Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Brief Tips & Tricks in Art Licensing

There have been a series of articles and discussions in regards to the agent vs. no-agent artist relationship. I picked a couple of comments that I felt clearly stated a balanced opinion of the two worlds and I am republishing them below. 

Here is the link to an interesting Linkedin thread on this topic (you'll need to access the site before reading it); another good editorial to read is here: Do's and Don'ts of Art Licensing; you can also find additional views about why agents won't represent an artist here.

Your comments are always welcome.

As a note regarding my blog policy – you're welcome to comment on this posting if you wish to contribute to it; please keep in mind two important criteria: 1. constructive criticism and 2. respectful dialogue. Inclusion in my blog is not an endorsement of a particular point of view but only a recognition that we can learn from open conversation among a diversity of perspectives.

Jackie Von Tobel - "I researched the industry for two years before making my debut at Surtex last year and it was obvious that for me having an agent was the way for me to go. What I have found having been represented by an agent for almost a year now is that working with an agent is very beneficial but it really doesn't change the amount of work and effort on your part as far as generating leads and finding appropriate manufactures for your work. Of course an agent will bring contacts, deals and opportunities your way but if you want to be successful you still need to do a lot of work yourself. Having an agent is not a ticket to success.

An agent does bring a wealth of knowledge regarding contracts and the nuts and bolts of the biz and their contacts but you still need to participate in your own success. I attend all of the shows that I can and work in tandem with my agent. I walk the shows, hand out promo packages and try to start a conversation with manufacturers that might like my work. I direct them to my agent's booth to see my portfolio. It is a huge cost savings not having a booth of your own but I am beginning to think that even that is something that I should consider doing again. Your agent is busy and is promoting all of the other artists on their roster as well as you. No one can promote your work with the same passion and enthusiasm as you can. 

The bottom line is that this is not an easy business and you need to have realistic expectations of what your agent can do for you and still be willing to put in the necessary work yourself as well as find time to generate new and fresh art."

Jonathan Klase - "I'm coming at this question from the manufacturer's side of the table as a marketing director. The biggest challenge I see in representing yourself is that the more time you invest in making contacts, the less time you have to create new work. I look at portfolios all the time that are stale because the artist hasn't spent enough time on their craft and researching the market to see what's going to sell. With the right agent, you can do what you're good at and they can hopefully do what they're good at. A good agent should know where your art fits and help you to avoid the rejections as well as guide you in how to prepare you for making the right fit. This of course is contingent on having the right agent for you, and it does take time. But the right agent can make all the difference. If you're going at it on your own, there's no harm in asking questions. I try to be as honest as possible with people but no one likes rejection and I certainly try to be as tactful as possible. I'm sure others handle it differently and may be more blunt. 

To sum it up...unless I'm working with a seasoned, licensed artist, I prefer working with an agent as I don't have time to train someone in the licensing business that come in with talent but no experience."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fun, Inspirational, Trendy - Artist Jane Foster

This is the first of a new series of short editorials about artists and their fun, inspirational and trendy work.

Artist Jane Foster started her handmade business as she wanted to have a career change from teaching to spend time with her daughter. She loves creating designs to then print onto fabric which is then made into something, whether it be a toy or cushion. She does everything from home. She gets inspired by Scandinavian designs from the 60s and 70s, such as early Marimekko or the ceramic designs of Marianne Westmann." My style is bold, happy and hopefully fun! My images are mostly flowers and animals - I've been lucky to have been spotted by a few companies who I then sold the license to use and publish my work. These were The Art Group and Clothkits, both of whom I still work for."

"My tip to other artists would be - it's important to always produce work you like yourself without trying to guess at what might sell or what others might like!"

In the future, she'd love to design fabric and home wares for Ikea and Marimekko, such as mugs, trays, storage jars, and so on. Jane has also a great Etsy store!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Style, Theme and Technique in Art Licensing - Artist Matteo Grilli

First of all I want to thank all of the artists who have been sharing their wonderful stories and art on my blog, as well as all my followers. It has been a fun journey so far, and per the many emails I receive, the articles have been a source of inspiration to many. So this is great!

Starting in April I will also publish a series of new editorials, including blog hops and short articles featuring artists and their fun, inspirational and trendy work. I will also continue to publish one or possibly two interviews per month. This will give me more time to work on my own art in preparation for my debut at Surtex this year - here is my promotional postcard for the occasion!

