By Carolyn Edlund
How planning and excellent presentation put one new company on the road to success
Linda Warner Constantino and Dona Warner are sisters, and partners, in Linadona Botanica™ LLC, an art business which debuted in January 2011. Both of them have extensive backgrounds in fine art. Linda is a plein air painter who also teaches watercolor, portfolio development and Photoshop (she’s a certified expert) at Savannah College of Art and Design. Dona holds a degree from the Tyler School of Art, and is a former sculptor who now works as an administrator in the production of art.
Linda creates the artwork, while Dona acts as a critical eye and takes care of the business end. They have put together a first-class package to present to manufacturers who would license their artwork, and are a prime example of how preparation and excellent presentation make all the difference. Linda and Dona agreed to share their experience.
AS: What has drawn you into the world of art licensing?
LC: As an artist I paint plein air landscapes, still life painting and a variety of illustrative work, using watercolors, oils or sketching from life. Over the years I have focused more on botanical subjects, working almost exclusively from life.
Using my hand painted botanicals, I apply my skills in Photoshop to design repeat patterns, manipulating the background colors, scale and juxtaposition of forms. My intent is to try and lend a more contemporary feel to the botanicals while retaining their natural appeal.
Although botanical subject matter is not new to the art licensing world, there is always room for a different interpretation. I am continually inspired by nature and like the idea of art on useful things like aprons, tabletop, or stationery.
I am attracted to art licensing because it is somewhat speculative. I can create what inspires me and then “go fishing” with the designs. I find a greater sense of freedom to be creative and pull from my own personal experiences with the subject matter that I choose.
AS: Your portfolio shows designs on prototypes. What is the thought process behind this?
DW: We start with a pattern and then determine the type of product we might like to see it on. We try to consider the manufacturers perspective as far as the ability to market the product. In a way, it advances the dialogue between licensor and licensee to see the art prototyped, which in turn, helps determine if there is going to be a good business fit.
Linda creates product templates using the vector tools in Photoshop (not Illustrator) and brings scanned art into Photoshop. Then she finesses it onto the templates using clipping masks, pattern fill layers and layer styles.
AS: You’ve done a lot of research before exhibiting. What suggestions would you have for other artists looking to get involved in shows?
LC: Walking the Surtex show provided us with a wealth of information about what presentation style appealed to us as much as it defined how we did not want to present ourselves.
We tried to get ideas about the type of products that might work with our designs, current trends and the quality that specific manufacturers had to offer.
In preparation for exhibiting your work, we suggest:
- Give yourself a full year and get organized with a timeline of what has to be done and when.
- Develop your materials with both a consistent look and message. Repetition helps the audience to begin to identify the imagery with your name.
- Take advantage of the free promotional opportunities and have a story to tell that is your own.
We did a small scale mock-up of our booth in foam core board and placed scaled copies of the artwork into the model to help us visualize the overall look of the booth This made installation so much easier because the majority of the decision making was done in advance.
AS: Your botanical style is “authentic” to your personal vision, exemplified by your blog, which is about gardening. How this was developed?
DW: Our blog is about art, gardening, cooking and the home: the things which influence our lifestyle. Choosing to illustrate flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables as the theme for our business is really the result of a lifestyle that we shared starting at a very young age. It was not unusual that we each chose to study art and then came full circle to create a business that is very much about bringing art into the home, using nature as our subject.
We have a shared sense of aesthetics that makes for a great partnership, and bounce everything off one another to reach a level of refinement that we can both feel good about. We are brutally honest with one another – through the process of collaboration, it can often lead to something far better.