Monday, November 28, 2011

An Art Licensing True Story - Artist Joseph Holodook

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! – I've been working on my holiday themes – it's fun to figure out some appropriate patterns for Christmas, which in itself has never been my favorite subject to illustrate...but I needed some cards to send out so I started to design around this topic with an eye to art licensing. I came up with some hand painted, whimsical folk style images - can't show them yet, they first need to be copyrighted. So please be patient for a little longer, I will soon be able to share some of my portfolio and licensing collections ... I am almost there!

In the meantime, I want to share this special story by artist Joseph Holodook. His licensing tale is very fun and unique!

Artist Joseph Holodook at work
Joseph is an Illustrator and painter of Americana landscapes and is represented in the commercial art market by Porterfield's Fine Art. His original artwork, prints and cards are sold through

When Joseph paints an Americana landscape he paints with acrylic and some gouache. Joe says, "I paint at a drawing table; for my Folk art paintings a good ruler and architects square are a must. The paint I use is acrylic premixed in small squeeze bottles. They're inexpensive and come in a great array of colors. I do mix them though to come up with a particular hue I need for a piece." He also uses a good stretched canvas, usually 18x24 or 22x28 and small detail brushes sable number 1, 0/10, and 0/20. He affirms, "I always like sable brushes whether I'm using acrylic, gouache or oil."

Artist Joseph Holodook
His style of work is Americana Folk Art – "plain and simple," Joe says. It has elements of surroundings in them. He lives in the small town of Hudson in the Historic Hudson River Valley of New York State. Lots of old farms and houses nestled along creeks with the Catskill mountains looming in the distance like a great sleeping giant. "I think I'm inspired to paint by everyday life, such as a happen chance observation between a mother helping her child. The interaction between people makes for great inspiration," Joseph says. 

I asked Joseph what was exciting about his creative work and he said, "getting the chance to express your thoughts and feelings in your work, and learning a little something along the way. It could be an occupation you're depicting in a scene or the way people lived in a certain time or the architecture of a building. I find them all exciting."

© Joseph Holodook - Layering background lawn, sandy road
His favorite themes are family and friends. "I put them or their names in most of my paintings and try to evoke their personalities in them. Everyone in the image must be doing something. It adds life and interest to a piece". When Joseph comes up with an idea for a painting he sees the picture totally completed as if it were on a postcard in front of him. He says, "I sketch out the idea as fast as I can, not wanting to lose a single detail."
One of his most liked techniques is layering in color for backgrounds. It adds depth to a relatively flat plane. Joe says, "the treatment I give the mountains is of a cut away tree demarcation line. I think it comes from looking at the old Catskill mountains I've hiked many times. I think it's important to add anchoring the buildings down at the corners. Since you're dealing with a flat on flat plane in a Folk Art painting the buildings need a bush or flowers, pot or barrel on corner to help the eye give solid placement to the building."

Anchoring detail
But what about licensing? How long has Joseph done licensing? He says, "how long has Porterfield's Fine Art Licensing been around? A long time. When I sent Porterfield's a letter with four photograph samples of my work I didn't know anything about art licensing. Then Lance Klass, the founder and owner of Porterfield's, wrote me back saying he looked forward to representing my work in the market place. I didn't know what to do. After about a week of trying to find out about art licensing at the library and book store, Lance called me and the conversation went as follows: Lance - 'Hello my name is Lance Klass of Porterfield's fine Art Licensing. May I please speak to Joseph Holodook?' Me - 'Speaking'... silence ...Lance: 'Oh my God, you're just a kid! I had thought you had been in the business for years as an illustrator.'

"My portfolio at the time consisted of the four images I sent him. He was under the impression I had a large stash of work. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Lance took me under his wing and he, along with his wife Mimi, guided me along. So, many grey hairs later I am still painting whimsical Americana Folk art to holiday favorites."

© Joseph Holodook - Mountain Detail
Lance Klass confirmed Joseph's story and they get along like great old friends to this day!

Joseph's advice to other artists that are considering the art licensing field as a professional career is this: "The next time you go to a department store take a good look around. You'll find licensed art everywhere, from stationary to seasonal goods. They all have licensed art on them. Always produce new art because if your successful with a piece, they will always come back for more. I have a good dear friend who went to school for commercial art. Now that her children have grown she would like to get back into the field. Don't be afraid of showing your art. Be willing to take constructive criticism. A licensing agent wants you to succeed. That's how they, and you, make money." 

© Joseph Holodook - Romanchuk Restoration
Joseph additionally says: "Listen to what your client wants and try your best to provide them with it. Your art my be good, but your commercial art is only good if it is used commercially."

Your comments are welcomed. 
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Lance Klass said...

Very nice interview with our artist Joseph Holodook. Alex, I continue to be impressed by the way in which you're presenting high-quality interviews with important artists. Keep on keeping on!

Lana Gordon Rast said...

Great blog. Joseph sounds like a wonder person besides a wonderful artist.

Laura t. said...

Great interview, and what a cute story about being discovered! Beautiful illustrations too- thanks for posting up the interview!