Friday, October 29, 2010

New Lines and Personalization on Etsy

Etsy's Guide to Custom Work is a thorough treatise on the tricky art of successfully listing and selling custom handiwork in a venue where people look and click to buy without reading much. Anyone who sells on Etsy can get ideas from the article. I can not recommend it highly enough. Here is my personalized gift guide.

'Personalized Gift Guide' by StudioCherie

Great work everyone. Loving these personalized options.

8 x 10 print with your vows,...


personalized just for you - ...


Personalized gift tags shape...


Custom Initials Pendant


The Poppy Collection - Perso...


The Simple Name Double Disc ...


Rustic sterling silver patte...


Custom Initial Brooch .. Ice...


Bible Verse Belt Custom Leat...


Make it Personal Monogramme...


Pumpkin Spice Pillow Monogra...


custom family tree -- brown


choose your Destination - B...


Slice of the Pie - Address L...


House Numbers Sign - Rusted ...


PERSONALIZED geography lesso...


Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

Sarahndippity, as I have mentioned before, is a talent to watch and collect. In addition to these initial pendants, she has also started a new line of more affordable stone and filigree pendants in her shop. I predict they will be a big hit. My friend Kim of SentimentalStones has been doing a lot of custom work off Etsy with her stone coasters, creating special designs to commemorate weddings in a stylish way. Kim has discovered this can be her mainstay on Etsy as well.
Megan, another sweet friend from the Eastern Washington Etsy team, found her business really picked up when she added her hand stamped jewelry to the mix at FlowYogaMats. She has a real knack for choosing the words and phrases that people want. I have been kidding around with her about how someone like me needs "um" rather than "om" and "blog, just blog" instead of "breathe, just breathe." Come to think of it, other people might like to choose their own phrases too....Hummm. How to do that personalized thing? (Hint: read the article.)
There are other new lines I want to mention. Maybe I can squeeze in another post before I hit the road and fall off the radar for a while...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cherie rambles a bit on artwork licensing

There were a few more people I met on Etsy who have licensed their artwork and it just never worked out to do a full interview. Etsy did a quit your day job article with Becky of PoshDots, who is still in the throes of licensed products launching. Her shop remains impressive even as busy as she is, she has even expanded by putting her artwork on fabric.
By the way, for artists who might like to try their hand at designing art for fabrics, there is Spoonflower. You upload your artwork and spoonflower prints it on a variety of fabric types. You can even let people order your designs directly from Spoonflower. They have frequent contests, so there is a way to see how your work might be received. A number of Etsy sellers design fabric and have it printed at spoonflower, then sell it in their Etsy shops. Click this search to see items listed under the supply category with Spoonflower as a tag. Fabulous! ScarletFig is now licensed with Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I believe the contests at Spoonflower were instrumental in launching Laurie as a fabric designer, but I could be wrong. Laurie is writing a book...I am writing patterns, going to Israel, etc. I will ask her for an interview when I get home. How is that for journalistic instinct? Write about someone then ask for an interview. I think I am fired. Oh, that's right, I am the boss. Still, I think I am fired.
I want to mention KiriMoth, while we are talking fabrics. She is working with HautTotes and designing exclusive fabrics for Melissa's shop.
Reading the full shop announcement for Suzanne Woolcot's Shop, Gorjuss, is impressive. Obviously, a lot of licensing going on there. I hope you get better, Suzanne.
AudreyJeanneRoberts has quite the portfolio if you want to check out someone who has been successfully licensing for a while.
Okay, so now everyone here (I mean literally here) including me, is wondering what is for dinner. I need to answer this question now, even though I have not illustrated this post with any of the many lovelies that could have spiced it up so well. You will just have to click and explore for yourself. I hope you do. I think all of these gals are inspiring. I appreciate their talents and their dedication.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Artwork Licensing Interviews Part 3

Here is Renee Charisse Jardine with a fabulous answers and a valuable perspective on licensing artwork.

What inspired you or nudged you toward licensing your artwork? I was selling my hand painted furniture in a local shop. The owner, who was an artist as well made decorative wall hangings and it was very exciting news when she was picked up by Enecso, one of the leaders in collectibles. When I heard the news I asked, what does that mean, “picked up”. That was the first I had ever heard the term licensing but, as soon as it was explained to me my first thought was, “Really…., well I can do that”. It was to my advantage at the time to be na├»ve about the whole thing.

I think a lot of artists have reservations about licensing their work. They believe that they will get taken advantage of or that licensing will reduce the value of their original works. What do you have to say to those artists? When I first licensed it never crossed my mind. Once I became more involved in the business I learned that there is that slight possibility that you can be exploited in a number of different fashions. My advice is, as it would with any venue that you need to trust, do your homework first. Know who you are handing your portfolio out to, know who you sign a contract with by doing background checks. Before signing a contract go as far as to ask the company if one of their current licensed artists could contact you so you can get feedback on their experience. Any reputable company should be happy to oblige.

Do you have a vision for the success of your licensed artwork that you would be willing to share? I have met many of my expectations and part of it was because I really didn’t know what to expect. Having over a dozen contracts at one point in time was a highlight for me. At this time in my career I am happy to keep going the few contracts that I have. It takes a lot of time and devotion to keep viable in the market and I have cut my workload back in recent years to spend more time with my family.

How long did you spend creating a body of work before you were satisfied that you had a portfolio worthy of licensing?
I already had a portfolio before I knew what licensing was. In the 1990’s a home computer and digital photos were not very common if at all an option. I began my art career painting on furniture and took photos of everything I painted. My portfolio consisted of furnishings, many of them being tabletops. It was the many photos of tabletops that helped me to land my first licensing contract.

Do you create artwork with certain products in mind?
Once I got into the game of Licensing, absolutely, all of the time. Every image had a focal point, different background choices and borders. And, many of my designs included sets of four.

What is your favorite piece that has been created featuring your work?
Calendars by Avalanche featuring butterflies and Ceramics from Santa Barbara Ceramic Design, one line featuring a fruit pattern called “Fontana” and another
featuring a rooster called “Tuxton Rooster”.

How does that piece make you feel?
Proud and lucky.

Do you approach manufacturers yourself, or do you have an agent for that?
For the first two years I worked on my own and I acquired an agent, Kathy Lally and worked with her for 9 years. For the past 3 years I have been on my own.
Having Kathy for an agent was really needed and a great experience.

What role has your Etsy shop played in licensing your artwork? Because we cannot sell our mass produced items on Etsy I have not used them as a venue to show my licensed products. What Etsy can do for a Licensed Artist is show the viability of ones art if their art is in good demand and their store shows success. My Etsy shop has been more related to the next chapter in my art career and that is making one of a kind jewelry. I also sell prints that have been used on products out of my Etsy store.

Any words of caution for fellow artists?
•If it seems to good to be true it probably is.
•Stay calm and focused and realize that 99 rejections and 1 acceptance IS a good ratio.
•Be business smart and keep your artwork in that mental frame. The artist who is strongly personally attached to their art may need to work on letting go of the emotional side to think in a business manner.
•Meet every deadline always.
• Never end a phone conversation or leave a message saying “I will wait for you to call me back or can you please call me”. Always say, “I understand that you are busy so if I don’t hear back from you within a couple of weeks I will call you back.
• The average amount of time a marketing campaign takes to get up and running is 3 years. YES years! If you are wanting to become a licensing artist for real, for the long haul keep at it, work hard, don’t give up and you will find your path.
• Make a business plan to have a booth at the Licensing Show in New York no matter what the cost.
•Licensing is very much like trying to be an actress in Hollywood. The competition is high. You have to keep auditioning. Sometimes you land a commercial and sometimes you get the staring roll. And, sometimes you get cut out of the film.

