Gifts & Greetings Review is delighted to welcome our latest contributor, Yellow House Art Licensing, which is run by Jehane Boden Spiers and Sue Bateman, who met at a Brighton book-club in 2011. The book was ‘Miss Pettigrew lives for a Day”, but it took a few months for them to discover that they both worked in art licensing. They now represent 50 – 60 contemporary artists including Paul Thurlby, Liz & Pip, Brian Sweet, and Heather Flynn as well as a multitude of heritage artists from Van Gogh and Manet to Dali and Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
We asked these two lovely ladies how they found their way into this fascinating industry:
Says Jehane: “I have always loved art and started out as a free-lance designer, selling my first design ‘Shakespeare’ for a range of paper products to Gallery Five (London) in 1992. Working directly with clients such as Stewo, Medici, Penny Black, Washington Green, ABC, Jung Design, Zoewie, and Paper House Group, I have designed mainly for paper products and fashion/furnishing textiles. Exhibiting my embroidered textiles in the annual Brighton Festival Open Houses and curating an Artist’s Open House for the first time in my own home in 2001, ‘The Yellow House’, this made me realise my passion for collaborating with other artists and I have always had a keen eye for strong images. My life as an art-agent began!
“I started my career as an illustration agent in 1984”, Sue told us, “following a BA in History of Art at Sussex (1983). I have extensive experience in licensing heritage art brands and knowledge of copyright. I am proud to represent Arena Illustration, The National Archives, The British Library, Glasgow Museums, and have worked on licenses with companies such as UK Greetings, The Almanac Gallery, Pomegranate, Hendersons, Widdop Bingham & Five Dollar Shake.
Yellowhouse Art has a distinctive house style with two main areas of focus. One of them is licensing ‘real art’ and both Sue and Jehane are attracted to illustrations with a strong graphic look or wit to them.
Jehane continues: “We are both inspired by a passion for real art. This is what leads us to feel strongly about art licensing – for us, it is about sharing great art with a wider public. We both respond to art which pushes the boundaries or has intelligent humour, as well as loving works with a beautiful use of typography. We recently visited ‘Art of Change’ and ‘Light Show’ at the South Bank’s Hayward Gallery which both impressed with brave choices and diverse exhibits. We are really excited to be visiting the Art Biennale in Venice for the first time this year and are especially looking forward to seeing the artwork of British artist Jeremy Deller!”
Describing what she loves most about this industry, Sue commented: “We love the close working relationship with our artists. Seeing everyday products published with exciting and visually rich images is a pleasure to be part of. One of our core strengths is being able to offer a consistently high level of quality real art and a personal service to our clients. In terms of challenges, the high turnover of product and trend makes it difficult for a new artist to get established. There is also a danger of plagiarism and very close copying of styles for both artists and publishers, manufacturers copycatting and racing to get the products out on the shelves first. One of our biggest challenges is to establish alternatives to themes that the market is saturated with, for example, we’d love to see fewer cupcakes!!
With an eye on trends, they told G&G Review: “Neon is still huge, everyone is asking for Neon! Yellow is also still trending which is a great trend for us to be championing. Bold, bright, cheerful, and supremely confident, yellow has been permeating into popular taste for furnishings, home décor, and greetings for some time. Bright colours are following on from catwalk trends of colour-blocking and the re-emergence of the 80’s influence. As a contrast to this trend, there is still a fashion for pared down, delicate colours with a focus on subtle layers creating a feeling of quality and high-end appeal.