Paul Brent’s 6th SURTEX trend review and art licensing call is a wrap!

Ask Paul Brent about SURTEX and art licensingIt’s hard to believe that this is the 6th year Paul Brent has shared his insights about SURTEX trends as well as answering questions submitted by artists like you.  I took two and a half pages of notes and have some new design ideas from listening to this call!

This year’s theme was “What’s Hot and What’s Not!”

In addition to trends, here is what we covered on the call:

  • What are your top 3 tips for a newbie to prepare for Surtex 2016?
  • How many collections do I need in my portfolio to make the best use of my time when I rent a booth at Surtex?
  • In the current economy, what is the one thing you think is most important for success in this field?
  • How many pieces of art should a typical collection contain?
  • What is your take on mixing both traditional and digital work in a portfolio.
  • How do you handle it when several companies express interest in the same design for the same products?
  • Do you think selling through Print-On-Demand sites, Etsy or other online sales will impact a manufacturers decision to license an artist’s work?
  • Can you please give some suggestions and information about how and where to find a good, qualified Layout Artist and what a typical pay range would be?

The audio replay is available for only $20 through June 10, 2015 and then the price goes to $30.

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This is a bargain for the expertise and experience you gain – and it helps me give Paul some garage sale money for his time and effort. (We are gearing up for our third annual Father’s Day weekend garage sale event in Portland!)

If you want to learn more about the Trade Show eBook Paul mentioned and start getting ready for next year, CLICK HERE to learn more.

NEXT UP…  Josephine Kimberling!

Ask Josephine Kimberling about art licensingI’ve had several requests for an expert that specializes in pattern design and Josephine graciously agreed to join us on July 15, 2015!

Josephine Kimberling is a licensed designer who specializes in pattern & painted artworks that uniquely combine fashionable pattern mixing with on-trend color palettes to create compelling collections.

Her 12-year career in product development includes working as a textile designer and color & print trend forecaster for Nordstrom as well as creating art for a fashion print-rep out of London. In addition, she worked for Hallmark Cards as a graphic designer for their stationery and gift-wrap lines. Since then she has been creating surface pattern, artwork and design solutions for industry leaders all over the world.

Her vision is to “Inspire Happiness Through Pattern & Paint” in those who view her art.

You can submit your questions anytime here >

Learn more about Josephine Kimberling at


Don’t Forget!

The next Art Licensing Academy starts next Wednesday, June 3rd!  If you are ready to dig in deep – learn more at ArtLicensingAcademy.comArt Licensing Academy - feedback from artists

Ask Paul Brent and SURTEX trend review is tomorrow night!

Paul Brent answers questions about art licensing and provides a SURTEX trend reviewTomorrow night, May 27, 2015, our most anticipated Art Licensing Ask Call of each year will take place.  Paul Brent will be doing his fabulous SURTEX trend review for the first half and answering questions the second half…

If you submitted a question or are on the Ask Call eNews list,  you will receive a reminder email today with the call in details. If you have never joined in on a call, enter your name and email below – you can put “no question” since the deadline to submit has passed so that Paul has time to prepare.  You will then receive the call in details to join the fun.


The calls are always free to listen live.  Since this is the 9th time (I think!) that Paul has been so generous with his time and SURTEX research, the replay will be $20 for 10 days and then $30 thereafter.  This minimal fee helps me give him something for his time and helps offset the cost of these programs.

There are 21 hours of free content available – the first call with any expert is always and forever free!

Go to to make sure you have them all!

We look forward to the call tomorrow!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Connection without Follow Up rarely creates RESULTS

My theme of the week is RESULTS.

I don’t spend the time, energy and money exhibiting at SURTEX for the fun of it.  I do it for the RESULTS I get for my business.  Connecting with current clients, meeting new prospects and of course, seeing all my fun artist and agent friends!

Exhibiting at the show is just the beginning… the success is in the follow up.

If you have never exhibited before, I’ll tell you a little bit about how it works… you stand in your booth for 3 days, smiling and trying to make eye contact while simultaneously trying to read their name and company name on their badge. (I must say, my aging eyes and need of reading glasses is making that trickier every year.)

If – no WHEN – you get their attention, you begin to ask some questions to better understand why they are at the show and what they are looking at.  As you learn about them, you figure out if and how you can be of service… what art and skills you have that will help them sell products and that will make their job easier.

You move to your portfolio and show them some things you think will work and let them wander through your treasure trove to see what peaks their interest.  You take copious notes as they say, “Oh, that could work!  Can you send me that?”  “That too, and maybe this pattern but can you show it to me with red instead of orange?”  etc.

You head back to your studio with a pile of notes about the conversations and the art requests.  Now comes the part that can make or break your show… FOLLOW UP.

There are times when a manufacturer follows up with you first… but I’d say it’s the exception and not the rule.  Remember they have talked to a lot of people and have requested a lot of art to review. It’s up to YOU to get it to them or you will miss the chance to be considered.

The same thing applies if you don’t exhibit.  You need to find ways to connect with the decision makers and follow up when you can.  Stay on top of what they are looking for and when they will be reviewing art and making decisions.  Submitting art a week after decisions were made won’t get you a deal.

SURTEX 2015 is a wrap!

Glancing over my notes, I met as many new people as current clients – many of the new look promising. It was quality over quantity but the quality was good. I even got a deal (for sure!) from a design I had showing in the Planner!

Advisory board meeting talked about lots of ways to grow and improve the show – including some new options for artists to check and see if it’s the place for them. Will give you more details as they are confirmed. Thanks to all who gave feedback for me to share.

Next year’s show dates – May 15-17, 2016!



Artists often ask for a calendar – “When do companies look for Christmas art? Or flowers?”  Unfortunately every company will have their own calendar.  Some work farther in advance and others do a lot of last minute “fire drill” style decision making.

Remember to focus on your results and if they aren’t what you want them to be, figure out what you can change in how you work and see if the results improve.  Building relationships and following up are two key ingredients to good results!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Knowledge + ACTION = results

Knowledge:  noun.  acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation.

Action: noun.  something done or performed; act; deed.  An exertion of power or force.

RESULTS:  noun.  something that happens as a consequence; outcome.

This is a magic formula for success in art licensing… or anything really.  If you learn a lot but don’t take action, you won’t get the results you want.  If you take a ton of action without knowing what you are doing, you won’t get the results either!

Today I encourage you to look at your wealth of knowledge and the action you are taking to see what you are doing well to get the results you want and where you might improve.

KNOWLEDGE – you need to understand the business of art licensing.

Knowledge you need includes, but certainly isn’t limited to:

  1. What kind of art works well for products at retail.
  2. How to create art in collections.
  3. How to deliver your art digitally – Photoshop and Illustrator being the industry standard programs.
  4. How to find and contact manufacturers and retailers.
  5. How to negotiate a contract – or when to get help.

ACTION – what are you doing, on a consistent basis to move your business forward?

  1. Are you putting your KNOWLEDGE into ACTION?
  2. Are you creating those collections?
  3. Are you making the phone calls or sending those emails to connect with manufacturers?
  4. Do you know where to go for help with contracts?  (hint: see the “find an attorney” tab on this blog)

One ACTION I’m taking today is exhibiting at SURTEX. Exhibiting at SURTEX or the Licensing Expo is a great way to take massive action and meet lots of people at once.  With the show conference programs, it’s also a great way to increase your KNOWLEDGE.

RESULTS – Regularly look at your results – if you aren’t happy with them, figure out how you can change your knowledge and/or action.

KnowledgeActionResults wheel

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  Need help with your Knowledge or Action?  Here are a few resources that might help… Art Licensing Info Self-Study Resources

Gain Knowledge and get support taking ACTION in then next Art Licensing Academy – starts June 3rd!  Click here to learn more…

As you head off to SURTEX…

Love New York - Tara Reed DesignsIf you are one of the artists exhibiting at SURTEX next week, this post is for you.

It’s time to take a moment, stand still, and look at what you’ve created.

You are DOING it!  You aren’t just talking about licensing your art but you have put money where your mouth is and it’s almost time for the show to start.

Months – if not years – of creativity and effort have brought you to this place.  The precipice between would could be and what you will make happen.

You are AMAZING!  Creative, brave and business savvy.

You learned, you analyzed, you weighed the pros and cons and decided that exhibiting was the right step for you, your business and your future.  You quieted your fears.  You stayed focused.  You didn’t let the naysayers get you down.

And now – it’s time!

I applaud you and look forward to sharing an amazing show floor with you on May 17, 18 & 19th.  We are off to write our future…

Here’s to your creative success – see you in New York!

– Tara Reed

Book Recommendation: The Success Principles

success_principles_bookLast week I picked up Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles by Jack Canfield [affiliate link] for what seems like the 50th time.  This isn’t a book about how to succeed in art but a book about how to succeed in life.  In business, in relationships, within yourself.

It’s one of my go-to’s when I get distracted.  When I start to doubt myself. Or when I just want to be reminded that my habits are what matter – not the random GRAND effort, but the day to day mental habits, action habits and connection habits.

If you haven’t read it before, I HIGHLY recommend you add a copy to your library. I won’t take up anymore of your time – I love it, I think you will too.  That’s the jist of this post. :)

Here’s to your creative SUCCESS!

– Tara Reed

Some thoughts about SURTEX…

With the SURTEX show just over a week away, I’m getting excited!  To stay excited, I need to watch my focus and energy – avoiding the negativity and “doom and gloom” that can be found in certain conversations online. I made the decision to exhibit months ago – I’ve spent a lot of time and money and energy getting ready.  Personally, SURTEX has been an integral part of my business’ growth and my marketing plan.

I usually stay out of the “muck and mire” as someone once eloquently put it.  There is little sense trying to convince everyone to take my point of view when it isn’t the right move for everyone and others aren’t open to any point of view but there own.  I have obviously placed my “vote” about the show by choosing to exhibit.

However, I have decided to post my 2¢ about something that is concerning me – this year more than any year past…

One thing that I love about art licensing is that an artist can be a part of this industry on their own OR with an agent.  With shows like SURTEX, individual artists have a place to meet people we would be hard pressed to connect with on the web or by phone.  We have a place to build relationships with manufacturers and connect face-to-face year in and year out… or every other year if that works better for your time and budget constraints. A few years ago we had four options – two are gone. (Atlanta and CHA)  Now we have the two that began the industry – SURTEX and the Licensing Expo – and we need them.

There seems to be an energy building of “will the show last?”  There are very high expectations for swift change from new management. Making changes to a show like SURTEX is like moving the a barge, not adjusting the sail of a two person boat.

Is everything perfect and sunshine and unicorns?  No.  Never is and never will be.  No management and no show will ever be able to live up to the expectations of the many people they serve – in any industry.  Could things have gone smoother?  Yes.

But let’s also remember that this new management also implemented some NEW, FREE MARKETING opportunities for us this year.  We are able to showcase not 1 image for 1 month in a rotation in the marketplace on the website home page but also SIX (yes – 6!) designs that we can tag by category in the SURTEX Planner.  It’s a big deal to me.

I hear some of you saying, “But that PLANNER!  I don’t understand it and it wasn’t working and …”  Again, growing pains.  I also think it was “trying to teach old exhibitors new tricks” growing pains too.  (I fit the bill anyway!)

I for one, don’t want to see either art licensing show end.  A few years ago we had four options – two are gone. (Atlanta and CHA)  Now we have the two that began the industry and I believe we need them.

I fear that if either stopped helping artists connect in the art licensing industry that it will become an industry where having an agent is a MUST and not a CHOICE.

So yes – do your due diligence. Make sure you are ready before you step up to the plate and exhibit.  Make sure it makes sense to continue.  Respect the choices of others and don’t make it difficult for those who choose differently than you.

Trade shows are BUSINESS EVENTS – their goal is to connect exhibiting companies (artists and agents) with licensees.  It isn’t a SOCIAL EVENT where artists should be free to roam the aisles in packs year after year without ever exhibiting.  It isn’t a place to do business in the aisles and to be offended when someone suggests you actually get a booth if you want to come for the 5th year in a row…


I will be attending the SURTEX advisory board meeting during the show as one of the voices of exhibiting artists.  I would love to hear your constructive thoughts about how the show can be even better and stronger for us and for the licensees.  Please bear in mind that we are talking about a show that takes place in New York City, in the Javitz Center with the unions and everything else that goes with it – so $300 booths are not going to be the answer.

You can leave comments on this post or if you prefer to give your opinion privately, email me at

You may agree with some or all of what I’ve said or you may agree with none of it… this is how I’m feeling about where our industry is and where we could be headed if we as a group don’t focus on keeping things working.

If you are exhibiting – have a great final week of preparation and be sure to take care of yourself so you can bring your A-Game to the show floor.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed



Agency Insights: Jennifer Nelson Artists

Another art licensing agency has taken me up on my offer to not only be included on the list of agents but to share some information about themselves.  (Want to see the list of agents and contact info?  Look for the tab at the top of this blog: FIND AN AGENT)  Remember that the agents DO NOT look at the comments on my posts for new artists – if you are interested in submitting work to them, please use the contact information at the end of the post.

More about Jennifer Nelson Artists… from Jennifer herself.

”It’s funny,” says Jennifer Nelson from her Boston-area office, “to be considered The New Kid in Town. I’ve been involved with art and illustration for decades.” Although Jennifer Nelson Artists just made its debut as a business in January of 2015, Jennifer has had a thriving design business where she worked closely with illustrators on a regular basis. After a few years working for a well-known artist’s agent, Ms. Nelson went out on her own to start this new business. “It’s something different, but it’s also a continuation of what I’ve always done. I’ve been in the art world for my whole life.”

Jennifer Nelson Artists opened its doors with a roster of five top talents: Bee Brown, Jennifer Orkin Lewis, Lauren Lowen, Monkia Forsberg and Victoria Johnson. “All smart, talented women with varied backgrounds” says Jennifer, “and each with her very own style.” Although the studio will take on more artists in the future, Nelson says she wants to stay focused on these keeping these five busy first.“Being an artist’s agent is different from being an art director. As a designer my client was the company who hired us to design something. As an agent, I have a dual clientele. I serve both the companies who buy art and these five illustrators.”

JNA works in several ways to provide art for their client companies. New illustration can be commissioned, existing pieces can be licensed or purchased outright. This flexibility ensures that everyone gets what they want and need. “And my artists get to do what they want, the opportunity to create beautiful images without worrying about contracts and the business end of things.” Most of Jennifer’s customers are in the stationery, book, textile and decorative home goods industries. “But we’re open to everything,” she adds. Magazine illustration, book covers, even advertising are places where a whimsical piece of artwork or a lovely spot illustration can add interest and appeal. “I’m so excited about the new venture and look forward to seeing how the illustrators work transforms all kinds of products.”

Jennifer Nelson Artists is a Boston-based illustration agency representing a roster of talented artists whose work available for licensing as well as commissions. JNA can be reached at (781) 643-2002or at

Here’s to your creative success!
– Tara Reed

We need your questions for the Ask Paul Brent Call

On May 27, 2015, our most anticipated Art Licensing Ask Call of each year will take place.  Paul Brent will be doing his fabulous SURTEX trend review for the first half and answering questions the second half…

This is where WE NEED YOU… we need your questions to make these calls great.

Paul Brent answers questions about art licensing and provides a SURTEX trend reviewSince both Paul and I will be exhibiting at SURTEX the week before the call, we would so appreciate you sending us some great questions NOW and not waiting till the last minute.

The deadline to submit questions is Friday, May 8th since both Paul and I will be exhibiting at SURTEX.

Many artists are surprised to learn that while we often have 100+ artists calling in and listening live, I also often receive only 10-15 questions.  We need more to make sure there is variety so can choose a group of topics that will help you better understand the business.

It’s simple – in the box below, please enter your name and email and a question that you have about how the art licensing business works.  It can be anything from art to marketing to business practices… what do YOU want to know?


Thank you in advance for getting us your questions asap and we look forward to the call in May!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Deadline for free goodies is quickly approaching…

May 2, 2015 – is the deadline for two great bonuses.

The deadline to get FREE books when you sign up for the Art Licensing Academy that begins on June 3, 2015.


I want to reward artists who commit to their education in advance by gifting you with some extra learning.  These are three of my go-to books for figuring out why I might be procrastinating, reminding me to see resistance for what it is and over come it and also great reminders about how to build effective business relationships.

Free book bonus photo

Now go to to learn more and reserve your spot now!


Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed