Monday, July 30, 2012

The Inspirational World of Fine Art: Artist Tatiana Roulin

This week I want to share some inspiring sources. One is an interesting video that was recently shared within a licensing group on Facebook. It inspired me to dig a bit more into my own "why" I do what I do, which I simply stated to be this: "Making the world a better place through art." That's now my motto that I am using on my tearsheets, website, and so on. It feels good!

You can find the video here on Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action.

And speaking of inspirational art, I want to introduce a new series of interviews I will be doing, which will be about fine art artists - many of us are fine art artists, illustrators and crafters in addition to being art licensing artists, so I thought this will be a fun addition to the blog for all of us.

My first interview features a wonderful artist, whose work is classic and beautiful; she is definitely doing her share of work to make the world a better place!

Fine Art Artist Tatiana Roulin
Her name is Tatiana Roulin and is an award-winning, internationally renowned New England representational painter whose primary mediums include oil, acrylic and pastel. She is a member of the Oil Painters of America (OPA) and the Pastel Society of America (PSA). She is also a member of several art associations in New England such as the North River Arts Society, Sharon Creative Arts Association, and Mansfield Art Association, to name a few.

Tatiana was born and grew up in Moscow. Eleven years ago she moved permanently to the USA where she resides with her family in the Greater Boston Area. An alumnus of Moscow Art College of Art and Graphics (summa cum laude), additionally she has been studying fine art for several years under a very well known Russian realistic oil painter, Yury Gusev. Her approach combines the classic atelier training of the "Russian Academic School" - largely based on techniques used by the Old Masters - with her own personal style expressed through the harmony of design, color and light. Currently Tatiana's art is represented by Art and Light Gallery in La Mesa (CA), Gina MW Gallery in Long Beach (CA), Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale (AZ), Off Our Wall in Amesbury (MA) and Preservation Framer in North Attleboro (MA).

© Tatiana Roulin
The Moon from My Attic: What brought you to art in the first place? I realized that I was interested in art in my childhood. It all started when I was 4 years old girl; I dreamed of being a ballet dancer. Even though I didn't exactly happen to become a ballet dancer, I'd been dancing for 15 years until I quit doing it because of many complexities my life took on. I gave up what I loved doing the most but Art has always attracted me. My family owns a huge collection of art books started by my parents. They collected art folios, beautiful luxurious art albums and I keep on expanding this collection. I think my first influence came from those books about art, artists and art museums from around the world.

TMFMA: What's exciting about your creative work? Being creative and expressing my own visions and ideas with brush strokes is an exciting thing to do. It's hard to say what's most exciting. I think the whole process is.

© Tatiana Roulin
TMFMA: Who're your top-favorite fine art artists and why? As someone who has an academic training in Fine Art I always appreciate Old School techniques in paintings. I love when painting is very well done technically and visually. I have very many favorite artists so it would be hard to name them all here but I will name a few. I love artists from different art periods, from Renaissance to Contemporary Art. I have a board on Pinterest where I post art from my favorite artists. For example, one of my favorite artists is Yuliy Yulevich (Julius) Klever (1850-1924, Russian painter), who painted absolutely amazing landscapes which are greatly done technically and very beautiful and realistically rendered.

© Tatiana Roulin
From Russia, my favorite painters include Ilya Repin (1844-1930), Apollinary  Vasnetsov (1856-1933), Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926), Konstantin Makovsky (1846-1920), Vasily Polenov (1844–1927), Rafail Levitsky (1847–1940), Fedor Alekseev (1753 - 1824), and Ivan Bilibin (1876-1942).
I also love artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood founded by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882, English Painter). From contemporary masters my favorite artist is Richard Schmid.

© Tatiana Roulin
TMFMA: Tell us about a recent project you'd like to share. I used to create a series of artwork. Recently I've started a new portrait series called "Russian Costumes" that will be about National Russian costumes and traditions. In this series I'd like to represent the rich culture I came from - one of my favorites from this series is titled "Girl in Russian Costume".

