Friday, August 28, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Sarah Frederking

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
I was raised in Connecticut and was fortunate to go to public schools that offered art classes from grade school through high school that I took full advantage of. I was always crafting little projects on my own in my free time. This lead to my course of study at Miami University in Oxford, OH where I earned a BFA with a concentration in Advertising and Graphic Design. I had a broad range of fundamentals behind me when I graduated and moved to Chicago to start my career as an Art Director at Leo Burnett.

I quickly learned that I would rather be creating artwork than directing it for Advertising, so I began exploring other career paths that were more appealing to me. While at Miami, an artist visited us from Herb Lubalin & Associates and her presentation of custom lettering and logotypes really made an impression on me. I decided to try to pursue that type of work and began to practice drawing letterforms with my templates and Rapidograph pens that eventually led to freelance assignments with a studio I had worked with while at Leo Burnett. In 1983 I opened Sarah Frederking Design and developed a business of 20 plus years creating custom lettering, logotypes and hand-scripts for advertising agencies and design studios across the nation. It was a wonderful niche market, and every job presented a new challenge around the best way to portray the mood of the piece I was working on. Technology finally caught up with what lettering artists were doing by hand, and therefor it was time to reinvent myself yet again. Surface Pattern Design seemed to be a natural next step for me. After so many years of doing everything by hand and in black in white, you can imagine how excited I was to finally work on colorful patterns!

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I work in a few ways. I will often start with my calligraphic line work or brush work, take it into Adobe Illustrator and color it, or do everything in Illustrator, depending on the look I am going for. I still prefer a real brush when looking for a calligraphic approach.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
Just about anything can inspire me, from a color combination that simply stops me in my tracks to a beautiful flower or an architectural element I come across. This doesn’t necessarily mean I use the same palette or element in my designs but it certainly plays into how I think about color and pattern. 

My granddaughter is my newest inspiration.  Her arrival into this world is so timely as I am doing more and more juvenile patterns and soft books just in time for her to enjoy them. She lives in Denmark, and I have so adored seeing her Danish influenced attire and lifestyle. When thinking of wall décor, juvenile print patterns, or puzzles and games, I have her in mind.

My Connecticut upbringing combined with my urban area living creates quite the mix of feelings I bring to my work. I am just as happy designing a formal scroll or a damask pattern for textiles, wallpapers or pillows as I am doing a quirky flower or a whimsical character.

What are you working on now?
I’m just completing my next quilting series with Studio e Fabrics, which is a holiday collection full of fun Santa’s, snowmen, penguins and more. Some of these same characters are going to be licensed for Christmas wraps and bags for 2016, and possibly for some Christmas ornaments.

Once these are completed I will be starting some new spring, Easter and summer looks for kitchen, bath or home décor accents.  I will be thinking about my next novelty quilting series as well.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
I’m a firm believer in going after what you love doing, and I’ve taken a different path towards building my business with a few detours along the way, but they were valuable detours. I interrupted my Surface Pattern Design business at one point to work in product development and although I again realized it was not my passion, I learned a lot about what it takes to get a product to market, the presentation process to the customers and the manufacturing decisions that come into play.  The fact that I have been on both sides of the business has helped me understand what my customers are looking for.

I think it’s important to sift through all the information that is out there in the way of advice with an informed understanding of what you are doing. Had I listened to a colleague many years ago questioning how I could make a living as a custom lettering artist, I never would have pursued that passion or career path.  I also believe in trying something new every once in a while. My first novelty collection came about because I challenged myself to try my hand at some fun animals, which was completely out of my comfort zone. That piece was in my portfolio for a couple of years before it caught the eye of my Studio e customer, and that is now what several customers look to me to do. I never would have considered myself a novelty pattern designer until then. You need to follow your passion, but also listen to where your market takes you.

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
I'm definitely a night owl. In fact my son gave me a Night Owl coffee mug for all those late nights.  When you love what you are doing, time passes very quickly and the next thing you know it’s the wee hours of the morning.

What is your favorite food?
That’s a harder question than I thought! I would probably say my significant other’s
grilled salmon as he does it beautifully.  I also love vanilla ice cream.

