Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Super Star Interviews: Anne Bollman

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month I’m pleased as punch to be catching up with the delightfully darling Illustrator, Anne Bollman! Anne is the illustrator behind Anne Was Here, a studio, which provides art and illustration for products and publications, designed with humor and style, that is meant to make you smile. Anne's artwork can be found online and in stores internationally on a wide range of products including stationery, fabric, gifts, apparel, home decor and more. Anne is best known for her iconic illustrations of peeking dogs. You can view more of her artwork here!


How much do you love these fancy ladybugs?! 
Q: As a working designer & illustrator, you have faced head-on more than once the challenge of having your original artwork stolen, copied and reproduced without your permission. What advice would you give fellow artists about how to protect their intellectual property?


A: Most importantly my advice would be don’t let it stop you from sharing your work. Exposure means opportunity. The more places you share your work online, the more opportunities will come your way. That being said, only YOU can decide what is more important to you: reducing your risk and consequently reducing positive opportunities OR being vulnerable and prolific and enjoying a lot of opportunity! I choose the latter.

Some more practical advice would be to always include a copyright symbol on your work, wherever possible, and if you find that someone has used your art without permission let them know it is not ok. If they refuse to remove your copyrighted work, use a DMCA notification to report them to whatever platform they are using. I routinely do this with Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, Instagram, Facebook, Shopify and the infringing images are always taken down. Websites from countries without strong copyright protection laws are more difficult to deal with. You can do reverse image searches on Google to check where your images are being used online. Click here for a YouTube demonstration on how to do this.

In cases where you feel someone has copied you but it is not exactly the same, I would advise you to proceed with caution and kindness. It is easy to get heated and upset in the moment of discovery and want to take it public, but that course of action never ends well. If it is just similar and looks inspired by your work, it is probably best to just walk away from it. There is a chance that it was overly inspired by your work and there is also a chance that it was a coincidence. It is helpful to get confidential and honest opinions from designer friends about how close they feel it is to your own work. Make sure to ask people who won’t just tell you what you want to hear and will truly give you their opinion.

If it is so very similar to your own work that the icons, details, color palette and layout are all the same, but just drawn in another hand, you may want to reach out to the other designer and express your concern. Regardless of their reaction, at the very least they will be less likely to copy you again.

If it is a large company that has copied you, and you feel it is a clear case of infringement, get a lawyer’s opinion. There is also a service that I was recently introduced to and will be using in the future that can help you without any upfront costs called Copyright Armor. I spoke at length with the owner and lawyer of Copyright Armor and they know their stuff!

Such lovely colors! Love these teals & pinks & neutrals!
Q: You are well-known for your delightfully whimsical pet and animal illustrations. Tell us all about what inspires these works and how you approach creating them.


A: I have been an animal lover from the beginning. I swore I would become a vet or zookeeper when I grew up until I realized that those jobs don’t consist of hugging animals all day long! Drawing animals really makes me happy, and that is the main reason I keep doing it. I like to draw things without faces too, but if I go for too long I begin to go through withdrawals and quickly draw a puppy to make myself feel better. I think my addiction to fat cute little animals got really serious when I got my first dog in 2012. My parents never let me have a dog growing up so by the time I got one as an adult I was primed for obsession. My dog, Midji, inspires so much of my work I should probably start to pay her. When drawing animals I always start with the face, which is my favorite part. I like drawing faces that make you wonder what mischief they are up to. I just started teaching a class on Skillshare that walks students through my entire process for illustrating a pet. You can check it out here. Midji even makes an appearance!

Sweet birdie - chirp, chirp, love!
Q: Even though Surtex tends to get all the buzz when talking art licensing trade shows, there are a LOT of other great shows throughout the year. Give us the scoop on your experiences exhibiting at the Art LicensingExpo in Las Vegas earlier this year. And do you consider trade shows worth the investment of resources?


A: The Licensing Expo was very exciting to be a part of! It is very different from Surtex in that the majority of exhibitors are big brands or big brand representatives. The Art & Design section is very small compared to the rest of the show, but I thought that made it so much easier to stand out. Because of the big brand aspect of the show I also met contacts that I doubt I could have at Surtex, such as executives from major cartoon networks and publishers. I have several new contracts from exhibiting and many more exciting contacts that I hope to work with in the future.

The show also opened my eyes up to new exciting possibilities for my art, such as developing a character with a story, and how that can expand licensing opportunities beyond just products and into publishing, gaming and animation.


Tree trunk cross-section forest florals! Brilliant!
Q: You work with clients across a wide variety of markets, from gift and paper products to fabric and children's items to so much more! How do you approach marketing yourself to such a wide variety of clients? How frequently would you recommend sending out new work? And what avenues of contact do you consider most effective—email, traditional postcards, face-to-face meetings, social media, etc.?


A: One of the great joys I have found in working for myself is that I can create a career filled with diversity! I enjoy working on a variety of projects and tend to focus my marketing on one industry until I get a good partnership and then move on to the next. So for instance, if I want to design for home decor, I would create some art that I think works really well for that market and then create a presentation including artwork swatches and mock-ups to show my ideas. Then I send the presentation out to companies that I want to work with in that market that are also a good fit for my style. I’ve been fortunate to be able to find great partnerships this way but I also think that it is partially because I am very strategic about who I submit to and making sure that what I am submitting is appropriate for their products. Once I have work in one market, I move on to the next.

I recommend sending out new work as much as you possibly can and I need to take my own advice, because like many artists, it’s one of my weaknesses. One of the things on my to do list is to start a newsletter so that I can send a sneak peak of my latest work out to my contact list once a month.

For me the most effective form of contact is a combination of those that you listed. My top three marketing tools are probably email, social media and creating a robust online presence. I use email to directly contact art directors and submit new art, I try to post creative work to instagram, facebook and twitter daily and I also aim to have my work
found online in as many places as possible. This includes my website, client websites, portfolio sites, designer directories, magazines, blogs, shops, social media, and tutorial sites. It may seem daunting if you are just beginning, but if you tackle your online presence one place at a time, it happens organically. Having a good online presence brings some partnerships to you that you may not have been able to find or think of on your own.

Autumn leaves are forest magic!
Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.


A: Wake up without an alarm going off and take a walk to the local coffee shop with my husband and my dog. Paint something for the fun of it (and not for work!) in the morning. Do something outdoors and active with friends in the afternoon to enjoy the beautiful Southern California weather. Go out for an ocean view dinner and drinks with my husband in Manhattan Beach. Watch a movie or one of our favorite tv shows as we fall asleep.

Thanks so much for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm, Anne! We LOVE your work and will be keeping an eye out for it in our local shops! 

3 comments:

  1. Hello Jane (and Anne!) . I am a fan of Anne's work and so I really enjoyed reading your interview with her. I was very interested to hear about the protection of intellectual property/ copyright issues and it gave me lots to think about. I am so weary of sharing my work on-line and in social media so it was good to hear her philosophy about doing so! I tried not to be too envious about her perfect Sunday - it sounds SO perfect compared to mine! Keep up the great work of inspiring us. Kind regards to you both. Faye (Faye Maguire Designs)

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    1. Hi Faye! Thanks so much for your kind words!!

      I am definitely a proponent of putting yourself out there. I have been doing it consistently for about a year now in as many places as possible and I'm at the point where I have more opportunities coming in then I can even manage. I definitely think the benefits of sharing your work outweigh the negatives. But it is definitely a personal choice!

      PS - Don't be envious of my perfect Sunday - it has never happened in the history of my life. ;) I was just sharing what my perfect Sunday would be if I could have one, haha!

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