Saturday, April 30, 2011

Illustrations, a Magical World of Fantasy & Tales

© 2009-2011 Alex Colombo - ink and watercolor
Whimsical illustration used to make me daydream when I was little, as I looked at the colorful and magical drawings of some books depicting fantastic places and personages; they were extraordinary visual tales, perhaps a wish for a better world – it certainly was my world when I helped painting a fantasy mural and later on, when I'd create imaginary little "people"… just fun doodles that I had imagined only in my own mind.

I got to do more doodles as a grown-up, and I still enjoy creating them for my ongoing series of children's books, while I experiment and develop their style and colors. 

Artist Katriona Chapman
My guest today is an artist from London, who has been creating really unique drawings and hand making her own children's  books, full of wonderful illustrations and adventure stories. Her art is very inspirational and tells a tale of passion and beauty for illustrations.

The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself: I'm Katriona. I've been illustrating (mainly kid's books) for about five years now, and have recently become interested in making hand-made books and self-publishing my own illustrated works. I'm also moving into selling my work at book fairs & craft fairs as well as online.

TMFMA: Where do you enjoy doing your creative work? I work in my living room! I'd absolutely love to have a studio space, but London's such an expensive place to live I don't think I'll be getting one anytime soon. Also, to be honest I quite like working on the sofa. I tend to work small so just enjoy being really comfortable while I work. The best thing about having a studio would be proper storage space, and a huge table to work at when cutting large sheets of paper.

© Katriona Chapman - Robins
TMFMA: How did you get started? I had no idea what to do with my drawing skills for a long time, so I did other things. Then someone suggested illustration and I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before! I used to make and illustrate little books all the time as a child. I didn't want to study again, so I joined various trade organisations and went to lots of talks and read books about the industry. I then just started mailing samples out to publishers.

TMFMA: What is exciting about your creative work? I think creative work is exciting because you put so much of yourself into it, and when things work well it's incredibly satisfying on a personal level. Being commissioned by publishers that you admire, and seeing your work in a book is very exciting. But I've also found it really rewarding (also pretty stressful at times!) self-publishing my work and selling directly to customers. It's great knowing who's buying your work, and having more to with the whole process (making, promoting and mailing out your books). I also love that it's a lifetime's project... pushing yourself to get better all the time and seeing what you can achieve.

© Katriona Chapman
TMFMA: What's your favorite medium or tool you create with? I usually work in watercolour and coloured pencils, or just graphite pencils for black and white work. I'm also completely obsessed with paper, and making actual objects. That's why I'm less interested than some in moving towards digital, ebooks etc.

TMFMA: Do you work by yourself or do you also do collaborative work? Two out of three books I've brought out under my small-press name Tomatito Press so far have been collaborations. My first book 'Five' was written by a friend, and my second 'The Garden' was a collaboration with my boyfriend, where he did the line art in ink and I coloured it with pencils! I like collaborating but am also keen to self-publish some of my own stories and have the books be 100% my own.  Here you can see my handmade Tomatito Press books.

© Katriona Chpman
TMFMA: Tell us of a fun and creative project or a collaboration, and what you learned from it. 'Five' was an interesting collaboration, because we collaborated on the design of the book very closely, and I discovered that Masha (the author) was very good at book design. I realised that I was so focused on the illustrations themselves that I was almost neglecting the design side. She was more able to look at the book as a whole and be objective about it, whereas I was almost entirely concerned with how the illustrations looked.

© Katriona Chapman
TMFMA: Where do you like to look for inspiration? I get a lot of inspiration from the natural world. I love animals, and spend more time than I should watching animals in my garden. We have lots of birds, foxes, hedgehogs & lots of squirrels. I love watching their behaviour and how they interact. I also like looking at other illustrators' work for inspiration, and also learning from them how they promote themselves and things like that.

TMFMA: Is there a person or thing that has influenced you in your artistic efforts? I'm influenced by lots of people and things, but I think a lot of the children's books I saw as a child had a big effect on me. I liked books that were strange, unusual and imaginative. I loved Where the Wild Things Are, folk tales from different countries and Justin Todd's Alice in Wonderland.

TMFMA: What are the reasons for you to do what you do? I do this work because even though it's incredibly hard (and I don't make enough money to live on), it's just really enjoyable and rewarding. When I was younger I felt that I didn't have anything to express with my work, and I didn't have a focus, but now I have a list as long as my arm of projects I want to do. If only I can find the time!

© Katriona Chapman
TMFMA: What are your future aspirations and goals? My main goal is that I'd love to illustrate as a full-time job. I'd also like to get one of my own stories into print, and there are numerous great publishers I'd like to work with!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bright Colors that Cheer the Soul!

Colors are a fascinating subject. Some say they suggest moods.  Some like them bright, some don't like them at all.  

© photo by Alex Colombo - Arcobaleno Pigmenti e Belle Arti Shop, Venice - Italy

A few years back I was traveling around Italy and went to Venice amongst other places. While roaming around the city I came across this very colorful (natural) pigments shop – Arcobaleno Pigmenti e Belle Arti, de Nube Massimo, San Marco, Venezia. I felt very inspired just looking through that lively window, so I went into the shop and bought a whole bunch of them :).  More recently I came across some very colorful artwork from Keith Banner, which reminded me of that fun adventure, so I invited him for a guest interview with us. Keith "loves bright colors that cheer the soul."

Keith Banner - Artist
1. The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself.  I'm Keith Banner, a freelance artist, painter and graphic designer; I have lived in New York City, Nassau Bahamas, Los Angeles, California and am now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

An exhibition at Toronto Dominion Bank launched my career, featuring oil and acrylic paintings.  I then went on to work in computer generated art, etchings, sculpture and now I design greeting cards for Kab Designs.

My Caribbean background has been a major influence in the use of color and texture, which for me are two of the most important aesthetic considerations. My style ranges from varied ethnic designs to modern abstract art.  

© Keith Banner
I studied at Otis Parson School of Design, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Pierce College, Los Angeles City College, San Bernardino and Riverside Community College.

I have exhibited for the May Company's Street Gallery (Los Angeles, California), Toronto Dominion Bank (Los Angeles, California),  Lucy Florence Art Gallery (Liemert Park, California), The New Mexico State Capitol Rotunda (Santa Fe, New Mexico) and the Albuquerque African American Performing Art Center.

2. TMFMA: Where do you enjoy doing your creative work? In my studio.

3. TMFMA: How did you get started?  I originally started oil painting and then went on to acrylics for many years. It was not until the 90's when I became really interested in computer generated art. My work continues to primarily be created by way of the computer. 

© Keith Banner
4. TMFMA: What is exciting about your creative work? I would say my color choices.  I love bright colors that cheer the soul. 

5. TMFMA: What's you favorite medium or tool you create with? I primarily work with Photoshop and Illustrator.

6. TMFMA: Do you work by yourself or do you also do collaborative work? I work with my partner, Floyd Schock.

7. TMFMA: Tell us of a fun and creative project or a collaboration, and what you learned from it. I have found after many hours spent on a project and feeling you have it all done and it looks good, stepping back and taking a break is always a good thing because most of the time you find that changes are indeed needed. During this time, talking it over with Floyd, we decide what changes could be made if any. 

8. TMFMA: Where do you like to look for inspiration? My inspiration comes from a number of sources, people on the street, fashion, fabrics, architect, to name a few.

9. TMFMA: Is there a person or thing that has influenced you in your artistic efforts? I would have to say my mother was a really great inspiration as a kid. She too is an artist. 

© ˚eith Banner - The Crayolah-ettes
 10. TMFMA: What are the reasons for you to do what you do? I feel that we all have a purpose, a gift, and I believe my gift is the art of being creative.

