Friday, August 26, 2016

Agent Spotlight - Laurie High - Creative Connection, Inc.

How long have you been in business and how did you come to be an agent?
Parker Fulton, an artist herself, started this business with two others in 1991.  After they secured 50 artists to represent very quickly, one of the partners dropped out almost immediately leaving a large work load for 2 people.  They asked me to join, and that began my journey into this business.  Not long after, the other partner dropped as well.  Parker (who is also my mother) and I have been running Creative Connection, Inc. ever since. So, I kind of fell into this, but quickly learned the ins and outs of the business including marketing, bookkeeping, contracts etc.  My college education and jobs prior to Creative Connection, Inc. did help prepare me for my roles in this business, however.
Who are the manufacturers you work with - how did you establish those relationships?  
Almost every year including 1991, Creative Connection, Inc. has had a booth at Surtex.   In the beginning, for several years, we also had a booth at The Licensing Show.  We secured many of our clients through those two shows.  We've walked shows and exhibited elsewhere, but Surtex has always benefited us the most, until recently.  We stopped showing at Surtex a couple of years ago and changed our tactics, due to the lessoned show traffic.  We signed up for in the beta stage, and we now focus most of our attention on face-to-face meetings where our clients are located or at our office.  This seems to be working, but we won't rule out Surtex in the future.  I also spend time surfing the Internet to find clients, reading blogs, watching videos and reading newsletters, etc.  The clients who license from us the most include puzzle, needlepoint, fabric, greeting card, stained glass, and garden flag manufacturers, however there are so many other products that our designs are licensed for throughout any given year.

Do you have employees/help?
No, we don't have any employees currently and haven't since the Internet took off so dramatically making our marketing efforts easier and faster.  I occasionally hire a graphic designer to manipulate artwork or help me create marketing materials. Some of our artists provide their art, ready to market, on promo sheets like Jessica Sporn has done with her Wildflower Collection below.  If you scroll further, you will see another promo sheet that Karen Rossi has created - Winter in the Mountains. 

How do you market artists? 
Email is the main way that we market our artists.  If appropriate for the client and seasonal needs etc., artwork is sent to clients almost immediately upon receipt. I create promo sheets on a regular basis to email or post on our web site.  Some of our artists provide their artwork, ready to show, on promo sheets which aids in getting art before the clients quickly.  In addition, I regularly update our website, send out a monthly newsletter, advertise in at least one printed publication per year and utilize Social Media.  As stated above, we have taken a two-year break from Surtex and have been meeting with clients either where they are located or on Gibson Island where we are located.  This is working for now, but it is important to remain open to trying new things, and we are.

What do you look for in an Artist? 
First and foremost, really great art, so if an artist is sending through something that is not their best, then I'm likely to say no before delving any further.  Something different is important, because I am not doing my artists any favors if I bring on someone doing the same thing.  Available artwork is important also because most clients are in such a hurry that they cannot wait to commission a design.  And, finally something that compliments what we do have because this is the kind of art our clients seek from us. We are always willing to review an artist's portfolio according to the guidelines on our website, however, we are full and have been for most of the 25 years we've been in business.

How much work do you expect an artist to create? 
This depends on the artist and the style and what's currently happening in their lives.  Ideally, I'd like to see new artwork every week, but that is not always possible, especially with the highly detailed designs.  I do send periodic requests to our artists of needed designs and trends so that they always have something to work on or towards.

How has the Art Licensing business changed over the years?
Marketing has completely changed and really is much easier now for several reasons - very few color copies or mailings are needed now, high res files can be instantly sent to the clients instead of original artwork for scanning, Photoshop allows for quick manipulation of images to suit various products, and the Ipad allows for complete portfolios of our 20 artists to be carried in a brief case or shoulder bag.

Any advice or information you would like to share?
Always show your best.  Always paint what you love to paint.  Be yourself, but also grow yourself.  Read "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert which is about utilizing your creative energy to the max! 

You can find Creative Connection, Inc:
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1 comment:

  1. Hi Everyone, got a comment that the comment section on this blog isn't working. So, testing it out ;-)


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