Inspiration Friday: Illustrator, Laura Kelly


Can you imagine making a fortune from your doodles? That’s exactly what Laura Kelly of Laura Kelly Designs did! She took her passion for the pen and took the licensing world by storm. Stickers, calendars, Post-Its, buttons, books, you name it, Laura has drawn images for it! She makes it look so easy, but really a LOT of sweat and brain power happens behind the scenes to make it all come together. I recently got to hang out with Laura for a week at the iLoveToCreate studios and she had so much valuable info, I thought I’d share it all with you!

First, about licensing: licensing is when you sell an image or design to be printed on products that are then sold to consumers. Instead of hand painting or printing everything yourself, you work with manufacturers to do it for you!

Related article: Launching a Product Line

Kathy Cano-Murillo: Tell us what you do, what is Laura Kelly Designs all about?

Laura Kelly: Laura Kelly Designs is all about me and my crazy fun creative life.  The foundation is my doodling and the bazillions of little characters and sketches that I have created and licensed.  From that foundation of art, Laura Kelly Designs creates ways to spread happy through crafty projects, party ideas and everyday ways to celebrate.

Q: You are known for your adorable stick figure drawings – are you the originator of those?

A: Yes, I am.  I grew up tracing quarters and making them into the heads of people then eventually added bodies and style.  When I was pregnant with Dylan (now age 18), I doodled a baby and a dog for his birth announcement and with his arrival I became a mom and an artist all at once.

Q: What advice do you have for wannabe creativepreneurs?

A: Follow your passion.  Be yourself.  Have your own style.  Share your ideas.  Support others, especially those who need it most.  Live your dream.  Be clear with yourself on what you are creating.  Be positive and surround yourself with others who are looking for the silver linings.  Take risks.  Forgive.  Always forgive quickly when you are hurt and move on.

Q: How does one prime themselves for the licensing world?

A: That is a tough one.  I had NO background to prepare myself.  They didn’t teach this in elementary education.  I feel that the my success is based on the relationships I have made along the way.  Being patient is critical.  Licensing art takes time, energy and commitment.  Being consistent with my style and look over many years has been very helpful too.  I stick to what I do best, doodle.  It is imperative to be open to honest feedback because creative directors love to give it, good or bad.  Be willing to grow with it.  Having a portfolio is a must in my book.  It should speak to your personality and style.

Q: What are common mistakes to avoid in drawing, and in business!

A: I don’ think you can make a mistake in drawing, well not if you are a doodler anyway.  Some of my best work comes when things I mean to be one thing end up looking like something else.  It is the beauty of art to me.  As for business, I would say the biggest mistake is trying to do it all.  Things work best when I do the doodling and designing (and marketing and social media and networking) while leaving those things in which I am not strong up to professionals (ie: contracts to my attorney and finances to my accountant).  When things grow, get help.  There are people that would love to run your errands and package your samples to ship.  It is a mistake to fly solo when people want to be on your team,

Q: What are your latest and greatest products and where can we buy them?
A: I have several new products on the market this fall and depending what you like, there just might be something for you.

Here are a few:

– Photo stickers for Photofy app (Google Play and Apple app store)
– Mom Calendars and Planners from LeapYear Publishing – Mass Market (Walgreens, CVS, Big Lots)
Educational Dies for Ellison and Sizzix in Pet Shop and Shapester collections
Lollipics Lollipops

Make sure to visit Laura’s blog and web site!


Love & light,

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Kathy Cano-Murillo

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Hi, I’m Kathy, The Crafty Chica! My specialty is creative motivation. I’m an artist, author, and speaker and this is where I share my craft tutorials, artwork, articles, books, product lines, and workshops!

Let’s work together! Check out my services page HERE.

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