11. TMFMA: What are your future aspirations and goals? Floyd and I have a greeting card business and continue to build it, along with seeking licensing activities.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Art Licensing, A Network of Creative & Helpful Professionals – Part V

This is the last editorial of a successful series of articles on artists in the art licensing business who've been helping others in this field. I am in the process of building a permanent art licensing page/tab here on my blog, which summarizes all the names and links for future artists to refer to, as many are still joining this industry and want to know how to start. Feel free to link and share the page on your blog, website and future editorials (please refer to my blog as the original link).  

Thank you to all who have participated in these great editorials; your help and your stories have already inspired many readers, and many more to come!

"Sometimes creativity just means the daily work of helping others to see a problem in a different way" – Joseph Badaracco

(below is a legend of past or upcoming editorials on art licensing) 

Part I:                  Part II:                Part III:              Part IV:                 Part V:
Paul Brent            Tara Reed            Maria Brophy      Alex Sanso            Allan Summa
Cherish Flieder     Joan Beiriger
       Drew Brophy      Oscar Armelles      Kate Harper

      • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •  

Alan Jude Summa

Alan Summa
Artist Alan Jude Summa was born on a cold, snowy, December day…"Wait! Too far back" he says.  He started his career as a Horror/Fantasy illustrator and his work has been displayed and published internationally. He has created  art for stories, games, and magazine covers for clients ranging from EasyRiders to Star Wars games. Becoming bored with the quality of stories he was illustrating, he began to write his own. Thinking he just might be pretty good at this,  with his wife Laura he began a collaboration with a friend, Glenn Boyd, and Leadbelly Productions was born. Their first project was a self published comic book series entitled "Interplanetary Lizards of the Texas Plains". Thus began his first foray into the licensing business.

He gets a lot of questions on how he started in licensing. Here is in a nutshell what he said that got him going: "We created and self published the comic, got an agent in New York, attended and exhibited at the Licensing Show and - Lo and Behold! - we started signing licensing agreements. Sounds easy, doesn't it?  Call it beginners luck, it actually WAS that easy. 
Alan Summa's artwork
That time, anyways, it has never been that easy since". But it wasn't all peaches and cream. He did sign licenses for video games, toys, watches, trading cards, model kits, halloween costumes, apparel, and more. He was in discussions for TV when the pivotal company in this venture went bankrupt. Consequently the program never reached the level of success he had hoped for, but he was hooked on licensing!

So he continued over the last 20 years developing more entertainment properties, toy designs, plush, and candy concepts. Alan says: "It has been a terrible, wonderful, roller coaster ride full of fun and frustration. We have taken our knocks and learned a lot (mostly the hard way), but I wouldn't change a thing". The whole experience has come full circle for him this year. There has been a resurgence in interest in the "Lizards".  He recently signed George Gross Jr. of G-Squared Licensing as the master licensing agent for all Leadbelly's properties – George is a successful agent with 30 years experience representing major properties such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Alan is always happy to answer any questions. His profile can be found on at LinkedIn. Visit his website at Leadbelly Productions.

Kate Harper

Kate Harper
Kate Harper combines witty words, vibrant colors, and curious textures to communicate edgy and uplifting messages in order to remind us all to not take things too seriously. She has designed over 700 gift items including greeting cards, magnets, t-shirts, coasters, place mats, rubber stamps, coffee mugs, paper pads, and embroidery kits. See her website here. In her spare time she writes a design blog, collects "mail art", volunteers at the local Theology School, and has a special interest in bringing gift design into the mobile device world, such as for cellphones, tablets, and e-readers. 

Kate Harper's cards
She is also energized by her collaboration with other artists in the San Francisco bay area and in their continual exploration of ways to bring an independent vision into the marketplace. Check out her blog; she gives great tips to other artists!

