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Art Licensing by artist Joan Beiriger: I'm happy to share art licensing info but please
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trends at the Fall 2011 Quilt Market

The quilt industry is huge and still going strong even in this depressed economy. To find out how large it is, all you need to do is google the word "quilt" and 85 million websites popup. A 2010 quilting survey found that the quilting industry in America is worth over three billion dollars annually with over 16 million quilting households. For more information, read "Quilting in America 2010 survey shows industry worth $3.6 billion annually."

The biggest and mind boggling quilt trade show (International Quilt Market) followed by an equally amazing retail show (International Quilt Festival) is held in Houston each fall. This year the Quilt Market was held October 29-31 and the Quilt Festival November 3-6 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The Quilt Market is to sell fabric and related quilting products to retailers. It is not open to the public. The Quilt Festival is open to the public. Thousands of people attend to purchase fabric, quilting supplies, home décor items, jewelry, clothing and gifts from over 900 vendors. Both these events as well as two other quilting festivals and one other trade show are produced by Quilts, Inc.

For those not acquainted with quilting, it is much more than pieces of cloth sewn together to produce a bedspread. Quilted pieces are created as aesthetic and artistic works of art not only for the bed but to be displayed on walls, made into clothing, purses, totes, pillows and even into three dimensional animals and other objects. The fabric used is traditionally 100% cotton with a few exceptions such as crazy quilts. Today's quilters may incorporate many other fabrics into their projects and embellish them with lace, ribbon and beads depending on the type and how the finished pieces are used.

Unlike most clothing, bed linens, etc. manufacturers who purchase designs outright from designers, many quilts and craft fabric manufacturers license art. For information about licensing to these industries, read "Licensing Designs to the Quilt & Craft Fabric Industries."

According to the many articles that I read about the Fall 2011 Quilt Market, most of the manufacturers produce fabrics with traditional designs such as flowers, paisley, simple geometric icons, etc. The reason is because the largest quilting consumer base is of an older generation that wants those types of designs. The craft industry uses iconic themes for craft fabric projects such as holidays. More contemporary designs that are suitable to be used for clothing and home décor projects are starting to appear in manufacturer lines. Below is a variety of links to articles and videos showing booths at the Quilt Market, interviews with designers, discussions on the trends, and lots of "eye candy" - beautiful and stunning creations with fabric.

International Quilt Market - videos
a VERY fast moving video tour of "International Quilt Market Houston 2011"

many videos on of quilt market fall 2011 showing manufacturer booths, quilt designers, quilts, accessories used in quilting, etc.

International Quilt Market - articles
• Dana Willard (blog takes time to open but worth the wait) "fall 2011 Quilt Market recap - Houston" - many photos; describes the market and shows well known designers work.

• Diane Gilleland "A Slightly Massive Look at Fall Quilt Market" photos of quilts from the quilt exhibit.

• Ellie Joos "Fall Quilt Market/Quilt Festival: 2011" - article about attendance, designers, and trends

• Kathy Weller "Fall Quilt Market 2011: Beautiful Booths" - photos of booths

• Lindsay of The Cottage Home "International Quilt Market ~ Fall 2011" - photos of fabric, product examples, and booths

• Melonie Sullivan "Fall Quilt Market in Houston" - photos of booths, fabric, and product examples

• Phyllis Dobbs " Houston International Quilt Market" - photos of overview of show and unusual shaped quilts

International Quilt Festival - video
• video "International Quilt Festival / Houston 2011"

Comments are welcome. Enter them in the comment section (below).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Licensing Art for Cloth Products

Cloth can be made as woven or non-woven (bonding of fibers by thermal, mechanical or adhesives). Most licensed cloth products are made with woven cloth. Some are textile (any material made with interlacing fibers) or fabric (any material made by weaving and knitting). Kitchen towels, pot holders and mitts, tote bags, fleece throw blankets (throws) and some pillows are examples of products made with fabric. Cotton woven throws, wall hangings (tapestries) and some pillows are examples of textiles.

