night sky, dreams, Paul Klee, Salvador Dali, Amy Sol, Dr. Seuss, Alice in Wonderland, Le Petit Prince, Haruki Murakami, Spike Jonze, Edmund Dulac, momiji dolls, fairy tales, and many, many wonderful books.

TMFMA: What project are you currently working on? I am currently developing a new offering called Soul Print. We all have an inner critic that can sometimes cut us down and diminish our view of ourselves. This can be very painful and actually inhibit our ability to fully express ourselves in the world.

A Soul Print can be an antidote to this feeling of self-negation. First you fill out a playful and profound questionnaire with questions like "What animal do you feel most connected to?" or "Is there a place in the world that you have always felt drawn to?" Then, I enter a deep meditative state and seek out the vision of that inner you, your Soul Print, which I will later translate into a painting. This painting will serve as a faithful reminder of your true radiant beauty and unique spirit. As Lou Reed says, "I'll be your mirror reflect what you are when you don't know … I see you."

TMFMA: Tell us of your experience/interest as an art licensing artist. While licensing is relatively new to me, I have 8 years of experience as a freelance illustrator and surface designer in the gift, paper, home decor, publishing, and apparel sectors. A little over a year ago, I started to build a library of art for licensing. I love infusing people's daily lives with magic and play. Licensing allows for this by providing a home for my art on items like pillows, journals, curtains, cards, clothing, and other home products.

TMFMA: Any important tips and tricks you can share or anything else you'd like to share? Spend at least ten minutes every day experimenting and playing within your craft. As anyone with a career in art knows, so much time is spent on projects with a specific goal in mind. It's so nourishing and inspiring to have freeform time where I just start putting paint down, completely open to whatever comes through. I have learned so much about myself and my art through this practice.

TMFMA: What are your future aspirations and goals? I am currently in the midst of creating a picture book. I am completely enamored with the intersection of story-telling and art so this project is very close to my heart. I can't reveal too many details yet but let me just say that the story is magical, mystical, simple, and sweet. I hope my future is filled with stories and art whether it is in the form of children's books or something I can't quite imagine yet.

Find out more about Nicole Piar:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Surtex 2014 and the Total Art Licensing Magazine

As per my earlier post, trade shows are important for artists to attend to develop more and better relationships with manufacturers and other people such as agents, retailers and also other artists.

So promo pieces in prominent art magazines are usually a big part of an exhibitor's marketing strategy. For example, Total Art Licensing is a worldwide magazine for the growing art and design licensing industries. The magazine has been published since 2003 and has become an essential guide for companies looking to take on an art-based license as well as a reference for artists looking for trending information.

The readership has been carefully created to provide art licensors and agents with an audience that not only matches their business needs but also helps them expand and grow their art programs into new territories and sectors. Editorially, each issue includes in-depth features, news, statistics and developments from all art-based sectors including design, fine art, photography and others. You can view their last publication here:

There will be a new one for this upcoming Surtex as the magazine gets published in both print and digital formats and gets distributed to key decision-making buyers, manufacturers and retailers in over 50 countries. If you want to be part of it you must hurry up as the deadline for submission is next week!  

As a note, readers can subscribe to the digital version of the magazine free of charge by completing the form at the back of the digital issue.

My promo piece in the magazine will be this one below ~ from my Natural Wonders collection, an image you've already seen and that you'll be seeing more and more as we approach the show in May. Branding your name and artwork is nowadays another key ingredient of art licensing!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Try Things for Fun - Artist Carol Grace Anderson

In the past few weeks I've had lots of fun getting some of my artwork printed on fabrics through Spoonflower. My watercolors from the collection, Natural Wonders ~ Fiori di Campo, are a new style that I will add to my existing collections to show at Surtex in May.

Some of my colorful patterns are now available through my online shop for fabrics, wallpaper, gift wraps and decals!

Since we are on the subject of textures, florals and watercolors, I thought to also introduce today artist Carol Grace Anderson as my guest. She tells a compelling story about her life and career in the arts and entertainment business which I am going to share with all of you.

Carol's story: "After a career as a teacher, backup singer for Johnny Cash and Roy Clark, a professional speaker, and an author of five books, I realized that my true creative passion was art!