TMFMA: Any other important info that you'd like to share about art? This year I published my first book about my still life paintings titled "Vibrant Still Lifes". Everyone who is interested in my art can buy this book via Blurb. I'm planning to publish my next book at the end of this year, but I cannot say now what this book will be about. Maybe my next book will feature my new still life paintings or perhaps it will be about my new series of "Russian Costumes," we'll see.

More of Tatiana's paintings are below:

© Tatiana Roulin
© Tatiana Roulin
© Tatiana Roulin

Monday, July 23, 2012

An Agent's Point of View on Surtex and Licensing Expo - Lance Klass of Porterfield's Fine Art

I've been publishing interviews and articles about Surtex since the end of May after returning from the show. It has been great learning and fun to get multiple views of the show. In the next couple of weeks I will be wrapping up the Surtex 2012 series while the summer vacations are already in full swing; artists are patiently awaiting to hear back from their agents or manufacturers about their sought-after creative collections.

This week I am pleased to host an informative interview with Lance Klass, President of Porterfield's Fine Art, who will be sharing with us his views as an agent on the Surtex 2012 show as well as other licensing topics. Lance is also the author of this very helpful article about art licensing titled "Ten Secrets to Success in Art Licensing."

How was Surtex 2012 compared to other Surtex shows you did? What was different and exciting for you as an agent? This year's Surtex seemed to be stronger, with more exhibitors and an extremely diverse group of visitors from North America and around the world. Of the 103 companies we met with during three hectic days, perhaps 15% were from outside the United States, often from halfway around the world, all drawn to Surtex to find the latest and most compelling array of artwork available for their products.

As always, it was great to reconnect with other agents and artists and especially with licensees whom we hadn't seen for a year. And there were many new faces as well, including licensees who were experiencing their first Surtex. What a pleasure to meet people we're in touch with all year and be able to discuss active and future programs! In this business of art licensing, relationships are often as important as the art you're trying to license, and Surtex is a relationship-building experience.

How was the Expo and what was exciting about it for you as an agent? Surtex is far and away the best venue for art licensing. It's in a great location – New York City – still the business hub of America. New York has a high level of energy and that seems to be contagious. In my experience, people who attend the brand licensing show in June in Las Vegas are more relaxed, but people who come to Surtex seem to be ready to do business and that's essential for us. Another exciting factor this year is that we seemed to have had more visitors coming to us from the National Stationery Show next door in the convention center. Thus we were able to extend our reach into cards, stationery, gift wrap and other paper products - definitely a plus.

In your view, how's the current economy influencing art licensing and trade shows? I wrote about this extensively in an article that was published in the Surtex edition of The Art Buyer. In its simplest terms, the nascent recovery that began with Christmas 2011 when retail popped up 5.5% nationwide has continued each month since. It indicates that consumers do have more money in their pockets and are ready to spend it on products with artwork that makes them feel better about things.

Art is the great anti-depressant, and consumers are tired of the grays and muted colors they were supposed to want (but didn't) after the crash of Christmas 2008. That was just a lot of off-trend baloney that steered so many consumer products companies in the wrong direction.

What consumers want is color and more color, images that draw them in, take them away, make them feel better about themselves and about life, art that brightens their day and helps them move forward. If the economy continues its steady growth, we'll have even more demand for compelling artwork and our industry as a whole will benefit along with our licensees, retailers and consumers.

What will you do differently (if anything) for Surtex next year? I’ll try to get more sleep. I might also get another iPad so that two can be in use at one time. I also want to spend as much time next year enjoying New York as I did this year. What a pleasure once the booth was set up the day before the show, to walk from my hotel at 53rd and Seventh up and through the park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 81st and Fifth. A glorious, perfect evening in the city, enjoying Central Park, ending with hours in one of the best art museums in the world. And of course we ate at wonderful New York restaurants. Who needs Vegas?

Any emerging trends of importance to be mentioned? As mentioned above, consumers want color, brightness, beauty and we who license art need to provide it to them.

Can you offer any advice to new artists about breaking into the industry? Read the articles on this site, on my site, my blog and other sources of good information about what art licensing is and how it works. Connect with agents and artists, network, learn. Find out what potential licensees want and provide it to them. That means not painting for yourself, but rather painting images that will have maximum appeal in the market.

