I asked Kimberly Montgomery, owner of Montage Licensing, what she thought of the Surtex and the Licensing Expo shows from her perspective as an agent. I also asked her for some advise that would be of interest to newbies.
Kimberly herself brings the perfect pairing of in-depth licensing experience and fine art expertise to the art licensing industry. "A small-business owner for 20 years and a successful licensed artist, I'm savvy to what manufacturers are seeking for their products and I'm profoundly informed on licensing contract issues and on what constitutes a profitable, beneficial agreement," she says. "After all, I successfully provided just that type of work for literally hundreds of products myself. I was recognized as a 'rising star' in licensing by Greetings magazine." Her popular illustrations adorn hundreds of gift and decorative products nationwide. You will find her delightful designs on greeting cards and stationary, home décor, baby products, teacher's gift items, scrap-booking items and pet accessories.
How was Surtex 2012 compared to other Surtex shows you've attended - what was different and exciting for you as an agent? The 2012 show was one of the busiest and most successful I've seen in a while! And not just for my agency, but for most of the exhibitors. The mood was upbeat, artists were happy and manufacturers were excited and in a decision making mode – which we love to see! It was the second show for Montage Licensing and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. We've already signed a number of great contracts and have many, many more in the works. At times our booth was so busy that my assistant Heather and I had a hard time keeping up with all the requests. It was very exciting!
How was the Expo and what was exciting about it for you as an agent? The Expo is a very different environment than Surtex. Much more character and big property driven with a very small area designated for Art Licensing. Traffic seemed good and the rooms were definitely filled with big hitting decision makers. Personally, the excitement for me came from speaking at the Licensing University. Linda Mariano of LM2 Marketing, Liz Wain, Design Director for Enesco, Rick Barnett, Managing Director for Art Expo and myself spent a lively hour and a half talking about the ins and outs of art licensing.
In your view, how's the current economy influencing art licensing and trade shows? The sentiment in the industry is that things are really picking up. I see more art being licensed and more optimism from manufacturers. On a personal level, I'm cautiously optimistic. My concerns are how the economy is going to fair post-election.
What will you do differently (if anything) for Surtex/Expo next year? We may make some minor tweeks to the booth, but other than that just show up!
Any emerging trends of importance to be mentioned?I keep hearing about pocket watches and peacocks!
Can you offer any advice to new artists about breaking into the industry? Yes. Hire a consultant. This industry has become very competitive and sophisticated for a newcomer to really be able to navigate it alone.
What makes for a great collection? Any advice for what kinds of designs to include? Stick with subject matter that is applicable to the Gift and Paper Products industries and make sure the work is top notch. Design in collections of 4-6 items and always include images for the major holidays. That will increase your chances of getting your work licensed.
What's on the horizon for Montage Licensing? It is my goal to build Montage Licensing into one of the most successful and respected agencies in the business. We'll accomplish this by representing the most talented and hard working artists in the industry, and always being extremely helpful, responsive and fun to work with for our wonderful manufacturing partners. With great art, a great attitude and extreme professionalism, everybody wins!
Anything else you'd like to add? This is an exciting and fun industry filled with great talent and creativity – work doesn't get any better than that!