Monday, September 16, 2013

Creating Art and Designing Products - Artists Eric and Julie Comstock

I have been working on new collections that I want to show next year at Surtex, although I am sure I will propose them to some specific manufacturers before then. My mind has been drifting off in the Surtex world for the past couple of days for some reasons, and so I thought it would be a perfect time to share with you this great interview with the Comstocks. I met Eric at Surtex this past May and Julie via Linkedin - very lovely people and talented artists.

Artists Eric & Julie Comstock
TMFMA: Please introduce yourself. We are Eric and Julie Comstock. In college, we met and fell in love almost instantly, so after 5 months we got married. We've been happily working, drawing, painting and raising our four kids and dog ever since. Our careers began as art directors at advertising agencies. When our first child was born, Julie quit her job to be a stay at home mom. Ten years later we began our own company, manufacturing products for the craft and hobby industry. Two years ago we sold that brand and now license our work full time.

© The Comstocks
TMFMA: What brought you to art in the first place? Eric has been an artist his whole life. There was nothing else for him. Julie grew up around art, but didn't decide to pursue it until college as a creative hiatus from advanced academic classes in high school.

TMFMA: What's exciting about your creative work? Hopefully the work itself! And, of course, seeing it become real.

TMFMA: Who or what has inspired you in your art? Eric has been inspired by Richard Diebenkorn and his good friend, Nate Williams who has been like a mentor to him. Julie has been inspired by Eric who has really great taste in design and women.

© The Comstocks
TMFMA: How long have you been doing art licensing? We started licensing artwork seriously in 2007. We had done a little before that but felt that we had been taken advantage of. There's always risk for the artist. However, we had some opportunities with new companies asking for our work in industries we would never want to pursue manufacturing on our own. It was a win-win situation because we could leverage our designs to generate more income and our new licensees had great success for themselves as well. Our favorite thing about licensing, though, is that we get to focus on the part we love and do best - creating art and designing products.

© The Comstocks
TMFMA: What brought you to exhibit for the first time and how many shows have you exhibited in - if any? It was Julie's idea to attend Surtex in 2009. We had just designed a beach line and she was sure it would look great on lots of products. We have attended Surtex ever since as well as the Las Vegas licensing show for the last two years.

TMFMA: Do you work with an agent or do you represent yourself? We have always represented ourselves, but at this very moment Eric is working with an agent on a potential product in a new industry.

TMFMA: What do you suggest new artists do to present themselves to the world of licensing for the first time? Take your business seriously and present yourself professionally. As an artist you can get away with a lot of quirkiness, but people will take you more seriously and feel more secure with you if you have a level of professionalism. We all know the creative mind can have a hard time with follow through and many licensees have had bad experiences with artists for this reason. Don't ever let a potential client assume you are one of these artists. Take notes, remain focused and try not to let your mind wander onto your next great idea!  

© The Comstocks

TMFMA: What advice would you give other artists that are considering the art licensing field? The best advice is to consider where your art fits in the market. If you can't think of a market for your art, you won't be successful with licensing. If the market that would love your art is extremely niche, it will be much more difficult to be successful licensing it. There are many talented artists that create great work who will never be licensed because there isn't a market for their look. If you are one of those artists you will either have to change your art or change your expectation of licensing success. It's not fun to hear, but it's true.

See more of Eric and Julie's art here:

© The Comstocks

No comments: