Friday, December 7, 2012

Mindy Hope Sommers - The Color Bakery

How is it that you came to be an artist?
My mother was an artist, an excellent painter in oils and acrylics. She was so good, in fact, I didn't want to compete with her. When I was about seven, she did a homework assignment for me. I had been instructed to paint a sky, and my sky was rather pedestrian so she set about redoing it, painting on top of my sad, uninspired blue. Her sky was redolent with ambers, vermilions and aquas and mine was boring; just flat blue with a couple of obligatory white puffs tossed in. When I turned in my mother's beautiful sky rendered in pastels, the teacher sneered and said, "you didn't do that." I was humiliated. I started to lose interest in art, because I didn't think I had any talent. But I did enjoy it. Using those big colorful magic marker packs, I used to spend hours as a child drawing round-shouldered women with unnaturally splayed fingers wearing crazy dresses. But as I got older, writing was what enchanted me. I was going to write the best-selling American Novel. But then, in the early nineties, a friend of mine gifted me Photoshop. I loved it. I was obsessed with it, spending almost every waking hour learning how to create digital art. And that's how my art career started. I posted my work online and people wanted to buy it. The demand become so great that my husband and I decided to open a custom art and tile business, Color Bakery. Color Bakery was ultimately the launching pad for my art licensing career.
Did you go to art school?
No. I am completely self-taught. I do have some professional artist friends--wildly talented--who have told me that in some ways, my lack of schooling has served me because I was free to create without being tethered to rules and the opinions of teachers and traditional thinking. I don't know if they are right, but I do believe that my lack of a formal art education hasn't hurt my career at all.
Were there any individuals who were an influence in your becoming an artist?
Definitely. Two, and they are a big two. First, my dear friend Tina Lavoie, who started as an online friend in the mid nineties and was the one who gave me Photoshop that fateful day years ago. She is an incredibly talented artist and jewelry designer and a constant inspiration to me, and it is because of her that my life did a 180 from corporate advertising to becoming a successful licensed artist and graphic designer. The second is my husband, who, from day one, believed my art was special. He believed it so strongly he was willing to stake both of our lives on it by quitting his job and opening Color Bakery on a shoestring. I could never have become a full-time artist---spending hours around the clock honing my craft--without my husband supporting me and making sure everything ran smoothly in the background without my attention. Because of Glen, I had the luxury of endless hours to learn and grow and experiment and develop my burgeoning skills--both artistic and technical.
What inspires you now?
Many things inspire me. It could be other artists I admire, or a shape, or an interesting photo; it could be the delicate slope of a wooden furniture leg or an old piece of vintage, tattered wallpaper--anything can catch my eye and grip my imagination. Inspiration comes from the oddest places, and usually unbidden. There is nothing more exciting to me than working with a manufacturer client---such as an upscale dinnerware manufacturer---and designing a full dinnerware line from start to finish. From the very first templates created on my computer to the shelves of retail stores, product development design is always wildly exciting for me. It inspires me to do more and each new line improves and trains my eye for future designs. 
Is there anything you would like to share regarding your technique and what medium do you work in?
I am strictly a digital artist, and my weapon of choice is Photoshop. It's the biggest, baddest weapon in my arsenal. As far as technique, I have many. If someone held a gun to my head and demanded I recreate the same piece I created two days ago, I wouldn't be able come close. When I design, I go into a kind of an altered state. I call it "the zone". It's sort of like a fugue and it's more like a passionate frenzy than it is a calm, orderly process. I don't design neatly--it's visceral. When I come out out of the fog, night is day and day is night and I vaguely remember trying and rejecting a million things, fussing and redoing until I am satisfied. When I create, hours fly by like minutes and I am usually left with 3 gig files stacked with over one hundred layers. I am also a licensed photographer--some of my photography has been recently licensed for art canvas and poster publishing.
What kind of markets do you design for?
Professionally, I design mainly for the home decor market: tabletop/dinnerware is a particular specialty. I also design for wall and floor coverings, fabric, area rugs, home decor accents, art gifts, paper goods, ladies' accessories as well as art canvas and poster publishing.
Are there links to your images that you would like to share?
My Color Bakery website, our custom tile company, includes much of my portfolio spread amongst ten art galleries. The art most geared for art licensing and manufacturing can be found in my Organica Gallery, my Vintage Gallery, my Pattern Gallery and my Stained Glass Gallery. Manufacturers who are interested in seeing how my art translates onto various products are invited to visit my Art Licensing page, where I show product mockups in presentation sheet format.

Do you do other things like teaching or classroom visits?
Yes, I do. I currently am mentoring and assisting a few artists--some have successful licensing careers and some aspire to be licensed and are looking for some direction and advice. Some artists want honest portfolio critiques, and others are looking to learn how to break into licensing or learn how to sell their own products with their own artwork on them. I make it my business to help other artists because I know how difficult it is to get noticed in a sea of artists. Talent, while a big hurdle to scale, isn't always enough. When artists write to me I try my best to make time and answer questions they have. This mentoring is done online, usually through email.
Do you have other creative interests?
All of my most passionate life interests are art-related: art, design, music (from jazz to opera to rock); photography; singing; guitar; literature. I am as right-brain as they come. :) One thing I'd love to do but haven't had the time: I adore faux finishing furniture. I would love to be able to do that again.
Do you currently have products with your images on it on the market?
I have licensed eight brand new, full dinnerware lines in the past year, and I have four more in development and many more scheduled for 2013. I have area rugs, bathmats, clocks, ladies bags, coasters, clocks, fabric, gift items, etc in major big box retailers throughout the US, Canada and Europe. I also have large art canvas programs being developed right now for placement in mass market outlets throughout the world. You can find my art in Bed Bath, Target, Pier I, JC Penney's  and more. This does not include the custom items we manufacture and sell through Color Bakery. In that case, we are the manufacturers--my husband and I, and we sell directly to the consumer.
What is the thing you love best about what you do?
Creating---no matter what you create---is essential for the peace and grounding of the human spirit. We all need to create something--it doesn't have to be art, it can be anything. When we don't have the satisfaction of creation, it leaves a hole in our souls that can be destructive and leave us feeling empty. What I love best about what I do is that it feeds my soul and calms it. There are many exciting things about selling one's art and the enjoyment people derive from what I do, but I have to say the very best part is the satisfaction of being able to take a vague idea and nurture it until it manifests in reality. And then when people tell you it makes them happy to look at your work, well, it doesn't get any better than that.

1 comment:

  1. Mindy is a great artist! Her creations are so inspiring. Each time I see a new one I am always thinking she can't do better than this. Then the next one comes on line it is even more wonderful than the one before. Great Article!!