Licensed Art Goes to the Wholesale Marketplace

by Carolyn Edlund

Two licensed artists recently represented their work at a wholesale trade show. Here’s how their designs evolved from idea to products sold in retail stores.


Licensed Artist Cherish Flieder at the Atlanta Gift Market

Artist Cherish Flieder designed the Elements collection which was shown at the Atlanta Gift Show.


Inspired by her background in classical illustration, artist Cherish Flieder started painting abstracts to grow and explore artistically. One of her designs was spotted by Anne Brown, the art director at Studio M, who contacted Flieder with an idea. Out of a single abstract painting that resembled the movement of water, a concept was developed to create an entire “Elements” collection to include Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Cosmos.

Brown was enthralled with the way the art looked on a scarf that Flieder had designed, and wanted to license the collection for use on fashion accessories to be taken to the wholesale marketplace. Retail store owners and buyers attend these trade shows to order products for their stores. In this way, manufactured goods using the work of artists are distributed far and wide through shops of all kinds.

The artist explains, “The concept greatly energized me. It was like my brain was struck with a bolt of inspirational lightning. I painted several stacks of watercolors and submitted rough concepts of what the line would look like with my art on products. Once the company agreed to move forward with the line, we formalized a licensing agreement. I began creating all the final high-res files, marketing graphics, packaging, and desired product development guidelines for manufacturing. The entire process took a solid eight months of designing. It was another eight months before the product samples were produced, photographed for the catalog, styled and ready to exhibit at wholesale gift markets in Atlanta, Dallas, and Las Vegas.”

Flieder attended the Americasmart show in Atlanta in January, 2019, meeting wholesale customers in the Studio M showroom as the face of the new “Elements” collection. While making this artist appearance, she signed and gave away limited edition giclee prints of certain art pieces from the grouping. When attending trade shows, she always brings something from the line with her as a conversation starter, and often wears accessories that feature her art.

She says, “This showcases the line practically and gives me the opportunity to generate enthusiasm, directing people where they can buy it for their shop. Even my local stores are thrilled to carry the line and have already invited me to participate in artist signings and events.”

This opportunity to appear with her collection follows a career of working freelance for private label projects, and as an in-house brand textile and graphic designer for Clint Eastwood’s and IZOD’s golf fashion lines. With her own branded line, she see the doors of opportunity opening for a deeper experience in the accessories category, and creating art and product concepts for new lines.


Artist Kristi Caterson licenses her designs for home accessories lines

Designer Kristi Caterson attended the Atlanta Gift Market to help promote home accessories that feature her work.


Also attending the Atlanta Gift Show was artist Kristi Caterson. Her designs are licensed by Peking Handicraft, a large manufacturer of  textiles, bedding, home accessories and gift items that maintains wholesale showrooms in a number of cities and sells to retailers all over the country. This year, she launched her first licensed home decor collection with the company, which features her work on a line of hooked rugs and pillows. She says she is thrilled to work with a respected manufacturer that values quality craftsmanship and is “one of the best in the industry.”

Caterson got her start in licensing seven years ago, slowly building momentum and a network of contacts. She did a lot of flat fee and private label work along the way as she built her brand as a licensed artist. This year, she attended the Atlanta trade show to connect in person with art directors of current and prospective licensing clients. When meeting, they discuss the manufacturer’s needs and their vision, and Caterson shares her most recent portfolio and product ideas to meet those needs.

She says, “One aspect of this business that I love is building relationships with the incredible people in the industry. I’ve spent lots of time at wholesale trade shows so I can meet people face-to-face.”

Her goal is to expand on the work she has begun in creating licensed collections for the broad home decor market, and to enter into other product categories such as bedding and bath, wall art, gift, garden and greeting cards. She says, “To me, putting my artwork out there for others to enjoy is like planting little seeds of love. I’m so grateful to be able to share my passion with the world!”


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  1. It is one of my greatest passions to see other artists succeed in following their professional creative adventures. Thank you for sharing about my journey Carolyn!

  2. A pleasure to share your success, Cherish! Readers should also know that you run the licensing site

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