Archives for posts with tag: success

Since hitting the 4 YR mark, which I referenced in my last post, I’ve been doing a bit of reflection. (all most of this was brought on by a conversation with my best friend, Amy, over a glass of wine and delicious food on Saturday night.)

This will require a little bit of a rewind…

Business trip to Chicago, 2010.

Business trip to Chicago, 2010.

(Please keep in mind the thoughts in the below paragraph are only my view point, not an actual representation of the field.)
I stumbled upon art licensing.

While receiving my degree in illustration, no one taught me about it, or mentioned that it was an option, or even a career. When I first discovered it 4 years ago, it seemed like a majority of artists in the licensing field had an incredible design career, and then reached a point where they decided to do something for themselves. For example, I would read multiple stories like,

“I just couldn’t find anything cute for my kids, so I decided to do it for myself…”

By the age of 24, still very young in the design world, I was the Art Director for a product manufacturing company that made napkins. About a year into my job, the company wanted to start an everyday line of napkins for things like birthdays, holidays, and girly get togethers. I had lots of ideas for designs to start out this new line, but the company decided to license a collection of new designs from an outside artist. That was the first time I heard of “licensing” art and paying someone for it.

I immediately spent all my time looking up everything I possibly could about this “art licensing” and finding out: who does it? how they do it? what it’s like? how does someone get into that field? are their artists I like out there? are there things I’ve seen or own that have been licensed? etc. I was enamored with the idea that my art could be put on a multitude of products, my name would be on those products AND of course I would get paid for it! Something clicked in my mind, this was what I had been looking for.

Art Director! Check out all the sketches behind me...

Art Director, 2011! Check out all the sketches behind me…

So we developed the new line. I stood by quietly, my brain swirling with ideas that I thought my friends and I would surely buy… I would draw on blank sample napkins all day, every day. And lucky me, at a certain point, it was time to update our line and the company decided I had some good ideas and we would use them! I was so excited! MY name would appear on a product, it was something I’d always wanted. (This is actually where I learned my first lesson in art licensing the hard way. Sign a contract first or you’ll get screwed. More on that subject some other time.) I created a bunch of ©Lezlee Elliott napkins that were fantastic!!!! WHAT!?!? Everybody loved them, and over the 6 months we noticed that my designs consistently made an appearance in the top selling designs for each month. This was great news! It means I had solid proof that my ideas were likable and people PAID FOR them! This was a whole new world for me.

Eventually, the company gained lots of interest and everything seemed like it was moving in this amazing direction, when suddenly we had interest from a much bigger company to BUY us. It was an opportunity to work with a major manufacturer on a much larger scale, it was like our dreams for this company were coming true! Throughout this process of proposals and numbers my coworkers and I, which Amy happened to be one of, came to the realization that this purchase may not actually happen and we needed a Plan B like asap. That’s when I decided art licensing might be next for me. This is when the Chili’s meeting happened and I began developing a small portfolio.

Jump to the end already, the company did not get purchased and corporate thought it was a good decision to let me go. to conserve money??? The job market was in a major recession, I was now almost 26, and my choice was either find another job or make art licensing a reality. I made the leap. Well… I guess I was pushed, but I decided now was as good a time as ever.

Fast forward to Saturday…

In the beginning, my goal was just about being successful at art licensing. That was enough for me! I mean I’d made the leap to be my own boss, and I was going to “take over the world” as a licensed artist and I was super excited. And now, 4 years later, I’m actually starting to achieve some of those goals, so as my best friend Amy asked me on Saturday, “what’s next?”

My initial response?

FREAK OUT: What do you mean what’s next??!!?!? I just got here, to where I’ve been working so hard to get for the last 4 years??? How do you expect me to have a “next”?? I don’t know if I’m like most people, but I didn’t think about the part after you achieve your goals. But, she made a valid point…

“if your only goal is to get to where you are, you’ll never go any further.”

She’s right. Damnit. I’d made an initial leap, and was content just where I’d landed. I was achieving the goals I had set for myself 4 years ago… and had not one single thought past that. I made the leap most people don’t even attempt to make and that was enough for me. But was it?

Most people I know, and myself, have big dreams, but at what point do you define them as actual steps to take towards achieving that dream? Organizing what has to happen in which order and with what information to take the next step. It’s a difficult thing to do if you’ve never tried. And at this point, I was confronted with a question that I was not prepared to answer.

But in true best friend fashion, Amy was there to help me answer it. We wound up talking for hours about where I really wanted to go, how I could actually get there, what small steps and big leaps would need to be taken, who’s support I would require, etc. It was an eye opening, mind bending, juices flowing type conversation… and by the end my freak out turned into a proactive plan to “take over the world.”

I’ve taken one leap already, and it’s been amazing. Soon it’ll be time to take another one, and I’ll still be just as nervous and terrified as the first one, but I know it’ll be worth it. And after that leap? I know what comes next.

How about you?


This post is dedicated to my two best friends, Amy and Liz.

biffles for. ever.

biffles for. ever. 2005


Alright, the show is finally over and I can blog about how it went! First let me say, I got to meet Robin Pickens, who I ADORE!!! As well as, Darci Phillips and Phyllis Dobbs!! All represented by Jewel Branding and totally fantastic ladies. Love their work and I was so happy to finally meet them. I also spotted Kathy Weller from Weller Wishes, and I’m an avid Weller fan!! Love her drawings and was excited to see her there.

The show was GREAT! And it was a dual show for me, I was working at Luvali each day and Fri-Sun my agent was downstairs working in the licensing section.

The response to my bags was great! And here’s a special little tidbit, Luvali was invited to the Oscars and they’re taking MY BAGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it?! They’ll be giving all the stars lezleelliott bags in the gifting suites. I can’t wait to see what pictures come from that! I was thrilled when Jackie told me and then said, “oh I guess I should’ve asked if that was ok…” I said, “are you kidding me!?”

The retailer response was great too, most would buy the wristlets and the messenger bags together, since they coordinate. I LOVE the wristlets. I think they are great for carrying out to a bar, or throwing into a larger purse to hold makeup and stuff.

They’re also working on these great pendants that have my fabrics in them too!

So obviously Luvali was great and I’m glad I got to attend the show and meet some of the retailers that will be carrying my bags! They should be out in stores in the spring! Can’t wait to see them.

As far as licensing went, it also went GREAT!!! Julie had a fantastic response to my work and brand book. Lots of interest by lots of companies, and I thought this was the small show! Now I’m dying to find out what happens at Surtex in NY (May) and Licensing Expo in Vegas (June). This is just the beginning I feel… and I’m so pumped to see what comes of it!

I’ll be sure to let you know when new lezleelliott products are available :)

Phew! I’ve been working so hard to get the ball rolling and I’m hoping it’s starting to go. I have been so slammed with meetings, phone calls, emails and so on and I’m getting to the point where things are starting to get finalized, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Yesterday I met with a potential agent!!!!! :) I’m definitely excited to see what happens if I work with an agent… but man it’s a LOT of work ahead if I do this. Then again, I’m excited which means the ideas will flow, and lots will get done quickly since I’d be traveling on the upside of the project curve. I won’t lie… I’m intimidated, but boy it looks fun.

IF this winds up working out, this could be the start of the most fun career I thought I’d never have…

Oh goodness I never imagined writing emails could keep you so busy! This is ludicrous! No wonder creative’s hire agents, we can’t get anything done because we’re constantly trying to play catch-up with the business side of everything. I haven’t even gotten a chance to finish sending follow-up emails from the Atlanta Show!

But, honestly I guess that’s a good problem to have, it keeps me busy ALL day and it’s getting my name out there. I do think, contrary to others beliefs, that I’m going to send out some vibes to agents and reps to see what they say. I would love to pick up an amazing agent, it would be hugely helpful and hopefully extremely successful. I just want to make sure that I find the right one, someone who believes in my work as much as I do, and wants to see lezleelliott be a successful brand as a whole, across multiple licensing fronts.

I guess ultimately that is my goal, to become a brand, or at least brand-like. Where lezleelliott becomes a name that is requested… yeah that’d be super cool. Don’tcha think??

Well one of the only ways I’m going to get there is by continuing to pursue this avidly and make it work no matter what. Part of that success is going to be CONSUMERS! I’m working right now on getting some collaborations done and I’m REALLY excited about them, and I can’t WAIT to tell you all about them.

Ok, off to work some more before bedtime and get some more emails out there. Wish me luck!

OH! P.S. I found out today I’m going to have a niece! I’m so excited, and so is the rest of my family! Congratulations Kristin & Jonathon!

Ok, so I feel as though I should catch you up… this being my first blog on here an all. I have been creative all my life. I’m serious. I have the pictures to prove it.

Since college I have been a graphic designer at an advertising agency and then moved onto becoming an art director at a up-and-coming business. I created everything from scratch for that company and loved my job. Unfortunately the business has had some issues and needed to re-evaluate and in that evaluation let me go. During this re-evaluation stage I was privy to the fact that it may not work out in the end like promised. So I began coming up with “Plan B”… and I decided that part of what I loved most at that job was product design. I LOVED being creative and coming up with a great idea, drawing it, designing it and then showing it to my boss… who would then also LOVE it and we’d put it into production. I should also mention that most all of my products have been top sellers. So obviously I must be on the right track.

Anyway, I decided that I would pursue becoming a Licensed Illustrator. Meaning I would basically create and draw and design and lots of companies would (hopefully) put them on products and put them into production.

Once that decision was made, it was time to move forward. I sat down with my best friend, Amy, who also worked with me at the company as a Manager of Sales and Marketing, and Brooke, who was the Director of Sales and Marketing at the company. I told them what I was thinking of doing, and they were absolutely 100% behind me. They had more confidence in me than I did! Of course they love my drawings and think I’m just so awesome, but man the boost I would get from them is an amazing feeling.

Anyway, I consulted, and since they had working knowledge of the market I was trying to break into and would go to shows and see all the new stuff, we went through and decided what type of things I needed to put together in order to form a portfolio. Oy… talk about work. I have to come up with an entire portfolio from scratch!!! So I started working… just taking one project after another and moving through them, starting with the ones that were the most inspiring.

I have been unemployed as of June 2010. And have been working tirelessly on this portfolio. My nerves are shot, as I don’t have a clue where I’m going to get the money to live. I can’t actively pursue jobs until I get a portfolio up and running. And I can’t afford to live without jobs!!! So I’m scared. And the only thing that keeps me going is being excited about seeing these pieces in my portfolio come to life.

This blog is to document the journey and hopefully the success of lezleelliott becoming a full-time Licensed Illustrator.