Monday, April 28, 2014

Jenny Morgan, A Fresh Bunch and The International Home and Housewares Show

My special correspondent Jenny Morgan was able to attend The International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago a few weeks ago and has written a brief article to share with us. But before I talk about that, I'd like to introduce Jenny and her group of collaborative artists, A Fresh Bunch, as my guest this week.

"A Fresh Bunch came out of a personal desire to focus on my strengths and passions," says Jenny. In 2001 she had started a small wholesale stationery line because she loved design and working with paper, but by 2008 found that she was spending her days on things supporting the business that absolutely sucked the creativity out of her - shipping, accounting, customer service, and production.

It turned out that other designers were finding themselves in the same boat, so A Fresh Bunch started with a group of like-minded artists who wanted to focus on art. That naturally led to A Fresh Bunch creating a platform that allows artists and clients to both focus on what they each do best. This means making it easy for artists to create their most marketable work and to get that work in front of clients while also making it easy for clients to review and select great work.

Jenny adds, "Behind the scenes we offer tutorials on a variety of topics, professional briefs for every client assignment, and one on one feedback on all work submitted to us, the goal being that artists learn and grow while being a member of the Bunch - really we're like a webinar, e-course, online critique forum, and licensing agency rolled into one."

Artists: Courtney Capone, Stacy Montgomery, Tracy Taft-Myers, Tracey Sonneborn, Megan Hain, Marianne Mandrell, Michelle Gemmel, Melissa Nicholson, Siobhan Lynott, Inga Wilmink, Andrea Rincon, Eryn J. Carlisle, Zoe Wodarz, Bella Edgley, Michelle Doran,Onneke Van Wardenburg, Gaby Braun, Miranda Mol, Kim Siebold, Cat & Xenos Mesa

A Fresh Bunch occasionally issues a call for applications via industry blogs, but in general applications come to them via word of mouth. "Because so much of our business happens online we are very comfortable 'meeting' artists via our online application process. Our membership is capped at 75 artists because of the behind the scenes work we do with each member artist," Jenny explains. Sometimes it depends on what they're working on at the time they receive an application, but in general they want to see an artist who has a unique style, strong illustration/character creation skills, and great typography skills.

Artists: Allison Holdridge, Bethania Lima, Maria Jose Bautista, Gill Eggleston, Marcia Copeland, Liz May, Yenty Jap, Susanna Nousiainen, Petra Wolff, Liz Ablashi, Cecilia Garcia Lanus, Angie Bowman, Kamie Rudisill, Petra Kern, Vanessa Raidy, Tracey Atkinson, Molly Broadley, JoDitt Williams, Laura Mitzelfelt, Jenny Morgan.

Jenny also says that the best way to know whether your work is right for licensing is to shop and to think like a product - what type of art do you typically see on products you love? How could your artistic style translate to those products? "Typically when we pass on an application it's because the art looks like it's been created without product development in mind or it's overly simple," she further explains.

Then she goes on, saying, "the internet is great for many things but it can be a dangerous place for artists - it's easy to get sidetracked by all the visuals and to confuse what someone shows in their portfolio or online shop with what actually sells to the end customer. On the internet, you are whatever you say you are so try to block the noise online and focus your attention to the art on products that are flying off the shelves in stores - you only make money in licensing if the products with your art SELL!"

The International Home & Housewares Show

What are the general trends & colors?

  • Eco-friendly, reusable products, from shopping bags to containers to lunch boxes were everywhere.
  • Design driven everyday objects for the home: pots & pans, spatulas, trivets, measuring spoons, brooms, sponges - all are sporting color and pattern.
  • Products thematically aimed at food, beer and wine enthusiasts.
  • Feminine Aprons - a very defined waist and pretty patterns.
  • Indigo, shown in a range from navy to greenish-blue was the stand out color.
  • Nautical and Ocean themes were hot for adult and kids items.

What's selling?

  • Design driven everyday objects and preferably reusable, eco-friendly products.

Ladelle Aprons & oven mitts
Prairie Dog Shopping Totes

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