Mar 12, 2012

A Colorful Journey

A Colorful Journey Part 7
By Linda Lover
Each designer has their own story, their own experiences and their own way of dealing with situations and in completing this series of articles; these have been a small window into mine. Looking back on my painting years, there have been many changes in the industry as well as in my own life. That first published project was truly the beginning of freelance design for me. It was a proud moment to see my project in print in a national magazine, but it almost didn’t happen as I was very close to throwing in the towel. It seemed one rejection followed another and I began to question if I’d actually go anywhere with this. Finally I realized that two most important aspects in designing were patience and perseverance. I then made the decision not to give up so easily.
Occasionally I find myself reflecting on the days when painting seemed to have been at its peak. Thinking about it now, the trend seems to have lasted much longer than what has come about since, and I don’t think there ever was a program that superseded the popularity of One Stroke. I recall seeing the first instructional packet with the rose. It didn’t look like a classical rose, but it did look like an achievable rose. Though I never opted to take a One Stroke class I thought, finally, someone was making painting look easy. And it had huge appeal when you consider the extent of the classes and products.

I’ve always felt that decorative painting should be promoted at all levels with an open mindedness that includes applications beyond those steeped in tradition. When impressionism, for example, began to appear on the art scene it was not looked on with favor at first. Eventually it gained huge momentum. So as it’s always been, it’s the many differences in art that make it grow in interest and appreciation. Art is not a one size fits all.
However, uniqueness is not always embraced as it means change. For instance, there were times I thought it was the uniqueness of specialty brushes that made them difficult to market to certain groups of painters. Painting shows have almost always presented an atmosphere structured around painting and painters who moved in the traditional methods of both application and brushes. It’s just the way it has been.

When the specialty brushes were newly introduced at one of the shows, folks from SDP were invited to the booth to try them. Only one artist was daring enough to pick up a brush and paint with it. I wondered, if those who chose simply to observe, perhaps they felt a sense of vulnerability using something so unfamiliar to do something they ordinarily did so well. I remember how I avoided using the brushes at first myself, but what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t. To learn from something new, it’s best to set aside expectations in order to allow for those opportune moments of discovery, possibilities that might otherwise never have been found. That goes for any new painting product, paint, brushes, mediums, etc.
One of my basic goals has always been trying to keep what I do interesting and fresh. It could be a new application or creating something using a new product. I’ve always gravitated toward landscapes; it was like traveling without leaving my painting table or it could rekindle a memory. I’m usually inspired by everything that has always been around me, from childhood to present day. Flowers, especially, remind me of special people and places. My grandmother always had beautiful cottage gardens. She was never one to pick a flower because it would bloom longer in her garden. An aunt of mine had a hedge of lilac bushes lining the entire side of her property; another had a patch of lily of the valley and clematis climbing on a porch trellis every summer.

Whether we realize it or not, often in designing, we’re influenced by the things in life that also bring happy thoughts; at least I find that I am. It isn’t easy to continually search for something new because just about everything in painting has been done by someone before, so the key is to do it differently. It’s a challenge and you continually draw from that creative place in your head and they eye is your visual teacher that lets you know that what you’ve done is original.
Creativity and originality are the freelance designer’s roots as well as their bread and butter. It’s something that often doesn’t come easily, especially when it’s something that’s been done for years. It takes time and effort to make sure that you don’t repeat yourself or imitate something too closely that belongs to another, whether being a designer with a particular look or one who paints with change. For me, I’ve drifted around, having done whimsical, flowers, landscapes, and craft painting, most at a comfortable, achievable skill level.
 I’ve depended on my designs and sometimes my techniques to set apart what I do from others in this business in order to create my own signature. Anytime work is part of you, your discovery, your interpretation, and your idea, you want to share it with other painters with hopes they’ll enjoy what you’ve designed. This is probably the ultimate goal of any freelance designer as it not only keeps you in business, but it offers the joy of having others interested in what you’ve created.

Freelance designing is totally dependent on individual creativity and when those projects and ideas are published, they are meant to be painted and used by other painters. Infringements occur when designs or ideas are taken without the originator’s permission, generally with intent to commercialize in some way.
Copyrights should never make a painter shudder. There’s so much leniency for using published designs. If there weren’t, what would be the purpose? Designers would be out of business otherwise. Hand painted projects from designs can be sold, given as gifts, painted for personal use, and designs can also be taught in painting classes. For copyrights to become an issue it might be when a pattern(s) is mass-produced for sales by someone other than the original designer. Or someone commercially benefits his or her business recreating another’s original work or idea and assuming credit and financially profiting from it without permission.
Those first experiences with ideas and designs taken without my knowledge, I simply moved on rather than make waves, as I was new. However, at the same time this also deprived me of royalties or being recognized for my creative work. When this occurred in those first years of designing it was also a setback, considering one idea became a product of the year and another was sold as a kit on a national craft show and I received no acknowledgement for either.
As a designer, there’s a constant need to be on the creative edge and each original project or idea builds a resume, which can create more opportunities and income on down the line. Freelance design isn’t just painting for fun once it becomes a business. It’s a job even though it’s doing something you really like to do. Decorative painting is a creative industry, as well as one of art and is also competitive so ethics are an intrigle part. It becomes a complicated and difficult situation when a designer becomes aware after the fact that their work has been taken and used in the commercial enterprise of another. I know from experience as it happened to me twice with the same designer. This type of situation shouldn’t even occur, simply out of a mutual respect for other designers and their creative endeavors.
A couple of years ago, I decided it was time for me to go back to my original painting roots so I chose to give up being an exclusive designer to go strictly freelance once again. I like where I am now, working on my own ideas with products of my choice. I enjoy pursuing new opportunities and connecting to people who are interested and appreciate what I design. I feel I’ve come full circle and it was truly a wonderful journey.

I learned a lot, made some great lasting friendships, and came away with a better understanding of the industry. As a designer the only person I compete with is me, in trying to keep everything I do better than what I’ve done before. Not the end of my journey, just a new beginning.

New Free Pattern Blog

New Free Pattern Blog
Sharon Teal Coray has a new blog offering free patterns! Updated often! Check it out!