You can find Sarah:

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Bo's bLAWg: Creative Commons - Free Public Licenses -

Here's my question. I get most of my reference photos for my pastel drawings from a website called www. .  Photographers put their photos on this site for artists to use as references to paint.  The site says that this can be done without copyright infringement.

 My questions are: 1. Can I license the art work I produce from this site? 
2. Can I or should I copyright my interpretation of art from these reference photos? 
Thanks a bunch,  Debbie B

Dear Debbie,

You pose a very interesting pair of questions, the answers to which relate directly to a copyright topic I had wanted to mention:  Free Public Licenses. 

My answers to your questions are “not commercially” and “yes, but” respectively.  You have to take into consideration the application of the Free Public Licenses purportedly offered through the website.

Before we go there, however, here is some background on Free Public Licenses:

There are alternatives to the conventional copyright system.  A number of them are grouped under the term Copyleft (vs. Copyright; get it?)  These are rights systems that turns copyright upside down – or ‘right side left’ as the case may be.  Instead of prohibiting use without a license from the copyright holder, copyleft automatically allows permissive use, but on certain underlying terms.  These terms are set by the copyleft organization to which the copyright holder subscribes.  In the case of , the terms are purported to be set by the copyleft group, Creative Commons.

The website has led you to believe that you cannot infringe on the photographers’ copyrights by their informational posting as follows:

“Paint My Photo (PMP) is a social networking site dedicated to sharing Photos for artistic inspiration without fear of infringing copyright.”

However, you can’t stop reading there.  Read on:

“Note the following that applies to PMP. Please consider all photographic material uploaded by members to be under a creative commons attribution non-commercial license...  This basically means you cannot download and sell members photos or use them commercially in any way.”

There are four alternative Creative Commons “CC” licenses.  They are:

The “BY” Attribution License with the
icon that allows user Licensees to copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits in the manner specified by these;

The “SA” Share-Alike License with the
icon whereby Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work;

The “NC” Non-Commercial License with the
icon that allows Licensees to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it, but only for noncommercial purposes, and

The “ND” No Derivative Works License with the
icon that allows Licensees to copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.
The specific terms of the NC Non-Commercial license are spelled out on the CC website at the following link:

You will note that paragraph 4b of the NC license states:  “You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.”

The PMP website goes on to say:  “You can of course make paintings based on photos and sell them.”

I beg to differ.  If the NC License is applicable as stated, you are limited to non-commercial use only.  Selling a painting is a commercial activity!   Giving away the paintings you make is not commercial.  Trading it for something of value would also be commercial.  Similarly, you cannot license your derivative works for money, but could offer your derivative copies subject to the same terms as afforded you by the NC License.

Additionally, as provided in paragraph 4c of the linked NC License, you must provide notice of the Author of the underlying work (the photograph upon which you painting is based) and their name, unless they have expressly released you from those obligations.  If you fail to abide by these NC copyright notice and credit terms, you are subject to a claim for copyright infringement and/or breach of contract(!)

As stated above, you can copyright your adaptation, but must register it as a derivative work.  Authors under CC licenses are not giving up their copyrights, they are only allowing your use on specific terms.  Similarly, you must allow use on the same terms, but if Your work is infringed by someone who does not abode by such terms, you would have a right to claim an infringement of your copyright. Hence, it may well be worth registering your copyright, just as the photographer may have registered hers.  Make sense?

If you have further questions about this that you want to direct to me personally, I can be contacted through my website linked below.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is not intended as legal advice. Because the law is not static, and one situation may differ from the next, we cannot assume responsibility for any actions taken based on information contained herein. Also, be aware that the law may vary from state. Therefore, this website cannot replace the advice of an experienced attorney. Receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. MJ Bogatin, Bogatin, Corman & Gold,

You can use the search box at the top of the page to read more Bo's bLAWgs.
Send me your questions for Bo! Thanks,

Friday, August 14, 2015

How I am Building an Art Licensing Portfolio

Happy Friday Creative Souls! (Click images to see them larger)

Before I start, there are always many ways to do something. I don't think my way is by any means the best way :-). Also, it is a safe bet in a year from now, I will be doing things differently. Based on feed back from my fabulous agent and a manufacturer, I just recently made adjustments! This is a great thing <3

I am heavily icon based in creating art. So what I mean by that is I only occasionally complete a painting with background and supporting images. Depending on the collection, I will paint a couple of different backgrounds (this one has some different color washes for backgrounds). I put the icons etc, together in photoshop. The upside is speed. I am just shy of creating a collection a month. The downside is I don't have a finished original painting to sell. Another upside is it is easier to isolate the images when their isn't a background to remove. The photo below was taken close to completion.

A collection for me means 4 - 6 central images. (There are 3 "images" above). 6 snowmen doing different things would be the main players of a snowman collection. For the above collection I painted supporting images: Swirls, 4 ladybugs, 3 dragonflies, 3 leaves and I think that was it. It varies with each collection. Some are much larger.

After I get the painting done and scan in all the art, next comes patterns & borders! In the beginning I would do fewer patterns. Now I am setting up a minimum of 6 patterns, with at least two colorways (I usually do 3-4 colorways). The patterns can take as long as the first stage of creating and scanning. I like to be sure to have some subtle and or small scale patterns to use as backgrounds/textures. Borders are great to set up. They can ad more interest to a product and make a stripe pattern or two.

Finally I set up a few product mocks and tear sheets. (Image at the top of this post). I like doing the mocks for a few reasons. It lets my agent know a few of the products I think the art will be fabulous on. It shows a few ideas of how to use the art. I like it because it makes the art 'real' for me and gets me jazzed to see it on all kinds of products. Something I have started more recently is setting up some 4" x 6" layouts (flags, greeting cards etc.) some 6"x4" (rugs, doormats, placemats etc.) and some Round designs. I am wondering if I should set up some squares too - Do any of you set up square designs?

The tear sheets are portfolio pages for me. I also use them to upload to to speed the uploading of art. 4 or so tear sheets shows the majority of a collection, instead of taking the time to upload each individual image/pattern/mock.

I have a list of collection ideas. It is pretty long. For example, I have 12 ideas for winter/holiday. I may never get to them all, but I write ideas down when they pop in my head. Usually when I am wrapping up the patterns and creating mocks I am thinking about the next collection and sketching out what I will do next. If I don't get it down, it disappears from my brain :-)

How do you build your portfolio and any please share any tips you may have. Thank you for stopping by the blog. It really makes my day! Sign up for my newsletter if you don't want to miss anything.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Varda Livney

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
I went to school at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. I studied Industrial Design,  Graphic Design and Illustration. After School, I worked in an Ad Agency, in a Fashion Company (which was odd, being that I wear mostly overalls), and then moved to a kibbutz and started my own studio. I love my work.

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I am drawn to lines. I still use rapidographs, as in the kind you have to fill with ink. there is nothing that compares with the quality of a rapidograph line, although there’s the tradeoff of possible drips and smudges. I also use watercolors. And a lot of tweaking in Photoshop with my trusty wacom tablet. Not a fan of the new subscription method Adobe has come up with, though.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
Keith Haring, Maurice Sendak, pinterest, my kids and other people’s gardens (because mine is a disaster).

You have licensed on several products including over 400 greeting cards. What would you say your secret to success in licensing is?
Personally, I enjoy having a couple of good clients who I can focus on and sink my teeth into. And trust. (I’m not much of a hustler.) Also, I enjoy trying out different styles, something that I think is generally more acceptable if you are working long term with a client- (If you are trying to get new clients, it makes more sense to stick to the same style, so they will remember you and know what to expect when they request designs). If that makes sense.

What are you working on now?

This week I’m working on a Valentine’s day card for Recycled Paper Greetings, on a coloring book that I am hoping to get published (any publishers out there?) and on kids’ room art. Samples of the coloring book are at and on my etsy shop at

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
Early riser. I can work on a piece of art at night, preferably while listening to an audiobook, but morning, with a cup of coffee, is my time for thinking up the ideas.

What is your favorite food?
Hot hummus with lemon and garlic and a pita to dip in it.

You can find Varda at:

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Do you want to be spotlighted? Send me an email:
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