I am finally ready for the big show! I am at the airport waiting to get onto the plane to go to Atlanta to exhibit at AmericasMart in the Licensing & Design section! This is a huge milestone for me and it’s been a long road to get here, to my first time exhibiting at an art licensing trade show.
I have been studying the field of art licensing since 2006. Well, officially, I mean. Unofficially, I have been a student of it for what seems like forever.
Over the course of my entire childhood, I was always especially delighted by art on products. I remember sheets, kitchen towels & mugs, you name it, I absorbed it all, and very much appreciated and enjoyed it. For the longest time I wondered “how does that happen??” What is the business, how does it work, so many questions.
I guess that is normal for a young artistic girl, but I was also so influenced by character product from such a very young age, and it certainly spun my wheels with more velocity. I was a first generation Hello Kitty fan, residing in Los Angeles for the early part of my childhood where all the trends hit before they hit the Northeast. Hello Kitty mini colored pencils, stationery and all the trimmings were highly coveted by my sisters and I back in those days.
By the time we moved to Boston when I was 9, Hello Kitty and crew followed shortly thereafter when a Sanrio kiosk showed up in the local mall. I was overjoyed and spent many an hour in there picking out fruit-scented mini pens and all of the other fun Hello Kitty stuff. I guess when it comes to these types of products, I just never let go of them. They are simply too tied to my early childhood and the good feelings and happiness they brought me during that time. These silly tchotchkes and the idea of the fun characters and artwork that breathe life into these products are now really a part of my fabric of who I am.
When I was in high school, though the Sanrio kiosk shop was gone by then, another store had picked up the slack. It was called “BeDazzled” and it sold “upbeat cards and gifts” – basically a lot of Recycled Paper Greetings, Archie McPhee & Accoutrements-type product, tiny toys like rubber finger puppets and joke eyeballs and the like, Peacock Papers products (remember them?) and more. I got a job there and worked there for a couple of years. I had the opportunity to observe all of this fresh new product coming in and throughout it all, I gained even more curiosity about it and the industry. It was eye opening and I just loved all of the product, it broufht me so much joy to work there and be surrounded by such sillyness and eye candy. At the time, i would dream of doing art for these products. But how to get there?? That was a very, very big question for me that would not be answered until years later.
There is much, much more to my story, but I will save it for another day. The important thing is that everything has led me here to this place, on my way to exhibit at AmericasMart Licensing & Design section. It sounds trite to say it’s a “dream come true” because life is really one big journey with a series of these amazing moments and experiences (if you’re lucky). Not to mention that nothing comes easy. Everything worth accomplishing in life takes a LOT of WORK! Make no mistake about it! A lot of hard-nosed work. Dont be fooled by any of the frilly, fluffy, dreamy stuff. That’s all good and inspiring, definitely. And imagination and creating art definitely is fluffy and dreamy, and that is the magic of it and that creative inspiration and our ability to act on it and create something tangible from it as artists is integral, and it is a precious thing. But look: This is nose to the grindstone, take no prisoners, committing everything to your success, sacrifice-laden work. But the truth is, if it wasn’t, it really wouldn’t be even half as gratifying. And, I know that for all the work that I have put into even just making it THIS far, the REAL work is ahead of me!!
Well guess what — I have been preparing for it my whole life!! Bring it on!! 😀