Tell us a bit about your collective:
Tell us a bit about yourselves: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
Pencil Parade met in an online class in 2015. Our personalities clicked while chatting in the private Facebook groups and thought it would be a good idea (and fun!) to join forces as a collective. We use Google Hangouts for formal meetings about once a month and have a private Facebook group that we are active on daily. It wasn't until May of 2017 that we finally met in person, to exhibit at Blue Print trade show in New York City.
None of us went to school for art, but we all did creative majors: Betsy and Megan went for Photography, Brooke went for film (and taught Paint and Sip classes!), and Katie majored in theater! We’re all self-taught in art and have lots of individual experience that help in our collective.
Do you work in just one medium? Several?
We all have a range of styles and sometimes we like to change it up! We work with watercolor, gouache, india ink, and even digitally: painting in Photoshop, Procreate, or vector-based artwork in Illustrator.
What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
Betsy: Having little kids around invites lots of colorful patterns, books and doodads into my house. I also like to pick up vintage cookbooks and fabric at thrift stores when I see something I like.
Brooke: I get inspiration from exploring my city and trying new experiences. Recently I did an Escape room; the set design of the room was so cool and I found an old book that had amazing patterns on the spine. I was also inspired earlier this year by the tiles in the bathroom of restaurant by the beach. I guess it's just being curious and paying attention to the little details of the spaces around me.
Katie: I'm often inspired by what's in my own "backyard." From my literal backyard garden, to the nature that surrounds me, objects in my home, vintage textiles, and children's books.
Megan: Living with an engineer is quite inspiring in itself. Every project he does is very detailed and logical - this often works its way into my artwork as fun little details and interesting ‘ah-ha’s! I also enjoy practicing yoga which has a way of making you stop and breath and allowing your mind to think of things in a different way.
How did you start licensing your art?
Betsy: My first license was with a sock company. I sent in some designs for a contest but didn't win, but a few months later they got in touch to ask if they could license one of the patterns I submitted.
Brooke: Of course, I've started business relationships by sending new art to companies on a regular basis, but the Pencil Parade art collective has really helped me in my art career. As a group we're able to send out postcards more frequently, have a really well curated instagram account, and reach out to potential clients with a much larger selection of artwork. I think all these efforts combined has resulted in people paying a bit more attention to us. And in essence, it's basically doubling our marketing efforts as an individual.
Katie: I opened an Etsy shop to start selling art prints, tea towels, and stationery items. The first thing I licensed was with a company that found my work on Etsy. Around the same time I was also developing an online portfolio and starting to actively contact companies that I hoped to work with.
Megan: I began licensing when my eyes were opened to it while working in-house at a textile company in LA. I didn’t even know it was a thing until I saw the work artists were getting after they submitted. My first license was and is with a greeting card company who I still work with today!
What are you working on now?
We’ll all knee-deep in holiday designs for clients and also some personal work here and there when we can fit it in.
Any great advice for our readers?
Betsy: I have an alarm on my phone that reminds me to submit to 2 companies every Monday. I don't always do it if I'm busy with other work, but it's a great reminder to share my work.
Brooke: Find ways to connect with your artist community! It gets lonely working alone and having people you can bounce ideas off of or ask questions, is so important.
Katie: I struggled for years trying to find a style or feeling anxious that I didn't have one. My biggest piece of advice for people in the same boat is to keep making work. It's in there already, you just need to work and it will come out all on its own and then continue to evolve and change. Also, find a support system. Joining my art collective, Pencil Parade, has been one of my best decisions yet. We support each other, help each other, and push each other too.
Megan: I agree with everyone else, and in addition, I actually have some online tutorials and classes to help intermediate to advanced designers. A lot of them are more technology oriented. I talk a lot about using Photoshop and Illustrator to their fullest and how to work like a graphic designer and not just an illustrator.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Betsy Siber is really excited to share her first fabric collection in a few months! In January, she signed on with Michael Miller Fabrics as an exclusive designer, and it has been a wonderful experience so far! All four of us have recently signed on to a photo card company, too, which we're all excited about!
Are you all early risers? or night owls?
Betsy is the only night owl of our collective (the rest are early risers!), but Katie enjoys the quiet of a not-too-late night.
What is your favorite food?
Being in Southern California, Megan enjoys fabulous Mexican food, Betsy likes buttered toast and sushi (though not together!), and Katie says her weakness is French Fries.
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