Monday, March 30, 2015

Don’t Be Afraid to Show Your Work - Artist Jennifer Orkin Lewis, aka August Wren

A few weeks ago I published an interview with a new art licensing agency called Jennifer Nelson Artists. I really liked their fresh and unique work so I decided to publish all the artists there, starting with the amazing Jennifer Orkin Lewis, aka August Wren. We share a passion for art and design but also for interviewing artists to help them connect to their communities. Jennifer's interviews can be found here on Riverarts.

Jennifer is an illustrator and painter and a RISD graduate in textile design. She lives in a pretty little village just a bit north of NYC on the Hudson River. For many years she was a stylist in fabric manufacturing companies and designed lines for lingerie, children's clothes, and sleepwear, she said. Jennifer bought lots of art from shows like Surtex and Printsource. She got to know all of the design studios, although she didn't paint at all herself in those years.

© Jennifer Orkin Lewis
"When my son was small I started painting for a design studio that sold to card companies. That was the beginning of starting my own business. I slowly phased out of my job and focused more on my own art. When my son was in high school I realized I would have an empty nest soon and that's when I made a strong decision to become an illustrator. I opened an Etsy store, took many classes, and painted and drew all the time. I started getting licensing and freelance work but it was a long path. The culmination so far is a book I illustrated last summer for Abrams books coming out April 7th. It's called Sitting in Bars with Cake."

YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN/ART STYLE: I have so many different styles that could be my favorite, I love Matisse and also American Folk art. I love roaming the Met to see ancient vases and tapestries. I can't leave out mid-century modern and vintage/flea market stuff. There is something inspiring to find in everything it's hard for me to choose just one. But I try to find that spark that speaks to me and create my own language.

© Jennifer Orkin Lewis
THE MAIN INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR WORK: I find my inspiration everywhere, I particularly love painting flowers and people. But it's the little everyday thoughts and things that cross my path that make up most of my work. I will paint a bouquet of flowers or find some leaves from a walk on a trail, I visit a busy place and look at all the crowds, I see a beautiful teacup or a fancy sweater. I imagine an intricate piece of lace or a butterfly garden. All of these things inspire me to paint.

THREE (or less) KEY NOTES ON ART & LICENSING: This is my first year showing at Surtex. So far my advice is to start preparing early – create new art, your banners, a portfolio book. It's so much work and you don't want to be scrambling at the end. And don't be afraid to show your work.

WHAT YOU REALLY LOVE, I.E. YOUR PASSION: I really love ice cream. Black raspberry chip. That makes me very happy. The beach, traveling with my husband and son and sitting on my porch in the warm weather with the sun on my face for a mid afternoon break.

© Jennifer Orkin Lewis
WHAT YOU DON'T REALLY LIKE: I hate migraines and cold weather. A lot.

A FAVORITE SOMETHING: Speaking on the phone with my son who is in Florence for a semester.

A MEMORABLE EVENT IN YOUR LIFE: Having lunch on a rock in Northern Thailand with elephants bathing in the water beside us. And having my sketchbook featured in Uppercase magazine.

A FUN MEMORY: I had the most delicious peach I have ever eaten from a farm stand in Sicily on my honeymoon. It's been many years and I can still taste it; I've never had another peach that great. Another is on a trip to Paris. I stopped into the Notre Dame cathedral for a minute (for some reason there weren't many tourists) and a choir was singing Gregorian chants, filling the whole space with incredible sound. It was unforgettable.

© Jennifer Orkin Lewis
YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD AS AN ARTIST: For the past 6 years I've been on the board of our local arts council Riverarts. I've created a blog where I interview artists to introduce them to our community. It's something that has been on the back burner for a little while but I mean to pick up again.

I've also started a sketchbook project where I paint for 30 minutes daily and post them on Instagram. I think and hope I have inspired many others to start their own daily practice. It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done.

THE NEXT CHAPTER IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE: For the last two months I've been lucky enough to have a wonderful agent, Jennifer Nelson. She is smart, encouraging and lovely. I hope to up my whole game in the licensing world. I will be showing for the first time this year at Surtex (Booth 355) with a new collective I've joined called Cloverly with 3 other amazing artists.

A HELPFUL TIP TO OTHER ARTISTS: Be yourself. Look at other's work for inspiration but then close it down when you are doing your own. Don't worry about the final outcome during your creative playtime. That's where you discover the most about yourself.

© Jennifer Orkin Lewis

© Jennifer Orkin Lewis

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dreaming to Have Art on as Many Products as Possible - Artist Victoria Hutto

This week I am pleased to share this interview with artist and designer Victoria Hutto.

Victoria makes her living by licensing her artwork to companies worldwide. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Victoria has been working in the decorative market for over 20 years. Her work appears on many different products ranging from greeting cards, to fabric, to pillows, to wall décor or anything that needs artwork.

Here is what she shares with us today:

YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN/ART STYLE: I enjoy all types of styles. Every style has a unique quality to it and should be appreciated. I am drawn to styles that are very different than my own work, such as watercolor that is loose and free, or folk and primitive art.

THE MAIN INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR WORK: I find inspiration is everyday life. The simple things that make you smile. The bright yellow blooms of daffodils on my daily walks in the park, my dogs when they curl up on my lap for warmth, hearing my husband singing in the other room when he thinks I am not listening; those are things that inspire me.

WHAT YOU REALLY LOVE, I.E. YOUR PASSION: I love my work. I suppose that is the reason why I "work" almost every hour of the day. My work is woven into my everyday life. Even when I am not physically creating, I am always looking for inspiration that I can bring into my creations. My husband and I share this in our lives together and we feed each other's passion. It is our way of life.

WHAT YOU DON'T REALLY LIKE: I don't like crowds. I sometimes feel claustrophobic when there are too many people around. It's interesting that I feel this way, since I grew up in the big city of the San Francisco Bay Area. We now live in a city with a population of about 25,000. I have grown to appreciate the slower pace.

A FAVORITE SOMETHING: Every year my husband has a garden. My favorite "something" is the time we spend together seeing what has blossomed. I know it sounds a little bit silly, but every time we find that first baby tomato, it's like finding a treasure.

A MEMORABLE EVENT IN YOUR LIFE: One of my most memorable events was seeing my first greeting card design in the store and turning it over to see my name printed on it. I still get excited seeing my name in print on products. It's a feeling of accomplishment that never seems to go away.
A FUN MEMORY: Growing up in the city, I never had the opportunity to go camping. When my husband and I were dating he wanted me to experience camping. We spent 29 days camping through the National Parks in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. The experience was priceless.

YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD AS AN ARTIST: Long ago, my husband and I worked with gourds as a medium. We became known as "gourd" heads. We have given several workshops working with gourds and teaching the history of gourds. Like people, gourds come in all shapes and sizes. It was interesting to see what shape each person picked, and what their vision for the gourd became. We had many children make masks and animals out of them. It is nice to be able to inspire others.

THE NEXT CHAPTER IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE: My dream has always been to have my art on as many products as they can be applied on. I plan to continue art licensing. The business is a fickle one and is forever changing. I will see how far I can take it. In addition to the licensing I would like to start creating more 3-D art. I like working with different mediums; fabric, paper, clay etc. I'm not sure at this point what form that will take, but it is exciting to see how it may develop over time.

A HELPFUL TIP TO OTHER ARTISTS: Learn to trust your gut." There have been times when I put pressure on myself to create as many pieces of art as I could to submit to companies. Some of them I felt good about, others, I did just because it was a subject that was popular. My thinking was, the more I did, the more chances that they would get picked up. In the end, the ones I felt really good about were the ones that went to contract and did well in the market. That tiny voice that tells us something is "off" usually is right. If you feel this, others will too. It is usually better to do fewer quality pieces than spending time doing a lot of mediocre ones.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

And the Three Winners are...

Congratulations to our three winners in this special giveaway to celebrate The Moon from My Attic's 4th birthday. The winners will also be featured on this blog in the upcoming months in a special interview!

Patrizia Vitrano won the two books!

By Artist and Author Ronnie Walter

The smartphone case goes to Ev Wesson!

Design by Alex Colombo

The three thank you cards go to Madeline Faiella!

Design by Alex Colombo

Thank you all who participated and for reading our blog. Keep tuned for more fun giveaways, special product reviews, and amazing stories from our art and licensing community!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Happy Birthday Giveaway - The Moon from My Attic Blog and 4 Years of Fun, Art and Friendships!

As promised a couple of weeks ago, a special giveaway will take place next week to celebrate 4 years of blogging about art and licensing. We will continue to publish amazing stories from artists, manufacturers, and agents as well as report on the main art & licensing design shows like Surtex, AmericasMart Atlanta, Licensing Expo and more!

So stay tuned for Tuesday, March 17 (a few days later than I earlier announced...) when we will post the three randomly selected winners of the giveaway.

The only requirements are that you sign up and leave a comment below, on our FB Page, or our Twitter.

2 amazing fun books signed by Ronnie Walter

A Southwest-Motif Samsung Smartphone Case (it fits an S4)

A set of 3 of my Recent Thank You Cards with their Envelopes

Feel free to help spread the word around to your family and friends!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Surface Design - Artist Kelly Ventura

This week is special for The Moon from My Attic. Not only will we announce a special giveaway on Friday, but we are very pleased to introduce to you an amazing, talented surface designer and painter.

I briefly met Kelly Ventura at Surtex last year and I became a fan of her work! She is a Michigan-based surface designer leaving her unique mark on the home, gift and children's markets with her fresh florals, playful prints and hand-painted patterns.

Kelly's watercolors are really lovely and unique, as you can see here. She has been licensed with modern brands such as West Elm, Minted, Create & Barrel, and more.

I asked Kelly a few questions to share with us:

YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN/ART STYLE: I am not drawn to one specific style, but more to the color and textures found in each piece.

THE MAIN INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR WORK: I am inspired by many things; nature, light, textures, changes on a daily basis.

WHAT YOU REALLY LOVE, I.E. YOUR PASSION: I love that I am able to do what I love everyday, in a studio nestled in my own home. Close to the ones that I love most.

WHAT YOU DON'T REALLY LIKE: Math. Also, when my studio gets overwhelmed with stacks of artwork waiting to be organized and filed away.

A FAVORITE SOMETHING: My studio. It is flooded with natural light and is a really happy place to spend the day creating. My boys have a few boxes of their own supplies in the studio as well, so they love to create with me.

A MEMORABLE EVENT IN YOUR LIFE: 2014 was a great year. My family moved into a new home in a great community...a hunt that took over two years. My Surtex debut was a husband and I left NYC feeling great about all of the time and energy we poured into the preparation. 2015 is going to be amazing!

A FUN MEMORY: The chestnut tree at my old childhood home. My sisters and I spent countless hours hanging out in that tree, collecting boxes of chestnuts and soaking up the mid-west summers.

YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD AS AN ARTIST: I have had plenty of great mentors in my career and plan to give back in the same way. I try to be as helpful as possible when new artists reach out to me for advice.

THE NEXT CHAPTER IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE: I am heading to Surtex again this May and we'll see what happens as the rest of the year unfolds. I have some really exciting product launches for 2015, so am thrilled to share those soon!

A HELPFUL TIP TO OTHER ARTISTS: I think it's really important to make time to create for the sake of creating. It's the best way to find your strengths and identify your weaknesses.