What makes for a great collection? Any advice for what kinds of designs to include? A great collection is one that has maximum commercial appeal. Every artist is different in approach, media, and ability. Study the market, be inspired, put it down on paper, canvas or Photoshop.

What's on the horizon for your agency? We've expanded our stable of artists to 30 to give us greater diversity of subject matter and style and color, and we're experimenting with styles of art and subject matter that are new to us. We're more open than ever before to taking on very talented new artists whom we think are a good investment. This is a good time to be in art licensing.

Anything else you'd like to add? I want to compliment the staff at Surtex for the way they ran the show. The Jacob Javits Convention Center is undergoing major expansion and one effect of that expansion is that during a rainstorm on the Monday of the show, the roof leaked in our aisle, effectively shutting us down for over an hour. That wasn't the fault of the Surtex staff, but they went the extra mile to get us running again quickly, and after the show to provide recompense to those of us who lost valuable time, contacts and business. These folks are a class act.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Learning and Discovering New Skills - Artist Petra Kern

A "Design Board" is a tool used by designers to help them get a good idea of what their clients are looking for. There are several types of design boards: Mood Boards, Inspirational Boards, or Decorating Boards, all of which are basically collages of items such as photographs, sketches, clippings, fabric swatches and color samples; they can be either actual or virtual. I used them a lot when I did interior design to help show and inspire my clients during the conceptual stage of a design project; I used hand sketches, images and floor plans and I also featured paint chips along with color and fabric swatches plus images of accessories. They are fun to make and can show a variety of styles and ideas - and save time and money in the long run.

Artist Petra Kern
I now consider my blog a bit like a design board, where I feature artists from all over the world, although I am not trying to sell anything. I just love to show off their beautiful art! I think it's fascinating to find out about other cultures and styles of art. So this week I am pleased to present an artist from Slovenia - a beautiful country attached to the northeast side of Italy. Petra Kern's art is lovely. Although she lives in Europe and is new to art licensing, she exhibited at Surtex this year through an agency. Here is her unique story:

The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself. My name is Petra Kern, of Petra Kern Designs - I started off as Petra Kern Hand Painted Designs but now my work is also digitally done on computer.

I was a journalist and stylist since I was a student. In 17 years of journalism I managed to work for national women and lifestyle magazines (printed and online) such as Elle, Elle Decor and Cosmopolitan. As much as I enjoyed working there, I could overhear a little voice whispering: "Come on, you know you want it!"

© Petra Kern
After graduating from the university, two children and lots of whispers from that little voice, I decided to stop fighting them and embrace the fact that I wanted to be an artist and surface/textile designer. In 2009, with enormous help from my husband, I launched a web page, built a Facebook Page community, made my first card collection and decided to learn as much as possible. I took many e-classes to educate myself and to really see what my options were. You have to realize that I live in a small country with literally no licensing field or knowledge of it.

With a lot of help and experience from my former occupation and with a constant desire to create and learn, I am now ready to license my work, open online shops, make holidays cards and move forward every single day with my work. I just launched my own business in October 2011 so I am still looking for the perfect licensing deal.

TMFMA: What's exciting about your creative work? Oh, I could go on and on with this one! When I started to do what I love I really started to love Mondays. I am so thrilled every time I surround myself with colors, papers and brushes that I look like a child in a candy store. To my surprise I started to love designing on computer. I really love the fact that I can sit in front of any artwork I started earlier and the continuation always comes very natural to me. Whats makes creative work exciting is also the fact that you never ever stop learning and discovering new skills. I love that!

TMFMA: What's your favorite medium or tool/s you create with? Basically everything that I have created by hand. Every medium serves to a different need and produces a different look. At the beginning I started with cheap markers. Then I realized that I have a lot of unopened guaches, then I moved to inks and watercolors, finally I discovered mixed media and I have to say I love to put different papers together. When I started to make patterns I realized that I have to learn how to make them on the computer, so I gave myself two months to learn basic rules in Illustrator. Now white paper, a black marker and a computer are very much every day tools.

© Petra Kern
TMFMA: Who or what has inspired you in your art? When I started to create (basically the major breakthrough happened in 2009) I thought that I'd lived in a creative desert for so long that my mind just collected this creative power and that I had to let it out. Now I am starting to realize that I am inspired by our heritage, colors, ornaments, flowers … Only a glimpse of a beautiful thing can be enough to do my own interpretation. I loved to travel, but I have small kids now and I am starting a business and trips are really limited. But I can not wait to see what serious travel will do to my art.

TMFMA: Do you license or sell your work? Or both? For now I sell my artwork on Etsy and two art galleries in Slovenia. I also sell my cards in a small shop. I've recently opened a Spoonflower shop where I mostly sell hand drawn/painted designs. 

TMFMA: Have you walked or exhibited an art licensing show in Europe or elsewhere? If yes, tell us about your experience. A month or so before Surtex I got an invitation from A Fresh Bunch Agency to join their team. I had two weeks to do presentation kits and in this short time period I did the best I could. I couldn't fly to New York but my work was shown at their booth.

© Petra Kern
TMFMA: Please give your analysis of the European market based on your own experience. The truth to be told I am more aware of the American market and companies than those in Europe because all my education is based on the American market. I am now a student of a Pattern Design Course with Rachel Taylor and I am still in the learning phase. But I am very pleased to see that art is turning very global and the mix of styles are what is now appearing everywhere. I am thrilled about this diversity.

TMFMA: In your view, what was of major interest to manufacturers this year? I think florals, geometrics and paisleys were very prominent. I was surprised how often pet designs appeared. For the upcoming season, cars and motocycles from the '50's will be sought after, as well as a "boho florals" type look, accompanied by geometrics. Neons will also be back as accents.

© Petra Kern
TMFMA: What advice would you give other artists who are considering the art licensing field? Oh, be prepared, be very prepared. It's a struggle, lots of searching and so many no's that you start questioning your decision every day! But be also prepared for huge satisfaction and joy when someone shows interest in your work.

TMFMA: Anything else you want to share, your future goals, new exciting projects, anything more about licensing? I am putting together few pattern and card collections to send them to potential clients. I am still a newbie and I am doing a lot of research. I am very excited about the pattern design e-course that I've mentioned because it makes me step out of my comfort zone and it challenges me every day to search for new things that would work best for my art. 

© Petra Kern
Find Petra Kern here:


Thursday, July 12, 2012

An Agent's Point of View on Surtex and Licensing Expo - Kimberly Montgomery of Montage Licensing

I asked Kimberly Montgomery, owner of Montage Licensing, what she thought of the Surtex and the Licensing Expo shows from her perspective as an agent. I also asked her for some advise that would be of interest to newbies.

Kimberly herself brings the perfect pairing of in-depth licensing experience and fine art expertise to the art licensing industry. "A small-business owner for 20 years and a successful licensed artist, I'm savvy to what manufacturers are seeking for their products and I'm profoundly informed on licensing contract issues and on what constitutes a profitable, beneficial agreement," she says. "After all, I successfully provided just that type of work for literally hundreds of products myself. I was recognized as a 'rising star' in licensing by Greetings magazine." Her popular illustrations adorn hundreds of gift and decorative products nationwide. You will find her delightful designs on greeting cards and stationary, home d├ęcor, baby products, teacher's gift items, scrap-booking items and pet accessories.

How was Surtex 2012 compared to other Surtex shows you've attended - what was different and exciting for you as an agent? The 2012 show was one of the busiest and most successful I've seen in a while! And not just for my agency, but for most of the exhibitors. The mood was upbeat, artists were happy and manufacturers were excited and in a decision making mode – which we love to see! It was the second show for Montage Licensing and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. We've already signed a number of great contracts and have many, many more in the works. At times our booth was so busy that my assistant Heather and I had a hard time keeping up with all the requests. It was very exciting!

How was the Expo and what was exciting about it for you as an agent? The Expo is a very different environment than Surtex. Much more character and big property driven with a very small area designated for Art Licensing. Traffic seemed good and the rooms were definitely filled with big hitting decision makers. Personally, the excitement for me came from speaking at the Licensing University. Linda Mariano of LM2 Marketing, Liz Wain, Design Director for Enesco, Rick Barnett, Managing Director for Art Expo and myself spent a lively hour and a half talking about the ins and outs of art licensing.

In your view, how's the current economy influencing art licensing and trade shows? The sentiment in the industry is that things are really picking up. I see more art being licensed and more optimism from manufacturers. On a personal level, I'm cautiously optimistic. My concerns are how the economy is going to fair post-election.

What will you do differently (if anything) for Surtex/Expo next year? We may make some minor tweeks to the booth, but other than that just show up!

Any emerging trends of importance to be mentioned?I keep hearing about pocket watches and peacocks!

Can you offer any advice to new artists about breaking into the industry? Yes. Hire a consultant. This industry has become very competitive and sophisticated for a newcomer to really be able to navigate it alone.

What makes for a great collection? Any advice for what kinds of designs to include? Stick with subject matter that is applicable to the Gift and Paper Products industries and make sure the work is top notch. Design in collections of 4-6 items and always include images for the major holidays. That will increase your chances of getting your work licensed.

What's on the horizon for Montage Licensing? It is my goal to build Montage Licensing into one of the most successful and respected agencies in the business. We'll accomplish this by representing the most talented and hard working artists in the industry, and always being extremely helpful, responsive and fun to work with for our wonderful manufacturing partners. With great art, a great attitude and extreme professionalism, everybody wins!

Anything else you'd like to add? This is an exciting and fun industry filled with great talent and creativity – work doesn't get any better than that!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Repeated Success - Surtex 2012, by Licensing Artist Melissa Ybarra of Iza Pearl

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! I saw some really cool patterns in mags and blogs, and I picked this one that won a recent contest (stars and stripes) on Spoonflower. I like the simple but fun pattern of stars over chevrons. Congrats to the winner, Katrina Brenco!

To further celebrate more colorful and fun patterns I thought you might like to see these awesome designs by Melissa Ybarra, of Iza Pearl.

Melissa exhibited at Surtex for the second year – her booth was one of the best looking spots on the floor and her designs stood out from the rest of the crowd; and to top it all, she and her husband Matthew were very friendly and fun to talk to! So I asked Melissa if she could give us an update on how her art licensing business is going and for us newbies it's great to know we are not alone in this adventure!

The Moon from My Attic: Last year you made a splashing debut at Surtex as Iza Pearl. This year you repeated the success at the show, with a beautifully set up booth and artwork. Can you give us an update on how the licensing business is going with you after the first year? I've had lots of exciting changes since last year! After last year's show, I went back to work full-time (after being part-time) in the marketing department at a great retail company, but found that I was spread way, way to thin and not able to give 110% to either job. With Surtex 2012 knocking at my door this year, I finally went full-time out on my own in March. So, with a late start on Surtex prep, I (with the great help of my husband!) hit the ground running, more like sprinting and gasping for air to pull everything together for the show in May.

Iza Pearl's Surtex 2011 booth
Iza Pearl's Surtex 2012 Booth

Last year, I was blessed with two great contracts from the show – one with a fabric manufacturer and the other with a stationary and purse accessories company. It has been a complete joy and honor to work with these great companies this past year. It has been so very exciting to see my ideas, doodles, and sketches evolve into beautiful and tangible products that are actually out in the marketplace. I'm truly humbled by the fact that people like the products sporting my artwork well enough to spend their hard earned money on them when there are so very many fantastic products adorning the shelves out there.

© Melissa Ybarra 
Recently, one of the stationary companies I'm licensed with launched a bunch of new products with my artwork, including some new artwork created especially for them to use on their "initial" notepads and notecards. My second fabric collection will be out this Fall. I'm so very excited for this collection...and can't wait to see all the fabulous craft projects people will create with it! 

