So, from my forays into LinkedIn's Art of Licensing Group - tremendous group, by the way! - I have learned the following juicy tidbits of information.
About Style Trends
From artist Jennifer L., Nilsson: "One of the ways I do is to subscribe to the various free industry newsletters. Here are a few I receive: www.hometextilestoday.com/ - www.kidstodayonline.com/ - www.homeaccentstoday.com/ - greetings.edgl.com/home - www.giftsanddec.com/"
Using this information of Jennifer's, I started clicking on all of the people who advertise on these newsletters, and as a result I learned of a card company called Cardthartic - a woman-owned company for cards and ecards that honors emotion. Go check it out! They're always looking for photography. (It's a sideline of mine - maybe of yours too?)
One more thing about trends. We're all wanting to make money from our artistic passion, but that passion has to come first. In other words, we have to follow the beat of our own artistic drums, trends or no trends.
And consider these two "trendy" facts:
(1) By the time we go out to the store and see trends, they are already old - so why not be the one who 18 months from now (that seems to be the time frame from start of a trend to its appearance) started the trend?
And (2) from artist and friend Alex Colombo: "One...useful thing I found is to have reliable (and personal if you can) European design connections that know their markets well - the US market will follow the EU trends 6-24 months after with similar stuff; although the US market has been, in my opinion, very different in style and colors from the European one, in recent times the gap has been closing faster and faster - it used to be that Europe set trends 4 years ahead in the earlier days, to allow for the licensing and manufacturing process to occur, with stocked shelves, and so on. Paris, London and Milan markets used to be the source of designs and trends. It's now a much shorter lag because of the digital era, the global market and the on-demand services. Plus we now see design sources coming from all over the world."
But we have to get more caught up in our art than in creating something we hope someone will want. If we don't, we lose our passion, and that's why we got into this in the first place!
From artist and art licensing "guru" Joan Beiriger: The twice a year (January & July) Atlanta Gift Show at the Atlanta Gift Mart is a wonderful way to meet art / licensing directors....
Imagine it - walking the floor with your portfolio of artwork, talking to art directors. Joan is not the only person to tell me about the Atlanta Gift Mart. I'm told quite a lot of art directors are on the floor, and more than happy to talk with the artist, and be in contact afterwards!
And from both LinkedIn and my own internet research and trials and errors - and successes! - I have learned the following:
About Show Preparation
Having a "book" - or portfolio - of your work is crucial, but equally crucial is showing your work on different marketing items. It seems that not everyone has our sense of imagination! Imagine that! :-) So, if you don't want to spend the time and money involved in creating your own blank "canvasses" of aprons, greeting cards, soap dispensers and the like, there are a number of places to get some of those things pre-fabbed. My favorite go-to published artist is Tara Reed. I recommend her eBook about creating patterns in Photoshop, and her How to Find, Interact and & Work With Manufacturers Who License Art.
So much to learn, so much to draw! :-)