Any words of inspiration for fellow artists?
If you love what you do it will love you back and with hard work and focus you can find a way to be successful with your art or craft. Know where you do and don't fit in, find you path and follow it. Don't let anyone else tell you differently because there are just as many individual tastes in style as there are artists.

Just in case a manufacturer or licensing agent is reading this article, do you have anything to say to them? Don’t ever underestimate Etsy as a place to find who you are looking for.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Art Licensing: Another Kind of Interview Part 2

I am not a journalist. Journalists take better notes. I will tell you I had a wonderful conversation with Cori Dantini, the brilliant self-taught and just plain talented artist known as CoriD on Etsy. Cori was approached at an art fair by a licensing agent. She currently has a number of products in various stages of launch and unlike me, she is not in a position to go blabbing about them. Suffice it to say that in a couple of years, CoriD will be a household word. Another way to say this is: collect her originals now!

Since I can't find my meager notes, Cori may have to come along and correct some of this. This is from my memory of a phone chat we had around the first of September. The first way Cori licensed was with greeting card companies. She said that what they lacked in percentage offered, they made up for in volume. Cori is glad to have an agent, even though the fees are a factor. Cori would rather free up her time to create art rather than manage a multitude of product relationships. I think it really makes sense to focus on your strengths if you can and leave the rest to experts in their field. Again, what she is giving up in percentage, she can gain back in efficiency. Art fairs are hit and miss. She sells a lot at some and others bomb. There is an art to choosing art fairs. Maybe we need agents to handle that too? There is so much more that we talked about, and I will look forward to sharing more, from better notes, when Cori can share some of the specifics. Meanwhile congratulations, Cori.
For any artists out there wanting to educate yourselves on licensing, here is a super blog to plug into by Alyson Stanfield. Another resource for you is Tara Reeds site, Here is more from Cori. All so charming! I am guessing you can find yourself among Coris thoughtful portraits. I do.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Artwork Licensing: Taking the Long View Part 1

When I find myself running around like a chicken with my head cut off, it helps to stand back and take the long view of my work. Where do I want to be in 5 or 10 years? I am inspired by artists who have taken steps on the long road of licensing. This may be your busiest time of year, so I offer this series of interviews and resources as a chance to gain perspective from some successful artists I have met on Etsy.

Ali J is a talented artist who resides in Perth Australia. Here is my interview with her:
What inspired you or nudged you toward licensing your artwork?

To be honest, I never knew it existed. I was selling my artwork, and creating more everyday. Then companies started to get into touch with me to hire my artwork for their products. I researched it a bit more, and was very happy to proceed with working for them. I've licensed images to t-shirt companies, cd designs, character illustrations, magazines and much more. It has given me many opportunities to create my work in new formats and reach a wider audience then ever before.

I think a lot of artists have reservations about licensing their work. They belive that they will get taken advantage of or that licensing will reduce the value of their original works. What do you have to say to those artists?

To stop looking for negatives, and look at the positives of every opportunity that is presented with an open mind. Whether it be an exhibition, or wholesaling, or consignment, or selling online, or licensing..... there are always negatives. But if you focus on those, you'll never be able to move ahead. Negativity shuts down creativity. Licensing has open up new worlds for me, but I ensure not to limit myself to this field.

Do you have a vision for the success of your licensed artwork that you would be willing to share?

I think the most important thing is not to jump on the trend bandwagon. Moustaches, owls, big eyed girls, dollhouses, lazer cut....... they are trendy now, but won't be in a few years time. Something else will be. The thing with licensing is that you are always working to the future trends that you don't know about. So all you can do is create new work, be honest, and companies will license your work according to what they feel will be big sellers. It can take months and years for images to be printed, or transformed into products, so do realise that licensing is a long term commitment.

How long did you spend creating a body of work before you were satisfied that you had a portfolio worthy of licensing?

I still am not satisfied with my portfolio, it is always being updated on a continual basis. I don't think any artist can be, and if they are, it means they are being safe as a business. Companies like to see recent artwork (created in the past 18 months) that is fresh, future focused, and unique. The most important thing is to have a wide variety in your portfolio as well as a certain style that will differentiate you from the millions of other artists in the world. Not a copied style, and not a forced style.

Do you create artwork with certain products in mind?

No, because at the end of the day each image could be used for such a multitude of purposes, sizes and types, the best thing to do is create an image that is open. Ensure all your artworks have a large reproduction size, as that is what always limits my ability to license my work. I had one company that wanted to reproduce my artwork to well over 12 feet wide, but simply couldn't reproduce one of my paintings (12" x 12") that large.

What is your favorite piece that has been created featuring your work?

I have many, but I'm going to say a CD of "Para Todo O Mal" by Mesa for Sony/BMG. The reason being is that the process of creating the artwork was so amazing, stressful, creative and inspiring all at the same time and I'll never forget it.

How does that piece make you feel?

Fresh. It marks a moment in time when I realised I was a real illustrator, and that I was entering a new phase of my life.

Do you approach manufacturers yourself, or do you have an agent for that?

I don't actively approach any manufacturers, all my licensing deals have been through companies contacting me directly. In the future I'd like to have an agent, but for the moment I enjoy learning as much as I can by doing it myself.

What role has your Etsy shop played in licensing your artwork?

Etsy has introduced many people to my artwork, and has been a great avenue to introduce communication between my brand and other people on a worldwide basis.

Have you been discovered by anyone noteworthy by having an Etsy shop?

Every single person who has visited my shop has been noteworthy. I have been approached by many companies who have found me through Etsy.

Any words of caution for fellow artists?

Licensing your art isn't easy. It is a business transaction and one that requires paperwork, follow up, maintenance and a lot of legwork. Make sure you research as much as you can about the field before diving in. It is a hugely competitive field, and if you want to make a real go of it make sure you know what you are saying & doing. Charging $5 to license your artwork for a book cover will get you laughed out of the industry. That means you should know your rates, what you want to license your images onto, and even better.... communicate with others who have experience in the field. There are many great books out there to help guide you into the field.

Any words of inspiration for fellow artists?

Licensing your art is a challenge, but so rewarding. Waking up everyday to new clients wanting to license my artwork onto books, onto products, onto clothing is exciting. However nothing in your life will eclipse the moment you hold that item in your very hands, or see it sitting in a shop on a shelf, or see a life size cutout of your characters on a stage whilst the band plays music beside it. It will open up your world.

Do you offer licensing for independent crafters on Etsy, your images on their products?

I have in the past, but don't actively promote it. I'd be happy to license my images for other independent crafters to use on their products.

Just in case a manufacturer or licensing agent is reading this article, do you have anything to say to them?

I'd be happy to discuss licensing my artwork to new clients, please feel free to contact me at anytime.
Ali J is AussiePatches on Etsy.

I will get back to posting my entries from writers group on Mondays in December.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Pattern Release

Does anyone else feel like Friday comes too early in the week? I did manage to get a slip cover and a baby change pad bag out this week. My bride is being very patient with me on the 6 duffles she ordered, as I have run into fabric back orders and interrupted myself to bring out the Christmas stocking pattern. I probably will not do too much sewing for myself before my trip, so those clothing projects and the pattern reviews will have to wait until Thanksgiving. My mom is here helping me too, so that brings me down from panic to just plain excited. This will be her second trip to Israel and my first time there. I am looking forward to traveling with my mom. Meanwhile, my daughter is having fun cooking with Grandma.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now is the perfect time to panic

I never wear a watch. I rarely look at a clock. I try to stay in touch with the calendar, but only very loosely. I was looking forward to writers group tonight, but discovered that Cheryl-Anne is in Tuscany this week, and I thought "already?" I better look at the calendar. I looked. My palms began to sweat. Here I am, 16 days to go to my big trip. This is what is on my sewing table: 1) a new bag for my trip, not a duffle but a totally new design for a travel bag. 2) a small bag for my mom, also a new design for the trip - a couple of prototypes done already, but still not finalized. 3) several skirts and tops I want for myself for the trip. going with simplicity patterns for these. already have fabric. 4) Caleb's cowl cloak - design in my head, fabric ready. 5) 4 new baby change pad bags - 1 already sold and 3 for the shop. 6) Finishing up for the release of the stocking pattern. 7) Oh, and some duffles, the black and white houndstooth and a new houndstooth in browns to be ready to ship in the shop. 8) an office chair slip cover that I hope to finish and ship today. Seems like a lot for 2 weeks. I will just take it one day at a time. If anyone who reads this blog was thinking about placing a custom duffle order with me before Christmas, I can still handle those. I will be taking slipcovers out of the line-up until after Christmas. I think it's my only chance at sanity.

Friday, October 15, 2010

my catalog page

my catalog page
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
Here is an easier way to see it. I can hardly wait to run through the JoAnn's exclaiming, "It's here! It's here! The new catalog is here!And I am in it! I am somebody. Things are going to start happening to me now!" -Steve Martin fans will recognize this.

Madonna Stocking

Madonna Stocking
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
I love the artwork on this fabric. This will be my new Christmas stocking. There are more stockings to see in my Flickr stream, if you click on the photo, you will be taken there. I have got to set the pattern aside for a day or two, while I get a slipcover out the door. Pretty soon, I am going to have to take the made to order items out of my shop for a while, so I can get ready for my trip and be gone for 3 weeks. I have a lot of sewing I want to do for myself. Those projects will include pattern reviews which I am looking forward to writing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Page in the Simplicity Catalog

width="365" height="400"

width="365" height="400" align="middle"

Simplicity sent me this today. It comes out in the catalog December 17th. I hope they sell a million of them. I don't know why it looks so small here, but here is a link to Adobe where you can see it larger.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Chilling Tale

Caution: if you have a weak stomach or a delicate mind, please don't read the following story. When I read this at writers group, I felt like I had just sucked all of the air out of the room.
Coming in from the garage, the house was eerily quiet. And dark. Must be the change of season. I am just not used to the early sunset. I flick on a light to guide me toward the kitchen. My eyes climb the stairs while I stand in the doorway. A habit I never would have noticed had it not been for the glistening deep red bloody stump of a severed head waiting at the top of the stairs. Looking back on it now, it's as though my brain sat pickling in a jar on the kitchen counter: the only witness to my body as it moved quickly to pack the grotesque head in paper and dispose of it in the garbage can. It was instinct that powered my limbs, not reason. My body acted in reflex. "Protect them," the auto-pilot of all mothers. From its sickening perch, my brain spoke to me: "It will be picked up tomorrow. No one will know. No one has seen."
As in a dream, my brain watched as I washed my hands and began preparing dinner. The knife rocked over vegetables on the cutting board. I blinked hard to erase the vision of cutting off my own fingers. Butter, garlic, carrots, onion and celery seemed a mile away in the bottom of the stock pot. The boys will be home soon. Some hot soup will do us all good. I tried to act normal.
To be continued...
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Christmas Stocking Preview

The burlap bags I made are some of the most popular photos in my Flickr photos, which made me think "What would I make with that same technique that I would use?" Here it is. The stockings are fully lined and have a really nice body to them. There is a ton of great Christmas fabric out there right now. The fabrics shown are all from Sew Easy Too which is a local fabric shop. Online, I found a shop in CT with a lot of choices, I just bought this nutcracker print from them to make Caleb's stocking. I am jamming to get this pattern out ASAP to give people plenty of time to make them. Our mantle is getting a makeover this year. I will have a few finished stockings to sell in my Etsy shop too.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Pattern Released Today

After waiting about 18 months or so - enough time to have 2 babies - not that I had any babies - the sewing pattern to make the zippered version of my compact travel changing pad bag is out! I think it was worth the wait because there is so much better about it as a product now than a year or two ago. There is a long adjustable strap option, so it can go from fanny pack to cross body and everything in between. The way the corners come together is innovative and I am pretty excited to show it off. I have included printable packaging too, so when you give this as a gift (or sell them - cottage licensing agreement also included,) you can include folding instructions and a little blurb that tells all about how to use it. I am just as excited about this pattern as I was when I originally invented the product in December of 2006. Obviously, I am too tied up to make a bunch of these for boutiques, but I think somebody should. I do have a small selection of baby shower gifts here for those of you who do not sew.
Next up is beautiful burlap Christmas stockings. Yes, I did say beautiful and burlap in the same sentence. I am working on them now. I have no natural light today, otherwise I would give you a preview. I was shooting for today on those, but it looks like Monday. Pray for some sunshine for me.

Inspired by Hoodwinked

Inspired by Hoodwinked
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
For those of you who have not seen the movie, I will tell you Hoodwinked is the Red Riding Hood Story told from everyone's perspective - plus some twists. As I watched it with my daughter recently, I suggested Red's costume for Gabrielle this year. She enthusiastically agreed. An hour later, including the trip to the fabric store for a yard of red broadcloth, she was skipping around in this cape. My free tutorial showing how I made it will be posted today at the SewMamaSew Blog. If you sew, you will love that blog.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Half inch of Cuteness

This is a detail photo of a changing pad bag I sent off the other day. Releasing the pattern for how to make the zippered version of the compact travel change pad bag (maybe I need a more compact name for it?) this week. While I am at it, I am including instructions for how to make the long adjustable strap version too. This really is the coolest baby shower gift ever invented. I hope a lot of new moms are blessed with one this year. - But I don't want to make them all. Ha, Ha. That is why the pattern is releasing. As much as I love making these, I have to move on with my travel stuff. I leave November 4th for Israel, and I can't be caught carrying something I did not make myself.

Monday, October 4, 2010

1967 Buick Gran Sport Coupe

I was inspired by some of the gals at writers group who have written stories of their childhood or adolescence. Here is my contribution. A chapter from my own coming of age story:
Rob had curly hair and a prominent nose. He had a big smile too. I also remember his hands how huge and strong they felt when they threw me off the dock at the lake. You know that statue of David? He looked just like that only shorter...and tan. He had a great tan. For some adolescent reason, it was my pleasure to insult Rob. He must have been a glutton for punishment, because he asked me out on a date one Summer evening. Frankly, I was shocked. Out of that dangerous combination of confusion and boredom that comes with being 17, I said "yes."
Rob drove a 1967 Buick Gran Sport Coupe. It was a large, powerful car. Everyone called it the green machine. Inside the green machine, I felt very small. I slid into a kind of private panic. I knew I was in over my head. My banter was weak. The engine rumbled almost drowning the sound of the gravel as we prowled slowly though the drive-in in search of the perfect parking spot. I thought we were pretty far away from the screen, but I didn't say anything. I sat with the seat belt secured across my lap while he went for popcorn and soda. The movie had no discernible dialogue which made me wonder about Rob's IQ. It turns out he had not chosen the drive-in theater for what was playing, but rather for what he wanted to play. He put his arm around me and moved closer. I unbuckled so I could scootch to my right, pretending to be engrossed by Quest for Fire. He did it again. I did it again. Again. Again. Eventually, I was up against the door, his big nose was hard against mine. His teeth, which were so beautiful when he smiled, seemed hungry now just behind his lips. In a panic and unable to speak, I opened the door and fell
out of the car. He got out on his side, and ran over to help me up off of the gravel, asking if I was okay. His brown eyes were kind as they looked into mine. Then he took me home.
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