Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Humorous Art - Artist Chris Reed

With the Atlanta show now behind me, I have been intensely working on some new collections for the upcoming Surtex show in May - the show is really around the corner and I have started feeling the pressure of making new artwork while also designing my booth (#446), promo pieces, updating my existing collections, submitting tearsheets to manufacturers for specific design requests or new potential clients, and of course keeping up with interviews with more amazing artists, manufacturers and...retailers. Yes, a new addition to our already busy schedule! I thought that it would be of great interest to find out how they see the market, product art, and the licensing world - and in effect close the loop on this intriguing and always fascinating industry.

To take a bit of a break from all these challenges and the non-stop action that has set in, I thought to start this week with an interview with artist Chris Reed, who creates humorous art that makes you smile. I saw quite a bit of it at the Atlanta Gift and Home Furnishings show on cards and other gift products, and there is something so playful in it that, indeed, it lifts my mood and helps me shake off any stress!

Actual photograph of Chris Reed
The Moon From My Attic: Please introduce yourself - My name is Chris Reed, I studied graphic design at SVA and quickly veered off into a satisfying career as a freelance illustrator. I stuck my toe in the licensing waters back in 2004 for a few years, took a break, and am now back with renewed enthusiasm.

TMFMA: What's exciting about your creative work? Brainstorming, sitting in my studio with a blank piece of paper and filling it up with written ideas and doodles. It's like mining for gold in a pile of rocks. There is a sense of anticipation that (hopefully) the next rock you turn over will be rewarding. Pairing words with imagery is also a fun aspect of licensing that I am seldom called on to execute as an illustrator. Licensing imagery, for me, is a perfect storm of design, illustration and humor, all converging as one.

TMFMA: Who or what has inspired you in your art? My biggest inspirations growing up, art-wise, were comic books and single panel cartoons. Some I enjoyed for the humor and some for the amazing artwork. Early favorites were Gahan Wilson, Edward Gorey, and Charles Addams. Exhibiting at Surtex and being part of a community of incredibly talented licensing artists is what inspires me now.

TMFMA: What's your favorite medium or tool/s you create with? Almost everything starts as pen on paper, which I scan and then color in Adobe Illustrator. Art that is type driven or less cartoony is often created completely in Illustrator. I love the flexibility that digital files allow for in making changes and variations to the art. Far from mastering the computer, I know just enough to be dangerous!

TMFMA: How long have you been doing art licensing? I jumped into licensing in 2004 for a few years and signed some deals, but realized that I enjoyed making the art much more than I did marketing it to the manufacturers. I stepped away for a bit before signing on with my agent in 2011.

TMFMA: What advice would you give other artists that are considering the art licensing field and that maybe want to exhibit in a show like Surtex? I would certainly recommend walking a show for a couple days for anyone who is interested in exhibiting for the first time. It's an invaluable learning experience to soak it all in before committing to the high cost of a booth. Sharing a booth is also an acceptable way to keep expenses down and still participate. Focus on the work you do best instead of chasing every new look and trend report. Nothing moves quickly in licensing, which takes getting used to. If you want to experience success, be prepared for the long haul.

Chris Reed's website: www.chrisreedlicensing.com

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