Thursday, July 25, 2013

An Art Licensing True Story - Artist Rebecca Baer

What a great summer so far! I've had so many inspiring outdoor activities, new projects and fun get-togethers with old friends.

I have been busy working on new collections in between holiday-themed art submissions and on-going follow-ups with companies interested in licensing my work. As I learn more about Adobe Illustrator for my in-progress and up-coming fabric collections, I am exploring a new passion for hand painting on linen!

As a result, I have been less and less on social media but I figured that by the end of summer the web will again be my good friend.

And speaking of friends, some time ago I invited artist Rebecca Baer to share with us her story, which I thought was quite interesting and full of good tips.

Rebecca says: "I've been a professional designer for quite a few years so I'll try to hit only a few highlights. A lifelong passion for all things creative has afforded me many opportunities to share my skills with other artistic souls.

I've been able to facilitate the creative expression of others in a variety of ways, as the author of books, videos, countless magazine articles in U.S. and Japanese publications, a magazine feature column, hundreds of step-by-step painting tutorials and as a contributor to the "Japanese Painting Curriculum Course" book. As an instructor I've had the pleasure of sharing my skills both nationally and  overseas. And through collaboration and independent product development I have enjoyed enabling others to express themselves using the fruits of my labor. Each of these experiences have in turn nurtured my growth."

It gives Rebecca great joy to be able to share her work with others, she continues - "I have the honor of having my work accepted into the permanent collection of The National Museum of Decorative Painting in Atlanta, GA as well as being featured in the 'Artists of the World' exhibition in Tokyo, Japan."

In the course of her painting career she has seen the maturation of the DIY painting market and she felt compelled to seek new challenges. Rebecca turned to art licensing in 2008.

Her husband's full-time participation in their business has allowed her to focus on the creative direction of their company while he handles the day-to-day business of the corporation. She adds: "Although I have found a new passion in art licensing we maintain a successful e-commerce business for the DIY painting market as well as a retail store."

How would she describe her art and style? Rebecca tells us: "Having an eye for design and an innate sense of color harmony my art takes two divergent paths. Both are sophisticated while one, Rebecca Baer®, follows a more traditional vein and the other, Whimsies & Wishes™ is delightfully whimsical.

Collections created for my Rebecca Baer® brand typically originate with a hand painted element such as a series of flowers or herbs. To this I add borders, backgrounds and textures which are also hand painted or drawn. I then arrange these elements into the formats necessary for licensing."

"Art created for my Whimsies & Wishes™ brand is primarily icon driven. Each of these collections begins with a group of stylized yet recognizable silhouettes. Borders and patterns created for these collections are often more graphic in nature rather than hand painting, providing the ideal contrast to my traditional collections," she concludes.

Rebecca's designs combine a sense of sophistication, elegance, and harmony, yet have a practical, comfortable quality to them. They may begin with a traditional style but are always highlighted with her own unique interpretation which makes them stand out from the commonplace and are as easily at home in a traditional setting as in a contemporary one.

She explains more about her techniques: "Always mindful of the need for layered files my most often used tools are my scanner and Photoshop. I paint or draw each element, then scan, manipulate, and arrange them into pleasing compositions to create coordinating collections. This allows me to retain the essence of hand-painted artwork while generating the digital files preferred for licensing."

So what's exciting about her creative work, we finally ask? "Engaging others with art is a joy unto itself but the most gratifying moment comes after creating a collection and sending it out to carefully selected manufacturers. Receiving an immediate response requesting to license the artwork serves to confirm you've hit the mark - I love that moment!" Then she says: "Although it is uncommon for a creative-minded person, I also enjoy the business aspects of art as a profession. I find marketing and connecting with the consumer fascinating. When working with manufacturers I make it a point to understand their business as best I can. In doing so I feel I can better meet their needs."

As for inspiration, Rebecca believes we are surrounded by inspiration and need only to recognize it. "I look beyond the obvious like flowers to the oft overlooked elements. A pile of rocks can reveal beautiful shapes and hues that become fodder for a background treatment or a tone-on-tone color palette. As a designer I have always believed that it is imperative to possess my own style in order to secure both credibility and lasting success. With that in mind I study elements that make up larger objects. For example, in a crumpled piece of paper I look for shapes, shadows and lights or perhaps objects that seem to take form within the larger object. Not only does this practice provide me with unique and ever-changing inspiration I am also able to avoid being unduly influenced by all of the wonderful art created by my peers."

Any new exciting projects? "I find that I really enjoy creating the repeat patterns for my quilt fabrics. It is like solving a puzzle. Oddly enough, though, I've never been a fan of doing puzzles."

Tell us more about your licensing journey: "My journey in art licensing began when an agency contacted me asking if I would be interested in representation. I was with that agency for four years. At the end of 2012 I made the decision to strike out on my own, independent of the agency that had represented me up to that point. Of course, when considering such a major change you always wonder if you are making the right move. I am now in my third quarter of self representation and loving it! The one-to-one interaction and responsiveness is very rewarding. I recognize that going it alone is not for everyone but, as an independent business owner, I felt once-removed with an agent as the go-between."

Rebecca then continues saying: "I have seen my work evolve since entering the field of art licensing. I've discovered a new creative freedom in work that is not intended to be disseminated via tutorials or other educational channels. In turn, this freedom reflects back into the materials that I continue to create for the DIY painting market."

It may all begin with paint and a brush but technology demands that a successful licensing artist be proficient with a computer as well, she advises. "Friends and colleagues who began the journey before me shared their experiences of hand painting all of the art for a collection. When others who are looking at the prospect of a career in art licensing ask me for my thoughts I focus on the importance of developing or refining their computer skills in order to create layered files so often requested by manufacturers."

None of us can know what the future may hold, Rebecca says; being relatively new to art licensing, her main focus is to learn as much as possible as she grows her presence in this specialized and competitive arena. "As I gain experience I would like to share the lessons learned with others entering the field and perhaps facilitate their journey into art licensing."

Find out more about Rebecca here:

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