But meanwhile this week I want to introduce to the licensing community the lovely work of another Italian artist, Matteo Grilli. He was born in Italy and showed a deep fascination for animals and art from an early age. Matteo says, "I didn't follow any art school, college or art course so I am completely self taught. I started working as a featured artist at the Russell Gallery in Ireland in 2009. That trip to Ireland was my springboard to start my own art career." Life events eventually brought him to Brisbane, Australia, where he is currently based and is finding his way as an emerging artist.

Artist Matteo Grilli
"My ultimate goal," Matteo says "is to draw attention to the beauty of nature, to its fleeting essence, to inspire its contemplation, discovery and enjoyment, and therefore its understanding and care. Birds are my favorite subjects but any aspect of the natural world attracts my attention. I pursue precision, detail and realism derived from what I see. I belive that less is more and that what is left out of a work of art is as important as what is included, so I tend to leave space for the viewer, not paying much attention to the surroundings, focusing on the very subject of a painting." 

He also adds that this may lead his artwork to look rather unfinished, sketchy or more like studies. "My watercolour technique is rather traditional, mostly wet on dry and wet on wet as well." The tools Matteo uses are traditional too, high quality watercolour paints, paper and brushes, a pencil and sometimes an ink pen. 

"I see things with the same curiosity and excitement I had as a child. What I think is exciting about my creative work is to be able to share an experience derived from a contact with an animal in its natural environment. After witnessing the beauty and truth of nature I feel an urgency to portray it and a responsibilty to share it. I want to give the viewer one more chance to enjoy the overlooked beauty of the small things, of all the amazing creatures we, more or less unwittingly, share our lives with. I see all of this as very exciting."

His primary source of inspiration comes from the amazingly rich and varied wildlife living in suburban Brisbane. After nature itself, he been inspired by many other things, from the nature books of Marjolein Bastin - "after which I decided to focus on watercolor," Matteo says - to Louis Agassiz Fuertes and John Busby, to cave art, Chinese and Japanese artwork, and his childhood's cartoons like 'The Animals of Farthing Wood' and 'Watership Down.' "I also like the artwork of the many British watercolour artists of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, natural history art, botanical art and early topographical tradition. Looking at all these things over the years still today puts me in the right state of mind to create."

At the moment Matteo just started a new series of artworks called Avian Faces, which focuses on exploring the different fleeting face expressions of birds. He says, "I'm also getting ready to start my art business in Australia which is very exciting and I'm looking forward to it."

Matteo concludes saying, "I do not have any experience in art licensing but it is a path I am certainly very interested to follow and it is on my list of things to achieve. A future aspiration is to be able to allow people to contemplate and meditate upon nature's beauty through my work. Also, I want my artwork to be seen as a good means of inspiring nature's protection, consideration and enjoyment. And last but not least, of course, I hope to be able to support my projects with my art business."

           Matteo's blog:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Style, Theme and Technique in Art Licensing - Artist Julie Dobson Miner

This week I want to explore more about a style my guest artist Julie Dobson Miner refers to as "diverse, ranging from realistic (often with a contemporary twist), to fun, whimsical character-based artwork that shows a childlike innocence."

Artist Julie Dobson Miner
Julie says: "Even since early childhood, I've known I wanted to be an artist. My mom let me have a corner of the basement where I'd sit and work on my creations, usually working with colored construction paper and chalk. I would come home from school, make peanut butter toast and go downstairs and immerse myself in creating my own little world." Her agent, Carol White of Artworks! Licensing has said (and it tickles Julie) "I wanna be in your world." Many times she suggests themes to work on and at the end of the projects comes up with some clever collection names, Julie says. "My favorite theme, even as a child, has been Halloween, closely followed by Winter and Christmas themes."

© Julie Dobson Miner - Jolly Jingle Snowmen
When her first son Jesse started preschool, Julie went back to school to study graphic design and illustration. A year after she graduated her second son Sean was born and she spent her first years freelancing in an ad agency and for companies like General Mills and 3M. She was offered full time employment but she missed working in hand rendered imagery and wanted to be more available to her family.

"I took a watercolor class and I was hooked! Within a few years, I opened a gallery studio in a quaint little Minnesotan town called White Bear Lake. I had a gallery of my work, taught watercolor classes, and continued with my graphic design. I won a few awards for my watercolors and was featured a few times on a local cable television station teaching my watercolor techniques." One of the shows she put together was on the elements and principles of design and she gave the same talk to Minnesota Watercolor Society.