"Text combined with art is very trendy, and the market has responded to the fun and sassy message of the coffee collection," said Reed. With messages such as "Good Friends Don't Spill the Beans," "The End Justifies the Beans," and "Life Is Short. Drink Coffee First," the series has been a hit with the "girlfriend market."
"Women like my art, which is great because that's who is buying product," she said. "The designs have been very successful on kitchen textiles and dishes." The artist has been working with a major national supermarket chain on a kitchen textile product line featuring her coffee art.
The art is also being used on a quilting fabric line in an exclusive license with MM Fab. Reed will be looking for ways to expand her repeat pattern skills with licenses in other product categories.
"My biggest license category is fabric. My art is colorful and fun and I do a lot with half-drop repeats," said Reed. The artist does not currently have a gift wrap license. "That's something I'm really looking to expand," she said.
In 2006, Reed worked on a direct-to-retail Christmas collection with Fred Meyer—an arrangement she'd love to enter again with other retail partners. "We created a collection of about 45 products across multiple product lines, and that was very exciting," she said.
Reed also will be highlighting several beach-themed collections at the shows. "Play in the Sand" features bright colors, sand and flip flops, and "Freedom Beach" has a Fourth of July feel, with red-and-white stripes and sand-and-sea imagery.
Reed is bullish about the licensing industry in 2011 and beyond. "I think the business is really turning around," she said. "At the show in Atlanta, retailers and manufacturers seemed optimistic that this will be a turnaround year. Retailers were saying they sold out of things and they could have moved more product, so I anticipate they will be buying a little deeper this year."
While the business had evolved, Reed remains upbeat about the future of the industry. "People talk about how great the business was 10 years ago. I wasn't in the business then so this is all I know. I do know that we have to adjust to the new market realities and not expect the market to be the same as it was a decade ago," she said.
Manufacturers expect more, and artists have to deliver if they want to be in the business. "You have to have good computer skills because manufacturers want artists to do more and you have to be OK with that," she said.
In 2008, Reed foundedhttp://www.artlicensinginfo.com
, a site which offers artists a wide range of no-cost and low-cost resources, such as e-books on different aspects of the business, teleseminars, a blog and a free monthly artist forum. "The better we all understand the business and communicate with each other, the stronger the industry will be," she said.
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