A couple of months ago I was doing my usual market research and I happened to walk into a fancy stationery shop in Menlo Park, California, where I noticed some colorful paper products beautifully displayed on some shelves. The style looked very familiar so I picked them up and immediately recognized the logo and name: Josephine Kimberling! Her shapes and colors are different from many others artists; they are unique and sophisticated.
I thought that she would be so fun and inspirational to have as our guest here on The Moon from My Attic. She graciously accepted even though she is super busy!
|Artist Josephine Kimberling|
The Moon from My Attic: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your art? Yes, definitely! I spent 10 years working as a textile designer and color and print trend forecaster at Nordstrom, and through the years held roles of increasing responsibility up to managing their print studio. In between those 10 years, I worked at Hallmark Cards as a graphic designer for 2 years for their stationery and gift wrap lines. In 2008 I signed my first licensing deal with Robert Kaufman fabrics and slowly built my licensing business on the side and learned about the industry while working full-time.
I have always wanted to work for myself, so with 12 years of corporate experience under my belt I felt I had a good understanding of the industry and how to create commercial artwork, so in 2011 I left Nordstrom to work for myself full-time.
My artwork always begins with a sketch as I need to flesh out my ideas. I then either hand-draw or hand-paint my artwork and finish it digitally or create strictly digital work from my sketch. I specialize in creating modern-meets-vintage everyday surface pattern designs, with unique pattern mixing and on-trend color palettes for the feminine customer.
TMFMA: What is exciting about your creative work? After working in-house for many years and needing to flex my style to include a wide range of techniques and looks for a variety of customers, the most exciting thing for me is being able to create artwork in my own style and to see companies and consumers respond to it. I also very much enjoy the trend research process and putting together mood-boards and themes for me to create from.
TMFMA: Is there a person or thing that has influenced you in your artistic efforts? What inspires you? Since college, I've known that I wanted to work for myself; I just didn't know what it would look like or how I would make that happen. At first I thought I would have my own stationery line, but after printing 6,000 cards I realized that I was in way over my head and it sucked the passion out of me to think about finding a rep, investing loads of money, and everything else that needs to be done to be successful. Then I thought I'd do wedding invitations, as I was doing them left and right for friends; until I met a bridezilla and realized I didn't have the temperament for dealing with them nor did I want my days to be spent in frustrating stress. Thankfully I did all of this discovery work while still working full-time!
As I was building my career and working in-house, I was really inspired by seeing people like Amy Butler, Anahata Katkin, Catalina Estrada, Hanna Werning and other various illustrators and fabric designers getting work for their artistic style. It was then that I discovered licensing and it just clicked for me. My main passion has always been pattern and art and I absolutely love it on everything imaginable! When I realized that it was possible to create artwork and license it to a variety of companies for a variety of different product categories, I knew that was the avenue I needed to pursue. I am very inspired by so many things – fashion runways play a big part in my inspiration process, as does shopping and textiles.
I love vintage textile books as well as current books based on whatever new interest or idea I'm into at the time – be it creative or business focused. I'm inspired by learning a new artistic technique or getting a unique creative brief from a client. Pinterest can get me going for hours. Talking with my husband or a friend and getting their perspective really inspires me in new ways too. Just being present to life and soaking up all that is in your path (and to go off the beaten path) is a great way to stay fresh.
TMFMA: What project/s are you currently working on? In addition to doing commission work for clients, I am working away on adding new artwork to my portfolio. For the past few months I've been taking Lilla Rogers' class "Make Art That Sells" as well as Mati Rose's class "Daring Adventures in Paint." I also was a part of Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. These classes have allowed me to dig deep and give myself permission to take the time to try new techniques and create fresh, exciting work.
TMFMA: Tell us of your experience as an art licensing artist. I've really enjoyed being a licensing artist and working with a variety of companies. It's very rewarding to finally, after 12 years of dreaming and searching for the right path, feel like I'm heading in the right direction. It's been exciting to be at the helm and work on building my own business – to be constantly learning and developing both in my business and creatively. There's so much to learn that it keeps me on my toes and keeps me very interested and invested, which I truly enjoy.
With all that being said, I do find it to be a challenging industry and stressful at times. It's definitely a roller-coaster industry and not for the faint of heart! The most uncomfortable thing for me, of course, is not having the steady paycheck every two weeks. I don't know if I'll ever get used to that. So it instills a bit of fear in me constantly which drives and pushes me to keep pressing on. Thankfully the excitement of opening a box of samples, creating artwork that you are so excited about, and working with fabulous clients really makes all the hard work and effort worthwhile.
TMFMA: Any important tips and tricks you can share or anything else you'd like to share? I see a lot of artists who want to quit their day job and jump into licensing – which if you are ready can be a great decision to make! However, I think it's important to do your homework to determine if licensing is the right path for you, and if it is, if it is the right time in your life.
For example, if you need to earn a certain amount of money to keep your family going and your bills paid, it's very important to be realistic about how much you will earn in licensing, about how to have opportunities for multiple streams of income set up, about how to create connections for freelance work, and about how to save up a cushion that you can fall back on, since with licensing you won't see a paycheck for at least about a year. Planning can really put you in a great position to set you up for success. I don't think many artists think about the practical things sometimes, as they are so distracted by following their heart. I do believe that saying "Businesses don't plan to fail, they fail because they do not plan."
Other tips I'd give is that if you are an artist interested in licensing, learn as much as you can about the industry. Take classes. Hire a coach. Show your work and get feedback from true industry professionals, agents, coaches, etc. whose opinions are valid – not just to other artists or friends and family. Take that advice and actually apply it. Shop. A LOT. It will help you understand what is commercial and what companies are choosing to put on their products.
Be original. Don't look at another artist and pine after their style and try to be like them. You have a unique voice and talent – be your beautiful self! Figure out what makes you uniquely you and what you can bring to the table that is different. Spend time developing your style and pushing yourself to creatively grow. Get a job in the industry and learn the ropes from the inside.
Have A LOT of patience and perseverance. Work (really, really, really) hard.
TMFMA: What are your future aspirations and goals? I've only been licensing my work for close to two and a half years, so I'm still learning and growing and discovering what's possible and what's realistic. I do know that I would like to continue to grow and expand my art licensing business and artistic style. To create loads of new artwork that is exciting to me and that can offer something to the marketplace. To be able to work with and service companies in new categories and continue to license with the amazing companies I've had the pleasure of working with so far.
Find out more about Josephine and her work at: