My New Calendars



On Fridays, I like to display samples of my new products. Here are two new calendars available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Wall Calendar



Engagement Calendar






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Check out Kate Harper Designs Facebook page:




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Book on How to Run a Greeting Card Business


Finally! This book is back in print! I did a book review of it in 2009. Its the only book I know of on the greeting card business.-Kate


Here is my review from 2009:

Years ago, when I taught seminars on the business of making and marketing greeting cards, I wish this book had existed: Start and Run a Greeting Cards Business: Lots of Practical Advice for Help You Build an Exciting and Profitable Business. I would have handed it out to my students to use as a textbook, instead of taking the time to create hundreds of pages of handouts for my them.

When I opened up the first page of this book, the author had made a fundamental statement about the card business:"[the card] business is the type of business that can be started at the kitchen table and end up in the global market."

From my years of experience in this business, this statement is absolutely true. I am one of those people she is talking about: I started on a table in my living room, and in a short period of time acquired a national account with Barnes and Noble. That’s what makes this business so accessible and approachable.

The book covers the gamut of the greeting card business, from the beginner to the professional, and it includes a variety of topics such as: handmade cards vs. printed cards, pricing, presentations and marketing. As I began reading it, I knew I was in the U.K, because of the writing style. The words were sometimes unfamiliar, ( "carriage" charges vs. shipping charges) along with the frequent discussions about selling items in the U.K, the local tax laws, VAT, etc. But if you are not from the U.K., don't be discouraged, because 90% of the book is applicable to almost any market.

It is clear the author has seen all sides of the business from the inside out, and she is not afraid to brush away any romantic notions one might have about it by including excellent pro/con sections on vaious topics. She tells the truth of what problems you might encounter depending on your design style, the materials you use and your marketing. Other craft books often leave you hanging after telling you how to sell at craft fairs, and they don't often explain how to go national and sell wholesale. The author of Starting and Running a Greeting Cards Business is very aware that if you want to make a living in the card business, you aren't going to do it at craft fairs.

There is a good chapter on pricing, which is critical, since cards need to be scalable. The author gives this topic it's due attention and breaks down figures in detail: for time, materials, and overhead, and she explains how to do a time study to determine how much it costs to make a card. But be forewarned, many of the figures are in pounds, so they need to be adjusted in dollars if you are a U.S. reader.

There is an excellent customer survey that covers the critical questions you should ask a store to get feedback for your market research. This will ultimately prevent you from overprinting a weak card design. There is a great section on how to write a press release, along with instructions on how to come up with an elevator pitch for your line. There is also an insightful chapter that overviews things to consider when making an eco-friendly business, such as materials and transportation.

If it were up to me to make changes in the book, I might make two. First, I felt the three chapters on business topics, (business plans, cash flow, and financing) could have been reduced to one, since this general information can be found most anywhere. Secondly, I also felt there was a missing chapter on how to work with sales representatives (books refers to as "agents"). Although it is addressed briefly, the author does not go in depth about how to work with reps . There could have been more information on this, and how critical reps are to success in this business, along with problems that can develop ( territory conflicts, managing rep groups) and office practices (commission statements, rep forms, incentives).

My motto has always been "without sales reps, you have no business," and it's almost impossible to grow your business without them. It is very difficult for a designer to accumulate and service thousands of accounts without using reps. Reps do a variety of things to support a designer besides sales, such as stock and straighten card racks, and provide free displays at trade shows. A card designer may need at least 40 reps to really have a thriving business. And although the book did not address these things, it did emphasized one of the most important practices: PAY THEM ON TIME! I was always flabbergasted when reps reported to me that very few designers pay them on time. I believe a designer should pay reps before they pay anyone.

In conclusion, I highly recommend Starting and Running a Greeting Cards Business, because I do believe if you follow the guidelines, you will see results and you will go into this business with a strong education and your eyes open. There are very few places where you can get this type of information and most of it comes from experience or talking to other designers. I am surprised that with so many card businesses in existence, no one has really put this information down on paper. Yes, there are a lot of books on making cards or designing them, but this is the first one I've seen that really tells you what is required to run a professional card business. And because her experiences were so familiar to me, the U.K. references did not feel foreign; rather, they only made me feel I was reading about the card business while on vacation in England!

More Product Information

Other Books on Card Design and Card Marketing



Art Licensing on Tech Products: Artist Interview

Alisha Wilson

Alisha Wilson is one of our Art Licensing Group members here in the San Francisco Bay area, and she licenses her art onto video cameras. I asked her if she would be willing do an interview for this blog and she kindly agreed. Here is her story:


Can you tell us about the tech product you license your artwork on?


I create designs for Flip video cameras. These are the world’s simplest shoot and share video cameras. Each camera is about 2" x 4" in size and can be personalized. The personalized designs are printed directly on the camera and are permanent. On their website you can choose from thousands of designs. You can see my designs here: http://www.theflip.com/sweetooth


How would you describe your art style?


I would describe my style as light-hearted and fun. I create my designs with watercolor and then I manipulate them in the computer. My designs are trying to communicate happy feelings about my favorite things, most of them showcase food and friends.


What gave you the idea to pursue tech products, as a place for your art?


Anything I see imagery on sparks the question: "does my art fit here?" With Flip the style is fun and young and I thought it would be a good fit for my designs.


How do you think designing for a tech product is different than a typical gift product?


When designing for a tech product vs a gift product the main difference is the way it is sold. Gift products are tactile, when you purchase them you can usually pick them up and look at. When buying a tech product it's usually sold on line. So you have to see if your designs look good in the way your tech product is being sold on it’s web site. Every tech product and company has a different way to sell your work so it’s important to do research about each company. You can see my Flip video store here. The images of my designs are very small and need to look good a small scale to get a buyer to click and buy.



A lot of artists don't like the idea of licensing to online manufacturers that sell direct to consumers. What is your feeling about this?


I don’t have any negative feelings about selling to online manufactures. I think you have a closer relationship with someone who is dealing with the inner workings of that company and can ultimately be a good person to talk about making your designs work for their company and brand.



What other high tech products would you like to license your art on?


I would like to license my products on TV’s, Tom Toms, The Kindle, headphones and USB drives, just to name a few.




PRODUCTS:

I license for aprons, oven mitts, kitchen towels, PJs, underwear, tableware, greeting cards, gift wrap, gift bags and much more.


EDUCATION

I went to college at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, MA. My major was in illustration. I have taken Graphic design classes at CCA as well as many licensing classes. I am always looking for ways to grow and improve my skills and knowledge.




ALISHA'S FAVORITES


Design book or publication: How Magazine, Communications Arts, and the new Banksy book Wall and Piece


Conference or show, and why: Surtex – Because it is so full of amazing people, artists, and classes.


Class or workshop worth attending, even if we have to fly there: Cheryl Phelps teaches an excellent class about Licensing. I loved it.

Decor8 teaches an online blogging class that so far is pretty awesome: http://www.decor8eclasses.com/



Design tip: Always have a contract and make sure there is an exit clause. If something doesn’t feel right trust your gut!


Tech Products You Use:

Computer: Mac Book Pro

Printer: Espon Photo R2400

Scanner: Epson 3200 Photo

Adobe Master Collection CS5


Message or quotation you have on your bulletin board: “Luck is when preparedness and opportunity happen at the same time.”


Website you visit often for Design information: www.aigasf.org


Blogs you read: www.designsponge.com, http://butdoesitfloat.com/, http://ffffound.com/


Podcasts you listen to: I don’t usually listen to pod casts but I am taking an e course from this site http://www.decor8blog.com/ on how to become a better blogger and they have pod casts.


Twitterers you follow: @nomadicmatt, @ifneedb, @997now, @ecdesignz, @cindyannganaden, @decor8


Tech device you can't live without. My Flip video camera, and my iPhone


Contact Info:

e-mail: alisha (at) alishawilson.com

web site: http://www.alishawilson.com/

blog: http://alishawilsonblog.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @AlishaWilson




...More Articles on Technology and Art Licensing:


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25 Free Resources for Graphic Designers

Here an article I found interesting. Note: This is only excerpt. To read the entire article go to the blog post at MycroBurst

Free Graphic Design Resources

  1. Grunge Fusion – Learn how to create cool grunge textures by blending modes and filters
  2. Realistic Golden Text – Mimic gold and create beautiful golden text in Pixelmator
  3. Gooey Text – Create 3-D gooey looking text with minimal drawing
  4. Surrealistic Hand-Drawn Illustration – Use fine liners and markers to create an illustration
  5. Colorful Photo Manipulation – Use different layers, brushes and adjustments in Photoshop
  6. 3D Character Logo – Give personality and sticker effect to a fun cartoon 3D character
  7. Textured Site Layout – Create a textured site layout by layering multiple images
  8. Watercolor Themed Website – How to use Art History brush to create a watercolor background
  9. Western Text Tutorial – Easy to use western type Illustrator Effects
  10. Special Finishing Touches – Master techniques of adding spot colors, varnishes and special touches to your layout.
  11. article continued....

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