Category Archives: Trends

The most popular colors, images and styles.

The Atlanta Show January 2015 and Trends

Dennis and I  got home Sunday January 12th after being at the Atlanta show for five days. There was a really bad virus and cough going around and we both got it. Luckily not at the same time. So we were able to spell each other at the show. I still have it and it has has slowed me down. and since I am a bit late now to report on the show, I’ll write on some topics related to trade shows.  There is a lot of important things to say about the show (or any trade show you go to) . I am going to start with:   Trends  

How and where to spot them at the show. (At the end of this blog I will mention other good sources of trend spotting).

At the shows Look for trends that predominate and show up in at least 5 major showrooms and more. In Atlanta Showrooms like C & F , Manual Woodworkers and Evergreen are good for trend spotting.

 Check out the fashions you see in the halls and showrooms – We saw, of course chevron, animal prints,lots of patterns, and combinations of patterns. At the July show I am sure we will see lots of floral patterns.

         Check colors and patterns that appear in the showrooms- Seen were a lot of the warmer colors in the orange, pink and coral family. Also sunflower yellow. In the Cools   were, you guessed it Blues. Lots of Aqua, Cobalt and Navy. Lots of warm and cool grays combined with the blues and warm shades.

Patterns and bright colors

Patterns and bright colors

Spot recurrent themes – Foxes and owls still around. Woodland animals, deer, moose etc. are showing up. Not as much as was predicted a year ago. The little Hedgehog so popular in England didn’t live up to last year’s predictions. We saw some, but not enough to call it a big trend,.

  I saw  a good showing of black and white designs, patterns and black line art combined with watercolory butterflies, flowers. This last was starting to appear last year in gift wear fashion and tabletop.

Black and white line art with some color

Black and white line art with some color


LOOSER WATERCOLOR AND NATURE THEMES, especially birds and flowers
 Photos of two products in a line sold by by yours truly. This look on Home decor products has been coming about in the last 5 years. And you can bet I am happy about that. The products will be on the Overstock site in late February. Duvet Duvet



Looser Watercolor styles on Paper. This look has been popular on pillows for 3 or 4 years and is now appearing on other products.

Looser watercolor designs

Looser watercolor designs



Collage style inspirational art where the art is very stylistic. These two pieces by Kelly Rae Roberts and Lisa Kaus are good illustrations. Type is used in unusual and varied styles often looking like a snippet of typewriter type. Kelly and Lisa were among the artists that first developed this style around 5 or 6 years ago.By now I’m sure if you have been looking you’ve seen lots of other artists now doing this look. I remember seeing this style and the artists who did it for the first time in the Demdaco Showroom in Atlanta. Then it was new. Now there are many artists doing this look. It caught on and became popular. With artists and with the public

Kelly Rae Roberts collage style

Kelly Rae Roberts collage style

Lisa Kaus collage inspirational style

Lisa Kaus collage inspirational style

Some Themes that come to mind as always popular.

Coastal. I think that we saw a lot more than in past years.

Birds, florals and patterns. (I read in Gifts and Dec Accessories that florals are trending again this year in home decor.

Wine and grapes

Traditional Holiday

Other ways to follow trends:

Check the Pantone color reports for the current year. This is the palette I saw a lot of at the show. And it should be showing up more as Spring is being show in stores.

Pantone colors Spring 2015

Pantone colors Spring 2015

“About the PANTONE Color of the Year
The Color of the Year selection requires careful consideration and, to arrive at the selection, Pantone combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the fashion and entertainment industries – including films that are in production, the world of art, popular travel destinations and other socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, the availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sports events that capture worldwide attention. “

This years color is marsala. It is the luscious rich red brown. Watch for it to start appearing all over!

I try to think of trends when I do my nature paintings. But don’t always incorporate them. If I am working on a collaged piece with Dennis then we are mindful of trends More decorative artists like Jennifer Brinley do use them in a lot of their designs.

Whether you choose to use these colors in your art or not it helps to be aware of them. Don’t feature colors that are out of date for that year.

 Some other ways that I follow trends are: Remember that,  The trends start in  fashion and apparel move to home decor rugs furniture and tabletop and then giftware. ) It can take a year or two for this moving along of the trends. It seems to me that they move from one market to the next faster now than say 5 years ago.

Trade Magazines. Especially Gift and Decorative Accessories

Watch QVC on TV to see what is trendy in fashion.

Visit local gift shops. Talk to the shop owner and see what they are considering hot trends.

Check some of the trendier stores on the internet: ex: West Elm, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Pier One

Go to other trade shows. There are so many around the country.

I  was going to make this a short post. Ha ha lol.

It is a cold night in the big apple and I smell Apple and Butternut squash soup from the kitchen.  Let me know about other trends you are spotting.

So I will end here. Stay warm and if you are in a warm place

enjoy it!



























Filed under Atlanta Gift show, Owls, watercolor birds and wildlife

Takes two to make a peacock

I thought it would be interesting and perhaps helpful to see  how our new Peacock design came about. It is a good illustration of the process involved and how Dennis and I share the art.

A peacock is a spectacular bird and also has been very trendy in our market. So why not!

After I gathered reference I began to watercolor using my chinese brushes. I use them almost exclusively these days.

I painted the tail separately

I painted the tail separately

Just in case the tail didn’t come out right I painted it separately then added it to my bird.

I start to paint the peacock

Now I add the tail and paint the feathers

When I showed my peacock to dennis he liked everything but the tail. The design of the feathers was kind of hodgepodge. Too exacting for my way of watercoloring.

So I repainted the basic colors of the tail as well as one feather. I added the lower part of the body to the tail. Now I had a headless peacock.

And one feather

And one feather

In the meantime I had repainted the tail and where it attached to the body and the start of the neck. The original Head was still separate and then that got attached. A bit like surgery.

The new tail gets attached

We sliced off the head and I repainted the tail and the body up to where the neck began

The head got reattached and Dennis did a magnificent job of placing the feathers on the tail. We added type to the background and added blue poppies.

Dennis creates the pattern of the feathers

Dennis creates the pattern of the feathers

 Blue poppies that I had previously painted. And added type to the background.

The blue poppies

The blue poppies

Texture and color were added to the background and we both agreed that our Peacock was completed.

Finishing the background

Finishing the background

A feather in my cap
A feather in my cap- not a real one!

And one for Dennis too!


Filed under Birds, peacock, Trends, Uncategorized, wildlife and birds

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