Category Archives: Art and Design

The New York Gift Show at the Javitts Center

In years past the New York Gift Show at the Javitts Center was a great place to meet and see some of the larger paper goods and giftware companies like CR Gibson, Boston International, MeadWestvaco and Enesco to name a few. This has been changing over the last five years as more and more of these companies no longer showed here. The reasons had to do with the downturn in the economy . As products other than paper goods (such as jewelry) began to sell more and as Business

has been changing and the Gift show was no longer the right place for them to make their sales. Many moved to the Atlanta Show.

Gift Show Divisions

Gift Show Divisions

The show was divided into sections. For example the General Gift, Tabletop, Accent on Design and Children and Baby and personal accessories.

At the Gift Show

At the Gift Show

The Accent on Design section was a bit of a disappointment. I remembered it as being an exciting, innovative and inspiring part of the show with booths from all over the world and varied product lines. This year it seemed to me to be a bit lackluster.

The weather outside was .....well wet

The weather outside was …..well wet

Despite the rain and snow the show was well populated which was encouraging.

Dennis and I were very surprised at the overall change in the show. We found very few gift and stationery companies in the Gift Division. There were more companies that sold pillows and clothing. Many more companies that sold the kind of giftware that would fit in with some of the categories I names above.For the most part not the kind of products that would require licensed artists for the designing.There were lots of big publishers like Penguin, Chronicle and Workman to name a few. More companies that sold Judaica and body care products. In the tabletop division most of the companies that have always shown at the gift show were there.

Despite these drawbacks (from our point of view as art licensors) we enjoyed walking the show. We made new contacts and did some trend spotting. Of course owls everywhere. We also had a good meeting with a potential client. We returned to the studio and began working on a few presentations for this company.

Tonight I was remembering advice that was given to us when we were first starting out as illustrators and we took a wonderful course offered then by Elaine Sorel which truly gave us a legs up on our journey into the world of illustration and commercial art. Elaine beside being the wife of Ed Sorel the well known illustrator and one of the co founders of the Push Pin Studios was a thorough professional and very knowledgable person about how to do business as an artist and succeed at it. She had been an artists agent for 15 years representing top people in creative fields. She began doing the workshops when she stopped being an agent. One of the things she told us that I have never forgot (and I paraphrase). “It’s important to genuinely enjoy the people that you are doing business with.” Don’t fake it in order to get work. You are much more likely to get ahead if you form relationships that are mutually enjoyable by all.” I was reminded of that today as we had our meeting. She also said, and again I paraphrase ” Don’t show your work with the expectation of getting work. Show it because you are proud of what you do and want to share your creativity.”

Stitchery illustration by Margaret CusackImport

Stitchery illustration by Margaret Cusack

I also have the pleasure of knowing Elaine’s very talented artist and teacher, daughter Madelaine Sorel. Madelaine and I are both part of an illustrators lunch group that was founded and kept alive by the efforts of Margaret Cusack, who is both a wonderful stitchery artist and a world class promoter. It was difficult picking an image to use in this post as Margaret has many varied and wonderful stitched art that has been used in editorial, advertising and gallerty exhibits. This lunch group has been meeting once a month for lunch for over 20 years. It has been a life saver and thriving sharing creative community for those of us who have been regulars.We share business, art and our personal lives at these monthly meetings.

And once again Dennis and I are back at work doing what we love most. Designing and painting and dreaming about our next project. Top priority is finishing the two remaining Halloween cupcake designs.

Whoo knows

Whoo knows

Art licensing is a risky and exciting business to be in. Whoo knows where it will lead us next.


Filed under Art and Design, Artists, Halloween, Holidays, Javitts Center, Licensing, Manufacturers, NY Gift Show, Owls, Trade shows, Trends

Atlanta part 2- An outline of everything you will need to know about trade shows

If you are going to walk a trade show – especially one as large as the Atlanta Gift Mart – there’s a lot you should know.

This post will give you an outline of what is important not only for the Atlanta show, but for any trade show you plan to attend. Then each successive post will cover one or two of the topics outlined here. Take it in small bites. There’s a lot of information to consider.

The first thing you should do, and yes do it now, is look at a schedule of shows for 2012 -0 2013.  Click on this link :trade show calendars, home decor and gifts.

Your primary goal is to find companies that you want to work with, so I will tell you about:

  1. What information  you need to make those decisions.
  2. How  you go about setting up appointments, and how and when you make your appointment calls.  How you keep track of your calls and responses. How to set up your schedule.  How you follow through after your calls to confirm an appointment. How to keep in touch. And most important of all how you enjoy and not dread the process. How you can keep a positive mind set.
  3. How and when to make your hotel and plane reservations. If you are watching your budget some tips on how and where to cut corners and when not to. If you are able take a few extra days to do some enjoyable sightseeing that will only add to the experience. Do set aside time for fun and enjoyment both at the show and socializing after or during the show.
 It’s important to have a plan for both your appointments and for walking the show. I will take you through a few of the manufacturers showrooms I visited and tell you why I chose these companies. I will also tell you what my goals were for now and for the future regarding all the companies I visited and met with at the show. I will also tell you:
  1. How to decide what you are looking for.
  2. Deciding what you goals are.
  3. How to approach a new company and make contact.  What questions you need to ask.  What you should expect at a meeting.
  4. How you should and want  to come across.
  5. How to establish a personal rapport that you can build on.
  6. How to be yourself and overcome anxiety.
  7. How to follow your instincts.
  8. How you should dress. I googled in many different ways to look at fashions for creative people. One of the helpful catch phrases was,”fashion for the artist “. Most of what I found was for women. But guys please do not feel left out. I’m still searching around for some good sites.

Catch phrases

One of my favorite parts of the research process is trend spotting. I will tell you how and where I look for present and future trends in the art licensing markets ; how to decide what other markets you should keep track of. Take photos everywhere and all the time. It’s fun and everything you see makes for great reference and inspiration. And google, google, google. Sometimes I google 10 times with different catch phrases to get what I am looking for.

 And when you come back to your studio exhilarated and excited, feeling inspired and full of energy…
  1. How and when  to do your follow thru.
  2. A good way to keep track of all the information you have gathered.
  3. How to use a gant chart and why it is so helpful.
  4. Asking yourself what new artwork do you want to do based on what you have seen and learned.

inspiration for new artwork

And don’t forget to congratulate and reward yourself for your effort and a for marketing job well done!

Your questions and comments on these outlined topics will be helpful.




Filed under Airlines, Art and Design, Atlanta, Creativity and Fun, Fashion for the Artist, Hotels, Licensing, Manufacturers, Trade shows, Trends

IN BETWEEN THE ATLANTA POSTS -The great cake baking caper

I did say at the start that among other things this blog would include events in our lives that impact on our work and creativity. Just what do we need to do to nurture that creativity? Inspiration can be drawn from many different  experiences.  Coincidentally, as I was thinking this I went to my friend Joana Miranda’s wonderful blog A Talent for Design, I found the idea of “make time to play” especially pertinent.

With fun on our minds and a significant birthday coming up for our tall, gray and handsome brother-in-law my sister Pat and I decided to bake the cake! I may add that this was the first time either of us had undertaken to decorate a birthday cake. We didn’t know what to expect except that this was an adventure. Explorers were we.


Sister Witches

We came up with the idea of dressing as witches to make this all much more fun. Our wonderful witch hats came from Cracker Barrel!

We hoped that by chanting spells such as Double Double Toil and Trouble, Cauldron boil and caldron bubble…….and singing songs such as Witchcraft we could entice our niece and two nephews into the  kitchen to have some fun with us.


The wrapping of the cake from Tales of the Crypt

One by one they appeared in the kitchen at first to watch and then to take part in our fun. We trimmed, iced and decorated. We cut out leaves and made the grapes.


The wrapping up of the cake to keep it fresh till the next day was its own ceremony. The cake was handled like gold.

Paper Tableware for Converting

The paper tableware  we used was one of my designs called Summer Berries.It was licensed to Creative Converting . In licensing as I mentioned every design can be licensed for many different kinds of products. This design was also recipe cards, memo pads and labels for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Much  to our surprise when all was said and done everyone thought it was delicious  and gorgeous and oohed and aahed. Love went a long way in smoothing out the holes and bumps you might have noticed.

Moving forward we may even take a cake baking course either at the NY Cake and Baking Supplies. , or at a The Institute of Culinary Education.

Peony and Poppies from the Botanica collection

Botanica Lily collage

Back in my studio after the party I am finishing up my new floral designs. You may remember I wrote about them in the First Atlanta post. We put the finishing touches on them today. I am anticipating doing more in this collection including some coordinating designs.

Dennis has been hard at work also.

Pillow from the Everyday Dogs Collection

Every Day Dogs Design by Dennis

Christmas Dogs

The “Beware of the Dog’s” pillow is the start of Dennis’ new “Everyday Dogs” collection. A christmas version of this whimsical doggie design has also been licensed for fabric by Timeless Treasures. My next post will be Part 2 of the July Atlanta Show. I’ll showcase a few of the companies I met with in their showrooms and talk about setting appointments, scheduling, meeting and doing follow through.

As always remember that your comments are most welcome.


Filed under Art and Design, Cooking and Baking, Creativity and Fun, Licensing, Manufacturers

The Atlanta July Gift Show, Part One

After Surtex there were about three weeks to do the show follow-thru, get ourselves organized and think about new artwork. Most of our current clients are in the papergoods market, i.e. paper tableware, stationery, shopping bags and greeting cards. We have a few clients in the home decor area like EvergreenBurton and Burton and Robert Kaufman (fabrics).

At one of our meetings after the show we decided that  we wanted to expand into the gift and home decor market. There are several reasons why. One is to increase our client base. Two, to develop products in a new market area. And three, to stretch the inspiration for our creativity. New markets equals new ideas. And did I mention to increase income?

So, we decided that I should go to the big Atlanta July Gift show to scout out new companies.

In order to do this I researched companies that we had visited in Atlanta in January 2012. Then I spent my mornings for three weeks making phone calls to set up appointments for the show. I was in a happy creative frenzy creating new designs. I was warming up to do a loose fun watercolor style that was different than the way I had been working. I always forget that there is a learning curve with watercolor whenever you try a new style.

I got impatient and frustrated. It just wasn’t working out. I knew what I wanted to do but it wasn’t happening as fast as I would have liked. You cannot rush or force watercolor to do what you want. It’s a watery flowing medium and unless you flow with it nothing works.

Dennis, on the other hand, is a steady worker. He gets his ideas and  creative direction as he progresses on with a design. He knows that this is his process. I typically keep losing sight of my process. That’s my Aries nature. Always forgetting and running headfirst into that same wall. Experience and maturity have tempered it a bit. Whew!

The night before leaving I laid out my clothes for the trip, worked on a painting, and played with Maggie, our cat. I fell asleep around 2 am and got up at 5.

Bye bye Bus stop Cafe

Said goodbye to Dennis, the kitties and Greenwich Village.

Departure from La Guardia Airport

I love getting to the airport early enough to have time to stay relaxed about the check-in time. Shoes off, get patted down, explain away suspicious items like a nail file. The bonus is that I can browse the stores, read a paper and have my coffee and bagel before it is boarding time.

One Artist Aloft

Ah, finally on the plane. Cramped, no leg room, but nice people to chat with and my iPad to keep me amused.

My home away from home

I was lucky to get a reservation at the Days Inn. Everything else downtown was booked. I’ll give you a few tips about booking and when to do it in the next couple of posts. Stay tuned! The nicest surprise was finding that I was just down the hill from the Gift Mart.

Too tired to walk up the hill to the show Thursday afternoon I spent the time between naps strolling downtown Atlanta. It was a nice surprise to find that it was a pretty little city and not just a downtown business district.

Bridges everywhere connecting the three huge buildings

Friday morning I got up early and after a full breakfast (the kind I like) I headed up the hill with the crowds (mostly women buyers) to  America’s Mart. The Mart is actually three 18-story buildings with connecting bridges on different levels. For those who are not familiar with this show it’s main purpose is for the manufacturers to take orders from the retailers who walk the show and shop for their own gift shops.

It takes a bit of navigating and sometimes you just go in circles and get frustrated and feel like yelling “Let me Out of Here!”

Building 1 consists of showrooms for manufacturers of  bedding, rugs, furniture, lighting and more. More broadly it houses the home decor showrooms. Building 2  and its new wing 2W is where I spent most of my time. This is the Gift building and houses companies like the ones I will be featuring in my next two posts such as Enesco, Manual Woodworkers, Burton and Burton, Transpac, C & F and Evergreen Enterprises.

There are also are two sections that are fun and inspirational to walk through. They are the”Living Outdoor/Indoor Gardens (garden statues, furniture, art fountains, flags and wonderful food). The new Gourmet Food Section, in building 2 has cooking demos, books, kitchen products and food tastings. Yum! I made it to the Garden section and walked through with Lucinda who I’ll introduce a little further on.

And then there is  building 3.  I’d have to stay an extra day to walk through  some of the showrooms there, but it would be such a treat. Building 3 houses The Fashion Accessories and fine Jewelry Showrooms. It is known as the Apparel Mart. And some of the showrooms let you shop at wholesale price. Bring your credit card!

Friends at the Show

Chris Peterson and Peter Spader (Chris in the middle and Peter on the right) were my  art reps for around 9 years. Their agency is called C.P. Licensing, and they have been in this business for more than 20 years. About 10 years ago, Dennis and I branched off to be on our own. We’ve all remained friends. Chris and Peter and I met up for lunch each day and had a fun dinner, Margaritas and all, one evening. I learned a lot from them when they were our reps. It was great to do some of the show with them and continue to learn. They are both generous in sharing of themselves and their vast knowledge from years of being Licensing artist Agents. It is very important from my experience to spend a few years at least going it on your own before you sign up with a rep for a number of reasons. More on this also in the next several posts.
Lucinda Wei, a friend and talented designer, walked some of the show with me. I wanted to show her how I would approach  potential customers in their showrooms.


Yes I was really there.

Chris finally insisted on taking a photo of me just to prove to my readers that I was really at the Show. Well I was folks and I loved every minute of it.


My traditional welcome back home

I guess Roosevelt Bear missed me!

In the posts that follow this I will talk about the nuts and bolts of making calls for appointments. It’s important too to make calls for catching up on  both personal and business stuff and finding out what a company is looking for and what is the time period to submit these designs.  Then you need to organize all this information so it works for you! More on that in the next few posts. The calls and appointments are an important part of what you need to do when you want to start expanding into a new part of the licensing market. Or, to start out in the business.

I’ll also take you on a virtual tour of three large showrooms and walk you through a “Meeting”. For now I’ll tell you one very important thing I have learned: Networking is one of the most essential things you can do. And it’s fun and sociable. Keeps you out of the kind of trouble that can come if you become too isolated. And that trouble can be both personal and professional. I didn’t always like doing it, but the more you do the more comfortable you feel. You can make friends along the way with people you work with.

More to come about the Atlanta Show. Keep tuned and please send me your questions and comments.


Filed under Airlines, Art and Design, Atlanta, Creativity and Fun, Hotels, Kitchen and Food, Licensing, Manufacturers, Marketing, Trade Show, Uncategorized

Surtex 2012—A great show experience

We came back from the Surtex show at the NY Javits Center in May to find the tulips all  blooming in the park downstairs.

Greenwich Village, New York City

Our urban village

Our home in Greenwich Village is a renovated former GE factory dating back to the 1920’s. The scene is lively and colorful and at the same time very peaceful. We call it our urban village!

Maggie and Buster napping

Louisa May Allcat

Our three cats Magnolia (a white and orange tabby), Buster (a grey and white tuxedo cat) and Louisa May (a tortoise shell calico) were happy to have us back. We were at the Surtex show for three full days. They’re  used to hanging out with us all day.

Andrea’s workspace

My office and studio is in one half of a  very large space way in the back of our loft.It always gets messy when I am in the middle of a project.

The other half of the back space

Our bedroom makes up the other half of the back . Decor is a combination of antique and Pottery Barn!

Dennis’ workspace

 Dennis’ workspace is at the front end of our loft. We had it designed by a company in New York called Techline. I can’t wait to do my space.
Usually in the morning, we have a business meeting in his office. Then it’s back to our studios until lunch.
Dennis designed great wall posters for the walls in our Surtex booth:
Dennis Kendrick and Tom Cathey at Surtex Booth

Floor to Ceiling posters for our booth

Eiffel Tower, Peony and Bluebird

Tuscan Pasta Design

We had over a thousand designs displayed on our two Apple ipads. The Show was lively and very upbeat. There was a general spirit of optimism and good spirits.

Rainy day at Surtex

Monday morning it rained heavily and the Javits Center’s roof leaked onto our exhibit hall. It was especially bad in our aisle. We were cordoned off and no foot traffic was allowed. We spent the morning gawking at the cherry pickers repairing the ceiling. No meetings that morning! Penny Sikalis the show manager handled this mishap with speed and thoughtfulness.Our spirits were not dampened!

We had meetings with our clients and new manufacturers. If more than one customer appeared at the same time we had two ipads (dueling ipads) ready to go into action. I have fallen in love with technology, my iMac, iPad and now my iPhone. Stay tuned, there is more to come.

National Stationery Show banner

 Surtex ran at the same time as the big National Stationery Show. This is the big show for stationery and giftware manufacturers. It’s held in New York every May.
Holiday Paper Tableware for Design Design

Joy Tote Bag, Design Design

I went over to the DesignDesign booth at the Stationery Show to see Dennis’ new collections of paper tableware: Leaves of Autumn and Joy. We also have a beautiful collection of greeting cards in their line. Dennis is a wonderful designer. F0r him, “Less is always more”, my modus operendi is “Everything and the kitchen sink”. Another way we make a good balanced team.

Tom Vituj and Susan Birnbaum of DesignDesign

We had a great time withTom Vituj and Susan Birbaum of DesignDesign when they visited us at our booth. This Family-owned company is a manufacturer and distributor of gift and stationery goods. Their look is innovative and ranges from the whimsical to the elegant design. Their focus is on “celebration”.

Lindy in a serious mood

 Lindy Bowman President of the Lindy Bowman Company met with us. His company specializes in gift bags and boxes for holiday and all occasions. The products are beautiful and Lindy and Ellen Birkner, creative and product development manger, are fun to work with.

Libby Embry and Maxine Burton of Burton+Burton

We were very happy to meet with Maxine Burton, owner, and Libby Embry, Creative Director, of Burton+Burton. Maxine and her husband Robert started the company as Flowers, Inc., a balloon division of a wholesale florist company and since then it has grown to become one of the largest suppliers of balloons and gift products. Isn’t it wonderful that this year they are celebrating their 50th anniversary in business!

Savannah Afternoon collection, mug mockup

They will be showing our newest collection, Savannah Afternoon at the July Atlantas’s Gift Show. It’s a lovely set with mug, fabric, tote bag, frames, stationery and wallpaper. I’ll be going to Atlanta in July and am excited about seeing my painted sunflowers show up all over these products.

Mary Jo Hull of Dreamworks and her daughter, Abigail

It was great catching up with Mary Jo Hull of Dream Works Design who came to the show with her lovely daughter Abigail who I had been looking forward to meeting. Dream Works Design is a division of Wally Packaging. They do gift bags for holiday and all occasions. Mary Jo is a wonderful illustrator, mother of two and now a creative director at Dream Works.

Dawn Kirschner of Unique Industries didn’t mind

Not all our clients wanted to have their pictures taken. Dawn Kirschner of Unique Industries didn’t mind! Unique Industries is another family run business that has just celebrated it’s 50th year in business. They do wonderful paper and party goods. The business was started by Jeff and Ann Marie Novak and eventually passed on to their three sons Everett, Gary and Craig. Dennis and I enjoy being in the tradition of family owned businesses!

Thinify my new PR photo

In between meetings, our friends Tom Cathey and Joana Miranda visited and helped us take new PR photos. This one is called “Thinify”. This is one of the special effects you can play with on the new Lumix digital camera.Check out all its other features. This is next on my wish list.

Joana Miranda, photo by Tom Cathey

I have Joana Miranda to thank for teaching me about word press and how to set up a blog. Not only is she a wonderful and patient teacher, but an extremely multi-creative artist. Make sure to check out Joanna’s blog called A Talent for Design.

Our dear friend Tom Cathey

Tom Cathey introduced us to Joana. He also gave me mega help when I was green and starting out in Licensing on my own. Then when Dennis and I teamed up Tom was very supportive and forthcoming with help and advice. Tom is an artiste extraordinaire who was highly successful in licensing. Now he is a blogger. His site, Tom’s Eye View is a colorful, amusing and ever changing photo journal of New York places and events. Thanks Tom.

The City that Never Sleeps

Dennis and I love to travel but we are always happy to come home to New York—this fabulous, energizing, whirlwind of a city. Take a walk through New York at night and you will find out why it is called “The city that never sleeps.”

The Smiling Cat

We’ve come to the close of this post. I think I’ll end it just for fun with an image that Dennis did that I love and that always makes me smile.


Filed under Art and Design, Artist Studio Space, Licensing, Surtex, Trade Show