Monday, August 13, 2012

Flexibility in Art Licensing - Artist Victoria Hutto

Licensing might not be the only source of income for an artist. The common tendency is to diversify. In fact many artists sell their art directly, through art galleries, online shops, and other art venues; some of them manufacture their own products as well. There are as many possibilities and opportunities as there are art styles. And to keep fresh and relevant in the industry it's key to understand what the markets need and want.

Our guest artist this week is a great example of how to be flexible and get your art on different products.


© Victoria Hutto - Just Be Free

The Moon from My Attic: Can you tell us about yourself and your art? My name is Victoria Hutto and I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Like many artists, I can't remember a time where I didn't like to draw. My earliest memory is doodling Snoopy in the borders of my math book in middle school. I would love to have seen the expression of the next student who received my old math book.

When I was attending the University of California, Davis, I took a couple of art and design classes which confirmed my love for art. From there I transferred to the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland. It is currently known as the California College of the Arts. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. When I finished my degree, I went to work for Curtis Swann, a greeting card company in San Francisco and then from there I went to work for Sanrio, the creator of licensing great, Hello Kitty.

© Victoria Hutto - Jsut Be Kind 
I took a break from the gift market for several years and experimented with different mediums, such as designing a line of jewelry and developing a line of gourd art. When living in Dallas, my husband came across an ad for a designer for Jeanmarie Creations, a gift bag company in Oklahoma. I was not really looking for a job but sent some of my old greeting card samples. I was pleasantly surprised when they wanted to hire me. My thought was to stay long enough to learn how to use a computer. I had no idea I would end up staying there for 14 years.

TMFMA: What is exciting about your creative work? I love all forms of art. Since I make my living as a licensed artist, I found it advantageous to work digitally. But I also like working with three dimensional objects. The thought of creating something from "nothing" is very exciting to me. To be able to take a blank canvas, a document, a sheet of paper, even a gourd, and create something that sparks a smile or a conversation inspires me.

© Victoria Hutto - Fabrics
TMFMA: Is there a person or thing that has influenced you in your artistic efforts? What inspires you? When I was going to art school, I cherished my book on Maxfield Parrish. I love his use of color; the way he used color in his shadows and light. Color has continued to be an important aspect of my work. I am intrigued with the idea that art can bring a smile to someone's face. I found this in Mary Engelbreit's work. I enjoyed the playfulness in her art and I loved all the different type of products it appeared on. Looking a back now, I feel she was my first introduction to licensing. I remember wondering "how do I do that?"

TMFMA: What project are you currently working on? I just finished my first children's book, "12 Days of Christmas in Oklahoma," that will be coming out in October. And now I am currently working on a new series of designs. I like working on fun, bright whimsical designs, but I am always evolving. My new art style is a little different and recently debuted with Gango Edition - I think I might continue to develop this style.

© Victoria Hutto - Let It Snowmen
TMFMA: Tell us of your experience as an art licensing artist. I celebrated my first year as a full time licensing artist in June. I signed on with one of the top licensing agents, Suzanne Cruise. I told her that my dream is to have my artwork on everything that it could possibly apply on. She has done just that for me. I mostly started with two dimensional products, such as greeting cards, floor mats, flags, paper partyware etc., but I have grown to enjoy the aspects of developing products. My art has appeared on centerpieces, glass plates, ornaments, stocking holders, etc. You can see my work and products on my website.

© Victoria Hutto
TMFMA: Any important tips and tricks you can share or anything else you'd like to share? I work primarily digitally. I feel that this enables me to make the color changes and/or revisions quickly. Licensing is a tough business and I think the most important thing I have learned this year is to stay flexible. I had worked in the gift industry for over 20 years before I decided to license my work. Manufacturers have a need to fill. If you are willing to work with them to fill that need, it will help to build relationships. A good relationship with the client is very important in any business.

TMFMA: What are your future aspirations and goals? I would like to continue to evolve as an artist. I want to experiment with different mediums and combine them with my digital skills. I think this will keep my work fresh.
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