Sunday, November 3, 2013

Enjoyment of Painting and Exploring New Ideas ~ Artist Paul Brent

I recently happened to be on the Florida coast and I found it very inspiring for painting new collections. It reminded me of one of my favorite veteran licensing artists who has painted beautiful coastal collections and who was the very first person to help me when I started in art licensing ~ his positive encouragements were very helpful and also reassuring.

So I am very happy to present artist Paul Brent and feature some of his new beautiful paintings while sharing this great interview within this community!

Artist Paul Brent
The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself - After a childhood spent enjoying art, I majored in Art at Cal State Long Beach and after two years decided to change my major to Architecture and transfer to the University of California at Berkeley where I got my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Architecture. I began attending outdoor art shows with a friend while I was still working in an architectural firm and sold my artwork at shows and galleries. I became a member of the Florida Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society and the Society of Illustrators during this time.

Along the way I began to print my work and from there I began attending print and framing trade shows in 1986 to sell the prints. At one of those shows I met a manufacturer of book marks who was looking for a Florida artist to create designs for coastal regions for bookmarks. That went well and I learned about a new show in New York, called Surtex, where I could meet more manufacturers. In 1988 I attended my first Surtex show and have attended every year since then. I opened a gallery and distribution center for prints in 1990 and my wife, Lana Jane, joined me as president of our company in 1992.

© Paul Brent

TMFMA: What brought you to art in the first place? My mother was an elementary school teacher and always had a lot of art supplies around and would do art projects with me and my sister at an early age. I began drawing and my mother bought how-to-draw books for me when I was 5 and 6 years old. It was something that clicked with me and as I progressed people recognized me for my talent and further encouraged me to create art.

© Paul Brent
TMFMA: What's exciting about your creative work? Each time I sit down and pick up my pencil or brush there is a new idea to explore. I really enjoy painting and creating and thinking up something new. I like thinking about trends and how my work can either go with a trend or in some cases begin a trend based on what is happening in the world. People ask if I ever get a creative block and the reverse happens with me. I have to edit and chose from the many things I want to do because I do not have time to create all of the work I want to.

TMFMA: How long have you been doing art licensing? I began licensing in 1988 so that makes it just at 25 years. I found licensing to be both interesting to me as an artist and financially rewarding. I began without really knowing what I was doing but after my first attendance at Surtex I began shaping my work for licensing. By the third year I had major contracts for wallpaper, bed linens, tile and home accessories. I found that my niche as a coastal artist worked well with art licensing and this has proved true over the years.

© Paul Brent
TMFMA: What brought you to exhibit for the first time and what/how many shows have you exhibited in? A friend told me about Surtex and it seemed to me that my work might fit art licensing. So I have been in 25 Surtex shows and we have also exhibited in the Licensing Expo probably 15 times or more. That makes around 40 trade shows but does not include the gift, house ware and linen shows we have attended.

TMFMA: What do you suggest new artists do to present themselves to the world of licensing for the first time? First be unique. Find an area that you excel in and that says who you are in the world of art. Focus on your central artistic core until you are established. Don't try to exhibit every style and subject you can possibly paint. Pick your strongest and stay with it.

© Paul Brent
TMFMA: Please give us your analysis of the market based on your own experience and contacts. It is a tougher market to get into now than when I started. When I began we had to explain what licensing was to manufacturers. Now licensing is a given and we have to compete with the number of established and new artists on the market. The emphasis on the new is now stronger than ever in art licensing. We also have to deal with copyright infringements that seem to come in ever increasing numbers. So I would say that art licensing has reached a mature phase which means that competition for each contract is more fierce than ever. A successful artist has to be a successful business person, too.

TMFMA: In your view, what was of major interest to manufacturers this year? I would probably say that collage, using elements that are put together rather than paintings by themselves was at the top. In this, the use of pattern with subject was very successful. If I were starting now as a licensed artist I would start with a strong holiday selection of designs.

© Paul Brent
TMFMA: What do you think the main trends are for 2014? Contemporary styles are definitely trending up and the shabby chic direction and retro are stable to down trending. Holiday licensing is on the rise with Harvest, a look that can go from Halloween to Thanksgiving becoming a defined holiday style and Day of the Dead and Halloween merging. Mardi Gras is also expanding into many new regions of the country. It seems that everyone likes to party and that any holiday is an excuse to party and therefore it's becoming a licensing opportunity.

Second homes are also seeking new looks so more contemporary versions of coastal and lodge that are pattern oriented are moving up in trend. The phenomenon of the creative wedding has brought that category into the licensing field. Woodland themes for boys and girls are even more popular now. Chalkboard art has gotten a big boost from Pinterest and is going strong. We will have to see if that has lasting power. Look for sites such as Pinterest and Instagram to be the breeding places for new trends.

© Paul Brent

TMFMA: What advice would you give other artists that are considering the art licensing field? Become familiar with the business before you exhibit your work. Attend Surtex or the Licensing Expo as a visitor first to observe and attend lectures. Go online to find information about art licensing: this blog plus several others, "The Art of Licensing" on Linkedin and my own informational site with free and low cost courses is are all good ways to familiarize yourself with the industry. As far as your art, be confident, be original, be prolific and be professional.

© Paul Brent
TMFMA: Any other useful info that you'd like to share about art and licensing? There is something about being original and being in the market at the right time in the right spot. Luck has something to do with it but being astute and knowing how to use your talent to be in the market place with the right style and subject at the right time can be the biggest boost to your career whether you are just starting or in mid-career. Also you have to have perseverance in art licensing. Overnight success is not something you will generally encounter. It talks time to build your reputation, your portfolio and your knowledge of what manufacturers want.

Find out more about Paul Brent at

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