Meet February's Featured Artist: Terri Conrad





Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a surface designer. I began my career out of a desire to be home raising my two young daughters while also needing to contribute financially to our family needs. I explored what I enjoyed - which is color, pattern, and home decor design - and this turned my focus to art licensing as a consideration. This was in 2005. I had no knowledge of Illustrator or Photoshop. There was no social media to refer to for information. I bought the book, "Licensing Art 101" (https://www.amazon.com/Licensing-Art-101-Third-Updated/dp/0940899841), attended the Stationery Show and Surtex for information, and began my licensing career in January 2007 as the sole creative source to an upstart scrapbook company.



Your work is described as joyful and inspirational. What influences that in your art? My faith and optimistic hope influence much of my work. I want to surround myself with people and designs that bring me joy, encourage, and uplift my spirit. Color and pattern can have a very positive influence on our living spaces and how we feel. I hope to translate this into my work offering this to those who choose my designs.

What mediums do you use to create your art? Have you tried any new mediums recently? Presently, I illustrate almost exclusively in Procreate. Then, I bring all my files into Photoshop to create my patterns, motifs, and all my mock-ups and marketing collateral. Occasionally, I use Illustrator, and want to create time to become much more comfortable and knowledgeable using it too. I've worked with acrylic and watercolor in the past, as well, for a short period of time I created abstract art, which I was able to license and even find a place in Antho with one piece through that licensing deal.



Your work has been licensed with some wonderful companies. Can you tell us about your licensing experiences ( good and bad)? I like that you have a caveat of "good or bad" because both can and do occur. My first licensee, the scrapbooking company I licensed to was a major lesson in copyright infringement, and altogether bad business, both unethical and illegal on their part. From this experience, I learned to trust my intuition, to advocate for my rights, and to never allow a repeat of that situation again. There has been a lot of good for which I am so grateful. Creative Co-Op was my dream manufacturer to work with and I enjoyed some very strong success with them from 2009-2013. They are a wonderful company to work with and their design aesthetic is so desirable. I have had the good fortune of working with many of the top manufacturers over the years.



What has been your favorite company to work with? I think it's got to be Creative Co-Op for a variety of reasons. I love designing home decor and concepts for that home decor. They appreciated my input and created beautiful products with my art. My home today remains decorated with many of my samples from wall decor, to storage cases, plates, and more.

You and I have communicated briefly about the changing landscape of surface pattern design and licensing. Do you have any thoughts on the current state of the industry? I do. The landscape of licensing is changing, just like so many other industries. There was a time one could earn a living from licensing their art. While a few very seasoned (25-35 year veterans) perhaps still do, it is infinitely more challenging to do so. This, I believe, is for a variety of reasons: changing economy, lack of shelf space (so many shops have closed), limited SKUs are being produced, and turnover is immediate. Rarely are pieces re-produced and/or re-ordered. Additionally, we now have social media which shines a light on many talented artists and designers. The pool from which to choose as a licensee is much deeper, so the competition is much greater.



Would you like to share any advice you have for new designers? There are a lot of courses available now to those interested in learning about the licensing business, whether it’s fabric design, gift, home dec, or stationery - enter into your learning process with your eyes wide open, you will have to spend money to make money. Define your goals, know why you want to be in this business, and what you hope to accomplish. It's necessary to have an income to support yourself while you are building your business. It can take years to earn even your first royalty payments, and those payments may only be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars for the whole year's earnings. This is an industry that requires you to work full time and then some (without royalty income), to create new art and keep your portfolio fresh and relevant. Determination, commitment, passion, a professional business mind, and willingness to let go again and again are needed. I read a recent post from a designer who had a lovely Issuu presentation of her patterns why she would receive a rejection...good, or even GREAT art does not necessarily translate into getting a contract. There are many, many considerations a licensee must filter their selections through and their saying "no" is not a flection of the quality of your art. This is when determination and persistence come into play. You simply need to re-submit to another company, and another after that.



What's next for you in your artistic endeavors? Are there any other companies or designers you would like to collaborate with? I have a couple of product lines coming to market in early 2022, a debut fabric line, "Bloom True" with Poppie Cotton, stationery with Legacy/Prayer Life Now, and a few other small contracts. I am very excited to be returning to my licensing roots in paper crafting. I am in the midst of designing paper crafting kits for journaling, planning, and faith journaling focused on hope, healing, and wholeness. I intend to offer courses and to even start a YouTube channel to support this. There are so many moving parts to the development of this second brand, and I am very much in a learning phase. I have a second insta account, a new creative community account, @bloomtrueinchrist, for those interested in seeking hope, healing, and wholeness in and through Jesus Christ, and cultivating an emotionally healthy spirituality. While I remain open to collaboration on this project, I am currently doing it on my own. You can read my story behind Bloom True In Christ here: https://www.terriconraddesigns.com/bloom-true-in-christ.html. This is definitely my heart & soul work.