Soft Drops in the Shop

Continuing with my exploration of a loose and free style, I’m forging ahead with my sketch to print process and added a new design to my Society6 shop called Soft Drops.

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I think it’s interesting to note that simple designs look easy to create, but it’s not always the case. In fact, I doodled more than 25 pages and digitized more than 10 different designs before deciding to go with this one combination in the end.

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It’s actually an challenging job to curate and distill a design to the bare elements. What is necessary to include, but also swiping away all that is extraneous. More and more I’m exploring this topic of curation and how important it is. Every individual has a perspective and we filter our work with our artist eyes.

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I’m also learning to trust myself and my own unique sense of style. To stop thinking about what others might or might not think, so as not to be influenced or swayed by those imaginary critique voices.

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As with anything else, it takes practice and getting used to. Slowly, but surely – I move forward!

How to Get Started in Art Licensing

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Have you been wondering if art licensing might be a great addition to your streams of income as a creative? I think it’s easy to assume a lot of things when you see people’s artwork on actual products in a store. You might think you need major connections to get that kind of deal. Or you might assume they are making loads on royalties, when in fact the money timeline in art licensing is drastically different from direct sales and commissions.

To get started in licensing I think it’s really important to learn the basics and figure out if you really want to delve into the industry. It’s not a quick and easy process, no matter how much artwork you might already have in your library. I believe you really have to be in it for the long haul and consider it as only a part of your income pie – at least in the beginning.

What is Art Licensing?
The basic definition is that you as an artist will let manufacturers use your art on specific products in exchange for a percentage of the sales. Obviously, it gets more complicated because the terms of the license includes a lot more details and it’s really important to understand exactly what you are signing off on. The enticing aspect of licensing art is that you still own your artwork rights – it’s not like selling an original piece. This means you can license to multiple manufacturers and really leverage your artwork.

Is Art Licensing For You?
Now, I’m sure you are interested because the idea of art licensing always sounds tempting and lucrative. However, you really need to figure out if art licensing is the industry for you and how much income you can truly make to factor it into your business plan. As I’ve already mentioned, the payment timeline is long! Royalties are usually paid per quarter and it takes a long time to get product designed, manufactured and into stores for sale. So it’s not the type of business that will boost your income immediately. Again, you have to be in it for the long haul. Also, you have to understand that the business comes with it’s challenges, design changes, color changes, etc… you have to be okay with the whole process in the end. Does it make you happy to work in this manner? Is art licensing really for you?

Get Serious
Finally, if you do want to license your artwork then you have to get serious and go for it all the way. There are so many amazing artists out there, so I really don’t think there is a shortage of great artwork honestly. But like any kind of business, there are other aspects that make people want to work with you instead of the next guy or gal. Ultimately, it’s a professional business and relationship, so you need to treat it as such. There is a lot of competition and it takes time to build up your clientele.

If you do a bit of research, you’ll get a feel for if you want to investigate further or not in the realm of art licensing. If you do want to go for it, I would suggest a few resources that might help you out.

Art Licensing Show
I’m actively working on my journey in art licensing and slowly but surely, getting all my ducks in a row. One aspect is putting my artwork in a secure location for interested parties to review.

Art Directors and Buyers can review my private portfolio on ArtLicensingShow.com. The grand opening is today, so it felt appropriate to blog about this subject today – but it’s been in the works for a long time now. I signed up way back in May 2014! The website is a huge community of artists and it’s basically a digital tradeshow for those of us who can’t physically get to Surtex and other related professional events for art licensing.

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One of the cool things about joining the digital tradeshow, besides getting online portfolio space, is the community of artists and groups that you can connect with. It really helps to be able to ask people questions and bounce off ideas in that private arena.

Art Licensing Info
Another resource for those interested in learning more about art licensing is the Art Licensing Academy by Tara Reed. It’s a four-week group coaching program and I have already taken it, learning loads regarding how to set up my portfolio and approach manufacturers. If you are serious, she basically takes you from start to finish. It all begins June 3, 2015. You can learn more and save your spot here.

If you aren’t sure or looking to just learn a bit more before diving in, check out all the eBooks Tara has on artlicensinginfo.com. You can learn the basics and see if art licensing is for you before investing more of your time and money.

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I hope that I’ve shed some light on the subject of art licensing and the aspects you have to consider before jumping into it. As with any other business venture, it’s just one avenue for your creative success… but it’s not necessarily for everyone. But I do agree that it’s mega cool to see your artwork on products in the brick and mortar shops. Talk about a sense of satisfaction to see your work out in the world!

