jenna rainey

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5 Go-To Strategies to Research Trends and Get Inspiration



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Are you an artist or designer wanting to research trends to help you break into the licensing industry? Or maybe you already are creating patterns and work for product collabs and you’re looking for answers to keeping your work fresh and attracting your dream collaborations. One thing about licensing your work to brands to put on their products is that having a library of work that is on trend and marketable is key! It’s so important to create work around what your dream collabs are.

For example, art for bedding in Target is going to look different than work that’s used on Restoration Hardware bedding or even Anthropologie. Determining your dream collabs and products first is always a great start, but below I have for you 5 key strategies to help you do some market and trend research and boost inspiration for your work and library!

Related: Art Licensing: Is It For You and How Does It Work?


5 Strategies to Research Trends and Get Inspiration 

1. Become familiar with the product categories

First and foremost, you must understand how incredibly massive the licensing business is. There are so many product categories from baby toys to baby pajamas and everything in between. Then it goes beyond into office supplies, home goods, food brands and packaging, clothing and so much more. Walking the aisles/departments at various retailers, seeing what brands they carry and how they market products and brands is a really important step in the inspiration and trend research phase if you’re in the business of art licensing.

2. Understand where the “voids” are for both the retailers and manufacturers

To kind of piggy back on the last point, it’s important that you’re walking the aisles of retail stores (online or in-person) that you believe are a fit for your brand.  Understanding the voids will help you hone in on the brand qualities and designs that you believe are missing. Then you can tailor your designs, presentations and communications as a way to fill the void that is clearly missing. 

3. Look at high-end stores for direction

Let’s say your body of work is perfect for planners and office supplies at Target or Staples. While it’s crucial to spend time doing some informative shopping at these stores, it’s also crucial to go into the more “high end” versions of these stores to do some trend forecasting. Typically stores like Anthropologie or Nordstrom are about 2 years ahead of the consumer market in places like Target, Home Goods and Staples or more “mass consumer” retail stores. So if you want to start building collections and a body of work that will attract products being created one, two years in advance, this is key!

4. Regularly research and become aware of where leaders in your industry are going with their work

If your work is modern florals, check out what brands like Rifle Paper Co. or Kelly Ventura Design are doing! Or for more bohemian style work, keep tabs on what The Jungalow is doing! This is not an encouragement to copy their work at all, but to see what direction they’re taking with their color palettes, what product categories they’re breaking into and how they design their collections!

5.Research retail sites that do a lot of collabs

Last but not least, don’t forget about informative shopping ONLINE! Just like strolling the aisles of Target or Anthro and checking out new products, trends, etc. Check out places like Hygge & West to see who they’re collabing with on their wallpaper, what the work is looking like…is there a lot of floral? Or is abstract more popular right now for wallpaper, etc. 

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