2010 Creative Careers Interviews : Terri Conrad Interview
Creative Careers in the Arts Interviews
Artist Terri Conrad of Terri Conrad Designs®
By Molly Anderson-Childers
Terri Conrad Designs® Giveaway Winners!
These are the winning responses to Terri Conrad's question: "What inspires you, surprises you, and makes your toes wiggle with delight?" Terri's own answer appears at the end. Thank you all who participated! Carol Henley:
"I am so inspired by others who share expertise in art with others just because they want to share what they do and how. I am surprised by life's tendency to also share "learning experiences" without anyone asking. What makes my toes wiggle with right side up delight is that they are now, after surgery, right side up, with toe nails looking good enough to polish." Jodie Foster:
"I am inspired by the beauty and interest of the unusual. I have been known to people watch, and if someone is particularly interesting, Snap a photo so that I can write or sketch about it later. Unusual things in nature, the way clouds form, it can be just about anything, even a dream. Walks on a beach at sunset, especially with a full moon makes my toes wiggle; so does a great kiss from the man of my dreams, and the first bloom of spring, and first snow of winter." Anna Walker:
"Residing in the Midwest, I am blessed with breathtaking sunrises and sunsets because of the jet stream constantly moving. The colors range from the palest pink-yellow to the most brilliant plum-fuchsia with blues of every hue. And then there are the clouds: wisps of gossamer, puffs of cotton candy, and, when provoked, angry, gray and deep purple black, and looking like rocks thundering in the sky. Every morning and every evening, I find the delight in the sky over Kansas!" Terri Conrad:
"I am inspired by viewing life's many layers, it's depth & complexity. I am surprised by unexpected generosity and kind gestures, and my toes absolutely wiggle with delight when they walk in the sand at the beach."
As summer ends and autumn begins, I celebrate the lush creativity of artists, writers, musicians, and creative souls in all professions. This month, designer Terri Conrad from terriconraddesigns.com will be joining us for an inspiring and insightful look at her life and work. Welcome to Creativity Portal, Terri!
Q: Please tell our readers how you originally became interested in scrapbooking?
A: I've always had a love for color and print & pattern, be it fabric or paper. The seeds, however, were planted through my relationship with Webster's Pages as it was my first licensee. In the early stages of my art licensing, I had contacted Webster Fine Art, their corporate name, regarding publishing prints of my artwork. They asked if Terri Conrad Designs® would be interested in designing scrapbook products to which I responded wholeheartedly, yes. In January 2007 my first 4 collections were launched, and my unique style of art was introduced to the scrapbook market.
Q: How has your work with Webster's Pages changed since you started designing products for them?
A: While I continued to create and license my art to Webster's, and it developed its presence in the marketplace exclusively with Terri Conrad Designs®, I was eager to connect with crafters and retailers who enjoyed the product. For reasons unknown to me, this was highly discouraged and for several reasons, I needed to make some serious business decisions. Connection and relationship are cornerstones of Terri Conrad Designs® and I needed to align my growing licensing program with companies who support this.
In January of 2009, I made the difficult choice to terminate the relationship. Because of the notable success my style of art brought to both Webster's Pages and me, it has continued to create its subsequent product lines based on the Terri Conrad Designs® brand. I have since then licensed a couple collections to K&Company, and my agents are actively pursuing additional options in the craft market.
Q: Can you tell our readers how your career expanded to include home décor, fabrics, etc.? What was the most difficult part of this transition?
A: A do-it-yourselfer at heart, I began designing my own home décor and hand painted furniture years ago this led to selling pieces to local retailers, but with very young children at the time, it was a challenge to keep the production end going and growing strong. I wanted to be home raising my daughters, but knew I also needed to work. As they say, "necessity is the mother of invention."
I began to research art licensing (Mary Englebreit being my muse). I made a significant investment in my research so I could make informed decisions and grow my business wisely. The transition from designing scrapbook paper to creating art for gift and home décor was a natural one, given my roots in home décor design. I create my patterns and motifs with home décor as a basis for application. The most difficult part of the transition is waiting for the paycheck. I often say art licensing is akin to being a firefighter we are the first ones in (with the art) and the last ones out (receiving our royalties).
Q: What inspired you to start painting?
A: With an appreciation for faux finishes, I brought this style into my early work on my hand painted furniture and picture frames. A self-taught artist, I had a lot to learn and it took several trips to the art supply store before I finally purchased some brushes, and a couple books to try my hand at decorative painting. Little by little, I stepped out of my comfort zone, allowing myself to play and try something new. This approach led me to digital design, and now my work is a harmonious blend of my illustration, painting and digital composition.
Q: What informs your unique style? Is it inspired by any artist or period in particular?
A: Like many of us, I am drawn to the past and all that history has to offer us particularly European history and architecture. I am equally intrigued by the many layers of and depth in life, and in nature. I try to reflect this in my work. While there are many artists I admire, I try my best to remain fresh, unique and authentic.
Q: What is your most reliable source of inspiration?
A: It may sound esoteric, but I really rely on my intuition. It's my strongest source of guidance, and is truly always right. I had to learn to tune in and to listen to it. I've learned some very difficult lessons when I haven't listened to my intuition. Being a commercial artist, it is certainly valuable to be aware of trends, and what's selling in the market. This is achieved in many ways: by attending trade shows, subscribing to trade magazines, overall general awareness.
Q: What's the most challenging aspect of balancing creative work and your home/family life?
A: This question speaks directly to my heart. Being a mom, a good enough mom to my daughters is the most valuable role I will ever assume. It is a daily challenge my family and I are very aware of. This kind of creative expression, art licensing, is a lifestyle more than a job. There are occasions when it takes precedence and they understand and support this. I do my best to mitigate my guilt over not being ideally available as a mom, and I think any working mom will agree that much of our guilt is self-imposed. We created a 'girls' night' where each Wednesday my daughters and I turn off all the electronics, I step away from all work, and we hang out together. Our time together is spent baking cookies, talking & laughing, or driving an hour to the beach to watch the sunset, or sometimes we'll go shopping. The point is to be together, and for me to give them 100% of my attention. It's become a treasured time for all of us.
Q: How is your art impacted or informed by your faith/spiritual beliefs?
A: My personal identity is formed in my Christian faith. It is the foundation of who I am, and certainly is what has brought me to this present moment. I am forever grateful for our freedom to express our spirituality. As women, we are so effective at dismissing our strengths, self-worth and authentic beauty. In and through my art, I seek to encourage, nurture and inspire our unique beauty, beloved spirit and unlimited possibilities and will often include universal scripture and my own little whispers of wisdom.
Q: What are your most effective stress-busting techniques?
A: Meditation and power walking with my dog, Shayna.
Q: What is your favorite book to read on the beach?
A: I have a library full to choose from, but the most recent book I brought to the beach is 12 Secrets to Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin. Clearly, I feel I need to learn more before I consider myself one of those women! (smile).
Q: What's next? Any exciting new projects or exhibitions on the horizon?
A: Always! Terri Conrad Designs® will soon be available in fabric. Receiving this contract is a goal I am delighted to have acquired. As soon as I am able to, I will share more information about its availability. This holiday season, my first Christmas lines will also be available in gift and décor. I'd really want to connect with other creative spirits creating topical art journals and look forward to doing so through my blog.
Q: Any final words of advice, encouragement, or inspiration for our readers hoping to break into this competitive field?
A: Remember we each have our own unique journey to travel, lessons to learn, and gifts to share. Find joy in your journey, learn your lessons the first time around, identify your gifts and refine them, then share them with others. Creative expression is a gift worth giving, and there are many venues through which one can garner an income. We each need to seek out that which works best for us. I keep an open door and always welcome inquiries.
© 2010 Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.
Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »