Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Surtex 2011 - Exhibiting Artist Nikole Batista


As mentioned in my previous editorial on Surtex/NSS and LIMA shows, I will be publishing a series of exclusive interviews with emerging and established artists whom I met at Surtex 2011. 



With a fresh and exciting view of art licensing, let's welcome new exhibiting Surtex artist Nikole Batista from NYC!


Artist Nikole Batista
The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself.  Hi!  My name is Nikole Batista.  I am a textile designer in NYC and I just recently launched my own line of surface designs and illustrations for licensing.  Feel free to visit my website and blog.

TMFMA: What's exciting about your creative work? The most rewarding part of what I do is actually seeing someone wearing one of my designs and/or using a product with my artwork.  The second best thing is seeing it in stores!

TMFMA: What's your favorite medium or tool/s you create with? I love to draw with crayons and markers – it makes me feel like a kid all over again.  I also love to play with tissue paper, glazing and collage as a way to explore texture.
© Nikole Batista
TMFMA: Who or what has inspired you in your art? I used to work in a restaurant that covered their tables with butcher paper so that kids could draw on them while waiting for their food.  I have a whole bin at home of my favorites – I think it’s the best place to go when I’m feeling stuck. 

I also love the work of Eric Carle.  I love the techniques that he developed and the simplicity with which he employs them. 

TMFMA: Did you do any art licensing prior to you exhibiting at Surtex 2011?  In the year leading up to Surtex 2011, I started to build a relationship with and create artwork for Stupell Industries, a supplier of handcrafted decorative accessories based in Rhode Island.  Some of those pieces are now actually on sale in Home Goods! Working with a single, quality supplier while prepping for Surtex was a nice entry point into the world of licensing.

TMFMA: What brought you to exhibit for the first time at Surtex 2011? I first learned about licensing in early 2010 while freelancing.  Right away, I was attracted to licensing as an artist trying to figure out how to do what I love to do and still make a decent living.  After researching how licensing works and looking at what kind of art was out there already, I thought, "I can totally do that..."

TMFMA: What were your expectations for this show?  Trade shows are definitely not about signing contracts.  I went with the intentions of establishing my presence within the licensing community, and introducing myself to manufacturers, suppliers and other artists at the show.  I met so many wonderful people! It’s important to be patient while starting out in licensing, so my focus was on presenting myself and my work as professionally as possible.

© Nikole Batista
TMFMA: What did you do to prepare for the show e.g. did you do pre-show seminars, trade magazine reading, blog reading, other?  I did a ton of research to prep for Surtex – I read whatever I could get my eyes on!

In addition to participating in as many free webinars as my schedule allowed, I read Licensing Art 101, by Michael Woodward to learn about the industry and general business practices.  I purchased e-books from Tara Reed and Khristian A. HowellBoth are successful, licensed artists and veterans of Surtex.  Holli Conger also wrote some really helpful blog posts about exhibiting.

The key is to find what has worked for people in the past, and to do it again in your own way.


TMFMA: What's the average time to prepare a full collection and how many did you create for the Surtex show 2011? It depends entirely on the kind of work that you plan to show at Surtex.  It took me a full 8 months to prepare enough, and even then I wanted more time.

Numbers don’t matter, but the quality of your work does – especially if it’s your first show.  Chances are you won’t have a lot of manufacturers flipping through portfolios of your stuff.  Instead, focus on having enough work to build a solid booth presentation, something that communicates clearly what you’re all about as an artist and to really show off your strong points.

TMFMA: How would you describe this first experience with an art licensing show? It was an incredible accomplishment both professionally and creatively.  It was worth every penny and sleepless night.


© Nikole Batista


TMFMA: Please give your analysis of the market based on your own experience and that of any other artists you met at the show. I prefer to look at the marketplace as a space for collaboration and innovation, not necessarily competition.  There is plenty of room for new artists – especially if you have a unique perspective.

TMFMA: At Surtex an artist can both sell and seek art license opportunities.  How do you decide what to sell and what to license?  This is something I am still learning!  I think it has a lot to do with the type of product you want your art to be on in the end.  For example, if you are interested in creating apparel designs, you will most definitely be selling artwork rather than licensing it.  It’s just how the industry is set up.  But if you’re thinking stationary, or home goods, licensing is the place to go.  

TMFMA: In your view, what was of major interest to manufacturers this year? Every manufacturer is different – it depends entirely on their product, brand and who their buyers are.  It would be difficult and inaccurate to make a blanket statement about the direction of licensing overall. They were definitely looking for fresh work, though!

TMFMA: What advice would you give other artists that are considering the art licensing field and that want to exhibit in a show like Surtex? Research, research, research...and then commit to it.  Surtex is not something you should go half-way on. 

TMFMA: Any other useful info that you'd like to share about Surtex/art licensing?
Ask for help.  I recommend having at least one other person in your booth with you, so that there's always someone present.

Exhibiting at the booth is really only half of the work, too.  Be prepared to organize the contacts that you make during the show and follow up!

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