Monday, February 27, 2012

An Art Licensing True Story - Artist Tamara Serrao

I am learning how to show my artwork on product mock-ups by using Illustrator or Photoshop. It makes a big difference to see patterns and colors applied to potential merchandise. It also makes me feel I've reached the end of a creative cycle. It's a good feeling, like the process has come full circle - although it is also sparking new ideas that are exciting to pursue!

Artist Tamara Serrao uses Illustrator for her beautiful work. Here is her story: "I have loved just about every form of visual creativity for as long as I can remember. I was raised in a very creative family. My mother sews, embroiders, quilts and hooks rugs, my father is a genius technical draftsman and my sisters paint, make jewelry and knit."

© Tamara Serrano-Ed Garn and 1st Aid
She would like to think she has inherited a generous amount of each of their creative energies, she says. She studied Weaving, Graphic Design and Art History at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design back when computers were barely being used to teach graphics, "so I am definitely self-taught where computer graphics is concerned," Tamara adds.

She has a day job designing packaging, catalogues and such for a Canadian manufacturing company, Mano Verde. They design horticultural kits for the gift industry. As the chief designer for the company, Tamara has a lot of creative freedom, but her work there is definitely limited by the parameters of the job. "In the past year, however, I have discovered and I can easily say that fabric design has become a passion. As I have always loved fabric, this should have been a no-brainer, yet it took me all these years to finally get there," Tamara says.

© Tamara Serrano-Pansy and Capucine
"The texture of the fabric brings more to so many designs than simply printing them on paper. I love seeing my work on fabric, and then turning it into a garment, cushion, bag or wall hanging. The human tactile connection we have with fabric, the interaction with it, is so rich," she concludes.

Tamara has made it a goal to attempt to enter as many weekly design contests on as she possibly can (and have won a few of them), in order to exercise her creativity and to get her name out there." As a result, my work was noticed by a children’s clothing designer with whom I have signed a licensing deal for a few upcoming seasons’ fabric designs."

© Tamara Serrano-Up and Up and Away

Tamara also says: "I try not to get stuck in a rut with my designing. While there is certainly a common thread that runs through most of my work, I try to push my own boundaries. Having spent my youth in the Caribbean plays a large part in my design aesthetic. I am hugely inspired by nature, colour and pattern." Pattern is such a stimulus. Pattern in the urban landscape, traditional patterns, pattern in nature, modern minimalist pattern… Tamara loves it all –  "While I greatly admire simplicity, it can be a real struggle for me. I adore embellishment and often get carried away with excessive detail."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Art that is Pretty Darn Cute – Artist Laurel Nathanson

If you had asked me a month ago what a flag is, I'd have said they were things that fly above governmental institutions or the United Nations. Now, though, I know they are also a large industry that caters to homeowners and cover a large number of subjects - and thus are a great potential market for art licensing. In fact, I've put together nearly a dozen new flag designs myself in the last two weeks!

Artist Laurel Nathanson
On another art licensing note, artist Laurel Nathanson shares with us her story today - she grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Oakland to go to art school many years ago, and now Oakland is her home, forever and ever.

"In college and grad school I studied jewelry and metalsmithing and I currently teach this and more at an amazing high school in San Francisco. When I am not at school, I am working on my fine art, my new business called Lolo's Laboratory, and on my soon to be career as a surface designer." She also explains her style and themes – "my art has always been very whimsical, wacky and heavily influenced by youth culture such as graffiti, comics, vintage toys, games and patterns.

© Laurel Nathanson
My work is pretty darn cute, but with a bit of an edge. No matter what materials I am working in, I think my work is very unified by my colorful and distinct style."

After 20 years of being a craftsperson and very hands on and material driven, she has found a new love and obsession…Adobe Illustrator! "For my surface design I start with a pen line drawing which I scan and open in Illustrator. From there the possibilities are endless!"  In a million years she never thought she would be generating art on a computer, but Illustrator has changed her life. Laurel says: "How one element can be tweaked and altered in endless configurations and possibilities is so amazing and exciting. Being able to combine the hand drawing with the computer is so fun and satisfying."

