Jun 132014
© Copyright Joanne Hus

© Copyright Joanne Hus

Lately, I’ve been reading several books about the power of positive thinking. As I was falling asleep the other night, after spending a few hours reading and thinking about the power of our thoughts, the image of a garden popped into my head.

The next morning, it came to me that my mind is a garden. I have a kitchen garden for my livelihood. This is where I grow my income: commissions, business ideas, creative projects of many varieties. I have rows for art, illustration, fiction, essays, design, licensing, and so on. I have a cutting garden of a huge variety of blooms to share with the people in my life. This is where I nurture my relationships with family, friends, the world at large.

Like any garden, the garden of my mind takes effort. I have to plant the seeds: picture what I want in vivid detail, experience the feelings I would have if these things were already in my life. I have to water my garden: come up with a written plan, take action. I have to weed my garden: cast out all negative thought, worry, doubt, and fear. And I have to have faith that the sun and the rain will be provided in the right measure: trust that the right influences have already been put into motion in my life so that I will have a good harvest.

I like this image a lot. It helps me to remember to take care of the only things that are truly in my power—my thoughts and my actions. It also reminds me that by guarding my thoughts and taking action, I am making space for the good things to grow in my life.

So what would happen if I expected the garden to yield a good harvest without focused effort on my part? Well, first of all, the weeds of doubt and fear would start to grow. The good plants might struggle and maybe even yield some fruit, but the harvest would be far less than if I had tended my garden. If I then used that disappointing harvest as an excuse not to make any effort at all, the weeds of doubt and fear would take over, choking off every good thing.

But seeing my mind as the most wonderful and powerful garden inspires me to acquire a green thumb. I carefully tend each plant. I ruthlessly pull up each weed and cast it into the fire.

You, too, have a garden. If we each do our part, our gardens will yield ten-fold, a hundred-fold. And together, we can share that good harvest with the rest of the world.

Dec 312013

How excited was I when Pantone announced that 2014’s color of the year is Radiant Orchid? To give you an idea, I have a tiny garden of orchids on my desk in the studio, and several more orchid plants in my living room. My favorite plant!

So in honor of Radiant Orchids everywhere, I drew this little postcard:

Radiant Orchid 2014 calendar

I’m really getting into hand-lettering these days. I even hand-lettered the calendar on the back of the postcard! Say, would you like a copy of this? Email me, and I’ll send you a printed version.

Wishing you an outstanding year in 2014!


Nov 152013

This holiday season, I’m offering these fun portraits of families—or individuals, or pets, or whatever you like! They are drawn by hand and scanned. I combine the portrait with a border I designed, then print out on high quality paper and hand-paint in glorious black and white. They measure 8″ x 10″ and are shipped unframed. Please note they are not traced, so they have a little quirkiness to them.

And added bonus is that because these are a combination of hand-drawn and digital, you can order multiple drawings.  The hand painted wash will be unique on each print.

© Joanne Hus

© Joanne Hus

Here’s the photo I worked from:

Family photo

I will be at the Holiday Gift Fair at Fairfield Grace United Methodist church in Fairfield CT on November 23. If you can’t make it, use the contact form here. Orders placed by December 16 will be ready in time for Christmas. I’ll only be creating a limited number of portraits in time for the holidays, so be sure to order right away!


You can also order these portraits through my Etsy shop. Easy online ordering!

Oct 042013


On Monday, I’ll be starting Part B of Make Art That Sells, offered by Lilla Rogers. I learned so much in Part A (which ended this past July), that I can’t wait to get started on Part B—I’ve been about as patient as a 7-year-old kid counting the days until her birthday!

Make Art That Sells is a unique course, filled with the kind of industry-specific info you just can’t get anywhere else. If you have been wanting to learn more about illustrating for paper/stationery products, baby/children’s apparel and décor, scrapbooking, editorial, and party paper, this is the course for you. You’ll learn about the latest trends in these markets, enjoy interviews with industry leaders and the successful artists who work with them, and surprise yourself with the amazing portfolio pieces you’ll create. All in a phenomenally supportive community of fellow artists.

Lilla is so incredibly generous—not only with her extensive knowledge of all these markets, but also with specific leads and how to approach them—that the students in Part A nicknamed her our Fairy Art Mother. A firm believer in making the pie bigger, Lilla takes great delight in empowering all artists to make a living doing what they love most: making art (that sells)!

There’s still time to register, so if you’re interested in taking your art from good to great, sign up! I’ll see you in class on Monday!

Sep 292013
Alarm clock

Hooray for mornings!

A friend sent me this delightful picture of her friend’s daughter with an alarm clock I had designed. So cute! Now, I don’t claim that the design on the face of the clock makes it easier to get up in the morning—but it can’t hurt!

I designed several:


I have some of these available for purchase. Ten bucks will get you one of these cuties. Drop me an email or use the contact form and let me know if you want to snag one. I’d love to brighten your morning!

May 242013


I had the pleasure of attending Surtex this week. My head is still exploding from all the cool stuff that I saw. For those of you not familiar with this tradeshow, it’s the marketplace for selling and licensing original art and design. Surtex is concurrent with the National Stationery Show, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and Creative & Lifestyle Arts, a new tradeshow introduced this year serving the art, crafting and creative hobby marketplace. For a visual artist, being at the Javits on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday was way better than being a kid in a candy store—and a lot healthier!

At Surtex, instead of simply walking the show—which is amazing in itself—I also signed up for three conference sessions about several categories: Textiles and Home Fashion; Tabletop, Gift and Home Décor; and Paper and Stationery. All three sessions were really informative, especially for a newbie to some of these categories like me.

Cherish Flieder, moderator of the Art of Licensing group on LinkedIn (and who will be launching ArtLicensingShow.com this summer) asked me to blog about the sessions for you. Here’s what I learned at each one:

Category Spotlight: Textiles & Home Fashion

Moderator: Jennifer Marks, Editor-in-Chief of Home Textiles Today

Panelists: Andy Sylvia, President of Cranston Printworks; Julie Philibert, Senior Designer at Warner Wallcoverings; Pam Maffei-Toolan, Vice President Design at PK Lifestyles


Left to right: Andy Sylvia, Julie Philibert, Pam Maffei-Toolan, and Jennifer Marks discussed how and when manufacturers want to see new designs, collections, and artwork for the textiles and home fashions categories.

New artists

  • Buyers are always looking for new things, and welcome new artists. Cite past successes if applicable. Drop names!
  • Research brands first before you reach out to them. Doors close quickly when it’s obvious you haven’t done your homework.
  • Email is the preferred mode of contact for most buyers. Include one teaser image in the body of the email, and include a link to an online portfolio.
  • Be persistent, and follow up.
  • Surtex is a unique resource for buyers. It’s a great way for them to find new artists.

Rights and compensation

  • Some buyers like to purchase all rights to a design; others pay royalties with advances.
  • Royalties can range anywhere from 4% to 7%. Advances on royalties are about $300 to $500 per design.
  • Annual royalties paid to an individual artist can range from $10,000 to $300,000 and up.
  • Buyouts can range from $1,200 and up.
  • If a buyer purchases all rights, it’s okay for the artist to sell the original painting as art, but not to license it elsewhere!

Technical considerations

  • When submitting a design, repeats help but aren’t necessary. Be sure to do good repeats if you use them. Manufacturers have creative staff to help with repeats if it’s not your strength.
  • Number of colors in a design can range up to 16 or 18, depending on the country of manufacture. Gravure can handle full-color CMYK.
  • Don’t worry about number of colors in your design; manufacturers will work with you to adjust your design while keeping its essence.
  • Final art can be an original painting that manufacturer will scan and return; or it can be electronic.
  • For electronic designs, layered files, please! If in Photoshop, resolution should be 300 dpi.
  • Size of art doesn’t matter.
  • It takes about nine months from purchase or license of a design to its production.


  • New but same:
    • 70s retro
    • Global
    • Zig-zag
    • Softer, fresher, mixed with new contemporary influence.
  • Steampunk
  • Animal skins
  • Floral
  • Geometric

 Advice for artists

  • Be honest, be flexible, be respectful.
  • If you get a “no,” ask why?
  • Make it easy for a buyer to work with you. Relationship is at least 50% of the equation.
  • Believe in yourself, be confident, never give up.

Category Spotlight: Tabletop, Gift and Home Décor

Moderator: Allison Zisko, Managing Editor of HFN Magazine

Panelists: Toni Kemal, Senior Trend Analyst at Lifetime Brands; Ingrid Liss, Creative Director of Demdaco; and Sue Todd, President of Magnetworks


Left to right: Sue Todd, Toni Kemal, Ingrid Liss, and Allison Zisko shared their strategies for finding and applying great design to their tabletop, gift and home décor products.

New artists

  • Buyers find new artists at tradeshows like Surtex; through referrals from current artists and agents; blogs; social media; etc.
  • Buyers are happy to receive email from artists.
  • Create a brilliant website that gives a really good idea of what you do; keep it updated.
  • Buyers work with artists directly, or through an agent.
  • Send samples as JPGs in an email. Include link to your online portfolio or website.
  • Research is a team effort for most buyers. They spend between an hour a day to a full day researching new artists, depending on the time of year.
  • Artists should look at and follow submission guidelines, which most companies have on their websites.
  • Follow up in a few weeks; email is the preferred follow up method.

Rights and compensation

  • Most buyers prefer to license artwork; some purchase outright.
  • Product lifecycle has changed; licenses average about two years. Holiday is shorter, one year.

Technical considerations

  • Layered files!
  • The same design can sometimes translate across all three of these categories.
  • Buyers like to work with artists who can manipulate art to different formats.
  • Don’t put watermarks on your samples; makes it harder to present to retailers.
  • Hi-res files are preferable; vector is even better.


  • Woodland creatures: hedgehogs, foxes, badgers.
  • Nature-inspired (butterflies).
  • Scandinavian
  • DIY, flea market, eclectic
  • Owls (“Is there life after owls?”—Allison Zisko)
  • Shabby chic is back!
  • Typography as art

Advice for artists

  • Be flexible.
  • Be confident, but not arrogant.
  • Know yourself. Let the right manufacturer find you.
  • Submissions are all about timing; sometimes it will take a year for a buyer to get back to you!
  • Bring back old designs, because they may be on-trend now.

Category Spotlight: Paper and Stationery

Panelists: Susan January, Vice President of Leanin’ Tree; and George White, President and COO of Up With Paper


George White and Susan January talked about the unique opportunities and challenges when designing for the paper and stationery categories.

New artists

  • Email sample with a link to your portfolio.
  • Do your homework. Understand manufacturer’s product. Read their submissions guidelines and follow them!
  • Some manufacturers also post their submissions calendar; follow it!
  • You should have between 18 and 24 designs in a collection.
  • Most people need help expressing themselves; best greeting cards express the “universal specific.”

Rights and compensation

  • Flat fee or license; depends on the project.
  • Flat fee ranges between $200 and several thousand.
  • Royalties range from 4% to 7%; advances range from no advance at all to $300 or $500.

Category and technical considerations

  • Greeting cards are woven into American culture; they’re not going away.
  • Layered files! Exceptional Photoshop skills. Illustrator is good, too.
  • Leanin’ Tree works 12 to 18 months in advance; Christmas 2014 is coming up in next three weeks.
  • Up With Paper has a shorter cycle: six to eight months for everday; 15 months for Christmas.
  • 60% of everyday is birthday cards.
  • Top holiday cards are Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day.
  • Lots more selling time for Easter next year because of the lag between traditional Easter and Orthodox Easter; this will impact Mother’s Day, “Dads & Grads.”


  • Woodland creatures: foxes, squirrels, owls, chipmunks
  • Humor
  • Mixed media collage
  • Words as art
  • Special occasion
  • Personalization

Advice for artists

  • Be mindful of deadlines and budgets.
  • Do your research! Look at retail outlets to see what’s out there already.
  • You’re never going to be all things to all people; know yourself.


So there you have it: excellent advice and direction from ten industry experts. Use it well, and you’ll have great success in licensing your art. And maybe we’ll see you at Surtex next year!

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