Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Surviving in the Licensing Arena - An Interview with Licensed Artist Patti Gay

I have been experimenting over and over with different techniques and ways to create collections, trying to make my art suitable for commercial use. It's a "look," per se. It's not as easy as one would think. It's like a ... search ... for one's own identity in this arena of licensing. I asked myself this question: how will I survive this quest against so much competition? There are already so many skilled and successful artists out there ... so how does one make it through? Veteran artist and licensee Patti Gay helped answer my question with few simple words: continue to learn and grow!

Artist Patti Gay
The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself - I graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design with an illustration major. I started out in advertising. After moving to San Francisco I was hired as an art director for a greeting card company. That was my introduction into the whole licensing arena. Being an art director was a great way to see how things worked from a business standpoint. After leaving art directing I started creating my own work.

TMFMA: What's exciting about your creative work? What I love about being an illustrator is that I’m not boxed in. I can continue to learn and grow. I find that exhilarating. I also do work for different markets. I like doing work for licensing, children’s books and for hanging in shows. I am also trying to learn how to make interactive apps for children. Sometimes there is overlap. I think it keeps my creativity fresh and keeps me excited about what I am working on.

Two Can Art - © Noah and Patti Gay
TMFMA: What's your favorite medium or tool/s you create with? When I do traditional painting I work in oils or watercolors. I also am doing work in Photoshop.

TMFMA: Who or what has inspired you in your art? I have to say that the collection I am really excited about was inspired by my son, Noah, who is autistic. He loves to paint. I think the textures he creates are really beautiful and I have saved a lot of his paintings. I decided to scan them into the computer and create a collection called Two Can Art. All of the images are made entirely from the textures he has painted. I take the textures and put them into designs. I also made an e-commerce blog for prints on demand of several of the images. My licensing agent is also representing the line along with my other work.

Beach - © Patti Gay
TMFMA: How long have you been doing art licensing? I’ve been licensing my work for over 20 years. Amazing to think it’s been that long. Things have changed so much with licensing. It is a much tougher market then it used to be.

TMFMA: What brought you to exhibit for the first time and how many shows have you exhibited in? I’ve been represented by my agent at shows, but I have never had a booth on my own. It’s tough for me to get away for that length of time, and it is very expensive to do it alone.

TMFMA: Do you work with an agent or do you represent yourself? I do have a licensing agent. I work with JMS Art Licensing LLC.
TMFMA: Please give us your analysis of the market based on your own experience and contacts. I think it is a competitive market. With the economy in the state it’s in companies want to be sure they have products that will sell. I also have to say that sometimes you just get lucky and things get into the right hands at the right time. 

Two white bunnies © Patti Gay
TMFMA: In your view, what was of major interest to manufacturers this year? What do you think the main trends are for 2011-2012? I think companies are looking for something that they feel is a sure bet for them. I see from call outs that the subject matters haven’t changed all that much. There are some companies that are more adventurous, so it really depends on the company. I think trends are moving towards brighter colors, which I love.

TMFMA: How does a new artist find manufacturers that "match" their styles?
With the internet it is so much easier to see what companies like. You can get a feel for what they lean towards by looking at their current collections.

Memory box cover - © Patti Gay
TMFMA: What do you suggest new artists do to present themselves to the world of licensing for the first time? I think having a professional collection of images is the most important thing. Think about who you are presenting to as well. Research companies to see what might be a good fit for the type of work you do.

TMFMA: What advice would you give other artists that are considering the art licensing field and that want to exhibit in a show like Surtex? Look at company sites to get a feel for what kinds of products art is licensed on. Look at your work and think about how it might be used for product. Think about who your buying audience would be. Before doing a booth at Surtex be ready. It is a big step to show there and is expensive, so you want to make a good impression and you want to have collections that are marketable.

TMFMA: Any other useful info that you'd like to share about art licensing? I think those who are tenacious and keep growing are the ones who get the work. Keep at it. Keep learning, but most of all love what it is you are doing.

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