Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014: A Wedding, Surtex, And Living In My Pajama Pants almost 24/7 (a.k.a "The Good Life")

Ok, 2014. Bring it!

I mentioned before that my blog was going to BLOW UP. This is because I have recently returned to my freelance illustration and teaching 24/7. Back in October I had started the transition, going to work only three days a week (a real blessing because it allowed me to have a steady income while working two days...frantically...on Part B of Lilla's Make Art That Sells class).

I learned a lot at C.R Gibson, which was my goal. Before the job came along,  I got accepted into an illustration Graduate program a month earlier, but declined it. The reason was that  I really wanted to learn more about licensing, and that's something that would NOT be covered in the program. It was a great program, of course, but I needed a violent shove in another direction.

So off to C.R. Gibson I went! Not only did I sharpen my digital skills and learned how that all worked (using design programs for a job is like speaking a native language in another country- you pick it up really fast!), I also had a great boss who didn't mind answering questions I had pertaining to the business of licensing. What royalty does that artist get? How about that one? What flat fee do we offer for Christmas cards? Why did you pick this art and not that art?

I can't tell you how INVALUABLE this was to my education and role as an artist/illustrator. Some key points:

* Realize that lots of art out there is bought outright by companies. This means if you want to license your work, it has to be special. What do you offer that no one else can? Your sense of humor? your hand-lettering? A unique style or medium?

* On top of that, it's sad how much decent illustration is popping up on stock photo/art sites like It weakens the market for everyone because art can be bought for insanely cheap (and unfair) prices. Unfortunately, this area of competition is not going away soon.  When companies can buy a chevron for $25 and use it forever, you have to up your game.

* I can't say this enough- you really don't have to worry about your art being sent in as a repeat. Seriously. I think maybe I got art in a repeat maybe 10% of the time working at CRG.  I encourage people to learn about repeats (they're fun and addictive), but don't delay sending art submissions because you don't have that skill. It's not a deal breaker.

* Sometimes the best art is not picked for a project. Logistics get in the way (time, the type of item), and at CRG there were times we had to go with art that offered more patterns in the collection or was easier to manipulate (layered in photoshop or vector).

* That being said, we worked with artists who had absolutely no digital experience beyond email, blogging, and Skype. There was one group of artists we were working with, and we had them actually mail original art to us and we photographed it in house. Yes. You know, like in the "old days". Why? Because we loved their work. I'm not trying to persuade anyone to not learn some digital savvy. Instead, I want to help remove the paralyzing fear some artists have over learning software. Learn digital skills, but know that you can still put your work out there and score some great opportunities in the meantime! Companies WILL help you with those sort of things if they love your art. Some products don't even need any elaborate manipulation (a notecard is a rectangle, folks. Give us bleed and we're set).

* Some of the artists CRG collaborated with were the most gracious, pleasant creatures on earth. Others, not so much. It's important to play well with others! You and a client are teammates, trying to bring something to life TOGETHER. This is not the time to be a drama queen and demand a bowl of m&m's with all the green ones picked out. And a creative team is full of designers, not minions.

So what does 2014 have in store for me?

* So happy to say that I will have a booth at Surtex this year! Booth #252. Look out for lots of updates on that subject.

* I am now part of Happy Happy Art Collective, a group of five talented artists I met in Lilla's MATS course.

* It's good to be working with Cricket Magazine again- I'm finishing up an illustration for their May issue.

* Working on illustrating CD packaging for a wonderful client.

* You can find me teaching Illustration at Watkins College of Art and Design CE program.

*Kekacase will be licensing my illustrations on tech cases for smart phones, Kindles, and iPads. The first run will mainly be phone cases, which should debut soon.

* My etsy store will be reopening soon. It will be full of mainly small original paintings.

I'm getting married!!! Nashville, on top of my new found artistic knowledge, also delivered me the great man I'm spending the rest of my life with. So lucky to have him.

Hope 2014 is starting off right for you!


  1. So happy for you Lauren! I love reading your posts. You have so much great information to share. I look forward to seeing you take off and fly. Congrats on the marriage as well:)

  2. Way to go Lauren! What does it mean to have art sent in as a repeat?

  3. Hi Katie! In the business of licensing and surface design, a lot of products have art in a seamless pattern for things like wrapping paper or bedding. Many outside artists feel intimidated because they think they have to create this continuous pattern (repeat) themselves before a company decides to use it (and some patterns can be very complex as you can imagine). However, most clients and manufactures have in-house designers (like I was at CRG) that take care of this step. have many great links to classes on creating patterns.

  4. Thanks for that explanation. I'm loving the practical advice on your blog and plan to point interested students here.

  5. So excited about all of your artsy adventures lady!! And congratulations about getting married. Make sure to breathheeeee... it gets SUPER hard planning a wedding [got married in September], so make sure not to stress the small stuff!

    -Jenipher :)

  6. Thanks so much Jenipher Lyn! How funny, I'm getting married in September as well! It has been quite the adventure so far. :)