Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pursuing A Dream into Licensing - Cute and Colorful Characters from Softpencil Studios

So many exciting things are happening in my design studio! I've been hand painting non-stop and have now gotten a fair amount of work done that will be uploaded soon into digital format and will get manipulated to form my eight basic collections :-) - I've also been reading Licensing Art 101 by Michael Woodword again, a well written publication that offers practical exercises toward the end of each chapter. This week's homework consisted in Michael's suggested tip to go through specific successful licensing artist websites and read up about their work, in addition to other very useful tips and tricks suggested by his action plan section – I love practical work when I am learning something from a book or article! Very useful.

But considering how much work is head of me... is really there hope for us newbies? The answer is absolutely Yes! Here's a very practical interview for you with emerging artist Elizabeth Pujalka, from Argentina. She recently scored, all on her own, three licensing deals, two in the US and one in her own country. Here she shares with us how she did it!

© - colored pencil art by Elizabeth Pujalka
The Moon from My Attic: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your art? Hello everyone and thank you Alex for this interview! My name is Elizabeth Pujalka and I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I'm the illustrator and designer behind Softpencil Studios and the creator of the Tinytwinies™, a new brand which features eight cute and colourful characters.
 
TMFMA: What is exciting about your creative work? Everything! I love creating and designing! My work allows me to stay connected with the whole world, play with creative ideas every day, show who I am and that's priceless for me. Every step in my career is a new challenge and that inspires me to go beyond. I started as a fine artist working mainly in colored pencils and now I'm designing whimsical images and cute characters in digital format. You never know where your art is going to lead you! That was an exciting and long path and I've enjoyed every stage.

TMFMA: Is there a person or thing that has influenced you in your artistic efforts? What inspires you? Well… that's an eclectic list! Music, sunny days, an image, nature, flowers, Spring, my sweet cat, my family and many artists of all times and styles inspire me.

TMFMA: Tell us of your experience as an art licensing artist. I found about licensing around two years ago. Since then I've read a lot on blogs, websites, groups, forums and I got excited about growing this way. I was struggling between art licensing and character/brand licensing and finally have decided to take the second option. At that moment I was designing digital stamps for card making so I had some characters designed. I only had to create a background story for them, give them names and improve the way they looked. So my brand, Tinytwinies™, bringing joy and lots of smiles was born and launched the last March. It's only five months old, but I'm happy to say that I've already signed three licensing deals! Two of them in the U.S. and the other one in Argentina. Rubber stamps for card making and scrapbooking were released through The Angel Company this past June and next month, E.A.D. Designs will launch a line of stickers, rub-ons and wall decals featuring the Tinytwinies™. Also I'm working on new designs for my Argentinian licensee and discussing other deals.

TMFMA: How did you "match" your artwork style to the right manufacturers? I have been researching, and still am, to find the right manufacturers mainly on the Internet and especially through LinkedIn. It takes much work and time but it's worth it. The Internet is a window to the world and there are plenty of very useful information and resources. I've always been a self-taught person so I enjoy doing my own searching and analysis – since I'm a curious and friendly girl it's not difficult for me contacting people or investigating about the things I want to know, it comes to me naturally.

The Internet is a wide net as you all know, so sometimes while I'm reading a blog about home decor or about recipes or fashion I see a banner or a link that catches my attention, so I click on it. That could lead me to a company website who sells or produces a product where my art could fit. Or maybe on that website I find other interesting links so I jump from one site to the other.  You can also search for a product or a product category (as clothing, homeware, etc.) and then visit the sites you find. If they work with licensed artists, they often have submission guidelines that you can follow to contact them. As I've said, it takes time but I think it's a good way to find the right manufacturers.

On LinkedIn I've joined several groups about art and brand licensing and I read all the discussions there. Sometimes manufacturers or art directors are looking for new art or they reply to questions posted by other group members. Visit their profiles and send them an invitation to get connected. Then, when they accept your invite, send a short introduction. If they are interested in your art, they will contact you.

A tip: contact the “right” manufacturers. If you're a fine artist who paints landscapes don't contact a manufacturer who licenses kawaii characters! There won't be a deal there! (LOL)

TMFMA: Do you have an agent or do you work by yourself? I don't have an agent now but I would like to get one soon. I'm working on the style-guides and re-designing my website so, when that's ready, I'll be looking for an agent to work with me.

TMFMA: Have you done any major trade show like the Atlanta Gift show, Surtex, or the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas? I haven't visited trade shows yet but I would love to do it. I've read every report and article about them. I'm so far from the major show locations, so I prefer to focus on improving and growing my brand before visiting those shows. But they're definitely in my list of things-to-do!

TMFMA: 
Any important tips and tricks you can share or anything else you'd like to share? I suggest that you search and research a lot through the Internet, especially about the legal and business side of licensing. Visit trade shows if you're near and consult an IP attorney to help you to register your copyrights and trademarks and to review contracts. And draw, paint and design every day to improve your skills and develop your style… and to have fun!
 
TMFMA: What would be your most fundamental advice to new aspiring licensing artists? It is not easy to enter the licensing world but if you're sure that it is what you want, go ahead! Don't be afraid! And as I've already said, search, research, learn new things and improve your skills. Never be discouraged if a manufacturer/licensee says no. Only ask them why. Maybe your art isn't the kind of art they need at that moment or you have to adjust some things. I still have to work hard and learn many more things but that's what I love, so I'm willing and happy to do it!
 
TMFMA: What are your future aspirations and goals? They're so big as to see my characters on a wide range of products for kids and teens and even in animation series around the world. That's my dream and I'm a resolute girl so I'm working hard to achieve it!

Thank you very much Alex for this interview! And thanks everyone for reading!

You can contact Elizabeth by e-mail at elizabethpujalka@hotmail.com or through LinkedIn. You can also visit her website softpencilstudio, and find her on Facebook.
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