Meet Your Neighbor: Time to Follow the Magic

By Sandra Zunino

Pamela Bishop exhibits her designs annually at the Surtex art licensing trade show in New York

When artist Pamela Bishop of Oxford decided to embrace her passion for painting, she was following the magic of her own imagination.

Follow The Magic is Pamela’s art licensing business. Licensed art appears on greeting cards, fabrics, paper napkins, puzzles, calendars, baby bedding, etc. While artists typically use their own name for their design businesses, Pamela went with the suggestion of Follow The Magic. “I thought it had a nice ring to it,” she says. “It’s nice to have a bit of magic in everyone’s lives.”

The name also suited Pamela’s art style. “I started out painting pictures involving the imaginary life of children such as fairies, elves, things like that,” she says. Because of the innocent simplicity of Pamela’s colorful characters and playful scenery, her designs have appeared on baby bedding and advent calendars among others.

Born in London, Pamela started her career as a dancer for stage and television in London, Monte Carlo, Italy, France and Las Vegas. Painting was just a hobby. When her husband Jack suggested she leave her retail job and purse her passion for painting, she jumped at the chance. “I’m fortunate that I have a wonderful husband,” she says.

Pamela’s took art lessons with Barbara Jablin of the Traveling Brushes local women’s art group. “I was an untrained artist,” she admits. “She really improved my art tremendously.”

After setting up her studio, Pamela investigated art licensing procedures and decided to attend New York’s Surtex art licensing trade show that takes every May. At Surtex, artists exhibit their work while representatives from big corporations such as Hallmark and American Greetings scout for new designs and talent.

“The first year I just walked it,” she says. “It is massive!”  The following year, after meeting the exhibiting requirements, she participated in the three-day show.

“That was dreadful,” she recalls. “I didn’t get any work.” By the next year; however, people started introducing themselves and doors began to open. Now Pamela’s client list includes Pickaberry and Champton, Vermont Christmas Company and Print Concepts.

Company representatives articulate their vision and Pamela creates detailed sketches for approval. When the final drafts are agreed upon, she paints the pictures using gouache and watercolor. She then scans the artwork using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for modifications and sends the company the final product in a TIFF format.

While Pamela says, she would like to spend all her time painting, the business-running aspect of art licensing keeps her busy. Currently, she receives a flat rate for her designs, but in the future plans to get an advance and royalties. Her advent calendars are best sellers worldwide and two more designs have been approved for next year.

Advent calendars began in 19th Century Germany, where children drew chalk lines or hung pictures to mark the days in anticipation of Christmas. Some designs are religious, featuring bible text, while others are secular, with familiar poems such as “Twas the Night before Christmas.”

Pamela will be signing some of her magical Christmas Advent Calendars at Temptations stationery and gift shop in Easton this Friday from 2:00 to 4:00 and this Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. She will answer questions and explain the process of creating the calendars from inspiration to finished product.

For more information about Pamela’s designs, visit www.followthemagic.com.

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