It's been quite a month of post-Surtex follow-ups and recharging batteries - basically letting the experience of Surtex settle in while also enjoying a nice trip to Europe on some family business. This year, I'm feeling particularly refreshed with some new creative ideas, including increasing the focus of this blog to merge two of my loves - traveling to new places and uncovering the local artists and manufacturers there.
In this spirit, I'm going to start including a periodic feature on the blog we're calling "Art on the Road," where we'll try to meet artists in their own studios! To kick off this new series, we had the honor, privilege, and joy to meet and interview Cathy Heck in her studio in Austin, Texas!
It was a great experience - not only did we get to explore her creative vision and talk technique, we also got to really get to know each other and chat about life over lovely tea! And, like tasty icing on the most beautiful of cakes, we also got to tour her studio - and what a studio! The way she has set it up is like a mixture of the most creative environment you can imagine while also having a highly organized workflow - all with to-die-for indirect natural lighting and a stunning view overlooking downtown Austin.
Of course, it wasn't always so - she started her art career studying under a fabulous art professor who encouraged her to "use as much paper as you need" which gave her the permission to practice practice practice, such that now she can quickly sketch almost anything from any angle and in any position, literally from right out of her head. It has also resulted in her unique, highly recognizable hand, which is at once joyful, playful, and utterly charming.
From there she ventured to New York, where she spent several years as an Art Director and gained extensive insight into the other side of the art and illustration world, working with artists and further developing her own craft.
As a result, she gained a wealth of experience and insight into how products are developed, marketed, and sold to retailers and eventually the end consumer. After making the leap to art licensing many years ago, her creative team has grown to include her husband and daughters - it truly has become a family affair!
Since she got her start in the art licensing industry when it was still in its early days, she has a great perspective on the changes in the industry as well as in the consumer marketplace. Consumer expectations have evolved and have become more personal as well as less static. As an example, she related how a good selling design might sell for five or more years in those early days, while now even a very popular design may last only a couple of seasons.
But perhaps the most surprising and enjoyable aspect of our visit was the opportunity to talk not just about the mechanical aspects of the creative process and the techniques she uses to create her art, but also about what it means to create art from the perspective of the head AND the heart. It was thrilling to explore how we surface our passion and purpose for doing what we do as well as analyzing and critiquing our work, ourselves, and the world around us in the process.
Vision, creative work, and joy - in many ways that sums up our visit!