© Laurel Nathanson
And what about art licensing?  Laurel says: "I learned about art licensing around two years ago from a friend who suggested I get into the field. I had never even heard of art licensing, but I researched it and joined a wonderful group in Berkeley where everybody shared so much info and insights. I pretty much knew immediately that this was my destiny!"

Monday, February 13, 2012

An Art Licensing True Story - Artist Connie Publicover

I've done some amateur photography for many years and find it an incredibly diverse medium. Although I still have lots to learn, I enjoy experimenting with compositions, light and shadow, and the way photographs can evoke emotions. 

Inspirational indeed are the amazing photographs by Fine Art Photographer Connie Publicover. She lives in a small costal village in the beautiful province of Nova Scotia (Canada ) with her husband of 41 years. "I have always been interested in art and design. I'd been managing my own hair salon for over 20 years until health issues forced me to give it up – I was extremely ill and was not able to do much to fill my days, but by nature I was soon looking for something to fill my time.

Artist Connie Publicover
Photography provided me with the challenge I felt I was up for at the time; little did I know that it would turn into such great joy." Connie joined a few online photography clubs and rejoiced in every lesson she took. She met some amazing photographers whose work truly inspired her to want to do more than take snapshots. "I wanted to create something more but had no idea what that might be for several years."

Then came the photography lesson that sealed her fate ... she went out and photographed a dripping icicle! "I must have taken 50 shots of a dripping icicle hanging from my roof while standing on a chair on my patio before I finally captured the drop and rushed to my computer to get a better look at my masterpiece!"

© Connie Publicover
She was not happy with the results ... "my drop had a big dark spot in it; on closer inspection I learned it was a refraction of my back yard. I had seen refractions in still drops before but not in moving water. I couldn't find tutorials on the subject."  Connie spent about four years working with water drops before she was happy with the results. All other forms of photography fell by the way side for her as she worked with her obsession to capture the beauty mother nature has always known a water drop can hold.

"I find water drop photography to be extremely exciting as it allows me to see what the human eye is not fast enough to capture. These split milliseconds of beauty are mostly undiscovered and a true treasure to behold. I was inspired by this at a time in my life that I was needing to reinvent myself due to ill health." Connie truly enjoyed the challenge of trying to capture the beauty that can be found there.

© Connie Publicover
Art Licencing was something she knew very little about. In 2010 she attended the Surtex Show. "In my opinion Surtex is a must-go-to event. After walking the show and seeing all of the amazing work and showing my work to anyone who had the time, I left New York thinking that this was not something my work was well suited for," Connie said. All of the agents she had met, while they loved her work and told her to keep trying, did not know where they could licence her artwork; but she felt she needed an agent as she was not well enough informed to go it on her own.

A little over a year later she got a email from Michael Woodword with Out Of The Blue. "A phone call later and some serious checking and I decided to sign him as my agent. Things are at their very early stages for me in art licensing. I have signed a few licences for screen savers, prints and wall murals."

The bulk of her work is water drop photography, which is a very time consuming form of photography, she says. "I am self taught and thrive on working on new techniques to capture the beauty of the water drop."

© Connie Publicover
Connie also adds: "I would advise anyone who is interested in art licensing to walk the Surtex Show, it is a real eye-opener and can open many doors you did not know even existed. I believe it is important to keep one's work fresh so I keep trying new techniques."

She has also done some work for a designer who works with interior decorators on large Hotel projects and is looking forward to where that may lead her in the future.

"I find that the art world is a very large and exciting place and one never knows what new door will open."

More links about Connie's work:

Monday, February 6, 2012

From Fine Art to Licensing – Artist Sherri Buck Baldwin

I've been working on new color palettes to try out with my new collections – I was reading up about color psychology and the hidden meaning of colors in art in a couple of blogs to see if my memory was holding up as I studied this fascinating topic many years ago as part of an attachment to a course by the New York Institute of Photography. I had found it useful when applied to interior design as well as illustration.

I'm not sure yet how this will work in licensing but it's worth experimenting with the various concepts... But a sure thing is the beautiful art by artist Sherri Buck Baldwin that she kindly shares in this new interview.

Artist Sherri Buck Baldwin 
The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself – I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. I earned a BFA degree with an emphasis in Fine Art Printmaking, letterpress and etching, from Illinois Wesleyan University. Reality struck with blinding force after graduation when I didn't know what to do to support myself. To pay the bills while I continued to draw and enter fine art shows I worked in an art supplies store, manufacturing, and as an illustrator for an ad agency, drawing nothing but furniture for their clients.

