Pinkytoast is Popping Up at Licensing Expo

16 06 2014

Pinkytoast violetta bee boxer ppSheila Meehan has taken on a new property that is very much ‘Art+Design’ but has a bit of a different twist.  It’s incredibly unique with it’s’ quirky combination of sweetness and goth. In this interview, we discuss how an agent can grow a new tween/teen property through retail testing and exposure. I think Pinkytoast is a great example of fine art and exceptional design, while also demonstrating how two unrelated themes — wide-eyed dolls/pin-ups & edgy goth themes–can create a new ‘knock-out’ genre.

23 knitty monster pink elephant knitty girl ppp35 lemon lament 8x10 collage page pinkytoast 2014hot topic tee shirt sample page pinkytoast 2014


Girl Nation is Top Nominee in ‘One to Watch’ Contest at Licensing Expo 2014

11 06 2014
(c) Girl Nation

(c) Girl Nation

I was thrilled to be able to talk with Vicki DeRoeck and Deb Dittmer, from Running Dog Graphics, this week about how they developed their new brand Girl Nation. Anyone who is striving to create a brand at home and wondering how to get out their and grow a brand from scratch needs to watch this video. These fearless gals have never attended the Licensing Expo before and have a Booth set to launch their new property. I will be talking with them again at Licensing Expo and after the event to see how the whole experience pans out for them.


(c) Girl Nation

(c) Girl Nation

‘One to Watch’ Contest Nominees Dominated by Art+Design

9 06 2014

Several months ago, the Licensing Expo launched a competition called the ‘One to Watch’ which recognizes properties that are new to the licensing community (and which they believe have a future in the biz). The folks at Advanstar have now whittled down the entrants to a final 10 nominees, from which the ‘One to Watch’ will be chosen.

I was so delighted to see that out of the 10 finalists, five of them are exhibitors in the Art+Design Zone, where I will be hosting the Resource Center in Booth D30.

'Pool Party' -  John Rinek and Dana Agamalian are the innovatiave creators at RINEKWALL. I spoke to Dana this week, and  look forward to visiting their Booth C31 to see their infamous barbed wire and other designer patterns for custom wallpaper, fabric and more. (c) RINEKWALL,

‘Pool Party’ – John Rinek and Dana Agamalian are the innovative creators at RINEKWALL. I spoke to Dana this week, and look forward to visiting their Booth C31 to see their infamous barbed wire and other designer patterns for custom wallpaper, fabric and more. (c) RINEKWALL,

Here are the 10 finalists, and I’ve noted the five Art+Design segment exhibitors with an asterisk and shared links to their web sites:

The criteria for the competition, is that you must be new to the licensing industry and have not been marketed before January of 2013. In addition, all entrants cannot be licensed in more than two product categories. License! Global’s Steve Ekstract and Advanstar’s Jessica Blue will be choosing the winner and three runners-up, which will be announced on Tuesday, June 17th.

I can’t wait to check them all out at the show next week. Here’s to the up-n-coming future artists, designers and properties who are putting it out there in the Art+Design Zone for the world to see at this year’s Licensing Expo!


AmericasMart Showcases Licensed Art Themes on 2014 Product Lines

16 01 2014

AmericasMart is so big I never really feel like I’ve seen the whole thing, even though I walked and talked until my feet AND throat were so sore I couldn’t do any more. Don’t tell me I’m getting older; I am always reminded since my birthday regularly arrives during the Mart each January.

The hallways definitely didn’t seem overcrowded this year, but the show was plenty busy. I am also happy to say the manufacturers that I met with seemed pretty optimistic.

My formal take-away from this year’s show was that there were ‘no new themes.’  Really.  Every showroom had variations on the same themes, some of the same themes, or a different cross-section of the same themes on different products.

The following are the thematic trends seen EVERYWHERE:

  • Recycled – Refurbished – Rustic Chic (with loads of Burlap!)
  • French – Paris
  • Pets – Cats and Dogs
  • Ephemera
  • Vintage/Retro
  • Coastal
  • Wine
  • Flowers
  • Patterns – With chevrons, fleur de leis and paisleys
  • Birds – While this theme saw owls coming on strong the last two years, now it’s a full-fledged Hitchcock level parade of seagulls, ravens, flamingos, peacocks, penguins, chickadees, and of course, the proverbial roosters!Dayspring72dpi (1)PrimitivesByKathy72dpi
  • Words — Both humorous and inspirational words were on all types of product. Some utilized type only, and others mixed the words with images. And there was still lots of chalk boards. I picked up two chalk-board inspired catalogs, from totally different companies. You’d have thought their art directors sat next to each other in catalog-making class.  Chalkboards are now, in my estimation, too much of a good thing. Of course, well designed type and handcrafted writing is awesome, but with new, fresh content—it’s much better!

So, if there is nothing new, what is inspiring manufacturers and consumers?  I think the themes tend to stay the same in a conservative marketplace because consumers are purchasing with purpose.  They buy to fit their collections, to match their existing décor, or to give to someone who loves a certain theme. And manufacturers still aren’t willing to take many financial chances.

The freshness, then, is coming from the new ways in which artists, graphic designers, illustrators, painters, cartoonists and all creators are approaching these themes in really unique ways:

  • Juxtaposing unique art styles and varied themes
  • Mixing colors in different ways (the higher-end manufacturers were using muted version of intense colors; the lower-end was using bold, bright and neon colors)
  • Utilizing textures (lace, paint, rust, wire mesh, clay, hammered metal, fabrics, etc.)
  • Creating silhouettes
  • Designing the product itself

In the end, it’s about moving forward and trying new ideas and elements.  Yet, still creating enough great work that appeals to the manufacturers who will fund production and distribution.  I say out with ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ and in with something more original, such as, ‘Don’t Panic’ by Simply Eartha. Simply Eartha Soy Candle Line with Quotes from Eartha Kitt

What is a Brand?

12 12 2013

Am I a brand? How do I become a brand? Do I want to be a brand? Is my art the brand; or am I the brand? What is an art brand? Whew….the questions keep coming!  And branding is a critical component in today’s marketplace, especially for artists looking to leverage each entrepreneurial step they take to new levels of profits and exposure.

So, today I want to get back to the basics of: ‘what is a brand?’ It seems that many people are mistaken, and I think it’s very worthwhile to make sure you understand this, before you try to build and direct the development of your own brand.

The slide show below was created by John Cooper, as part of a workshop presenting the book ‘Zag.’ It does an amazing job of compressing the essence of a complete branding book into a few short minutes, so please take the time to flip through it. I believe ‘Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands’ by Marty Neumeier, has nailed today’s marketplace and our key options. I hope you find it as interesting, insightful and amusing as I do.

Let me know if you get it and how it changes your thinking about brands today. I will share more about how to create art licensing brands in future blogs, so stay tuned.

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