I received a great question the other day that I’ve been asked a few times so I decided to put it on the blog.  The question was:

After submitting to several agents, two responded saying they were interested in my work, but my patterns needed to have a central image to revolve around.  I am not sure what this means really.  I am interested in patterns for surface design to use in fabrics and paper, so I don’t know how the central image functions within this?

Great question!  And here is my opinion on this – perhaps some agents will add their comments as well.

I believe the agents want to have more opportunity for your art that just fabric and paper, hence the request for central images as well.  And many times you need them for fabric too.

First let’s talk about fabric.  Not all fabric is repeat patterns.  When I have full collections of fabric and not just a pattern or two for a specific retailer, I always have to have central images for panels.  It might be an image for a quilt top – like you see in the photo of the Midnight Monsters fabric.  This collection also had a fabric panel with different squares – the images shown on the plates and more – that could be used for quilt squares, as appliques and more.  So don’t be surprised if you get the same request from a fabric manufacturer interested in your art.  I recommend you head to a quilting shop and see how lines of fabric are put together.  JoAnn Fabric isn’t the best choice for this shopping research – an independent or specialty store will have more fabric that coordinates for you to look at.

Next consider a line of products for the kitchen.  In the image below, you will see that there are repeat patterns – coffee beans, dots, words, but also the central image with the two coffee cups and “Good Friends Don’t Spill the Beans”.  In each collection I create, I do 4 such images – not always with words – that can be used alone or combined with borders or patterns.

Coffee Kitchen Products - © Tara Reed Designs

Finally, look at the  4 appetizer plates that are from four central images in a group.  The collection also has repeat patterns of zebra prints, leopard print, tosses of the shoes… but this company has used the central images for dishes and coasters.

Concrete Jungle appetizer plates © Tara Reed Designs

Adding the central images will make your work marketable to more companies for use on a wider variety of products.  That makes you more desirable to an agent.

Of course this all applies to creating art for licensing in general, not just if you want to find an agent. If you aren’t sure whether working with an agent or going it alone is best for you, download the “Agent or Alone?” assessment to help you decide.  Or, if you know one way or the other, I’ve written an eBook for the artist who wants to fly solo – How to Find, Interact and Work with Manufacturers Who License Art – or the artist who wants to find an agent – How to Find an Art Licensing Agent.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed