Do your homework

Being a native Minnesotan I had to watch the pilot episode of “Happy Town” last night, a new TV series set in a Minnesota town. It was, in a word, awful. But it did have us howling in laughter as gaff after gaff made it clear that whomever was producing this mess has likely never set foot in MN. For instance, the show opens: it’s a winter night and a girl walking along the edge of a frozen lake (complete with fish houses) gets soaked by rain from a sudden thunderstorm. Hardly. Cut to someone’s driveway where they are talking, amidst randomly scattered little white snow piles (wrong), about launching a center console boat (waaay wrong boat for MN) – but the next scene shows them walking across a frozen lake to an ice fishing shack. And where exactly are they launching that boat? Then we go downtown and there are NY style open air fresh cut flower stands. In winter. Followed by a street festival. In winter. I won’t even begin to comment on the idiotic folksy dialogue.

So why am I telling you this? It’s a perfect example of what happens when you plunge ahead without doing your homework. One of the surest ways to be pegged as an amateur in this business (and then ignored) is to shotgun out designs and product ideas without checking first to see if they are appropriate for the companies you send them to. Giftware companies don’t want napkins, inspirational suppliers don’t want cartoon characters, wall art suppliers have no use for home goods mockups. If you have not researched a manufacturer enough to know what they make, what art styles they use and where they sell their products then you are definitely not ready to send them samples of your artwork. Art licensing is a business to business sales profession, and your customers are hoping to work with knowledgeable professionals – don’t let them down as they generally have neither the time nor the inclination to train you.

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