Make Art That Sells (A): Home Decor

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Another week has passed as my “Make Art That Sells” journey continues, and I want to share what I have created for the second assignment for the Home Decor category.

The subject matter this week is succulents, and the assignment is a dinner plate collection with four plates. The above is my “mini” assignment submission. It is a composition made from my succulent sketches. I was actually very happy with my mini assignment (especially when viewed small as a thumbnail, haha), I thought it would make a nice piece of wall art. I went with watercolor because I had so much fun working with them with my previous assignments. I also thought succulents will render beautifully with the semi-transparent nature of watercolor.

My ultimate, unattainable dream is to have my products sold in Anthropologie stores. I will rest in peace if that day happens. Needless to say, I was shooting for the Anthropologie shelves when I was putting my art on plates. I looked at a lot of existing products on the market from Anthropologie, West Elm, Crate and Barrel, but I was fixated on a few of Anthropologie’s artists: Michelle Morin, Nathalie Lete and Shelley Hesse.

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Art from Michelle Morin, Nathalie Lete and Shelley Hesse.
Images are all from Anthropologie.com.

As I was working, I sadly realized I was moving further and further away from the Anthropologie shelves. Anthropologie uses a lot of handmade paintings, and they are very, very professionally done. The paint is rich and the palette is colorful yet controlled. My watercolors are very amateurish compared to that (and I am pretty sure my $15 box of Pentel watercolor for beginners isn’t helping either). I almost feel discouraged with watercolors, because I know it will take years and years of practice, and you may not even get to the level you want to achieve.

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At one point I had 30 plates mocked up and didn’t know what to choose from. I did one series where the illustrations overlap and composite an underwater world (the top two on the left), however, the plates start to look boring and just the same. I did another one where the succulents are blown up, and each plate takes on a dominant color (bottom two on the left), but the quality of my watercolor is so yucky it is just not a good idea. I kept coming back to the idea where the plate contains a mini succulent aquarium (the bottom two on the right), but I don’t have enough drawings to pull four plates off, and the deadline is approaching!

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At the end, I went with two plates with the overlapping succulents, and two plates with the separated icons. I stared at it and for a long time, I couldn’t envision it being included in any existing dinner plate markets as of today. Hmm. Maybe home decor is not my cup of tea?

This week I was very, very honored (Thank you Lilla!) to be included in a “quick mention page” in Lilla’s reviews. Mine was grouped under “Pitch to Target and other mass markets”. In a way it cracks me up, and it also saddens me a tad bit that I am so far away from what I was shooting for (Anthropologie to Target. You get the idea!). I have been trying to remind myself that this is really my starting point. This is the first time I ever seriously thought about plates and designed for it. And it is not too bad at all! Hopefully I will be able to go beyond that in the future.

What do you think? Do you have any advice for me?

6 thoughts on “Make Art That Sells (A): Home Decor

  1. I think it still could work Irene at Anthropology. I would say you could try different plates, with a slightly off white colour. If you look at Anthropology and their dinnerware a lot of their plates are rustic and off white. It’s also the styling they use. They have very cool tones in the background with their style of photography, it all sets the mood. Think about those plates on Anthropology and if they were in a different setting. They would have a completely different look and feel as well. I love the red flower one, that’s amazing!

  2. These are lovely! I especially like the overlapping ones with the large scale succulents in. Nothing wrong with pitching to Target, is there? Start there and Anthropologie will come. And, while Anthropologie might bring you more kudos and feel good for you, Target would surely get your art into a lot more homes, which would be nice! :)

    I would totally love to get my designs in Wilkinsons, which I think may be a bit similar to Target. They are mass market and very competitively priced, but they also have really good design for their own-brand products. (They also have an in-house design team who I think do it all, so probably won’t happen!)

  3. Thanks for sharing how you went about this assignment – it is so interesting to see how a final design evolves. My favourites are the ones with fishes – so there you go , overlapping and not overlapping. Congrats on getting a bit of advice from Lilla’s review – go for it ! :)

  4. It happens to me a lot that what I am aiming for is not happening while developing my designs but I also find this very exciting. Your plates are lovely and it is a great blog post.

  5. Thank you so, so much for all the encouragement and thoughts. I really really appreciate it! When I do have time after this class, I’ll clean up everything and send it to Target (+ other mass markets I could think of) and see if I hear anything…. :)

    And don’t get me wrong, I love Target’s stuff too! Their art is high quality, just they are so “taken for granted” if you know what I mean. While Anthropologie featured their art on plates (and everything else) as a work of art, Target you just happened to walk pass great things while you try to buy some diapers on sale with your $10 coupon. You know what I mean ;)

    Thanks again!

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