~ ~ ~

This concludes the five-part editorial on our art licensing artists. I hope this has helped others in starting up their own adventure!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Art Licensing, A Network of Creative & Helpful Professionals – Part IV

High creativity and spirit of play are the key words to introduce our new guests this week. In this new art licensing editorial, part IV, Alex Sanso and Oscar Armelles share with us their stories that range from creating for renown companies like The Walt Disney Company to art directing in a London-based advertising agency, to establishing an independent art licensing business. Special tales for special people.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou

(below is a legend of past or upcoming editorials on art licensing) 

Part I:                  Part II:                Part III:              Part IV:                 Part V:
Paul Brent            Tara Reed            Maria Brophy      Alex Sanso            Allan Summa
Cherish Flieder     Joan Beiriger
       Drew Brophy      Oscar Armelles      Kate Harper

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •  

Alex Sanso

Alex Sanso
Creative juices have coursed through artist and graphic designer Alex Sanso's veins as long as she can remember. Whether designing, drawing, writing, taking pictures, painting murals...even performing comedy improv or singing is one big creative playground for Alex.

Her professional background as a graphic designer has brought experience ranging from art directing photo shoots on location with puppies, helicopters and lovestruck teens, to developing scads of humorous greeting cards with relentlessly talented creative teams, to the more traditional disciplines of developing memorable brand identities, marketing materials and packaging for companies large and small.

Alex found her true passion, though, in creating art for product. During her nine years as an artist for The Walt Disney Company, she created art for theme park merchandise such as stationery, home decor, games, textiles, apparel, souvenirs and more. She was thrilled to discover later that you don't have to be a world-famous mouse to have a successful business in art licensing. Tapping into the rich network of both seasoned and newbie licensing artists online in forums, blogs and the twittersphere has been an invaluable resource for Alex.

When not working on her own original collections, Alex is chief artopian of Artopia Creative, developing proprietary merchandise art for well known retailers and manufacturers, as well as brand identity and marketing collateral design. Oh, and belting out karaoke whenever possible. 

Oscar Armelles

Oscar Armelles
He was born in Spain and, almost from day one, he could be found with a pen and paper in his hand. He loved to draw - anything and everything. And, as soon as he was old enough, he collected all his crayons, coloring pencils and pens together and moved to America, where he studied Commercial Art.
After graduating, he relocated to London and became an Art Director for an advertising agency there. This gave him the chance to do what he loved...and to get paid for it. During this time, his passion for illustration grew and he began to work as a freelance illustrator.

He set up illustrationbyoscar, a very catchy website specializing in advertising, editorial and book illustrations. He works mainly in a digital format, using Photoshop and Illustrator, although he is quite handy with watercolors too.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Art Licensing, A Network of Creative & Helpful Professionals – Part III

Last week I published Part II of a special art licensing editorial on two professional artists, Tara Reed and Joan Beiriger, who have been instrumental in inspiring and helping others achieve their dreams. Their tales, along with Paul Brent's and Cherish Flieder's stories, have been rather popular; therefore I'm very pleased to present my next two art licensing  guests: Maria and Drew Brophy. This successful dynamic duo has as their main mission "to inspire generations of people to live the life of their dreams."

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." – Eleanor Roosevelt

(below is a legend of past or upcoming editorials on art licensing) 

Part I:                  Part II:                Part III:              Part IV:                 Part V:
Paul Brent            Tara Reed            Maria Brophy      Alex Sanso            Allan Summa
Cherish Flieder     Joan Beiriger
       Drew Brophy      Oscar Armelles      Kate Harper

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

Maria and Drew Brophy

 Maria and Drew Brophy
Drew Brophy has been a professional surf lifestyle artist for over 20 years.  If you ask Drew what he does for a living, he’ll say "It’s my job to make things look cool." As a young surfer, Drew's career took off when he started painting his edgy artwork onto surfboards.  He became known worldwide for painting surfboards using techniques that he developed using water-based paint pens.  He traveled the globe painting for some of the best surfboard shapers in the world. In the late 1990s, Drew expanded his original artwork for use on many different things, like skateboards, t-shirts and other useful items.

SUNRISE - painting by Drew Brophy

With help from his business partner and wife, Maria, Drew has made his paintings available for licensing and currently is partnered with over thirty great companies to create cool products with his art.  Together, Drew and Maria formed Son of the Sea, Inc., an art agency that represents Drew's Surf Lifestyle Art.  Drew creates art while Maria runs the business.  They also help other artists find success as well, through workshops and sharing information through their blogs.  As a team, they've guided many artists by sharing their own life lessons.

