Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Art Licensing On the Road - Travels Amongst Art Communities: Seattle and Washington State

The post-Surtex show has been very busy for us and it has provided more insights and reflections about where we are going in our art licensing journey. While we are focusing more on the business aspects of our adventure, our blog will also shift to include art community editorials.

Starting today, in addition to artist and manufacturer interviews and tales, I want to introduce the new series of editorials called On The Road! This series is about art communities, art licensing groups, and manufacturers in specific areas of the world.

The opening state in the series is Washington and the Seattle area - from here, we will travel down and cover all States and other countries around the globe. So be sure you get ready for when our tour comes through your city, state or country!

A little background history: Washington is a beautiful ever-green state in the Pacific Northwest region of North America and was named after George Washington, the first President of the United States.

Seattle, Washington - courtesy of Paul Stout

Seattle and its surroundings are home to many very active art communities; the emerald city lies on a narrow strip of land between the salt waters of Puget Sound and the fresh waters of Lake Washington. Beyond these bodies lie two rugged mountain ranges, the Olympics to the west and the Cascades to the east. It is a city built on hills and around water, in a mild marine climate that encourages prolific vegetation and abundant natural resources.

Seattle area - courtesy of Kristen Tourtillotte
Rural Pacific Northwest Valley - Courtesy of Sharyn Sowell


Artist Sharyn Sowell

Artist Sharyn Sowell believes that all life is a miracle, and her art reflects that philosophy. She designs everything from rubber stamps, fabric, greeting cards and giftware.

Sharyn's art is a blend of calligraphy, watercolor, letterpress printing, and cut paper, all done meticulously by hand and merged digitally. A proven professional with a long track record, Sharyn designs for companies like Hallmark, Creative Converting, and York Wallcoverings. Her original art can be seen in the British National Portrait Gallery, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and the Orlando Waldorf Astoria. Her calligraphic Kindle covers have sold over 2.25 million units and she has won multiple Louie Awards, the Oscar of the greeting card industry.

© Sharyn Sowell

Sharyn partners with Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines, where she shares her love of crafting and art as a featured instructor internationally. Travel furnishes abundant inspiration for Sharyn's art and allows her to spot global trends and fill dozens of sketchbooks that turn into collections of new work.

Whether in the rural Pacific Northwest valley she calls home, leading a group sketching the French Riviera or sketching lilies of the valley in her own garden, you can identify Sharyn by her genuine smile and ever-busy ink-stained fingers.

Artist Barb Tourtillotte

Every morning artist Barb Tourtillotte is a blessing to wake up and make the 60 second commute to her studio to start her typical 10 hour work day. Her husband has to drag her away from her studio each evening as once on that creative roll, it's hard to break away!

© Barb Tourtillotte

Prior to getting into the licensing arena, Barb was a graphic designer for many years, designing lots of logos, brochures, billboards and advertisements. She made the transition into licensing in 2000, exhibiting for the first time at Surtex in 2002.

Today she works with over 70 wonderful companies, licensing her artwork for products from dinnerware and fabrics to paper goods and giftware. Life is grand!

Artist Jane Shasky

From the lush Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State, artist Jane Shasky paints beautifully detailed watercolors celebrating the flowers, plant and bird-life surrounding around her home. Her paintings are remarkable for their detail and warm love of life.

To see Jane's work is to experience the timeless cycle of seasons; from the bounty of summer flowers and fresh-picked herbs to the delightful visitations of native birds perched among autumn leaves or singing from snowy winter branches in the nearby woods. In every scene she captures, Jane pays precise, almost photographic attention to color and detail, yet somehow still conveys the magic and sense of wonder at the nature all around her. With every stroke of her brush, she creates a feeling of serenity that brings the joy, grace and peace of the garden indoors.

© Jane Shasky

After a career in corporate illustration, Jane turned her hand to designing timeless images for the home. She works with many prestigious companies in the gift and stationery industries and her meticulous attention to detail has been called "a breath of fresh air." Today, her watercolor paintings appear on a wide range of quality products, including calendars, stationery, fabrics, greeting cards, tabletop, home d├ęcor and more.