Artist Carol Grace Anderson
During some of my favorite childhood years, we lived in a small village in Upstate New York. That's where I fell in love with rivers, mountains, wild flowers, and trees - all that woodsy stuff that's now reflected in my artwork.

After high school, I went on to college and graduate school to pursue teaching and counseling. I landed a job teaching English and Life Skills in a New York correctional facility. All my students were male felons. It was an interesting job to say the least!

During this time, my sister Mary Beth and I formed an "all-girl" band called Ladysmith and played clubs on weekends while I was still teaching. We started to create our own songs and got a great offer to write songs for a large publishing company in Nashville. We jumped at the opportunity and moved South soon after.

© Carol Grace Anderson
Living in Music City, we were invited to sing back up on several recording projects with Johnny Cash and others. We then landed a touring gig with the legendary guitarist Roy Clark. He was also the host of the long-running variety TV show Hee Haw. That led to shows all over the USA, Russia, and three appearances on THE TONIGHT SHOW with host Johnny Carson. That was a busy and fun ten years!

Along the way, I was invited to speak at a conference. The meeting planner knew about my counseling and teaching background and asked me to do a keynote on staying motivated. It went over well and led to many more speaking engagements and my first book: Get Fired Up Without Burning Out.

To relax after long travel days, I would play with some old paints and dried out brushes. I wished I could take it further but didn't know where to start.

My sister, Mary Beth, had followed her love of art and studied at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film. She became a wonderful and successful artist! She primarily worked in watercolor but later did some amazing pieces in colored pencil also. She inspired me to take my art to a new level. For a special birthday gift, my family gave me a more grown-up paint set. Wow! I was off and running! Along the way, I studied at Plaza Arts Studio in Nashville with Jan Batts, Edie Manning, and Ron Olson.

© Mary Beth Anderson
Sadly, my sister and sweet inspiration became my angel when breast cancer took over. She made her way back to heaven and now inspires me from the other side.

My artwork has a vintage feel with a contemporary twist. It's a blend of textures, images, and natural elements - a refreshing, warm style in today's fast-paced, high-tech world. Can you relate? I like to keep it simple in designing greeting cards and home d├ęcor products. Some have described my work as 'charming and fresh,' 'fun and earthy,' 'warm,' and 'bold yet natural.'

My advice for other artists is to try things for fun. Add elements and different colors here and there and it will help expand your style. But be true to what's right for you. Then ask yourself what art pieces in your collection you are most drawn to. That will help you formulate your individual style that defines you!

© Carol Grace Anderson
Alex also gave me some helpful suggestions. One was to study different articles and blogs about art licensing. In fact, her own blogs have lots of useful info on many, varied topics.

Presently my artwork hangs in residences in New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, New Jersey, Connecticut, Oklahoma and the Tennessee Art League Gallery. Last year, I was honored to be the featured artist on the cover of the Arts Section of The Tennessean. My current goal is to have my work licensed, giving me time to keep growing, evolving and creating!"

Find out more about Carol's work here:

Monday, March 31, 2014

Surtex and the Art & Design Licensing Source Book 2014

The Surtex show is coming up in May and many artists have started to work on their booth designs and marketing campaigns. Every year much excitement builds up around this particular art licensing show where beautiful artwork is shown to busy clients; long lasting friendships are also made among the participants. As part of this evolution other businesses also thrive, like art magazines and similar publications since many artists like to reach out to potential clients through colorful and catchy ads and promotional pieces.

Published in advance of Surtex and mailed to a circulation of nearly 20,000 art licensees and retail contacts, the Art & Design Licensing Source Book features artists and agencies on a global scale. In addition to the printed copies - which are distributed at key events around the globe, the magazine also has a digital reach all year round. You can view the 2013 edition here.

They are working on the 2014 issue now, so if you're interested in making your name or brand known before the show, it's advisable to talk to them about being included in the next publication that will be distributed at Surtex this upcoming May.

