Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Caroline Simas

Caroline Simas is a licensed artist and mother of four in Charlotte, North Carolina whose designs and patterns appear on a variety of home décor, stationery products, fabric, pillows, furniture, ceramics, cups, coasters, technology devices, and much more which are sold worldwide. She has developed a distinctive, style by staying true to her passion for hand-painting and her niche which is recognized for often including faith-based inspirational messages. Caroline partners with top manufacturers on design, product development, and unique packaging concepts. Caroline designs from her home studio in Charlotte, North Carolina and gathers inspiration from her faith and her family who provide love, support and much of the color and character for her creations.
When asked about her style…“I don’t know that I’ll ever stop evolving as an artist or discovering techniques for my designs. I have a passion for trying new mediums and mixing them in various ways. While my art may have a recognizable style and niche I will always experiment with color and technique to keep my designs fresh and inspiring. I feel strongly about connecting my faith with my art. After all, the talent came from God in the first place, so I want to honor Him and use this gift wisely. I am fortunate to partner with several manufacturers who understand my passion for this and enjoy providing uplifting products in the marketplace. It makes me smile knowing I am a part of spreading joy and faith through my art and on these products; designing for a purpose brings much joy.”

How is it that you came to be an artist? Did you go to art school? Were there 1 or more individuals who were an influence in your becoming an artist or was there 1 person who influenced and continues to influence your work?
I’ve been designing since I could hold a pencil and was blessed to inherit some of my grandfather’s artistic talent. He was my earliest inspiration as an artist but really many played inspiring roles in influencing and encouraging me. My father- with his engineering/building skills and architectural drawings, my mom- with her love for flowers and gardening- my aunt who is quite artistic as well and others along the way. I knew from age 6 that I wanted to grow up and be three things: a mother, a teacher and an artist. I feel so fortunate to have been all three. I was an Elementary Education major and did not go to art school, but took as many art classes as I could during my early years. I dabbled in everything I could get my hands on…watercolors, oil, acrylic, charcoal, clay, jewelry making, cartooning classes, and I even remember searching through Mom's fabric scraps trying to create clever outfits for my Barbies. I was a First Grade teacher for 6 years and taught children’s art lessons from our home during the summers. I stopped teaching to stay home with Walker, our first child, and started a custom painting business called The Creative Palette. I hand-painted baby linens, children’s furniture and murals. The custom work grew and grew and I couldn’t keep up with the demand. About that time we found out that we were expecting twin girls (answered prayer after two boys!) and after designing our twin girl’s birth announcement I decided to create a collection of 24 Christian greeting cards with scripture. I was encouraged by friends to print them and bring them to a local show. They sold out that day and a Charlotte store owner asked to have them in her shop that next week.  Multiple Blessings grew quickly,  and after a rep group picked up the MB brand, they sold the products across the US to 250+ independent retailers. I added other stationery gift products to the collection but realized after a while that being on the manufacturing side kept me busier with management and farther away from my true gift-creating art and designing. I had been researching and reading all about the art licensing industry, found it fascinating, and soon transitioned out of manufacturing into licensing. I feel so blessed to be partnering with some amazing companies and truly enjoy collaborating and working on product development. I recently signed with Courtney Davis, Inc….a wonderful art licensing agency who now represents me and my Multiple Blessings brand. I wrote about that on my blog, Designing for the Soul, here

How did the name Multiple Blessings come to be?
The truth is I was really praying about what I should name this little company of mine and this first small collection of greeting cards. The name wasn’t coming to me until one night, pregnant with my twin daughters and tossing and turning in the middle of the night. The good Lord gave me the name at 3am….Multiple Blessings. It made perfect sense to me. When we send a card to someone, especially one of faith, we multiply blessings and joy. We are blessed in giving it and the recipient is blessed by receiving it, therefore joy has been sent and has been multiplied. The real hope is that it will continue to spread in a pay it forward kind of way. The other reason the name Multiple Blessings made sense to me is because we have four children…yes, twins, but all four are our multiple blessings.
I know you started out on the manufacturing side and now license your art…how do you think that helped you?
Great question! Many of the companies I design for have said that they can tell I understand the manufacturing side of the business and I am so glad I do and that they notice. It was not all roses when I was on the manufacturing side…several bad decisions, overprinting some skus and not enough of others, and loads of learning curves but it forced me to understand the business details of it all and I am grateful I experienced those growing pains….they truly grew me in so many good ways.
I know you do some product development with some manufacturers. How does that process work? 
Early on in my relationships with manufacturing partners, I made it clear to them all that I really enjoy product development. I think it’s our job as licensed artists to get out there and see what may be missing from the marketplace. There are so many products available to consumers but I enjoy trying to think of things, which don’t exist yet or ways to make a product more beautiful, more functional, or more meaningful. Once again, I feel quite fortunate that some of my ideas and inventions have been produced and licensed…a true blessing and honor.
What inspires you now?
My faith plays a huge part of my design process and journey. I am most inspired by God’s creation…I love noticing details in nature’s smallest places. I strive to see the extraordinary in the ordinary…water droplets on flower petals, the color palette of the sunset, the chartreuse green of a granny smith apple, the intricate pattern of a monarch butterfly, heart shaped rocks, the pattern of freckles on my children’s faces. I am also inspired by architectural detail when I travel and have snapped thousands of photos to remember them. Our four children often inspire my art and spend a good bit of time in the studio with me. They certainly inspire my work and have contributed advice and ideas to my collections. I truly believe it’s just more beautiful to see the world through the eyes of a child, don’t you? 
Is there anything you’d like to share regarding your technique or style of work for instance-what types of mediums do you like to work in?
I really have several different styles and I believe that’s been helpful because not every client/manufacturer likes or has the need for the same look.
I am completely in love with creating mixed media and the more texture, paint and paper, the better but I also love adding detailed embellishments like lace, rope, even twigs from my yard. I only use the patterned papers I design so I never use other people’s work in my own art.  I also rarely use scissors. I prefer to hand tear each piece of paper for an organic look so each piece is truly unique and difficult to recreate.
I also love painting with watercolor and gouache. I am passionate about bright, joyful color, which you can probably gather from peeking at the products design and am fascinated with figuring out which scripture and inspirational message goes best with a specific piece of art. To me, this is a Bible Study in and of itself…really digging deep into the meaning and matching it well to a piece of art or a collection.
What markets do you do art for?
Home décor
*Currently designing multiple products for 12 manufacturers but this is expanding greatly in the months to come, thanks to my wonderful agent, Courtney Davis, Inc.
I love what you are doing with the Bridgewater Candle Company. Can you tell us about the trip and the effect it had on you?
I feel so incredibly blessed to be partnering with Bridgewater Candle Company. They are truly making a difference by feeding hungry orphans with the sales of their candles. I was fortunate enough to be asked to travel with them to Honduras in October of 2012. It was a life changing experience to stay at one of the orphanages and see first hand how Bridgewater and Rice Bowls partner together to make a huge impact. The Honduras experience was so profound that I blogged about it in three full segments which I’d love for you to read about here.
My first collection of fragrance products for Bridgewater Candle Company launches in June 2013 and we are all super excited about its debut! I’ll be able to share sneak peeks on my blog just before summer markets.
Bridgewater Candle Company: 
Rice Bowls
I also just returned from Quito, Ecuador in February of 2013. I feel blessed to have been asked to help design a jewelry collection made using tagua nuts from trees in Ecuador. This jewelry will be assembled by girls, who have been rescued from sex trafficking. Some amazing boys who were formerly street boys may help too and possibly some of their family members. This micro economic plan is just starting but there is a tremendous amount of support, resources, and prayers over this project, we have no doubt that God will completely bless our efforts. I was also in Ecuador witnessing the amazing ministry of Education=Hope and saw first hand how every single penny goes to help these children become educated and fed and loved. It was incredibly powerful and I would be thrilled if you’d like to read about my blog post about my Ecuador trip here. 
What advice would you give artists interested in licensing their work?
Great question and I am asked this often so I am glad to have another spot here on the web to share it since I cannot personally answer every email and call.
*You MUST be completely passionate about what you do, your art and truly believe in it. If you do, it will show! If you don’t that will show.
*Research, research, research! Read all about art licensing and learn all you can about the industry before you dive in. There are so many great folks who give advice…here are a few of my favorites:
Monica Lee-Smart Creative Women---*you can watch my interview on SCW here
*Develop a niche…what do you want your art to be known for? Your brand? What makes you and your art different from the thousands and thousands of talented artists out there? What do you want your legacy to be?
*This is a relationship business. You need to love people and not be shy to introduce yourself and let your passion for your art shine through.
*Develop specific collections of art and work diligently to build a strong portfolio.
*Lots of hard work, a supportive family, and prayer:)

What is the thing you love best about what you do?
I love knowing the products I design have brought joy and faith into homes. I know this only because people have told me so. I never tire of hearing how a simple gift with a message of faith has touched someone's life in a positive way. I realize that my artistic talent is from God and nothing I have done on my own so I try to remind myself of that often and pray I use this gift wisely. 

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