This year's show was a great success! I have two new contracts with fantastic companies that I am absolutely over the moon about! One is designing aprons, tea towels, rugs and pillows, and the other is for gift bags and wrap. So exciting! Yay!

Also, I've had several companies request that I submit artwork to them for presentations to some incredible retailers. I'm still waiting to hear back from them as their presentations are just now getting underway. So, in the mean time, I'm keeping my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed in anticipation!! 

© Melissa Ybarra
TMFMA: What did you mostly learned in the past year of doing licensing after your first Surtex show? Last year was my first year exhibiting at Surtex and getting into art licensing. I've learned so very much:

Lesson #1: Patience, patience, patience darling, is a virtue. A lot of art licensing is submitting and waiting and waiting and waiting, and then finally you get that sparkling phone call or email that is so very exciting. It's actually a bit of an addiction. 

Lesson #2: Don't get discouraged if you don't hear back from a company. It doesn't necessarily mean that they don't like your art, or you're not a good fit for their product, it just might not be what they are looking for at the moment. Timing is everything. You still might hear something from them down the road – sometimes, it might even be a year later, and if you never hear from them, it's okay. There are lots and lots of great companies out there. Your perseverance will pay off. 

Lesson #3: Have a little fun!! This doesn't mean to throw all professionalism out the window, but nobody wants to work with a boring and blah person. So when communicating and submitting artwork to potential clients let your dazzling personality and creativity helps them put a person and a brand behind that beautiful art of yours. So make friends with your clients, it's just more fun for everyone that way. 

© Melissa Ybarra
TMFMA: Any tips you would like to give to new artists who are thinking to start in licensing or to exhibit at Surtex next year? The first step is the hardest - you truly just have to hold your nose and jump. For me, Surtex was the logical first step, although it's not necessarily everyone's. Many people have great success researching and blind submitting their artwork to companies that they are interested in partnering with.

I walked the floor of Surtex the year before I exhibited, and researched 1.1 million (okay, maybe not quite that many) licensing artists and companies online and pretty much visited the Surtex website daily that next year learning as much as I could. There are also several great blogs on the art licensing industry (obviously if you're reading this, you've already found one of the best!)*. I've also found that the companies that I've worked with have been so great in teaching me the ways of art licensing. So, don't be intimidated...every artist that is licensed has had to have a "first" contract at some point. You learn as you go, and believe me, I'm still learning. 

Find Melissa at: 

* (editor's note) - Thanks Melissa!

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Global Collection - The Sisters Gulassa

© Sisters Gulassa
In a recent radio interview I expressed some personal views about trends and colors as a designer and licensing artist. I mentioned colors such as red and blue being a strong trend, as well as colorful geometrics with Asian influence and African motif trends with a twist of modern, specifically Moroccan influenced.

Here you'll find images that perfectly illustrate my points on colors, styles and trends designed by two stylish and trendy designers and artists, the Sisters Gulassa.

I met both Cyrille and Lise Gulassa at Surtex - I found them through their very colorful and unique press kit.

Sisters Gulassa is a design house offering an array of creative services centered around their love of mixing color and patterns. Their single goal for all their clients: "to WOW your customers!" With that in mind, they offer custom collections, creative direction, color, trend boards all aimed at capturing imagination!

Cyrille and Lise collaborate across continents to unite behind their namesake label, known for its exuberant prints and unique mixes. With backgrounds in fashion, art and advertising, including Design Directors for Levi Strauss & Co. and Saatchi & Saatchi, they have also lived, worked and exhibited their art, design and fashion internationally.

As avid travelers, they take much of their inspiration from their journeys; from native folk art to modern art, to the unique color palette of a place. Their work is inspired by looking backwards and forwards, combining the past and present to create unique prints.

While at Surtex this past May they launched their new Global collections: an exciting series of vibrant designs in their trademark pattern mix. Their motto: "let's travel together! We would love to talk to you about our projects and see how we can add the allure and delight you desire!"
Some of their clients are: GAP, Old Navy, Target, Converse, Paper Chase, and Clinique to name just a few.

Find Cyrille and Lise Gulassa at:

More of their artwork:

© Sisters Gulassa