Drew Brophy
Every image of Drew's art begins life as a painting, created in his studio in San Clemente, California.  Drew's original paintings are available to collectors through art shows and online sales.  Drew’s inspiration comes from the adventures of traveling and surfing the globe with his wife and son.  He paints the lifestyle they live, one filled with peeling waves, sun-swept beaches and the simple joys that life has to offer.

Maria's vision is that all creative people get to live the life of their dreams and make a good living doing it.  She helps create that reality through her motivational and educational blog,  with articles such as Maria's Ten Principles for an Artists' Success, where she lays out the necessary foundation for every art career.

Cover art by Drew Brophy
Maria has also written an ebook titled  LIVING THE DREAM: Break Free of the Status Quo and Start Living Your Dream Life. This 34 page e-book details how Drew and Maria have created an extraordinary life of surf, art, world travel and family experience. In this inspiring book Maria explains how you, too, can create the life you dream of, what's been holding you back and steps you can take to design the life you were meant to live.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Art Licensing - A Network of Creative & Helpful Professionals, Part II

Last week I published the first part of an editorial on art licensing that featured two renown professional artists, Paul Brent and Cherish Flieder. This week I am featuring two other successful artists and how they've also been sharing their knowledge and stories to help other fellow artists to achieve their goals.

“When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.” –  Linda Naiman
(below is a legend of past or upcoming editorials on art licensing)

Part I:                           Part II:                Part III:             Part IV:               Part V:
Paul Richard Brent     Tara Reed          Maria Brophy     Alex Sanso          Allan Summa
Cherish Flieder         
Joan Beiriger     Drew Brophy      Oscar Armelles   Kate Harper

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Tara Reed
Tara Reed is the artist, author and creative mind behind everything that goes on in the studio of Tara Reed Designs, Inc., the art licensing company founded in 2004.  Reed’s art can be found worldwide on a variety of products both in retail stores and online. 

Known for creating fun and sassy art for licensing, Tara can usually be found in her studio in Portland, Oregon with a smile on her face and paintbrush or pen tablet in her hand.  While her art ranges from bright and whimsical to more traditional, all of her work shares one common thread – embracing a casual lifestyle centered around heart, happiness and the ties that bind friends, families and communities.

Missing teaching, writing and speaking, in 2008 Tara launched the website to share what she has learned about the industry with others. In 2009 she was joined by other experts in the industry. and the related blog,  consistently rank in the top 5 (if not #1) for art licensing searches on Google, Yahoo and Bing. 

The family of websites  includes information from a growing list of industry experts. They offer a wide range of no-cost and low-cost resources such as e-books (e.g. How to Get Started in Art Licensing and How to Find, Interact, and Work with Manufacturers Who License Art), tele-seminars, coaching, The Art Licensing Info Monthly Ask Call Series (based on questions submitted by artists), a blog, newsletter, Facebook page, YouTube channel and more.
 Joan Beiriger

Artist Joan Beiriger shares her licensing knowledge on her blog  because she wants artists to have the opportunity to learn information that took her years to find. When Joan started licensing her art over a decade ago, there were few articles printed, hardly anything on the internet, and only a few seminars given at licensing shows.  As Joan comments, "Why should everyone have to reinvent the wheel.  It is better for everyone to share information on how to license art so that everyone wins."  Joan attributes much of her basic licensing knowledge to the generosity of licensing agent Lance Klass of Porterfield's Fine Art Licensing and to artist & art/product director Joanne Fink.  They patiently answered her questions as she began her quest to license her art. 

Joan has a different creative background than most artists. Instead of going to art school, she studied to become a scientist.  She dabbled in craft projects most of her life so while working as a chemist Joan used her right side of the brain to design and sell her counted cross-stitch creations. In the late 1990s, she switched from counted cross-stitch designing to painting with acrylics and eventually to using the computer to create art for products.  Joan's art can be found on her website