My Heimtextil Diary

For our first time exhibiting at a trade show in Europe I decided to keep a diary of each day’s events. Ha! Easier said than done. There was so much excitement, so much going on and so many people to see and places to go, that my diary plans fell apart immediately. So here are just a few random highlights of our adventures in Heimtextil.

I left behind record cold temperatures in Boston.

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I flew to into Frankfurt, where the weather was lovely… much more pleasant for walking and exploring the old town, and having dinner with my artist friends. I was delighted to find that Frankfurt is a very walkable city; the tram, subway and buses are easy to use (and free with your Heimtextil badge!).

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Anisa's rendition of Römerberg, the rebuilt "old town" of Frankfurt.

Anisa's rendition of Römerberg, the rebuilt "old town" of Frankfurt.

The show was tons of fun, especially meeting all the people. I met some artists I have consulted with, as well as clients I have wanted to reach for a long time. There were lots of new faces from the US and abroad.

One of the highlights of the trip was meeting Janna Krupinski for the first time! Although she has been with Jennifer Nelson Artists for almost a year, we had never actually seen each other in person. It was wonderful to discover that Janna is as funny and smart as she is talented. 

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Artists Janna, Rae Ritchie, Anisa Makhoul and myself all stayed together in an AirBnB. What a treat! We had a great time. One of my favorite parts of being an agent is the enduring friendships I have with my artists.

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I wondered how I would fare in Germany since I don’t speak that language. Just fine, it turns out. The German people are very kind and accommodating. Having a few German words and phrases to express pleasethank you, and good day goes a long way.

Wow! Heimtextil is a busy market, with some beautiful elaborate booth construction. Two doors down from me, a designer even built a log cabin in the space. The show was really something to see.

Lots of beautiful work was on display. This is a new market for us and I realized we still have more to learn. Prints at Home Decor shows are HUGE (~24 x 36")… so our prints looks a little small in comparison. Most of the artwork is repeat patterns, as clients are buying and licensing for wall, furniture, bedding and other home surfaces.

In comparison to a show like SURTEX, Heimtextil offers more for your investment. The booths are ample size, the tables are amazing and come complete with lockable tables and a small cabinet. The extra chairs, lights and tables do not cost a fortune. The space is large and the aisles wide. 

There was a good feeling of camaraderie with my Blue Print friends as well. Brenda Manley was just across from me and Paul from Cinnamon Joe was just around the corner. Friendships with other agents makes the world feel a little smaller, even thousands of miles from home.

After the show each night we had had one delicious dinner after another: Indian, Italian, French and the last night, Vietnamese. Frankfurt is a cosmopolitan city with lots to offer. Then we came back to our AirBnB where the artists painted, and we drank wine from teacups and talked. That was my favorite part!

Rae Ritchie sketchbook (left) and Anisa Makhoul's (right)

Rae Ritchie sketchbook (left) and Anisa Makhoul's (right)

Saturday we took a train to Freiburg to be tourists for a day. It is a charming little town! We took an early train from Frankfurt, ate spaetzle (German pasta/dumplings) with wurst and lentils, found an amazing o market in the square and an little shop where Christmas is happening 365 days a year! On the way back, Anisa even bought champagne for us to enjoy in the train!

Overall, the trip to Heimtextil was a success. We licensed work for window coverings, bedding, pillows and rugs in Mexico, US, Europe and Asia. We met several US clients and very importantly expanded our database to many new clients from around the world. 

Now that the show is over, I am going to enjoy some R&R in Budapest (where my brother lives) and visit the Szechenyi Baths in the morning before the US is even awake! Pure bliss and $20 for a one-hour massage. I can hardly wait. :) Jennifer

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Creating a Fabric Collection with Rae Ritchie

Hi Everyone!

Today, I wanted to share my process of creating a fabric collection with amazing fabric manufacturer Dear Stella! I’ve been working with them for a couple years now, and the medium of fabric design never fails to excite me!

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Every collection I create begins of course, with gathering inspiration.  Since many of the work I do is based in nature, I gather many photos of flowers, plants and animals as my main source of inspiration. Discovering new (to me!) species of plants and animals and trying to capture their essence is a driving force for me. 

Color palettes naturally come out of this research. I’ll start with Pantones right away, and pull the main colors I choose to use in the collection.

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The next step is planning the prints I’d like to create. I usually make a list for myself to use during the sketching process. Sketching is always the most intense portion of the process for me. This is where the look of the collection is first proposed. I’ll often use sales information from past collections to help with my decision making in layout and subject matter.

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Creating the actual artwork is my favorite portion of the process. Here, I apply color to the sketches and bring the collection to life! Sometimes I will do actual paintings, and sometimes create the art digitally on my Wacon Cintiq. It mostly depends on how complex the repeats are and the look I’m going for. I feel most comfortable painting florals in actual gouache, so most groups heavily based in florals will be hand painted.

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Cleaning the art and indexing the files into screen separations is the most technical part of the process. Making sure the integrity of the print is intact, while still limiting the number of screens is essential!

Creating colorways is a very fun step, because you can start imagining what the quilts can look like, and how the final impression of the collection will read. It also excites me to think about what my quilts will be made into and how they can inspire those around me. 

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Finally, I’ll add Pantone colorchips to the repeats and send the files over to be printed in strike-off form. Then, a little while later, the strike-offs are sent to me! This by far is the most exciting part. Seeing the art directly on the fabric is very rewarding! The Dear Stella team and I will work on choosing the final prints and colorways to run in the group, and from there a fabric collection is born!

Enjoy! Rae Ritchie

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Rae Ritchie's fascinating answers to your questions!

Our own Rae Ritchie answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.