Ten years went by and I had increasingly frequent daydreams where the artwork I created in my home studio ended up on paper products and giftware items that earned royalties. I began to research the greeting card industry and discovered a small card company called Lang Graphics in my home state of Wisconsin. I submitted slides of my work (sound primitive?) and 4 of my images were accepted for Christmas cards in a new division called Main Street Press. Persistence began to pay off.

© Sherri Buck Baldwin - Oriole and Nasturtiums
TMFMA: How long have you been doing art licensing? After a year went by I was able to quit my day job at the ad agency and concentrate on artwork for Lang Graphics, creating Christmas cards and my first calendar. For the next 20 years I licensed my artwork exclusively with the Lang Companies for a variety of products and was consistently one of their top selling artists. By this time I had two children to raise and limited time to be creative so I was happy to work with one company. I left the Lang Companies when they went through bankruptcy proceedings in 2008. 

TMFMA: Who or what has inspired you in your art? My high school art teacher was very inspirational by also being an award-winning children's book illustrator in addition to teaching. He constantly challenged me to improve my drawing skills and exposed me to the work of renowned illustrators like Arthur Rackham, N.C. Wyeth, and the Caldecott award winners. His best advice was to "draw what you know" and he was right.

© Sherri Buck Baldwin -Kitchen Herbs
TMFMA: What's your favorite medium or tool/s you create with? I work primarily in colored pencil, acrylic ink, and watercolor, but also enjoy soft pastels, mixed media collage, and relief printing. Every morning I look forward to commuting downstairs to my studio to work on one of several projects I have in progress.

One of my favorite subjects is birds of all kinds and I spend a lot of time photographing them for my reference files, being especially pleased when I capture them in flight. I like to layer my drawings of birds with subtle collage elements to emphasize their beautiful, delicate feathers and create a feeling of depth. Botanical illustration is another favorite and as a master gardener I have many subjects to choose from in my own gardens. For 2013 my Kitchen Herb Garden calendar, published by Andrews McMeel, has become the Field to Market calendar and I enjoyed painting scenes of bountiful produce from local farmer's markets. I also enjoy creating a new Santa Claus image each year as well as a variety of other suitable subjects for Christmas cards. 

© Sherri Buck Baldwin - Santa’s Garden Greens
TMFMA: Do you work with an agent or represent yourself? At this time I represent myself because I need to be knowledgeable about the licensing world, but that may change eventually. It is a challenge to find enough time to research companies, learn the necessary Photoshop skills, manage a website and Facebook page...and keep on creating artwork.

TMFMA: What advice would you give other artists that are considering the art licensing field? In the same way that I believe far more in persistence than talent when it comes to being an artist, success in licensing comes from researching manufacturers and being persistent in showing your art. Read trade journals, join groups like the Art of Licensing on LinkedIn, and walk a trade show. I have found it to be very helpful to chat up the owner of retail shops that I admire because their opinions on trends and brands can be very helpful. Send jpegs to manufacturers where you think your art might fit in, but don't expect to get an answer right away - it could be weeks or months before you hear anything. And don't expect any feedback if your art isn't accepted. Cultivate a thick skin, patience, good time management skills, and belief in what you create. 

© Sherri Buck Baldwin - Goldfinches on Thistles
TMFMA: Anything else that you'd like to share? In the current stage of my art career I continue to pursue licensing arrangements and nurture the relationships I have to date with Legacy Publishing, Andrews McMeel, and Leanin' Tree. I am also getting ready to produce a small range of paper products on my own.

I'm working with a talented designer, Karen Ware Erickson, who was instrumental in Lang's phenomenal success with their lines of Christmas cards, calendars, boxes, and mugs. In addition to being a talented designer, she is also an excellent illustrator. Here is a link to an album of some of our collaborations (note by the editor: you can access this link only if you are logged into your own Facebook account).

I enjoy being the creative director for a change and having a say in how my art is used. With continued persistence and a shot of luck I hope to strike a balance between licensing my art and producing products on my own.

© Sherri Buck Baldwin - Sunflower

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