Revolutionising Art Licensing

An interview with Nerida Hansen

Over the last few months I have had the privilege of being part of the testing phase of new technology that is going to revolutionise the way that art licensing is conducted in Australia and internationally. Wearing my Makers' Shopfront hat I just have to share this opportunity with you.

I am an emerging surface pattern designer trading under the name Ink Block Designs when I am not running Makers' Shopfront or conducting projects for The Ideas Distillery. What is surface pattern design? It is artwork created for applications to different surfaces. It can be in the form of repeat patterns for fabric for instance, illustration for stationery or reproduced artwork on homewares.

The mastermind behind this technology is Nerida Hansen. Nerida Hansen Fabrics is an established textiles brand that licenses original designs to produce high quality fabrics and easy-to-sew patterns. Nerida also acts as a conduit between buyers who want to license designs from artists. This has eventually led to the Patternfield App being developed - technology that links designers and buyers, enabling ethical and professional licensing.

I asked Nerida how she developed the idea for the Patternfield App...

After travelling the world and show-hopping for 3 seasons to Heimtextil, Surtex and Premier Vision [trade shows] I always thought there was a better way for buyers and designers to connect. I met wonderful buyers from the worlds' biggest retailers and they were always looking for varied ideas - I could not keep up as an agent with all their needs. Even before COVID hit I had the idea about bringing these shows to our smart phones - after all, most buyers scoured Instagram for design ideas and to follow artists - but they would never know if art they saw was available. There was always a constant with every artist I ever mentored or talked to : "How will I get my art in front of buyers?" The App idea grew from a need, and I felt like I had the knowledge on what was needed to make it work.

There are a lot of you in the Makers' Shopfront community that are yet to explore the area of art licensing or surface design as an option. I asked Nerida what she felt were some of the opportunities in this field...

There are literally thousands of opportunities. Not only do traditional retailers have to compete more than ever for the designer market share, but small and medium businesses all over the world in every product category imaginable is waking up to the benefits of art licensing. Repeat Patterns, textile designs, prints, placement art, illustrations, type and greeting card designs are all needed across varied styles, themes and genres. Anyone creative can be involved and opportunize their work in this market!

As a participant in the Patternfield App beta phase, I have garnered a lot of tips that have informed my business strategies going forward in the field of surface design. I have learned that there is still more to learn! Nerida shared some tips on staying on top of trends...

Seasonal trends are easy, as they are cyclic - pretty much 12-18 months before any seasonal theme (Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year, Halloween, Hanukkah etc) you should be forwarding designs to buyers. As far as fashion trends, you need to really do your research constantly, to find out what colours and concepts are trending and being talked about. There are so many resources when you start digging through the internet but it is a lot of work for independent designers. I am focussing on trend reports and guides to give Patternfield Users so they always have the heads up!

I asked Nerida what do she thinks the key benefits are to signing up...

As a creative director of my fabric business and a creative services business I have used the app 3 times in the past 7 days to source designs - so it is a matter of me training every other creative director, buyer or product manager in the world to do the same! It is so easy for buyers to connect to you once you are on the app, and the app takes no commission at all. Once a buyer connects with you, you have that buyer to yourself with no obligation to the app, and you can follow up and form a relationship with companies on your own. Like any marketing platform however there are no guarantees, but we have already built such a strong community and support network through our monthly live events and marketing plans that I know the monthly subscription will be worth it's weight in gold for everyone. If you are on the app you will learn so much month in and month out about this industry - we are going to make sure it is worth everyone's while to subscribe!

And when asked to share a pearl of wisdom that she wishes someone had given her earlier in her creative career...

Be TOTALLY yourself, both in your art, and your business.

At Makers' Shopfront we are keen to connect you with opportunities and believe in not putting all your eggs in one basket. Art licensing is certainly an income stream that many of you could be taking advantage of as you develop your business plans and product ideas.

Check out the Patternfield App. An investment in this and in our business course could be just the ticket you need to launch into a full time career as an artist and designer.

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