This is my own promotional ad for Surtex 2014 that will appear in this magazine; it features the theme of one of my newest collections, called Natural Wonders:

Available from this collection as a free download are a high quality paper print and digital wallpaper starting April 1st through the end of the month. An archival print will also be available soon through Etsy for those who don't have a means to print their own. Go to and sign up for your free art today!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Working with Other Artists - Ink Nest

This post will conclude the series on Artistic Collaborations and Business Partnerships although I will publish similar types of articles on this topic in the future. It has been a fabulous opportunity to meet many artists and I hope to see them in person at Surtex this coming May.

Speaking of art licensing, some of you might be interested in the upcoming Art Licensing Academy by Tara Reed. You can learn a whole lot within a short time, so save your spot here!

This week I am happy to introduce the Ink Nest, which consists of artists Sabina, Iglika, Rhian, Denise, Rachel, Emma, Nicole, Rebekka, and Sarah.

Sabina says, "the Ink Nest was a single artist shop initially. However, it quickly attracted more artists with a similar hand drawn style. The benefits of selling together became obvious to us - attracting attention to the shop collectively with our work and through our personal channels, such as our blogs, social media and personal websites. The traffic to the group shop is higher than to our personal websites and results in better sales. It also makes sense to centralize the technical and customer support in one place and free the individual artists from having to deal with shop maintenance and customer communication."

She then adds that as a group "we motivate and inspire each other to create new graphics. New sets are coordinated according to current trends and customer requests." Some of their members help with the social marketing and updating the blog. "It is really impossible for a single person to maintain such an active shop. Our success is only the result of our group effort," she concludes.

So I asked what's their creative process like: "Each artist in our group has freedom to create the graphics that they want to make and this is one of the benefits of making clip art images," adds Sabina. "The creative process itself is rather independent. Only the initial direction may involve the group. These are established artists with experience and published work. They don't need much direction or help." The final designs go through the approval of the shop manager (Sabina) to make sure the style fits the rest of the products. Sometimes feedback is given to modify the set to make it fit better.

"As a team what helped initially was to agree on a common system for packaging our clip art, explains Sabina. We developed an internal standard which keeps all our files consistent and easy for the customer to use. The customer knows what to expect when they purchase several sets from different artists in our shop. All sets have the same technical specifications and quality."

Rhian added, "I enjoy the different creative aspects of each artist. Working with other artists exposes me to different styles and design approaches and as a result it enhances my knowledge of art. Each artist at the Ink Nest has her own style and uses different tools and methods to approach her design projects. The results are original designs even though we sometimes start with the same subject."

She also enjoys the sense of community and feeling more connected to the design and art world, she says. "Sharing and discussing projects with other artists motivates me to be a better artist. It's also good to know that I am not the only one that faces challenges as a freelance designer and that I am likely doing the right things for my business since other artists are following the same methods I use to run mine."

Nicole then adds, "definitely there's a motivation to be awesome. When our group is doing such great work and producing quirky and cute and useful sets it actually makes me feel more creative myself. There's so much talent in our group that it can't help but motivate us to be our coolest."

They use Google Groups for their internal group messages. They also recently opened a Facebook group. Email is their main channel of communication to keep connected.

The advantage in working together, says Rachel, is "being in a group full of artists I admire, which is a huge motivation. I want my work to be as strong as the others in the shop. We are also able to be cheerleaders for each other and it is so fun to see the other ladies succeed in their personal work. Working as a freelancer can be quite lonely but being part of a group is great for bouncing ideas around and learning from each other. We can also discuss problems in our business lives that our families may not want to hear about constantly!"

I wanted to know what excites them to work together. Denise says "being in a group like this is very motivating. It's exciting to see new work we create. And it's really exciting to see how much The Ink Nest has grown and how each of us has grown because of it."

Rhian added, "working with other artists is very inspiring! Every one of us has her own unique style, it is always fun to see how each member of the team interprets design trends and ideas and comes up with her own unique set of graphics."

I have been getting emails from other artists who have been learning more about this topic of collaborative teams and partnerships after reading the recent articles and interviews so any suggestions or tips for starting up a group was my final question for this lovely team.

Sabina said, "working together can be very powerful. My advice to other artists is to be curious about people online. Take the opportunity to network offline and online. You can meet very interesting people and if you show interest they will often respond back. Send them a message, comment on their blog, make a connection. They are much more willing to start a project with you or help you if they know you already."

Find out more about Ink Nest: