Friday, March 24, 2017

Agent Spotlight - Brenda Manley Designs

How long have you been in business and how did you come to be an agent? 
I worked 16 years for a paper tableware manufacturer in multiple positions.  Started as a graphic designer for catalogs, then promoted to designer, senior designer, assistant manager and finally design manager.  I created trend briefs, art directed and was an art buyer/licensee.  I had been attending Surtex for 10+ years.  At each show without fail, I was in complete awe of all the insane talent oozing from each booth. The creativity was intoxicating!  I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit so I decided to switch sides of the proverbial table. Since I am an artist first, my original intention was to freelance on my own.  Along the way I met emerging talent who had little experience in this industry. In my attempts to help some of them my agency developed organically. Some may see me being an artist as confusing while being an agent at the same time.  I reassure them that my art directing skills are stronger and that my creative output is rather infrequent. I truly feel being an artist combined with 16 years of manufacturing experience is a win/win situation.  I understand the demands of manufacturing deadlines and know the challenges designers face.  I thrive being the conduit to both sides!  So while we are in our 3rd year of business I bring over 28 years of design experience to the table with 19 of those years specializing in the social expressions/surface design industry.  

(Editor's note: you can click images to view larger)
Angel Gerardo - AG_0042_Joy to the World_CS

Who are the manufacturers you work with - how did you establish those relationships?
Relationships have been established via exhibiting at trade shows.  I have had the pleasure working with many outstanding manufacturers, some of which have requested to remain anonymous.  However, the following have granted permission to publish:  Amscan, Apache Mills, Claire’s Accessories, Clever Factory, C.R. Gibson, Demdaco, Design Design, Design House Greetings, DesignScapes, LLC, Groupe-Editor, Hallmark, Igloo, International Greetings, Michael Miller Fabrics, Mohawk, National Imports, Northcott Fabrics, Jillson Roberts, Lenox, Pier 1, Seaman Paper, Sterling Brands, Sullivan Paper, The Lindy Bowman Co., TJX, Unique and Wigwam Mills.

Do you have employees/help? 
I have recently been employing the help of a contractor who helps with admin and accounting.  This frees me up to do what I do best - support my artists, art direct, network and secure projects for our talented team!

Alyssa Kays - AKD_15C001_Candy_Christmas_Train_Card_OP

How do you market artists? 
Many ways!  Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, newsletters, advertising in trade publications and exhibiting at trade shows. Oh, and several interviews here and there ;-)

What do you look for in an Artist? 
Passion, design style, originality, color sense, technical skills (PS and AI expert level) and authenticity as an individual.
Amiee Sue Malott - ASM_16078_Baby Collection

How much work do you expect an artists to create? 
I ask that they produce 12 new designs a month.  While this may vary per designer due to design style, it is a suggested guideline.  This helps them develop as an artist (the more we create, the more we develop).  It also helps keep our portfolio fresh so we are relevant to manufacturers who have little to no development time. 

Any great news you would like to share?  
We have a very desirable booth location this year at Surtex.  We are in booth 2707 - right in front of the entrance!  I’m so excited I can barely stand it!  Oh, and I also I have some very exciting news but it’s too soon to share.  Stay tuned!
Emma Schonenberg - ES_EXG16_005_Exotic_Garedn_01_OP_B
How has the Art Licensing business changed over the years?
I’ve seen a shift in manufacturers moving away from licensing and procuring artwork via purchasing artwork out right - full buy out.  This works well if manufacturers are equipped with an in house team to manipulate the artwork.  However, on the flip side, there are still many viable licensing opportunities available.  Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

Any advice or information you would like to share? 
I would say the most valuable piece of advice is to show up everyday no matter the circumstances.  Release the outcome of what you think it should look like. Just keep creating, dreaming, journaling and keep doing the necessary actions to achieve the next level on one’s goal/bucket list DESPITE the challenges, mistakes and disappointments.  For it is in these trying times that our character develops.  One with character, preparedness, and quality content rarely relies on luck to succeed - THEY FLOURISH!

Want to be spotlighted? email me I am looking forward to your comments and thanks for sharing this great information on social media.


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Friday, March 3, 2017

Artist Spotlight - Randi Zafman


Annie, thank you so much for inviting me to be part of your Artist Spotlight. I am honored to be included among so many talented creatives.

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught? 
I have been drawing my whole life. One of my earliest, art making memories was when I was about four years old. I remember hiding my crayons and markers in my bed, under the covers. Once my parents tucked me in and left my room, I stood on my bed and colored on the wall. The next morning, my parents came in and saw my artwork and although they were very pleased with what I created, they just wished it wasn’t on the wall. That very day, they repainted, bought a huge roll of white butcher paper, and created a place for my daily murals. I was lucky to always have a lot of support from my family in my art endeavors. I was the kid that used to take the jar of peanut butter and the cereal box, and draw it. This was my first, early interest in package design. I have been obsessed with the anatomy and structure of letterforms ever since. While still in high school, I started taking college-level art classes in design, typography, and watercolor. Armed with a professional set of Winsor & Newton watercolors, sable brushes and an Arches block, I began my life-long, love affair with watercolor. I then studied drawing and painting, graphic design and illustration, and received a BA in Fine Arts.

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I was trained in many artistic disciplines, but watercolor is, and always will be, my favorite. My watercolor illustrations and lettering are created traditionally, by hand. I crave that tactile sensation of brush, paint and paper. I draw and paint everything in watercolor, gouache, and ink. I then scan my artwork into Photoshop and edit with the Apple pencil on my iPad Pro.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, where I still live today. I love to start my day with a long walk. Inspiration is everywhere, from the mid century, art deco and Spanish architecture, to the wonderful shops that are all around me. By the time I get back home, I can’t wait to get working in my studio.

How did you start licensing your art?
I started working as a graphic designer and art director back in the days before computers. I freelanced and worked in-house, and did everything from traditional graphics to illustration for giftware and stationery companies. It was so amazing to see my work in stores and on products. I’ve done artwork for unusual things things like boxer shorts and credit cards to more typical products like packaging and greeting cards.

What are you working on now?
I have this huge list of ideas and things I want to create. I have the problem of too many ideas and never enough hours in the day. I make sketches and color studies, so that they can one day become finished pieces. Every day feels like an exciting, new opportunity.

Any great advice for our readers?
Life is short, do what you love and follow your artistic dreams. Stay true to your style, but be open to letting it evolve. Enjoy the creative process, be present, and see where it takes you. You never know what you may discover about your art and yourself.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
I am represented by Liz Sanders Agency. Having an agent has been a goal of mine and Liz is wonderful to work with. I am so looking forward to all we can do together.

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
I am definitely an early bird and always have been. I have the most energy in the morning. Some of my best design solutions have come to me in my dreams, so I like to work when the ideas are fresh.

What is your favorite food?
Sushi for sure. The first time I tried it I was at a sweet sixteen in Little Tokyo and it has become my all time favorite food.

You can find Randi

Want to be spotlighted? email me I am looking forward to your comments and thanks for sharing this great information on social media.


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