Friday, May 27, 2016
Artist Spotlight - Nicole Tamarin
Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
I didn't start taking art until I was a Junior in HS after my French teacher suggested not taking her class again (I was terrible at it, even after 5 years) and maybe try an art class instead! I’m not sure why I had never thought to do this but art wasn’t really something I saw a possible career in so it seemed odd to spend time on it. I’m kind of practical in that way but I was always drawing in a sketch book and doing projects at home so I thought it might be fun. Who knew I’d be completely switching gears from that point on! I remember a Senior at the time telling me that I HAD to go to Mass College of Art, and again, I’m not sure I had actually thought about going to school for art as a possibility but hearing it from someone else was a weird kind of permission I’m not sure I would have allowed myself on my own. I did end up attending Mass Art, where I was an Industrial Design major before switching to Illustration where I graduated with departmental honors.
Do you work in just one medium? Several?
As far as my traditionally painted work, it’s almost always watercolor and sometimes a little white gouache. I know I don’t use it right but I have never liked the colors I mix so I tend to just tint it with my watercolors. For brands I like Winsor Newton but that might also be because I still am using my original set from college! As I’ve gotten more into Licensing and have a need to get brighter, bolder color I started to mix a bit of Dr Martin’s in with my regular pallet for a bit of a color boost. For the digital side of what I do, all my paintings are brought into Photoshop. I am no expert by any means but it is comical to me that it was only five years ago when all I’d use PS for was scanning and sizing for email.
How did you start licensing your art?
In all honesty it took me forever to find my niche. I found out about licensing after losing an illustration job due to the fact that I didn't want to sell my full rights. Since I really only had freelanced here and there since college I wasn’t sure what was realistic in the "real world" as far as keeping your rights were concerned so I reached out to an artist who had done a previous product for the same company. That artist happened to be Bee Sturgis and she encouraged me to look at the licensing industry thinking it was a good fit for my work. She also directed me to Tara Reed’s site who at the time was doing "Ask" calls talking to different experts about the industry. The very first one I listened to was about Surtex, which of course I had never heard of and as soon as I found out that it was in NYC I decided to walk that spring and exhibit the following year. This is of course before I knew anything about licensing or had a portfolio to speak of but it was just one of those lightbulb moments.
From that point on I read every book and blog I could get my hands on, I was listening to webinars, teleseminars, and podcasts. Everything from freelancing to marketing, from entrepreneurship to small business strategies and of course if someone was sharing about art licensing in any form I was open ears. I taught myself to make patterns from a silly “how to make a polk a dot” tutorial and started entering all the weekly Spoonflower challenges to help me learn how to make patterns. A few months went by and when May rolled around, as soon as I stepped on to the Surtex floor I knew it was where I wanted to be. I am a total introvert but forced myself to introduce myself to as many artists as I could find that I followed online. It was one of the best and most terrifying things to do but everyone was very encouraging. I also made a point to tell everyone I spoke to that I’d be back the next year as an exhibitor.
I had never shown my work to anyone in the industry before unrolling my banners the following Spring when I arrived for my first show (this is not something I’d suggest!) but it all turned out for the best. I was able to see that my art was indeed a fit for several industries and it wasn’t just a hunch. Best thing I ever did, both for my business as well as for myself.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on new art for my card and gift line “Sienna’s Garden” for Pictura USA. It’s a project close to my heart, not only because it is named after my daughter but also because it is the first project I’ve worked on that truly represents me as an artist. The line just launched in March with 60 card designs and 9 gift collections but I’ve already completed 20 new card designs and am currently at the sketch stage for the next 20. It’s been challenging to come up with that amount of art but I’ve been working with Pictura for the past 4 years and it’s been nice to have a company who is willing to stick with you. In all honesty they don’t like everything I send but it only pushes me to dig a bit deeper and in the end they’re usually right!
Anything else you would like to share with us?
I’m going through a HUGE transition in my business at the moment having just signed with an agent. It’s honestly not something I had any plans of doing when I entered Art Licensing so I’m still in a bit in shock that it’s happening. I do, however, think it’s important to know when you may not be the best person to wear all the hats. I know this is going to be a scary transition since I’m a classic Virgo (aka total control freak) and I’m really proud of what I have learned and achieved on my own but I’m also looking forward to working with people who I honestly do believe will do a better job helping me achieve my long-term goals.
Any great advice for our readers?
Creating an income from Licensing can take some time so having other income sources is a must. Some artists teach, have etsy shops, or regular freelance work which always amazes me but sometimes it might just be a non creative source of regular income that gets you through.
Are you an early riser? or night owl?
Definitely a night owl! If I didn't have to get my daughter up for school I'm sure I'd work into the wee hours and sleep in. Maybe when she's older!
What is your favorite food?
I love Indian and Thai but my favorite is Mango Curry. My college roommate is such a good sport and gets it with me every time I come to see her, she must be sick of me getting the same thing for the past 18 years but some things never change.
You can find Nicole: