iPad early adopters

Aug 24, 2010

As I watched Apple's keynote introducing the iPad, late one night back in January, lights went on in my head. "These things will revolutionize our tradeshows and presentations; do you realize what we can do with this technology?!", I yelled to my sleeping wife. The disappointing news was that we would have to wait until April for the shipments. I quickly preordered three units and tried to go to sleep. The next day the idea was presented to the licensing and sales teams, who quickly embraced it with excitement. An amazing brainstorm session proceeded.

The iPads arrived as ordered and the art department began testing applications and busily loading them with our complete archive of nearly 100,000 images with over 300 artists. The iPads had no trouble with the amount of data storage, though problems began to occur with the application we were using and the amount of individual files the program could handle. Back and forth calls with the development company quickly escalated the issues to their VP. "We have never encountered anyone pushing the limits of our software as you are," explained the developers. We worked over a month with them as they added some enhancements; the software became more robust and we completed the transfer of our massive archive - just in time for the tradeshow season.

If you haven't been to our shows, Applejack traditionally reserves a three unit booth at the SURTEX show, one of the largest of spaces on the floor. We’d setup three tables and roll in three large carts containing our entire library of printed portfolios. The portfolios are used to show artwork to clients, artists, and manufacturers. The portfolios contain thumbnails of each image in our archive and the books are flipped through like a catalog. If you do the math you'll realize to hold our entire portfolio of artists, custom collections and some duplicate books you'll need over 10,000 pages! That’s quite a lot of printing, sorting, assembly and weight for our staff to carry around and this all comes at a cost as well. Because we have so much new content daily, the books were instantly outdated and completely obsolete by the next year.

The iPads completely replaced all of this in one fell swoop and made for a much better presentation! We no longer need the books, saving weeks of work for our art dept staff, saving transportation costs in renting a van for the heavy carts, and reducing our booth space to two units. Add the fact that the iPads can be updated by our staff while at the show means that the sales managers have the most up to date images.

The SURTEX show and the iPads were a complete success! We were one of the first companies at the show to feature this new technology and the feedback was amazing. I think Apple sales tripled overnight due to our showing (if only we had worked out a commission plan with Apple prior to the show...). By the next show, Licensing International, many other companies had adopted iPads to replace their technology and were showing their artwork and creations with the iPad. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

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Eye-Catching Bold & Bright

Aug 18, 2010

Bold & bright is the way to go in today's market. Brights can be used for images and products across any theme, but what better way to showcase bright tones than in florals?  Flowers are naturally colorful, so mixing them with patterns and backgrounds that complement them and highlight their colors makes perfect design sense. Whether these images are graphic and modern or detailed and more traditional, bright tones are being incorporated to freshen them up!   

 

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Birds & Butterflies!

Aug 06, 2010

 

 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a butterfly! These little creatures are a growing trend in the marketplace. They’re being used on dozens of products from prints to nesting boxes and stationery.

 

Perhaps this is tied into the rise of outdoor artwork, which is a place more and more people are decorating.  They’re making their patios and decks a haven to retreat to and, like any indoor space, they need artwork for it.  Gardens, bird baths, bird houses, these all serve as some inspiration for this work.

 

Or perhaps this is just the next phase of the eco trend that has surfaced and dominated in the last several years.

 

These images provide a beautiful and upbeat visual backdrop for any space in your home!

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Trend Letter 1, 2010

Aug 06, 2010

 

The ebb and flow of home decor trends has always kept us searching for the latest and freshest palettes.  Now,

as we come into a new season, we look towards new colors, varied tones, and updated looks to keep us on the

cutting edge of the art industry.

As we slowly, and cautiously, look ahead at a more promising economic future, our optimism grows. The safer,more comforting colors of the last several years will fade into the background a bit and make way for a new generation of color.  This is one of the more dramatic shifts of the last several years.  We’ll see overall color palettes brighten and darker, muted tones become accents rather than main colors.  Citrus colors play an important roll in this newer, brighter way of life.  One of the newest introductions is coral – a tone that hovers between both red and orange.  Yellow has shown its form subtly in recent months, but will continue to grow in popularity when paired with other emerging citrus hues. 

Of course, on the cooler side of the color palette we find blue and purple still making

headway.  The blues are fresh and watery while the purple flirts with reddish hues to look

like plum.  Green stakes its claim in both the warm and cool sides of the palette.  It plays on

the blue side in aqua and turquoise and becomes acidic when mixed with shades of yellow.

 

Amongst all these bright, fresh hues, we still have a need for the basics that ground us. 

Chocolate brown, sandy taupe, and cool gray still work as a strong backdrop to showcase a

newer palette.  Pantone’s seasonal color forecast features strong neutrals like Oyster Gray

and Chocolate Truffle mixed with punchy tones like Purple Orchid, Lagoon, and Lipstick Red.

 

While establishing the color palette is certainly the most dominant aspect of a trend, using it

properly is still hugely important to its success.  Although we’re beginning to see a rise in optimism,consumers are still being incredibly cautious in their purchases.  Consumers will

want to incorporate the newer trends with their existing ones and be able to blend the two

together.  This is more of a dabble in new trends rather than plunging in headfirst.  So to

satisfy the consumer’s desire for a new look, it’s smart to incorporate it in with some of the

old stand-bys.

 

 

Using these trend right colors with popular subject matter is the ace-in-the-hole.  Natural elements continue to be a highly popular category.  Elements like leaves, trees, and flowers have been strong sellers for several trend cycles and are still in the spotlight.  Slightly newer on the scene are the birds, butterflies, and dragonflies that have been hot recently across many product categories.  The embellishments and enhancements that the last trend cycles featured have given way to more simplistic sophistication with subtle accents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We think of trends in terms of how we live our lives. Throughout history, in times of struggle the colors were deeper, darker, and more muted.  In more hopeful times, the colors we surround ourselves with become brighter, more cheerful, and more saturated.  We’re now living in a time more focused on nature, fresher eating, and healthier living.  This is where these citrus and farm fresh colors of veggies, fruits, and open pastures help illustrate our way of life.

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Art Licensing Gives Thanks

Nov 10, 2009

Fall has begun to wrap itself up and make way for the cold and the snow of Winter. But before we give way to the chilly temps and white snowflakes, we have some celebrating to do.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner and of course, at Art Licensing we have plenty of beautiful Harvest images to illustrate that season.

The holidays are a large category for the gift market, making it a busy time for retailers.  We have the artwork those manufacturers need for their holiday products.  Whether it’s Fall and Autumn imagery they’re looking for or specifically Thanksgiving images, Art Licensing has an array of work to offer.  We’re proud of the work our artists have been turning out and are ready to share it with the industry on quality products.

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Halloween Art from Art Licensing

Oct 16, 2009

Boo!!

Halloween is just around the corner and Art Licensing certainly hasn’t forgotten about it.  We’ve collected quite a number of fun Halloween images from our talented artists this year and they’ve allowed us to offer our customers with plenty to choose from.  Whether our clients are looking for dark and spooky or fun and playful, we supply it all.

Holidays are a major part of our business.  We sell artwork to dozens of manufacturers who use it on their holiday products.  We sell this kind of artwork largely for seasonal products like specialty flags, seasonal mugs, stationary, gift wrap, tabletop and home decor.  There is an enormous market for seasonal imagery and we are able to fulfill a large amount of the needs our customers have.

Happy Halloween!!!

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Atlanta Market - July

Jul 22, 2009

Atlanta, Georgia was definitely the place to be last week for the gift & home industry. The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market at the America’s Mart displayed an amazing collection of products that featured the hottest colors, themes, and patterns in today’s décor. We were able to peruse the show to check out the latest products and to view our own Art Licensing artwork in these showrooms. We had a great presence at the show; many of our customers featured artwork by our talented bevy of artists and it looked great. We went in and out of showrooms speaking to sales reps, viewing their products, and getting feedback on the show.