When she's not painting, you'll find Jane working in her gardens or capturing the beauty of beaches and mountains of the Pacific Northwest with camera in hand, finding new inspiration at every turn.

Artist Cori Dantini

Artist Cori Dantini would love to dress like her paper ladies and explore the world in their skirts and buns and neat little boots, but she is far too practical for that. In fact, she spends much of her time in her studio, covered in a mosaic of ink stains and glue dabs, bits of wordy paper clinging to her slippers.

And, as it happens, her studio is not located in an Italian villa, but in eastern Washington where she has returned to her hometown of Pullman to ply her trade among its rolling wheat fields.

© Cori Dantini

After earning a BFA in painting from Washington State University and spending a couple decades fiddling with brushes, oils, pencils, markers, and most recently, the mouse attached to her computer, she has discovered an organic process involving layers and language. Any meaning found in her work comes from this process. She never begins a project with a message in mind. Rather, the materials and her process are what do the talking. It is this mysterious, reciprocal quality of art that intrigues her and makes her think of her works as visual poems.

Artist Nina Seven

Nina Seven is a surface designer and illustrator from beautiful Seattle, WA. She lives in a 1909 Craftsman style home with her family and a couple of crazy cats. The house is filled with colorful painted walls and a lot of art!

© Nina Seven

Ever since she was a young girl, she had a passion for creating art. One of her life's greatest joys is designing and illustrating with beautiful colors and fun patterns and textures. Working as a surface designer is a testament that dreams really can come true (with a lot of hard work, of course!). She is represented by Pink Light Studio.

Artist Keiko Suzuki

Keiko Suzuki is born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, and lives in Seattle with her husband and licensing manager William Hickey. She became a full-time artist in 2011 after leaving a nine year-long corporate carrier behind. Since early childhood, Keiko had a keen interest in using different types of paper to create origami and drawings of mostly girl related imagery.

She learned a hand-torn newspaper collage technique from a book written by Masako Ogawa who originally developed the method. In July 2012, she founded Bless Hue to introduce her artwork to the earth-conscious society.

Artist Josephine Kimberling

Josephine Kimberling is a surface designer who has been creating pattern, artwork and design solutions for industry leaders in fashion, stationary and gift wrap for over 12 years. Her art licensing brand offers beautiful patterns, delicious color stories and distinctive design work across a growing range of products including fabric, stationary, sticky notes, travel bags, organizational products, magnets, melamine, scrapbooking, wall decor - even cake! 

© Josephine Kimberling

With her work inspired by the fashion industry, Josephine's brand and signature style combines the modern influence with a vintage twist - all infused with extraordinary color. Josephine grew up in California, and currently lives with her husband in the greater Seattle Washington area, where she can be found shopping, reading, sipping a chai latte, and continuously dreaming up new art. 


Lynnea’s passion for art began at an early age and motivated her to earn a BA in Art and a Masters in Painting. Finding her niche in the marketplace would come through an avenue that reflected both her love of art and verse ~ the greeting card industry. She has worked in a variety of roles since her start in 1989, such as writer, art director, artist, and product designer. She now licenses her artwork for product categories that include Home Decor, Fabric, Tabletop, Gifts, Paper, and yes, a greeting card or two. Among her accomplishments have been several Louie Awards for greeting cards, a Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators, and a Sammi Award for promoting the arts through volunteerism in her community’s classrooms.

Lynnea finds inspiration in many different places; in reflections on the nearby lake, in a well-written story, in nature’s vast beauty, and even in difficult life challenges. “I find my way into the creative process through visual inspiration or through words,” she says. Among the many blessings Lynnea counts are her husband and three sons, a growing faith, the fresh air of Washington... and plenty of Starbucks coffee. 

There are many other artists in this large talented community so I couldn't possibly feature everyone of you but please, feel free to leave a lovely comment below with your full name and link to be included in this post.

I hope you enjoyed our first tour and watch out for our special interview with a renowned manufacturer from the Seattle area next!

Seattle Downtown Flowers Market - Courtesy of Paul Stout

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