How I Landed an Interior Design Collaboration

Artist TB Murphy shares how he approached a new marketplace and became an important partner in the design trade.


Photo of artist TB Murphy in studio

Artist TB Murphy in his studio.


After being laid off at the age of 55, I found myself at a crossroads. With a lifelong passion for design, whether graphics, architecture, or furniture, I knew this was my last chance to pursue my dream of creating art. I immersed myself in learning design software and began creating logos for friends. As I delved deeper into the world of e-commerce and print-on-demand platforms, I realized I could build a business from the comfort of my desktop. So many platforms are available for creatives that bringing art and design to life has never been easier.

I signed up for an online platform designed for artists, which provided the perfect solution for me since I create art digitally. The platform offered a wide range of options for printing, various substrates, and shipping. It allowed me to focus on what I love most—creating art. After onboarding and making around 50 pieces of my artwork available, I thought I was well on my way to success!

But then came the hard part. To be a successful artist, which I define as being able to make a living from your work, you must develop a following and generate interest in your creations. People won’t automatically beat a path to your website, no matter how good you think your art is.

After a year, I was disappointed at having only sold a single canvas! It was a disheartening realization, but I refused to let it defeat me. Determined to find a way forward, I reached out to Carolyn at Artsy Shark, where I had previously been featured as an artist. In June 2023, I had a phone consultation with her, and her guidance turned me in a new direction. She encouraged me to explore the world of art licensing and to connect with individuals who were actively seeking art for commercial interior spaces. Additionally, she advised me to showcase my art in a range of sizes to appeal to a broader audience. Her insights gave me a fresh perspective and renewed hope.


artist file for working with interior design

PH Design File: Murphy crafts color palette options tailored to designer specifications.


I realized that working with trade members designing commercial spaces could provide a new avenue for my art. By collaborating directly with interior designers, architects, and art curators, I could create custom pieces that perfectly complement their projects. I saw this market as an opportunity to not only expand my reach but also to establish long-term partnerships with professionals who value unique, high-quality art. Pursuing this market would allow me to combine my passion for design with my artistic skills, creating a niche that could sustain and grow my business.

I created a pitch deck that positioned myself as providing full-service art solutions designed especially for interior decorators, designers, architects, and art curators. One of the most pressing issues is that many interior designers handling corporate accounts don’t have sufficient budgets for original artwork. As a result, they often resort to searching online platforms to find suitable art pieces for these commercial spaces. One client billed hours to her client just for the time needed to search online to find something that fit the space. That approach is time-consuming and is a hit-or-miss way to source art.


artist idea mockup for commercial space

Break room File: Murphy’s adaptable approach empowers clients to personalize art for their space.


With marketing collateral in hand, I researched the types of interior design companies I believed would be the most receptive to my style of art, based on their current clients and personal styles. I tailored my email solicitations to reflect their business philosophies and spent three days sending emails to over 30 companies. I received a total of one response! But, that one response was from a successful woman’s well-established and successful interior design company in a major American city. The one thing that stood out to her was my ability to offer cost-effective and custom art. It appealed to her business sense because I do all of the legwork and provide her with art that I think would look great in her spaces.


Tim reached out to introduce me to his artwork. Since my firm often selects art for both residential and commercial settings, I wanted to learn more. He has a vast number of original pieces that can be modified to fit the project. He made it easy by sending me images that I could select from and then he provided nearly instant options for colors and dimensions to help me curate a collection, room by room. I look forward to working with him on future projects. – Pamela O’Brien, Principal and Lead Designer, Pamela Hope Designs


Right out of the gate, she invited me to help her with a commercial project that would consist of 20 pieces of art for a 2,000 sq. ft. office space. She sent me carpet and wall colors, furniture, tile, and even some accessories. We worked together over an online platform in real time where I could show her my art pieces and colors and she could make decisions on the fly. She loves it! Essentially, I have made her life easier by doing all of the creative legwork and offering suggestions that she in turn could tweak as she likes and then present to the client. The client can even make decisions if the designer so chooses to allow them.


artist mockup for reception art in commercial space

Reception File: Bespoke framing, hues, materials, and dimensions tailored to each client’s needs.


Since the initial project, I have created art for two private clients as well. The initial client became the proving ground for my business concept. First and foremost, I offer a service to the client that costs them nothing. I make money when we sell art to the client. My clients know exactly what I am paying for production costs on every piece. I have no secrets. I allow them to choose the profit margins we will charge their client and then we split the profits 50/50. As such, I become a partner and not just a vendor. I also handle the back end by getting the art ordered correctly and shipped on time to the client in a professional manner.

In conclusion, my partnership with interior design firms offers unique advantages that benefit both firms and their clients. By providing a wide range of customizable digital artwork options without the need for physical inventory, I enable clients to have greater control over selecting pieces that perfectly complement their home design. This approach allows interior design firms to expand their reach, cater to diverse clientele preferences, and create an additional profit center for their business. Through our collaboration, I help enhance convenience, choice, and profitability for art sales, giving clients greater autonomy in selecting artwork that truly resonates with their style and space.


Learn more about this artist on his Instagram profile.



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