One of the most prominent themes that appeared throughout most of the showrooms was religious artwork.  It was everywhere!  Nearly every showroom had some presence of religious imagery - some only had a few items, and others had entire sections of the showroom devoted to it.  The art was a mixture of everything from traditional religious symbols, like crosses and angels, to more modern takes on it, like decorative artwork with scripture added.  All of the work had a strong presence, which makes sense in an unstable time, and all of it was very beautiful.

Overall, the show traffic was a bit down, but people seemed somewhat optimistic. We walked the show during the last few days, and there were still buyers floating around looking for product, but it seemed that most were on a hunt for a bargain. There were many price drops and volume deals to be had in an attempt to stimulate orders.

The show was just so vast and the products were really lovely. It seemed that there was nothing that wasn’t included in these showrooms. Everything from décor and accessories to toys and gourmet foods was out on display. It truly was the largest collection of merchandise in one place and it was fabulous!

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Inspirations at Art Licensing

Jun 23, 2009

In times of uncertainty and worry, people look to inspiration to lift their spirits.  So in this unstable economic time, inspirational art has really grown and become a staple in most art offerings.  Walk into any retail store’s decor section and you’ll see dozens of images that display some kind of inspirational message.

These are the kinds of images many people are choosing to decorate their homes with.  It’s like the equivalent of a nice hot bowl of soup on a cold, damp winter day; it’s a positive message packaged in an attractive way to hang on your wall to see each day as you head out into an uncertain world.  These messages vary from ideas of love and friendship, to motivational phrases, to environmental notions, and even to political views.

Each of these ideas is embedded into a decorative style and trendy colors.  The style and color allows the message to translate from merely a phrase, to an attractive, inspirational piece of artwork.

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Art Licensing at the Surtex 2009 Show

May 30, 2009

Ah, trade show season! We’ve just returned from the Surtex (Surface & Textiles) Show at the Javits Center in New York City. This year’s show was amongst the many successful trade shows we’ve had. Overall, attendance at the show was down, but in the Art Licensing booth that wasn’t evident. Our licensing associates had back-to-back appointments each day and our booth saw plenty of traffic; the three-booth space was full of buyers who were at the show to do business. Many exhibitors as well as attendees were very hesitant as to what we could expect this year. Most exhibitors chose a smaller booth space or joined forces to fill the booth, and some exhibitors choose not to attend this show altogether. The show layout was quite different as both shows were on one floor and the Surtex area of the show was considerably smaller this year. In an economy like ours, the only buyers who were willing to go to the expense to travel to the show were those prepared to make it worth their while.

When walking the aisles of the show, there weren’t many obvious trends that stood out as being new or unique. When times are tough, many vendors opt for the safe options and are less likely to take a risk on something very different. As a result, it’s far less likely to see anything out of the ordinary. Proven colors and designs covered the walls at this show. Since the National Stationary Show ran concurrently with Surtex, many of the trend forecasts focused on the stationary industry. Within this realm, the themes that are predicted to be hot are silhouettes, damasks, lace, lattice, birds & butterflies, and animal prints, amongst others. Pattern is a growing area as well, used as both a focal point and an accent. Below are the predicted color trends by trend expert Milou Ket displayed at the show.

So overall, Surtex 2009 was a success! We went with a strong crew and had a busy booth. Now that we’re back, rested, and unpacked, the focus is follow-up. The licensing team has lists of clients that need requests filled and images sent to them. The booth looked great - full of new images from our strong bank of artists as well as our newly created “Art Wheel” that mixed trend information with product images and artwork.

We’re very pleased with the show and are sure we’ll get some strong blast of business from the many clients who came to visit us. We’re already thinking about next year’s show!

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