We sat down with Valerie Hart, a talented illustrator member of ArtLicensingShow.com (ALSC), and asked her to share a little about her life as a full-time artist and designer and her experiences so far on the Art Licensing Show site.
First up we have to ask, how do you take your coffee, or tea?
I’m definitely a coffee lover! My Starbucks order would be a Venti dark roast, extra milk, 2 sugars. Though I have my coffee every morning in my studio, the rest of the day I’m sipping black and herbal teas.
How long have you been an illustrator and how did you get your start in Art Licensing?
I’ve been an artist all my life. I started illustrating about seven years ago after working as an advertising designer for many years in ad agencies and corporate. I was aware of art licensing but I hadn’t found my “art” yet. I took a couple of online classes, started painting with acrylics and opened up an Etsy shop. I’ve been working on my digital art style for the past two years and exhibited at Surtex that May. Last year I joined the Art Licensing Show as a founding member while continuing to work on my style, creating more art, submitting to manufacturers and building up my licensing portfolio.
What inspires you to create and what products have you licensed your work on?
I do follow my inspiration and it’s really fun to see what shows up in my studio some days. I love animals. I started illustrating cats and they turned into a collection I’ve name Happy CatZ™. It was an natural transition for my dog illustrations to — Happy DogZ™ and they are a greeting card line that I have licensed. I’ve also submitted my Happy CatZ™ collection to several greeting card and gift companies for licensing. I’ve licensed my work on home decor items like pillows, garden flags and plaques. I’d like to partner with a fabric company for my textile designs. (Thank you Annie Troe for the Pattern Parade exposure!)
How has the Art Licensing Show impacted your art business?
The most important way ALSC has impacted my art business is with licensing deals! I’ve signed two in the last six months and I’m currently at the contract negotiating stage with two more manufacturers. And I can’t say enough about the “artist tribe” and camaraderie that ALSC provides to members. Having direct access to Art Directors, manufacturers, the variety of groups and the wealth of knowledge that’s always being shared has been invaluable. When you’re new to art licensing and doing this business as an independent, it can feel a bit overwhelming and intimidating. I did submit to several agents for representation over the past couple of years and was disappointed when I was was rejected. So, I had to figure out how to represent myself. The ALS website has really helped me with this. I’ve uploaded art collections, (used the new bulk upload feature), shared my collections with all of the Art Directors and followed up with emails. I try to change out my profile banner quarterly, connect with new members and I participate in groups as my time allows. My new challenge is that I’m getting really busy and the number of priorities and “balls in the air” you’re juggling can get crazy. But it’s all good!
Any tips for new members and balancing your life while pursuing your art dreams?
People are people and we’re all just creating our art and following our dreams. Don’t lose site of the fact that not everyone in the world can do this work. Participate, connect, upload your art! There are Art Directors and manufacturers on ALSC looking for art. And the people in this art community are very nice, supportive and helpful. I reached out to many artists asking to use their art for the recent ALSC One Year Anniversary promotion I was helping with and everyone was very responsive and accommodating. The world needs your art. There is a lot of violence and unpleasant stuff that happens in the world… and I think that all of the love we put into our art — and then send out into the world helps to balance this out. I’d like to think so anyway…