Exploring Shapes in Black and White

Lately I’ve been trying to get back to the basics and spending my creative playtime exploring basic shapes and simple patterns… all in black and white. Putting black pen to paper is my go-to creative habit and that’s how all my ideas blossom.

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I realize that there is nothing amazing about all these basic shapes. It’s all been done before and it’s not exactly “eureka!” in terms of illustration or amazing technical skill. However, I think we often overlook the beauty in simplicity and the importance of curation and balance.

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I’m trying to strengthen my foundation these days and really curate. I have been known to fall into the trap of paralysis, wanting to create the most amazing-best-ever-all-time-perfect-never-been-done-before thing. Silly, right?

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It tune with my word of the year – READY – I just have to go for it and do, rather than hesitate. In many ways, it has all been done before… but never by you and your hand. So that is the unique special part of creating with your own two hands. Don’t you think so?

Printable Soft Floral Many Thanks Card

A while back I designed this soft floral thank you card for my email newsletter subscribers, but totally forgot to post it here on the blog. Came across it while brushing up my digital files and wanted to share this lovely printable download with all of you.

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I’m a huge fan of printable stationery and busily working away at my secret project that is very related *hint*hint* – so it’s all very timely. The amazing thing about digital downloads is the instant gratification and the fact that you can print as many copies as you need. Think of someone you should send a note of thanks to and give them some happy snail mail. Enjoy!

How to Stay Creatively Motivated and Productive

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Are you feeling drained or stuck in your creative endeavors?

If creativity is part of your job – as it is for me – it’s supremely important to keep the fire burning. The key is to figure out what drives your motivation and thus productivity on a day-to-day basis. It’s a lifestyle, right?

I believe it all boils down to body, mind and spirit. If you take care of yourself in those aspects, you’ll be feeding your creative soul properly to function every single day. It’s pretty simple and straightforward actually, but you need to make sure you put that knowledge to use.

My Creative Health Checklist
I’ve decided to use a creative health checklist that goes through the important body, mind and spirit checkpoints. When you feel a bit drained or stuck, run through this list and see if there isn’t something you need to address to get your mojo back. It’s as simple as that.

For the body:

  1. Get enough sleep and rest – let’s face it, you can’t function at your creative best if you are just too tired.
  2. Hydrate and eat well – have you had your ration of H2O for the day? Are you eating healthy and nourishing your body?
  3. Exercise – get your body moving, weather it’s long walks with your fur baby (my favorite option) or a solo dance party in your studio. Endorphins give you energy and suddenly you start feeling like doing more. Seriously, it works!

For the mind:

  1. Feed your brain – your creative juices need stimulating, so don’t neglect your creative tastebuds! Often we get a bit stagnant, just toiling away in front of the computer or going through our normal routines. Try a new activity or a new experience to spark up the fire within. You must intake stimuli to give your mind something to churn on.
  2. Stay positive – remember to be kind to yourself and no matter what happens, find that silver lining. The world is really a better place if you focus on the part of the glass that is half-full. Sometimes you’ll have to give yourself a cupcake treat after a bad day. Sometimes you’ll have to take deep breaths and chant some affirmations to get through a difficult experience. Even if nothing dramatic is going on, thinking positive and staying upbeat naturally transform into motivation. You might have a positive affirmation journaling practice, for example. Ultimately, positivity is just a more joyful way to live and create.

For the spirit:

  • Stay away from the negative – this sort of crosses from mind to spirit, but the idea is to protect yourself from leeches and naysayers. Negativity, party-poopers, people who steal your energy because they can’t stop complaining or creating drama – limit your contact. Sometimes you have to be there for your friends and family, but not to the extent that it brings you down as well. That won’t do anyone any good at all.
  • Nurture your soul – this is a definitely a personal ritual that you would develop for yourself. The idea is to ground yourself and connect with that bigger something out there. Maybe you practice a particular religion, maybe not. Maybe you simply like to take long walks in the woods and connect with nature. Maybe it’s your morning meditation or simply the morning coffee/tea time you spend in tranquility. Whatever it is, don’t forget to give yourself that kind of time.

If you make sure to run through this creative health checklist, I’m sure you’ll find yourself more balanced and creatively motivated on an ongoing basis. With energy and ideas, you’ll naturally be more productive. Ultimately, it’s a lifestyle!

What keeps your mojo flowing day-to-day?

Updates From My Creative Studio

Lately I’ve been super busy and creatively buzzing because of all the projects I have going on. It’s sort of exhausting, scary and amazingly wonderful at the same time. Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions.

