Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bold, Whimsical and Colorful Designs - Interview with Creative Director Mary Beth Freet

© 2012 Alex Colombo
The last couple of weeks have been so fun and busy but also full of nice but unexpected turns of events ... I am now represented by Montage Licensing, a wonderful licensing agency owned by long-term successul licensing artist Kimberly Montgomery – I always planned to represent myself but this great deal came about and I am happy to have signed up with her!

Additionally, I finished my new website, which is now up and running; if you wish to take a peek you can find it here, at AlexColombo.com. It is just about the perfect time to have one to display my first set of everyday/florals and holidays collections! More coming soon...!

And in tune with the world of art licensing, agents, artists and inspirational designs, here is a fun and full-of-good news interview with Mary Beth Freet.

Artist & Creative Director
Mary Beth Freet
The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself - Hello, my name is Mary Beth Freet and I am the Creative Director of Pink Light Design, DBA Pink Chandelier. You can see our current products that are licensed on our blog.

TMFMA: Can you please tell us your story in art licensing? I began my journey in art licensing when I first exhibited at Surtex in 2009. It was an amazing experience! My goal was to become the next Lilla Rogers Studio! I had walked Surtex the year before and was so blown away by their artist's designs and I wanted to do something similar. In December of 2008 I started Pink Light and work diligently for the next five months to be ready to showcase my designs at Surtex in May. 

I went with the intention of learning as I went and I took every opportunity to learn from experience, my clients, and my peers. In the past few years PInk Light has grown quickly and I now represent over 12 artists from around the world. Pink Light's style is bold, graphic, whimsical, and colorful. In 2010 I launched "Pink Chandelier" which is a more sophisticated take on our fun designs. 

© Pink Light Design
TMFMA: As a designer, what are the challenges in this current market? How do you meet them? The challenges from my perspective is finding great artists who have time to really create great pieces throughout the year.

Also, patience is very important in the licensing world. It can sometimes be a year or so before a design will be chosen. But if you have patience, it can definitely be worth it. 

TMFMA: As an art licensing agent, how do you find a new artist? Do you go by referrals or do you go through websites, portfolios, blogs or on-line shops? Or do prefer to meet them in person at licensing shows? What do you look for?
© Pink Light Desi
I find most of my artists through the print and pattern blog. I typically will do a call for designs and then I go through all of them to find artists who will fit our style. Furthermore, I look for artists who have a large portfolio of great designs. This can be a difficult process because an artist may have one or two really great pieces and it's hard to really get a feeling for their depth and talent.

I also look for artists who have experience in the mass market because in the licensing business it is important that the artwork be sellable across a wide range of products and age ranges. I find that artists who do have this "mass market" experience, those who have worked in-house for retailers, understand the process and design needs and are much more successful in designing collections and understanding client requests for custom work. 

© Pink Light Design
TMFMA: Do you employ POD (Print on Demand) or other online sites to license your art or do you only work with traditional manufacturers? I aim to work mostly with traditional manufacturers at this point. 

TMFMA: What's you view of the current market and trends? I feel like the current market is great. I started my business in what others viewed as a "down economy" but I don't share this point of view. I believe that you can do anything that you set your mind to, regardless of what others prefer to believe. Therefore, the market is always full of possibilities. There are always people who will need great designs and as long as you can offer a service that will bring your clients success, it's a win-win situation. 

© Pink Light Design
Regarding trends, the biggest thing that I am seeing now is that people want an experience and an overall "feeling" with their designs. In the same way that customers love a unique store experience or a great vacation, or the feel of a beautiful fabric or textured paper, they want that same feeling with their designs. Create artwork that will take them away, if just for a moment. 

TMFMA: How do you see the future of licensing? With just a few years in, I see it as a personal learning experience. The great thing about licensing is that there really are no rules. At the same time, artists need to educate themselves and understand their value in order to be really successful in the licensing business. Artists need to offer something fresh and new that manufacturers cannot get from an in-house artists or purchase outright at a trade show. Therefore, it can be a challenging task but well worth the effort and journey if you bring your passion for art and business with you! 

© Pink Light Design
TMFMA: Can you share your current design projects? We have so many designs that are out there right now. Take a look at our blog to see some of our artist's work. Our fabrics can be found through Robert Kaufman. We have stationery products launching at Target in March and April and will be available year round. These are under the Pink Chandelier brand and they are AMAZING!! Stay tuned for more info.

We have designs licensed with Design Design that are in Papyrus stores. We have scrapbook artwork with Studio G for Valentines Day that will be available at Walmart Stores. We have cell phone cases through Uncommon that are in Apple Stores worldwide. We had many gift bags and gift boxes in Target for the holidays just to name a few. 

© Pink Light Design
TMFMA: What are some of your upcoming licensing projects? We work with numerous manufacturers and are continually meeting new clients at trade shows. We will show at The Licensing Expo in Las Vegas in June for the first time and plan to move into more character licensing in the next year.

Off the top of my head...in 2012...Angela Nickeas has folders and notebooks coming out for Back to School product with Class Act. Diana Skylacos has a paper tableware collection launching with Design Design. Lucy Sturgess, Jen Da Silva and Angela Brumby have fabric collections launching with Studio e fabrics. Mary Beth Freet has notebooks, folders, binders launching with Class Act to be in Target and Walmart stores. Nina Seven has a scrapbook collection with Momenta, paper tableware with Unique Industries, and fabric with Robert Kaufman. Elizabeth Caldwell has a fabric collection with Robert Kaufman. Jane Dixon and Mary Beth Freet have planners to be launched with Andrews McMeel. 

© Pink Light Design
Various artists have greeting cards licensed with Design Design. Jennifer Cepeda has a scrapbooking collection to launch with Momenta. Elizabeth Caldwell and Jen Da Silva have wall decals that will launch with Roommates Peel and Stick. Jen Da Silva, Angela Nickeas and Mary Beth Freet have wall art that will launch with Oopsy Daisy. Mary Beth Freet has a fabric collection that will launch with Robert Kaufman. It will be a FUN YEAR!!!! 

TMFMA: What advice can you give to new artists to help them learn and do art licensing? Don't be afraid to ask questions. People are always willing to help. Have a big portfolio. You cannot expect to keep sending out the same designs and get them picked up. Clients want fresh, fresh, fresh, new, new, new. Take classes and learn as you go. Get experience working with buyers in some capacity. This will help you understand the process. Oftentimes, decisions are made that have little to do with your artwork. Buyers have to take so many things into consideration. Understanding WHAT they are looking for and what other factors they have to consider will 100% make a difference in what you bring to the market. Make mistakes and learn from them. Most of all, follow your heart and have fun! 

Your comments are welcome. 

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