Fun fact: the last 3 books I have read are all by female authors that I know. No, like, I really really know-them know-them. It shouldn't be that weird; I mean, it's not unusual for me to listen to music by people I know, surround myself with art by people I know . . . but for some reason this is a new one for me. Yes, I do have other friends who are amazingly gifted writers, but they haven't been running out and publishing novels left and right. Yeah, I know. As if it were just that easy, right? Which, I suppose, makes this even that much more special.
I was pretty excited when my friend Stephanie published her first novel earlier this year. I know Stephanie from the wildlife center and animal-care has always been at the center of all our interactions - so was very curious to find out what kind of stuff comes out of the other side of her brain. Then chatting with our new neighbor Monica in the alley one afternoon, I learned that she had recently published her first novel as well.
Although vastly different from each other, both King's Mark and Girl Under Glass are that kind of all-enveloping sci-fi fantasy that leaves the world we live in completely behind, and both managed to suck me right into those alternate worlds, making them hard to put down, and me a little sad when I was finally finished. Sad because both are first in their series' and in each case they left me hungry for the next, and I tend to be very impatient that way - but I'm afraid I'm going to have to put on my patient hat (what does that look like anyway? I hope it's cute) and wait for both of them.
On the other end of the spectrum is Ronnie Walter's awesome new (and also first!) book License to Draw that couldn't be more about my own reality, and brought me right smack-dab back down into the real and present-day Earth (plop!) but in a good way.
I knew if anyone had the wit and insight to make the often harsh realities of the Art Licensing industry funny and enjoyable (while still being realistic!) it would be Ronnie. Talented and super-funny, she's one of those warm, down-to-earth people you feel like you've known forever, even if you haven't. Aside from the fact that she is married to the guy who wrote my go-to first place I send anyone who asks me about getting into the business, she has been doing this (quite successfully, mind you) much longer than me. I say that as if it is significant because, well, sometimes lately I feel like I've been doing this for about a thousand years or so.
Which is why I'm so glad she wrote License to Draw, and even gladder that I read it. By sharing her own story, Ronnie reminded me why I keep doing this. I've said it many times: in this business the highs are ethereal and the lows can be heartbreaking. It's a constant game of Chutes and Ladders, this thing we do. And if after all these years of those ups and downs Ronnie has retained the fresh and positive outlook she shares in this book, this should inspire the rest of us licensing artists, even in our most wimpy or jaded moments. And yes, we do have a knack for wimpy and jaded. I mean, come on, we're artists.
The good news is those considering pursuing Art Licensing nowadays have a wealth of really great resources available (see my sidebar, or FAQ section!) as opposed to what it was like when I started doing it (remember? I trudged on foot from Seattle to New York every May for 14 years to exhibit at Surtex, barefoot, in the snow, uphill both ways, pulling a heavy case with my displays and portfolios behind me . . . well, part of that is true).
Seriously though, I think License to Draw adds great perspective and insight and I really did find it to be an inspiration. And if you happen to be one of those people (the ones who are considering pursuing this crazy licensing thing) this is definitely a must-read!
For those of you who aren't already familiar with Ronnie's honest, silly/serious style, you can get a peek into what she (and her book) are both like from this great interview on Monica Lee's Smart Creative Women: