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.

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