I don't remember how I first stumbled across Cat Ivins' two shops (Polarity and Uncorked) but I was immediately drawn to her designs. One look at her shops and you'll see what I mean. Her attention to detail, the simple elegance of her designs and her unique packaging all make for an attractive showcase of talent. While working on this collaboration series, Cat pointed me to other artists when I was having difficulty finding them. Her blog, Olivebites, has often left me smiling, if not downright laughing, while keeping me informed at the same time. She's a true etsy success and was a featured artist in September, 2009. There's a beautiful interview with her on Etsy that I encourage you to read. It gives you insight into her art and her fabulous sense of humor, click here for that interview.
For this article, I chose to focus on her collaborations, which are many, and she agreed to share her experiences with you. I changed Cat's wording just slightly to improve the flow.
For my first collaborations, I chose a few sellers I knew from making treasuries, but now the artists usually find me. I try to work with artists whose work doesn't conflict with anyone I am already working with and whose work I love! We work together to select the images. They have an eye for what best represents their work and what has sold best for them in print. I consider the same things, but also look for what fills an open niche in my line up. I have a licensing contract which basically says I will pay them X amount for each sale and they can't license the images out to any other locket designers, but they can always make their own jewelry. The contract can be canceled by either of us at any time.
A good collaboration is made with a mutual respect between the artists and being very upfront about everything. I respect their amazing illustrations and the huge part that plays in the sale of the locket and they respect my design and physical labor that also plays a huge part. For promotions, I have done quite a few giveaways on various blogs with the artist lockets; sometimes a specific artist and sometimes giving the winner a choice of locket. Three of my artist lockets are currently in the Uncommon Goods catalog.
My favorite part of the collaboration process is the early stages; although that is also the part that takes the most time and I tend to procrastinate it when busy. I work with over 60 artists so there are lots of challenges! I am also about to do tradeshows with many of these lockets on my linesheets for the first time (in August) so I am expecting various issues will arise when we move the sales off Etsy.
Artist's seeking collaborations should work with people they like and respect. Set everything out, up front and very clearly. I would definitely recommend all sorts of collaborations; whether it be with your actual work, using each other's items in your photos, business card exchanges for customers, etc. I recently had a newish Etsy seller named FlowerBomber send me a few seedballs to send out with my orders along with his business card. There are many ways to collaborate with each other!
The mosaic above are shots of Cat's home work studio. I'm secretly hoping that my studio space will look as inviting some day. I should say, a fantasy of mine, as I have no hope of achieving this without an intervention of some sort. Her work space is as artistic as her designs and the organization is a necessity.
I've had a few people ask me how I approached the collaborations I've done recently. I did not have an organized approach, I went were the inspiration struck me as I was working on this series and I kept them very simple. Cat brings up several interesting ideas for approaching collaborations. They do not need to be complex; start with a business card promotion with artists you know and whose work compliments your own.
I have one last interview in the pipeline for this series as well as another of my own collaborations to show (just waiting for those beads to come in to finish it off). If you'd like to learn more about Cat Ivins, you can find her on the following sites:
Blog = Olive Bites
Twitter = UncorkedEducation
Facebook = Cat Ivins