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Q. What’s your favorite animal to draw and why?

A. I really enjoy drawing and painting red foxes. Because they are such majestic creatures with their little human-like hands and graceful movements, I find myself introducing them in my work quite often. Sadly, I have never seen one in the wild! They are rumored to hang around the creek by my house in the early morning, so I definitely need to go for some 5 AM walks to see some! Cats also have a special place in my heart and on my drawing table!

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Q. What’s the life of an artist like? Do you work early in the morning? Late at night? How do you integrate your art time into your daily routine?

A. I feel incredibly grateful everyday to be a full-time artist who works from home. I have always been an early riser, so I often get to “the office” around 7 AM. I always feel more comfortable being awake and in the office before my clients get to work, so I can devote some time to licensable artwork before any assignments come in. Depending on the day, I may have time for personal work, or I’ll be booked with a client for the day or sometimes for the week. Every day is different, which I love!

Often, I’ll go for a run around lunchtime, then work until 6 or 7. They can be long days, but the work is always rewarding and enjoyable! I try to turn off in the evening and recharge for the next day. I must say that I should try to get out more, though I am a homebody for the most part and really do enjoy this set-up!

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Q. Everyone can answer the question, “What’s your favorite color?” But only an artist can answer “What are your two favorite colors to put together?”

A. Hands down, my favorite color is dark blue, and I love pairing it with a warm/pinky lavender. The night sky has always been a huge inspiration for me. The cool cast the moonlight puts on tones that are warm during the day is fascinating and comforting to me.

Ready, Set PRINTSOURCE - here we come!

After a very successful show last year, look for artist’s agent Jennifer Nelson to return to Printsource in New York City on January 10th and 11th, 2017. Jennifer will be there representing the terrifically talented illustrators of Jennifer Nelson Artists: Anisa MakhoulBee BrownJennifer Orkin LewisJill HowarthKelly AngelovicLauren LowenMiriam BosRachel Grant and Rae Ritchie

“This is one show that we come back to every year. It has been good for us before and now we have some new artists to introduce, so we expect it will be even better,” said Jennifer Nelson from JNA’s Boston office. “These days it’s not uncommon to do business with a client for years without ever actually meeting in person. So we relish these occasions when we can meet face-to-face with the wonderful people who buy our art. Sure, it’s business, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves.”

With an expanded roster that now includes nine amazing illustrators, Jennifer looks forward to dazzling art buyers with a wealth of stunning new images. JNA’s artists specialize in a kind of hand-crafted look that conveys a warmth and sincerity that’s hard to find in today’s digital world. Although each artists has her own unique style, all of them create works that are quirky, feminine and fun. 

“It will be great to see our favorite customers again this year, and to meet some of them for the first time. Of course, the best part is meeting new people and making new friends! The art attracts people to our booth and that naturally starts a conversation.” Attendees should make an appointment with Jennifer in advance, to avoid disappointment. “If we miss you in January we’ll have to wait until August, and that’s just too long!”

Jennifer Nelson Artists is still a relative newcomer to the surface design world. But since their launch in January of 2015 they have been creating piles of new art and making literally hundreds of licensing deals. “We’ve been busy!” said Jennifer.

Printsource is the main resource for surface and textile design for America's major manufacturers, retailers and catalogs, covering such industries as men's, children's and women's apparel, bed and bath, kitchen and tabletop, paper goods and stationery, wall coverings, window fashions and other surface and textile design applications.

Rae Ritchie’s Gift Guide Cover Design Work with the Los Angeles Times!

Happy holidays dear friends! I am over the moon excited to share a project I worked on for the Los Angeles Times last month! When Jennifer contacted me about a project with them, I was so excited, and I admit, a little nervous. When she said they wanted a cover design for their holiday gift guide AND an illustration for an article, I was pinching myself. I’ve always wanted to work with the Times, so this was really a dream come true! Here’s a look into my process for this exciting project.

In the idea stage, I stick to little thumbnails, just to flesh out the ideas in my head before I commit to an entire page. The client said they wanted to focus to be in hand lettering with some imagery that gets L.A. and Cali-handcrafted gifts across. 

When I decided on a basic layout that I liked, I proceeded to sketch it out for real! I then sent over to the LA Times team along with a color palette. They had a couple little tweaks as far as landmarks and placement. Once those changes were made, I was ready to proceed with the final art!

This is where the fun part begins; the painting! For this, I painted everything separately, then placed it together in Photoshop. This way, I have more flexibility in terms of layout and color tweaking, if needed.

It was a "star on top of the tree" moment when I added the Los Angles Times logo to the final art!

I followed a very similar process for the article illustration, beginning with a sketch, painting it up, then finessing in Photoshop!

Happy holidays everyone! Cheers <3 Rae

It’s BIG Announcement time again!

We’re just bursting with joy to announce that we have added another amazingly talented artist to our roster. Please join me in welcoming Rae Ritchie to Jennifer Nelson Artists!

Rae started out just about 10 years ago, designing fashion accessories for women and kids. Although she liked doing creative work for major retailers, it was creating prints and graphics for her products that made her feel most alive.

Since Rae was always painting on the side anyway, she decided to take the next step and shift her focus to fabric design and illustration for greeting cards, stationery, gifts and apparel. And we’re glad she did!

These watercolor and gouache illustrations are created in a sunny little room in Rae’s home, at what must be the tiniest desk in Minneapolis. How can such big art come from such a small desk? That’s where Rae’s enormous talent comes in!

Inspired by the lushness of nature, classic children's books and old photographs, Rae lives with her husband and their cat Sméagol. 

To see some of Rae’s gorgeous illustration work, visit our site here.