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I’ve actually been tidying up my space as we’ve changed things up in my household and realizing I need to make use of the stuff I already have or it needs to go. I’ve been on the road to minimizing my possessions and it’s definitely difficult especially for us creatives who have so many supplies and interests!

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I decided to join a copic coloring challenge this month and posting on Instagram to evaluate if I’m going to keep them or not. They are expensive, but often just sit in the corner of my studio. I’ve sort of combined a doodle a day and coloring it with copics to keep up the creative practice.

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On the digital side of things, I’ve been experimenting with my style and trying to loosen up my sketches. I posted about my sketch to print process and really on a kick regarding this process. I’m making more designs and turning them into products on Society6. It’s sort of amazing how quickly we can take an idea and put it out there in the world these days.

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I know it’s not really that big of a deal, but I definitely felt really proud of myself in the end. Seeing my work on product mockup’s just made me happy and giddy. I’m easily pleased, huh?

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Finally, I have a mega secret project that has been in the works forever! It was a little seed of an idea, but once I started working on it, I just couldn’t stop fantasizing about how great it will be. Obviously, we can’t have expectations as we will never know how things will turn out, but I’m excited and it feels right… so I MUST GO FOR IT!

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You can sneek a peek of some of the designs I’m working on and if you are on my newsletter email list, you would have heard about this secret project already. I can’t wait to share more with you all, very soon!

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Signs of Spring are popping up here in Italy and it’s definitely helping me to get out as well as work more productively indoors. It’s funny how the weather can affect our mood and productivity so much!

What have you been up to in your creative studio? Remember you can always share in my monthly blog parade linkups.

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February 2015 Memory Book Pages

Finished up the second month of scrapbooking in my memory book and still loving the freedom to include whatever I want. I have full pages, half pages, pockets, calendar journaling and randomness all together.

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I subscribe to Studio Calico’s monthly PL kit, so all the supplies are from the February Cirque Project Life® Kit, plus some other bits from past kits and my stash in general. Although we all have our preferences, getting new and interesting supplies from the kits has really helped me to expand and try new things. Suddenly I find embellishments and styles that I would have never bought directly… which makes things interesting every month.

I think my only issue is editing photos down. There’s always the urge to include so much, but I don’t want to overflow this little book of mine. Still haven’t figured out the curation part of memory keeping, I suppose!

Tips For Boosting Your Creative Blog Traffic

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So you have a lovely little creative blog, but you aren’t getting that much traffic? What’s missing you wonder. Where are your readers hiding, right? Oftentimes, just a little bit of effort can result in a huge boost to your readership. Here are some tips on how to get more eyes on your creative blog. The following are basic principles of blogging and sharing online. I think you should have these foundational pillars covered, before you move into other methods of marketing and promotion.

Great Blog Content
The only way to keep readers happy is to give them something interesting to consume. If you don’t have great blog content, people aren’t going to come. So think about what you want to share and write about! For creatives the idea is to find the intersection between what you want to share and what others would be interested in seeing.

Blogging Schedule
The commitment to blog regularly means you will have a stream of content for your readers. You can get more traffic if you don’t have new content, right? It can be once every two weeks or more often… whatever fits with your schedule. It’s best to commit to some kind of frequency to keep yourself in check!

Make It Easy to Subscribe/Follow
Not everyone is super tech saavy, so make it super easy for people to follow your blog. Whether it’s offering the RSS feed, an email subscribe, a blog lovin follow button – maybe all of those – make sure people can get your blog content easily. You can’t assume that a reader will just visit your URL every week by typing it in their browser address bar!

Tell People
Whether it’s word of mouth, link in your email signature or social media posts – maybe all of them – you have to tell people that you are blogging and putting up new posts. You certainly shouldn’t be self promoting and spamming about it… but at the same time, don’t hide away! Especially for creatives, we seem to find it extremely difficult to share all the cool stuff we are doing. Don’t be shy. Be sure to put it out there!

Engage and Networking
This is sort of related to above, because if you start telling people about your blogging endeavors, ultimately you are networking and socializing. Part of being engaged in your community is to comment on your peers posts and making it super easy for readers to comment on your blog as well. It’s about starting a dialogue, being authentic and getting involved. You can’t just be up on a pedestal announcing things and never stepping down to discuss and let others take the podium, you know?

If you are consistent, your blog traffic will definitely grow over time. Make sure you install analytics, so you can track your growth as well. The online world is big and small at the same time. I always say that slow and steady, wins the race.

There are many more advanced strategies that you can try out like search engine optimization, advertising, guest posting and promotions. But have you got all your bases covered, first?