Trends in Room Décor for Kids

I’ve been doing a bit of research about what’s hot in kids’ room décor lately, and I finally got it in writing to share with our lovely artist community. Yup, that’s you! 

I went to the nearby malls (gasp!) and looked for everything kids. I also spent a fair amount of time with trusty Google looking up my favorite online stores.  That is pretty much where I got my information for this article. If you have something to add, I would love it! We all get better when we share.

I won’t go into clothing today, though I will write about that next. I will instead focus on decorations for kids’ rooms.

So what did I find? 

Play Houses
There were so many play houses everywhere! I had seen a lot of teepees before and a few play houses, mostly for outdoor use. I had no idea there were so many lovely designs for these, including for indoor use.  As a disclaimer, I don’t have kids, so perhaps I just didn’t now that play houses were this popular. It doesn’t really matter, they are out there, and they come in all shapes and forms!

For instance, they can be greenhouses, garden houses, real houses, you name it! I suppose they could be an alien ship or a rocket ship too! Depends on what shapes they will make :). What type of play house do you think kids would love to play in? How would they be decorated?

Allright, my overuse of exclamation points show how excited I am about these play houses. I had a play house when I was a kid, an outdoor one, with no cute decorations, probably made from green tarp material. I still remember playing there.  It was a wonderful experience. Now, we can make play houses even more amazing with our art! 

Activity Rugs

These are really fun. Many of the rugs intended to be used in kids’ rooms or play rooms had designs you could play on. For instance, they could have a small town scene with roads, and the kids can roll their cars along the roads. Alternatively, they could be an ocean scene and the kids can play with their fish toys on it. Your imagination is the limit. You could make art to license for rugs and toys!

You can see a piece of one of these rugs in the photo above.

Wall Decals
Many places are offering wall decal sets that coordinate with the rest of the room décor. These are really cool because they can be arranged by the family in a way that fits the furniture placement and open wall space. Themes can be garden, celestial, sea life, jungle, butterflies, birds, trees, or whatever beautiful thing you create.

Wall Mural Decals!
Framed wall art and posters are what I usually think of when people say “wall art”. However….. now not only do we have the decals, but we also have wall murals. These are not full wall murals or wallpaper. They are art pieces that are printed on a material that adheres to the wall. I presume these are repositionable, though I didn’t check. I’m just excited about it because some of our artists have some fabulous pieces that would look amazing as a mural piece in a kid’s room. Oh yeah!

Growth Charts

Growth charts are still very popular.  Growth charts that coordinate with the room décor are even better. Growth charts that are personalized with the child’s name are also big. Presumably to save space (?), there are some growth charts with measurements on both sides so you can track two kids’ growth on a single chart!

Organizer Cubes
Let’s face it, you don’t need kids to find organizing cubes helpful. They are decorative, and you can stuff things in there quickly and make them disappear! Instant clutter organization :).

Organizer cubes in kid’s rooms are often decorated with motifs and color schemes that coordinate with the rest of the room décor. If we have dinosaurs going, then guess what? a set of cubes with different dinosaurs would be awesome! Planets? Aliens? Trucks? Fish? Mermaids? Flamingos? Koalas? You get the idea. There is something out there for everyone.

I am now going to touch on some of the themes I saw for boys and girls. I cringe as I write this because as a girl, I wanted all of the boy stuff. No frilly pink and purple stuff for me…. However, I am writing about what the stores are carrying, so here it goes.

Boy Themes
Boy room colors were predominantly primary colors. The dark color I saw most was navy blue and sometimes gray. The subjects I saw most were: cars & trucks, farm, planets, dinosaurs, sea life, nature and jungle done in bright colors.

Girl Themes
Girl room colors were predominantly pastels. There was a lot of pink and purple. The subjects I saw most were: unicorns, princess, garden, rainbows, llamas, flowers, nature and jungle done in soft colors.

Pinterest Board
I created a Pinterest board with some of the products I mentioned above. Take a look, and if you are interested in kids’ room décor, think of what theme you would love to see on products and start designing a collection!

How to Leverage the 2020 Color Forecasts

In the last two posts, we shared information about fashion and interior color trend forecasts. After reading all of the reports, writing a couple of summaries, and staring at it all again over coffee, I am starting to get comfortable with the color ranges presented for 2020.

In a world where we fight the tension between “being ourselves” and “being current”,  it is easy to be confused about how to apply this information to our work, if at all.

In this post, I want to share some ideas about how you may experiment with this trend information in order to determine what level of involvement in the new color stories to engage in.

The Easy Part – Color Limited Repeat Patterns

If you are a surface pattern designer and have existing work that is already color limited, these are good exercises for you!
Take a look at your inventory of designs and/or collections and identify some favorites that feel a bit dated or have color schemes you don’t love anymore.
I think it makes sense to think of this in terms of fashion or interiors given the set or resources we have on hand with the last two color letters I sent earlier this week.  

1. Re-color designs intended for fabric aimed at clothing or fashion accessories.

a. Pick some of your older designs and change the color schemes to use the new pantone colors for spring/summer 2020.

b. Create some mockups using your new colored designs and put them on the type of fashion item you envision them on! Is it suitable for scarves, handbags, skirts? Give some thought to how someone would use your designs to make a product.  

2. Re-color designs intended for home decor items.

a. Select one of your existing collections and re-color it using one of the Sherman Williams color schemes.

b. Look at the various paint company predictions. Which ones fit your own home? Which ones do you love? Make your own color combo from the 2020 colors predicted and recolor one of your designs!  

The Not-So-Easy Part

If you are not working with color reduced artwork that can be easily re-colored on illustrator or photoshop, then things get a little trickier.

Some of the artists I work with do all of their work traditionally with watercolors, acrylic paints, or gouache. Some do digital work that uses hundreds of colors.  Our use of color is often an integral part of our work. In those cases, I say, don’t chase the trends. 

However, often we experiment with different colors and we are looking for combinations that evoke a certain mood. A good example are designs that use geometric shapes. So, why not create some new ones with colors inspired by the 2020 trends? 

Another idea is to work on the marketing portion instead. Pair existing work with mockups which use the color schemes represented in the forecasts. Show how your gorgeous designs look on pillows or dinnerware in a home scene with latest nature inspired color forecasts. 

So, here these are a few ideas for those who do not want to re-color existing artwork but want to work with the new trend information:

1. Create a geometric or modern pattern using a 2020 interior trends color scheme.
For example, draw a mandala or create a design inspired by pre-Columbian designs. 

2. Pick a set of your existing designs and show them in scenes or mixed in with 2020 interior color trends.
Create a mockup of dishes or pillows with your patterns and show them alongside solid color ones using the 2020 colors. Alternatively, you could place pillows in a room painted with 2020 colors. There are many mockups out there that allow you to change the color of the walls and add your designs to pillows on a couch, or your artwork to a frame on a wall. 

3. Pair one of your fashion patterns with a solid color from the Pantone 2020 forecast.
Create a fashion mockup set of a skirt featuring one of your pattern paired with a solid top, or perhaps a dress with your print and a solid color handbag. Give it a try!

I hope this letter has given you some ideas of how to leverage the popularity of these new color trends to make your work even more attractive to buyers.

I would love to see what you do, so if you do choose to try some of these ideas out, please let me know!


2020 Color Forecasts for Interior

Today I’m covering what I’ve learned about the color trends being forecasted for Interiors. So who exactly is influencing this sector? One of the large influencing sectors for this industry are the paint companies.

The large paint companies have published their color forecasts for interiors. Let’s see what they have in store for us.

1. Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore is predicting some very soft interior colors, with a rosey color at the center of their story.
You can read more about it here. You will see how they show their “First Light” (Pink) color all over interiors. 

2. Behr

Behr’s 2020 palette is inspired by natural elements such as sky, earth, water, and plant life. Their 2020 color is their “Secret Meadow” (the green shown below). They describe it as calm, gracious, balanced. 

See their interiors photographs using these colors as well as their video here

3. Valspar

Valspar released a set of 2020 colors of the year as opposed to focusing on a single color of the year. Ummm… the others released color sets as well… maybe Valspar couldn’t decide on their favorite. No matter, they gave us some good pairings to work with.  Remember how I said I didn’t see the nature focus in the fashion colors? Well… it is definitely showing up in the interior colors. It is well paired with the desire for tranquility and wellness which was also a major theme at the international shows earlier in the year. 

Sue Kim, Valspar Color Marketing Manager at Sherwin-Williams was quoted as saying: “Earth’s prescription for the chaotic, busy lives we all live is to bring the tranquility of nature and the outdoor world into the home. That’s exactly what we set out to accomplish when forecasting the 2020 Colors of the Year.”

You can read more about it from Elle Decor here.

4. Sherwin Williams

Sherwin Williams has some gorgeous color combinations (I warn you, there are 45 colors involved here!).  
They have grouped them into 5 color stories which they name heart, play, mantra, alive, and haven. Yes, there is something for everyone. You can read the entire report here, but I put their color combination icons below for an easy reference.

Gray and taupe dominate in the neutral space with navy and browns for the dark accents. Rose is also well represented and we see that mustard from the fashion colors sneak into the mix. The colors are mostly smoky with the exception of the play palette (the one with the dots above). Their play palette is still significantly toned down compared to the brighter energy colors we’ve seen in the past.

Can you see the color trends in the collections above? How do you think these will show up in home decor? With the desire to have everything POP in our industry, how do we design for home decor to fit these stories and still stand out? There is a lot to think about here and I welcome your opinions on the topic! 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s letter on how to put this information to use.

p.s. I think next I’ll start looking at furniture and textiles to see what they are indicating. The home décor catalogs in 2019 were very BLACK! Hopefully 2020 will start introducing more color again!

Art Licensing Portfolio, dba Blue Mesa Designs, LLC is in no way associated with nor receives any financial compensation from the companies or people listed in our blog posts.

When you sign up for our artist community, you will occasionally receive free helpful tips, strategies, videos and podcasts about design and licensing. I am sharing what I have learned from my experiences and I do not guarantee earnings or results. Your email will never be sold to a 3rd party and you can unsubscribe at anytime!

All the Buzz About Color

If you are anything like me, you’ve been inundated with articles about color trends. They all say something different! …. and…. what are we supposed to do with all of that information?

Sometimes we can go into information overload and we just close our laptops and forget about it. After 5 or 6 times of trying to ignore it all, I have finally found a way to separate the information out into manageable chunks and created some exercises to help us absorb this into our work where it makes sense.

So here it goes! I’m sending this out in three sections:

  1. Color Trends 2020 for Fashion
  2. Color Trends 2020 for Interiors
  3. How does my artwork get influenced by these trends?

Let’s dive into FASHION first!

Probably the most influential set of information comes from Pantone and from the runways. Pantone is projecting the following colors for Spring/Summer 2020:

You can read about their take on this in their latest report here.

After staring at this set of swatches for a while (plus the neutrals which you can see at their website), my thought was that I couldn’t quite see the story. There are some bright colors, some softer colors, and some neutral colors; reds, blues, yellows, pinks, purple… not a lot of green or brown, or tans which were all part of the “back to nature” predictions. Fine. I won’t over-analyze this. I was talking to my mom this week and she asked how this compared to last year’s colors. Good Question!

Below are the 2019 Spring/Summer Colors by Pantone:

Comparing these two color sets, I see a few softer colors coming in (the Biscay Green/Acqua, Faded Denim, Coral Pink and Sunlight), I also see a purple (my favorite color – yay!). The bright coral is gone as are some of the greens and brown. It is still a very colorful palette and should give us a lot to play with.

Let’s see what is happening on the runways….

WHO WHAT WEAR wrote a piece on this topic, and sure enough, here are photos of the fashion runway clothing in… you guessed it…. these colors. The designers are certainly using the Scarlet Red, Biscay Green Faded Denim, Coral Pink, and that beautiful Saffron. Check out the pictures in their report: “The 7 Biggest Color Trends We’ll All Be Wearing in 2020“. I need a new wardrobe.

Another quick read for those who love to know MORE!

Glowsly has a nice report with both fashion photos and the color chips above PLUS  a few more variations (31 of them!). It also links to NYC and London Fashion Week reports. Get a cup of coffee and read on!

What do you think about these colors? How about the neutrals? Tell me what you love, don’t love and if/how you think this will affect your work! 

Stay tuned for the next post on 2020 Color Trends for 2020 INTERIORS.

p.s. I read at least another five articles on 2020 colors, and uh, they were all different. Take it all with a grain of salt and pick what you like!  At least the reports mentioned above are consistent and I do believe what shows up on the runways will definitely influence what you see in the stores next.

Art Licensing Portfolio, dba Blue Mesa Designs, LLC is in no way associated with nor receives any financial compensation from the companies or people listed in our blog posts.

When you sign up for our artist community, you will occasionally receive free helpful tips, strategies, videos and podcasts about design and licensing. I am sharing what I have learned from my experiences and I do not guarantee earnings or results. Your email will never be sold to a 3rd party and you can unsubscribe at anytime!

Make a Lasting Impression with your Art!

Today I am sharing some thoughts around how to present your art to clients in a way that will increase the chances that they will remember you and your work.

The business of attracting new clients and landing new licensing contracts requires consistency and perseverance. You’ve probably all heard that there is a lot of luck involved in the timing of your submissions. Will your audience be looking for what you are sending them at the time they open their mailbox? Probably not! That means you will have to make a lasting impression so that when they are looking for what you have to offer, they will think of you!  It is also helpful to send work regularly… and one day… the timing will be perfect!

Whether you are showing your work to clients directly or are working with an agent to do so, you will be creating work that will eventually land on an art director’s desk. You want those art directors to notice your work and to see it in the best light possible.  If you think about how the pieces may be used in end products, you can be more purposeful about what you design to support your main placement pieces and make them shine. In other words, if you paint a beautiful bird on a cherry blossom branch, you may want to create a body of work around it that will make the viewers stop and contemplate it for a bit longer. Think in terms of collections.

Collection Design

There are many schools of thought around how to design a strong collection. I will share with you some of the wisdom people have shared with me over the years.

1. Main element + supporting elements
Often we start with a main design, some call it a placement piece, some call it a hero pattern, but basically it is the star of the show.  The supporting elements or coordinating pieces should not compete with the main design. They can vary in ways that complement the main design without fighting for the spotlight.  I like to see 2-3 supporting designs with each main element. This way, clients can imagine a gift bag with a main design element and perhaps a topper or sides with a different but complementary design. They can imagine a set of wrapping papers which coordinate well, or a bedding solution with the main design on the bedspread and the coordinates on the sheets or pillow edges! 

2. Thoughts on design of the supporting elements
How do you make these coordinates or supporting designs so they work well together? 

  • Vary the scale: Have large, medium, and small scale designs in the collection.
  • Vary the complexity: If all the designs are complex, it may be too much to take in all at once. It is helpful to have some simpler designs that support the main element. For instance, that bird on a cherry blossom branch I talked about earlier could have a supporting design of just cherry blossoms, or a single color geometric design inspired by the shape of the branches.
  • Be mindful of color palette and contrast: The pieces should work well together, so having a consistent color scheme across the designs is important.  You can play with different color backgrounds and include some light, medium, and darker pieces.

3. Develop a story around the collection
It is helpful to present the collection with a bit of information about it. I find a little blurb about what the collection is about to be meaningful in engaging future clients. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, just a quick elevator pitch.

To Mock-up or Not?

I’ve been told repeatedly that doing mockups is not necessarily the right way to go. Of course, if you are sending art to a dinnerware company and you show your art on plate mockups, that will probably work. However, if you are sending your artwork to someone looking for wrapping paper designs and you show it on a rug, they may not necessarily make the leap. 

I think the key is to know your audience and to show the work in a way that makes it easy for them to think about how to apply it to their products.  More often than not, simple is better.

Workshop Participants

For those of you participating in our workshops, I hope you’ve found inspiration in the brief and Pinterest boards I set up for you. If you are a little stuck (which can happen!), think of one main design to create this week. Then, give some thought to creating a couple of supporting pieces! This is a great way to get three pieces done without a ton of extra work… and…. it will make your submission to the Dream Collection Campaign that much stronger!

I hope you found today’s tips helpful and that looking through this material helps you with designing your next collection. Best regards,


Art Licensing Portfolio, dba Blue Mesa Designs, LLC is in no way associated with nor receives any financial compensation from the companies or people listed in our blog posts.

When you sign up for our artist community, you will occasionally receive free helpful tips, strategies, videos and podcasts about design and licensing. I am sharing what I have learned from my experiences and I do not guarantee earnings or results. Your email will never be sold to a 3rd party and you can unsubscribe at anytime!

Tips for designing dinnerware collections

In today’s tips letter I will share a few interesting articles and ideas around the topic of designing dinnerware collections.

I just love a beautifully set table. I enjoy the challenge of achieving balance while working with color, patterns and textures. As designers, we spend a lot of time thinking of how to create a certain feel with the art we make. Today’s letter focuses on how to design interesting sets of dinnerware.

A simple google search for “how to design dinnerware” did not yield a whole lot! Hmmmmm….. Someone needs to write that book!

However, after a bit of digging, I did find a few interesting videos and articles which I found both useful and inspirational. I will share these here with you with a bit of commentary about what I thought about them.

Glucksteinhome & Lenox Partnership

Brian Gluckstein, an interior designer and guest expert in the nationally televised show Cityline, also designs a line of fine china for Lenox.  
I ran across this video where he talks about how he goes about designing the collection drawing inspiration from architecture and interiors. 

My style is much more playful and relaxed than what he shows in this video, but the design concepts still apply.  It is a very short video and I think worth watching!  After watching it, I think it is interesting to think of what your passions are and how you would take inspiration from them to create a uniquely yours set of dinnerware.

Click here to watch the video

Mix & Match China – Article by Architectural Digest

Architectural Digest wrote a piece on mix & matching china. I used to shop for old cups at antique stores. I like mix and matching them for coffee and tea. A good friend also buys beautiful glasses and sets the table with an assortment of different glasses. So how about plates? The consensus is YES! Definitely mix and match!

The designer AD featured in their article is Bunny Williams who has a few dinnerware sets with Ballard Designs. Her style is much more along the lines of what I like for more casual dining. I really enjoyed paying attention to the mix of designs which create the collection. Think about scale, white space, geometrics, organic shapes, etc. I chose two collections to highlight below. Click through all of the slides to see the variety of designs in these collections. 
Click here to read the Architectural Digest article on mix & matching china
I encourage you to click through the images of the collection to see the various designs. Each design is not terribly complicated. However
the combination of motifs works really well to create a well rounded and pleasing collection. 

International Museum of Dinnerware Design

There is even an international museum of dinnerware design! If you are anywhere near Ann Arbor Michigan, it might be worth a look! Their website is:

Anthropologie’s Dinnerware Collections

Anthropologie always has some fab artsy collections. So, it is no surprise they put on a good show in  the dinnerware market as well! Take a peek at their collections to see how they arrange them.

Anthropologie’s Dinnerware Collections

Making your Own Plates!

I have always wanted to make some outdoor plates and platters for eating out on the deck…. There is a company that makes dinnerware from your designs. I have not yet used them so I can’t vouch for their quality, but thought I’d share the link in case any of you are interested!

The company is called “You Customize It” and their plates section is here.

I hope you found today’s tips helpful and that looking through this material helps you with designing your next collection.

Best regards,


Art Licensing Portfolio, dba Blue Mesa Designs, LLC is in no way associated with nor receives any financial compensation from the companies or people listed in our blog posts.

When you sign up for our artist community, you will occasionally receive free helpful tips, strategies, videos and podcasts about design and licensing. I am sharing what I have learned from my experiences and I do not guarantee earnings or results. Your email will never be sold to a 3rd party and you can unsubscribe at anytime!

Greeting Card Design Tips

It can seem so simple to design a greeting card, but then, when faced with a blank piece of paper, we can often freeze. How will we know if this is what the publishers will want? What sells? What are they looking for? What makes for a good card design?

Get Inspired

I’ll get to those topics in a bit. But first, let’s talk about inspiration.  I find it very useful to walk by displays of greeting cards and see what catches my attention. I also like to look for color combinations that are popular as well as styles that appeal to me.  In the end, when I get home, I only have a vague recollection of what I saw, but the “discoveries” I made will no doubt influence my work in some way.

During those “research” trips, I also like to familiarize myself with the types of cards that my favorite companies carry.  Do they use humor? Are the designs simple? What seems to be trending in terms of color, typography, and characters?

Be You

Companies are looking for unique designs.  What can be more unique than YOU? While it is tempting to chase trends, it is important to maintain your brand. Do what you do best. That probably gives your card  the biggest chance to stand out as a unique design.

I’ve been told often that submissions should contain a range of consistent designs, somewhere between 5 and 12 to start. If you catch someone’s attention with your design, art directors will often want to see more of your portfolio.

Design Tips

  1. Most card displays show the top 1/3 to 1/2 of the card. That means this portion of the design needs to be eye catching enough that someone wants to pick up that card to see the rest.
  2.  Select a color palette that will make the card pop in the racks. People scan through the displays very quickly. There isn’t much time to catch their attention. Strong color palettes can help with that!
  3.  The purpose of the card should be immediately obvious.
  4.  Most cards are 5×7″. Remember to include bleed in your design.
  5. Card copy should feel personal, yet appeal to a large audience.
  6.  Include a caption or allow space for one to be added.
  7.  When including people in the cards, do so in a way that is somewhat generic (vintage styles, funny illustrations that don’t focus on ethnicity or specific looks). People tend to think of the person on the card as the person they are sending it to. If they are different, that can significantly limit the audience it will appeal to.
  8. An alternative to including people in the design is to use animals. Animals have wide appeal across gender and age. They are particularly effective for children’s cards.
  9.  When in doubt, keep it simple.


Trends are… well…. temporary. However, there are a few design trends that seem to be sticking around.

  1.  Hand made is still popular. Hand drawn, not perfect illustrations are still going strong. Hand lettering can be incredible for cards. If you are good at it, by all means use it!
  2.  Many cards also have design elements on the inside of the card. Some of the interior designs are pretty substantial in size, sometimes taking about 30-50% of the interior real estate. Do leave space for people to write their own personalized messages.
  3.  Humor. You know who you are. If you are funny, show it!


Some of the most popular themes for cards are birthdays, thinking of you/sympathy/get well, wedding, holidays, and congratulations.  

  • Birthdays: Think of who the cards will go to – your best friend, your mom or dad, your daughter or son, etc. 
  • Congratulations: There are many occasions to congratulate someone! Here are a few: wedding, anniversary, graduation, baby, new home.
  • Mark your calendars! Some events happen EVERY year. You know which they are: Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving/Fall, St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t forget the many holidays for the various religious groups. 

Events to look forward to

Noted 2020 Greeting Card Expo will be held in early May 2020 in San Francisco. If you want to know more, here is their website:

Art Licensing Portfolio, dba Blue Mesa Designs, LLC is in no way associated with nor receives any financial compensation from the companies or people listed in our blog posts.

When you sign up for our artist community, you will occasionally receive free helpful tips, strategies, videos and podcasts about design and licensing. I am sharing what I have learned from my experiences and I do not guarantee earnings or results. Your email will never be sold to a 3rd party and you can unsubscribe at anytime!