Friday, February 5, 2016

Artist Spotlight - Tara Reed

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
No art school for me!  I’ve just always loved to create.  I grew up watching my dad – who was a college Astronomy professor – drawing cartoons and aspired to be as good as him. I remember coveting his art board on his desk and sitting in his home office with him drawing. Now that he has Alzheimer’s, he can no longer draw and has no idea who we all are, it’s a fond memory I can hold onto.

I actually have a degree in Marketing from Penn State and went into sales after college.  That business education and experience, combined with a love of creating, turned out to be a great combination when I discovered the world of art licensing in 2004. Art licensing is, after all, the marriage of art and business with the end goal of selling products.

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
When I started I primarily worked in watercolor combined with pen & ink. As the years have passed, my computer skills have improved and I now do quite a bit of designing in Photoshop and Illustrator, depending on both what I am inspired to do and what my clients are looking for.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
The creative challenge of designing new collections that will work for products keeps me going.  Again – playing with the link between art & business.  I love working with manufacturers or coming up with an idea on my own and then figuring out who to pitch it to. 

I am also inspired to do what I do so I can have the lifestyle I want.  I was basically a single mom for 8+ years and wanted to be at home with my son – licensing my art has allowed me to work from home and have a lot of flexibility with my time.  There is definitely a trade off between having a more traditional job and being self-employed.  I provide my own benefits and never really “punch the clock” and leave the job.   But for me, the trade offs are worth it and I enjoy the challenges that come with it.

Now that my son is about to graduate from college, I don’t need to work from home to be with him but I don’t think I could ever go back to a traditional job. The time and location flexibility (when and where I work) is important to me and I like the freedom to follow my interests and passions and see where they can take me.

For example, last summer I sold my Art Licensing Info business that I had built from an idea to a leading source of education for artists about how this business works. It was a 7 year passion but with some personal things that have been going on – my passion and focus in my writing and teaching was itching to shift.

What are you working on now?
Selling was a really hard decision but one I felt I had to do at the core of my being. For the past few years we have been dealing with my dad’s decline into dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is devastating to a family and incredibly stressful and hard to figure out what to do and to figure out how to stay happy while going through it. There is so much information out there but much of it felt disjointed as well as conflicting.

I started a new website,, at first with the intention of sharing the many skills I’ve learned to pivot my perspective to lead a happier life. I wanted to help other people do that too – everyone has some sort of adversity. Now it has pivoted to focus primarily on supporting people with a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. I’ve written a book, blog and have a free webinar to help. I’m sharing the roadmap I created for my family through a program so that people are making decisions outside of the emotion of a crisis, planning ahead and decreasing their stress levels so they can enjoy the time they do have.

I think my “sweet spot” is helping those who’s parent or loved one has had a recent diagnosis – that’s when things come to a head and you truly don’t know which way to turn, what to do or who to trust.  I’ve been through this and we are now dealing with everything the severe stage of dementia brings. My goal is to help people feel some control in the chaos and more peace than I had in my journey.

If any of your readers or anyone they know are facing this – please tell them about my site –

I released a coloring book last year – Color Yourself Happy – that is available through Amazon and is doing well. In addition to pretty pictures it has some “seek and find” elements in it – the word HAPPY is in every design and there are three arrows to find too – to remind you that no matter what is happening, you can always PIVOT your perspective to find a happier way of looking at things. 

I’m also adding more lined journals to my line on Amazon – people can see everything available on my author page at

Of course I’m always working on new art for licensing too! This will be the first year in 12 that I won’t have a booth at SURTEX because my son will be graduating from college the same weekend and I wanted to give all my energy to that once-in-a-lifetime event! So my work will be to stay on the radar and let everyone know that I’m not gone, just gone for this year. ☺

Any great advice for our readers? Enjoy the process and don’t take anything for granted. I have learned so many lesson through the journey with my dad’s Alzheimer’s but the biggest one is that no one is guaranteed the time to do what we want to do. If you are inspired to try something – figure it out and go for it!

Also make sure you make time to take care of yourself, have fun and make wonderful memories with the people you love. When you work for yourself it is often easy to get on the hamster wheel of work and assume you can “take that vacation, have that adventure, etc” later… but you never know.

BALANCE and the pursuit of happiness – that is the key to living well.

Anything else you would like to share with us? 
There is a saying I love, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans”.  I’m a big planner and will admit to having some “control issues”. I like to know how things will turn out if I take certain actions but if life has taught me anything it’s that your plans don’t always lead you where you think you are heading.

My life has been full of pivots – many that were painful and hard to recover from - divorce, my dad’s diagnosis, business disappointments, crazy dating experiences…  But looking back I know that they all lead to where I am today and taught me to trust my intuition even when everyone else thought I was crazy to follow the path I chose.

Some thought I was crazy to try and start a business when I was getting divorced – and an ART business at that! Many thought I was crazy to spend any time trying to build an online business teaching about the art business I created… then when it was a success and I decided to sell it? You can imagine how crazy people thought that was!  And those are just a few of the art related examples…

Be willing to go for it and know that it’s ok if it doesn’t work out. Some things will, others won’t – just always look for the next adventure!

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
Early riser. To be honest, it is rare that my head isn’t on a pillow by 11 pm unless I’m swept up in a project and the creativity is flowing.  Even then, 12:30 or 1 pm is pretty much my limit.

What is your favorite food?
Chocolate. Although it’s catching up with me so I’m trying to find a vegetable that can take its place as my favorite. In honor of this post going live on February 5th, I’ll give a shout-out to Nutella – LOVE IT!  (Did you know today is National Nutella Day?) A warm crepe filled with Nutella – now that is a dream come true!

You can find Tara:



Thanks so much Tara :-) Leave your thoughts about all the insights Tara shared below - can't wait to hear from you!

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  1. I want to be the first in the Comment : I want to say" THANKS TARA " ! I don't know if I will be noticed in the Licensing Market, but I will keep create because it's one of the thing that make me more happy! Grazie

  2. You should be noticed - you are a talented and dedicated artist with a great attitude! Wishing you much success!

    1. Thanks Tara I appreciate a lot this message . Happy thoughts for you from far far away

  3. Blessings to you and your family Tara! Your book got me started in Surface design and I am forever grateful. (Still working on the licensing part.)Best wishes always :)

  4. Thank you for sharing this...and for your openness with your journey. I'm sure it will help a lot of people.

  5. Just popping int to thank all of you for stopping by the blog and to Tara for sharing her insights :-D

  6. Wonderful interview! Love learning more about Tara and so much inspiration from her work and journey as an artist.

    1. Thanks a bunch for stopping by the blog Mandy!

  7. Great interview! Loved reading about Tara's journey.

    1. Hey Paula! Great to 'see' you and thanks so much for stopping by :-)

  8. Thanks everyone! The journey isn't always smooth but at least there are fun and supportive people on the bus, right? :)

  9. Great interview! Thank you both. I've loved the info on Pivot to Happy.

    1. Hey Miss Pam! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and commenting <3

  10. Great interview Annie. I always enjoy reading your interviews and especially enjoyed reading about Tara's personal and professional journey.

    1. HI Debra! Great to 'see' you :-) I really dig the Artists and Agents spotlights too! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog


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