The art themes and art styles used for these products depend on the process that is used to produce the cloth. More colors and detailed art can be used for fabric when it is printed than for hand crafted fabric or woven textiles. Kitchen towels are often decorated with borders of art or icons. Textile throws and pillows usually depict popular themes such as birds, coastal art, flowers, and kittens including niché themes like lodge animals and horses.

What an artist should know and do to license art for cloth products.
1. Before submitting art to a manufacturer, make sure your art style and themes fit their product line by looking at their website. Some manufacturer websites do not show much products so google the manufacturer and product name on the internet to find their products on retailer websites. Do not waste the time of the manufacture by submitting art that is not suitable for their products. For instance, if your art style is whimsical and the manufacturer produces throws with realistic fine art images then most likely they would not be interested in licensing your art.

2. Not all manufacturer websites list submission guidelines. Contact the person in charge of licensing art for the manufacturer you wish to submit art. Ask how they want art submitted (hard copies, jpg copies attached to an email, etc.). At the same time ask if they have a list of the dates they are accepting art for particular themes (different holidays, spring, summer, fall, winter).

3. Optimize your chance in licensing your art by creating tearsheets* for the manufacturer you are submitting your art. For example, if the manufacturer produces textile throws and pillows make sure that the art is formatted as a vertical rectangle and as a square and / or horizontal if they produce pillows as horizontal rectangles. It is also a good policy to include digital mockups** of the product(s) so that the manufacturer sees your vision of the art on their product(s). See the picture at the top of this article.

* Find out about tearsheets by reading "Marketing your Art with Tearsheets."

** Find out about digital mock-ups by reading "Product Mock-up Templates: Creating art for templates & comparison of template packages."

4. Be willing to alter your art to the manufacturer specifications. For instance, the art may need to be cropped to fit the product shape or less color hues used because of the limitations in the production process.

5. Be prepared that the colors probably will not be accurate when it is produced as a woven textile or printed on fabric.

Textile Product Manufacturers
Below are links to manufacturers that license art for cloth and other products.  Note: I was not able to find any manufacturers that license art for fleece throws but periodically I have seen copyrighted art on them.

C&F Enterprises (bedding, throws, pillows, handbags, tote bags, etc.)
This family owned company have in-house designers but also license artwork for some of their products. Check out the resources section on their website for information on trends, how they design, and watch a video on a product design tour of their facility.

Fiddlers Elbow (kitchen towels, canvas totes, doormats, mugs, mouse pads)

Kay Dee Designs (aprons, kitchen textiles, trays, & coasters)

Manual Woodworkers and Weavers, Inc. (pillows, throws, art banners, table runners and placemats, fashion handbags, etc.)

Peking Handicraft, Inc. (hand crafted quilts, bedding products, hooked rugs, needlepoint pillows, linens and hand-painted glassware)

PureCountry Weavers (tapestries, throws, pillows, totes)

Simply Home (throws, pillows, wall hangings)

Stevens Linen Associates, Inc. (towels, calendar towels, potholders)

Related article: "Licensing Designs to the Quilt & Craft Fabric Industries"

Read more articles about manufacturers under the Topics section on the side bar.

Comments about this article and sharing names of additional cloth product manufacturers not listed is greatly appreciated. Write comments in the below comment section.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Advantages in using Google Reverse Image Search

I find it VERY helpful to belong to linkedin groups! Members share a lot of information and resources that I may not discover on my own. For instance, illustrator Cedric Hohnstadt in the linkedin* Art of Licensing group shared that Google now has a method called "Reverse Image Search" to search the internet for images. GRIS, an acronym that I am using in this article for "Google Reverse Image Search," was released on June 14 and has received accolades from scads of people who post images on the internet. GRIS is not perfect because it does not find all images but according to persons that have compared GRIS with another image search engine,, GRIS is far superior.

GRIS is very simple to use. All you need to do is drag a small (two to four inch wide) 72 dpi jpeg image from your computer desktop into the GRIS Search Images window. In seconds (most of the time) a list of internet sites that matched the image appears on your monitor IF a match is found. Also shown is a group of visually similar images according to GRIS although I did not think they looked THAT similar to the images I searched for. To learn the four ways to search the internet by image and watch a video explaining GRIS, go to "Google Search by Image." Note: In some of the articles that I read, people had problems with the drag and drop method but found that pasting a URL web address for the image in the search window worked for them.

* For information about linkedin groups, read "Art Licensing Resource: Networking in Linkedin."

GRIS Limitations
GRIS does have some limitations because the algorithms used to identify images are not perfect. GRIS tends to find images on the main page of sites better than if it has to drill down through multiple pages. Also even though Google is constantly trolling the internet it does a better job in identifying images on their sites such as Blogger than other sites because the database is more complete. As a result, GRIS may or may not identify images that you know are on the internet. But as Google continues to improve GRIS, it will do a better job. Note: I tried GRIS on some images that I know is on internet sites. It identified and listed sites for several of them but not all. I also found that the size of the image that you use may make a difference in the success GRIS has in identifying images. Read my comments about this under Reasons to use GRIS / Search for internet sites selling your art / Case History of Nutcracker Image Search.

Articles about GRIS
I got over six million hits when I googled "reverse image search google." Obviously there is a lot of interest in GRIS. Articles discussed the announcing of this new tool in searching for images on the internet, comparing GRIS with other image search methods, and asking questions about using GRIS. Below are links to some articles that I found informative.

• "Google's New 'Reverse Image Search' Helps You See Who's Stealing Your Artwork" discussion by illustrator Cedric Hohnstadt.

• "Google's reverse image search: Indies Restaurant" discussion in using GRIS to find copyright infringements by illustrator Jeff Fisher.

• "Google rolls out reverse image search: RIP Tineye" comparison of GRIS and Tineye by Stephen Chapman.

• "Putting Google's Reverse Image Search to the Test" comparison of GRIS and Tineye by photographer William Beem.

Reasons to use GRIS
The reason why most people use GRIS is to search the internet for sites that use their images without permission. But there are also other reasons to use GRIS. Below are discussions about them.

• Search for Illegal use of art.
Use GRIS to find what websites or blogs are using your art without permission and without giving you credit for the art. Some individuals may be posting your art on their blogs to give content to their articles with the mistaken idea that they are doing you a service by marketing your art on their blog. Others may be "lifting" your art and selling it as their own art or putting it on products that they sell.

It is the consensus on linkedin that no matter why your art is being used without your permission, the person infringing on your copyright should be informed that they are using your images illegally. You may choose to ask them to give you credit for the art, request that they license your art, or demand that they remove your art from their site. People that are infringing on copyrights should be educated that they are not allowed to put images owned by others on their site without permission. With GRIS, artists now have a better tool to find the sites that infringe on their copyrights and can contact the infringers.

• Search for internet sites selling your art.
It is often difficult to find out which retail stores are selling your art on products. Manufacturers track what stores they are selling to but not necessarily if your art is on the products. The cannot keep track because their client list is too large. So if you have friends and relatives ask you where they can purchase your art you will not be able to tell them. However, if the product is sold via the internet you can use GRIS to find them. More and more products are now sold on the internet. Finding out what online shops are selling your art is a good way to track how many and which stores are carrying them. Note: Licensing contracts do not always give artists enough samples or allow them to purchase the products wholesale. I have used a couple of my friendly local retailers to order my licensed art from manufacturers when I want to give them as gifts. And they have also ordered extra to sell and promote because I am a local artist that licensed my work on the products :)

Case History of Nutcracker GRIS Search
The following is my experience when I used GRIS to search the internet for my recently introduced Christmas Candy Cane Nutcracker flag licensed to Evergreen International. I used GRIS with two different sizes of my art. The first time I used a four inch wide, 72dpi, jpeg image. GRIS found three internet stores that are selling my flags. But it did not find the image on Evergreen's website. Probably the reason is because a person needs to drill down five pages to find the art on their site. A person only needs to drill down one or two pages on the internet stores to see the image.

When I used a smaller image (2 inch wide, 72 dpi, jpeg file) to search for the image, GRIS found the initial three internet store sites PLUS two more. The next time I searched GRIS with the same smaller image it found only four sites. Hmm, as been said Googles Reverse Image Search is not perfect.

Below is the nutcracker image data from a GRIS search.  I am very thankful that this image has not yet been used illegally.

• Search for Internet sites that is promoting you and your art.
Using GRIS is one way to find out how much exposure you and your art is getting on the internet. Are bloggers posting part of your blog articles on their blogs and linking back to your blog? Are manufacturers posting your art on their websites and listing you as the artist? Are you quoted in an article which includes a photo of yourself? All these are ways that you and your art gain exposure which may help you get licensing deals.

• Use GRIS for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) link building.
Driving customers to the websites of brands has become an integral part in brand building. Large brands (entertainment, food, appliance companies, etc.) often hire SEO consultants to implement SEO projects in marketing and growing their companies. Brand building for artists is different then these kinds of brands and hiring a SEO consultant costs more than most artists can afford. However, it is instructive to read how SEOs drive customers to websites. Maybe artists can use some of SEO consultant strategies to build their own brands. Read "Reverse Image Search Strategy for Outside the Box SEO Link Building" to find out how a SEO company (Zeta Interactive) uses GRIS to drive customers to websites. Note: Not every expert in the art licensing industry believes that an artist can be a brand or that it is necessary to be a brand to be successful.

Using Google Reverse Image Search is an useful tool. Because it is not perfect, it is recommended that other search techniques also be used on the same images such as, and googling your name plus the word images (ie "joan beiriger images").

Comments and suggestions on how to use Google Reverse Image Search are welcomed. Please click on comments and write them in the comment window at the bottom of this article.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Creative Process of Extremely Successful Licensed Artists

Have you ever wondered why the art of successful licensed artists is so popular? Popularity is not only the uniqueness and the theme of the art but the emotion it emits. Art licensing agents recommend that artists paint what they love so that the emotion shines through. Of course, the trick in licensing art is to not only paint what you love but paint themes that resonate with consumers. And to do so means observing and researching the subjects and colors that appeal to consumers.

Also part of the process to being successful in licensing art is to create a bond between the artist and licensing partners (manufacturers and retailers) and the consumer. Having artist signings, blogs, and doing videos help to market art and create relationships.

Below are links to videos of five extremely successful artists (Susan Lordi, Jim Shore, Susan Winget, Mary Engelbreit, and April Cornell). The videos describe their inspiration and/or demonstrate their creative process of either their two or three-dimensional art. Watching these videos is not only interesting but educational.

For instance, surface designer April Cornell uses the colors found in nature to create patterns for fabrics. Susan Winget and her team of illustrators have created a process to produce a large body of outstanding art for products that consumers are clamoring for. Susan Lordi of the amazingly successful Willow Tree line of inspirational figurines does extensive studying of her subjects and takes photos before she carves a new creation. Jim Shore's comprehensive knowledge of quilting and folk art and using it on his carvings has given him a signature style that is easily recognizable. And Mary Engelbreit is now adapting her storybook art to produce short animations.

video "Inside Susan's Studio
video "My Girls Willow Tree Figurine"
video "Willow Tree Journals"

video "Jim Shore Art Influences and Style"
video "Jim Shore Workshop"

video "Susan Winget: My Creative Process"

video "KETC | Living St. Louis | Mary Engelbreit"

video "April Cornell"

To learn more about successful licensors and view videos, read "Studios of Successful Art Licensors" and "Art Licensing Tip: Branding the Art & Artist by Marketing with Videos."

Comments are welcomed. Enter them in the below comment section.