Tara Reed is creating her future, her way, one brush stroke at a time.
She also enjoys inspiring other artists to do the same.
A licensed artist since 2004, Tara creates art collections that manufacturers license to put on products you can find in stores. Her art can be found on everything from dishes to coasters to rugs, quilting fabric, rubber stamps and much, much more. Since licensing involves working with manufacturers, it is sometimes hard to tell the end-consumer where they can find products featuring her art. Her products have been found in retail chains such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and Fred Meyer, as well as a myriad of independent retailers across the U.S. and around the world.
Her company, Tara Reed Designs, Inc. strives to work with clients to create a winning combination of art and design so their products sell at the retail level. The company tagline for manufacturers: The art you need. The service you deserve. Tara Reed has proven she can deliver on both and has seen a growth in her business each year, in spite of the overall economy.
In 2008 Tara Reed added an educational piece to her business – it is housed at ArtLicensingInfo.com and uses the power and reach of the internet to fill a gap in the industry. “When I started in the business, it was hard to learn how it worked. The information and education was hard to find and financially out of reach for many.” Reed explains. She enjoys writing, teaching and coaching other artists to help them decide if licensing is a good fit and about how to succeed if they like the business model.
“The added bonus has been creating a sense of community and networking with other artists in and out of the art licensing industry. I have forged friendships I don’t believe I would have otherwise. Using Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets artists feel more connected and less isolated in our studios.” Reed continues.
Adding an online element to her business involved learning many new skills. From web design to search engine optimization, newsletter lists and social media. “It’s all about providing timely information in an efficient fashion and responding to issues as they arise.” Reed explains. “Much like responding to art requests on the licensing side of things.”
What seemed to be two separate skills sets are now overlapping and working to the benefit of Reed’s art and teaching. Tara Reed Designs is taking skills and strategies from internet marketing and implementing them with her art. Licensing art, like most businesses, is very competitive. Half the battle is to keep your name, art and availability in front of your customers. We combine traditional mailings with a newly implemented email newsletter to keep everyone up to date on new art, new deals and new cross-marketing opportunities.
“My customers appreciate the fact that not only am I an artist, but I’m a business person. I understand the need for communication, follow-through and working together. I am constantly striving to use technology to help further and enhance the personal relationships I have with my clients.”
Giving back is also an important part of Reed’s mission. 5% of profits from the online teaching site goes to The Books For Kids Foundation. Their mission is to promote literacy among all children, with special emphasis on disadvantaged children and youth by donating books, creating children’s libraries in under served locations, and participating in reading initiatives with community based organizations.
As well as cash donations, Reed donates art supplies to underprivileged children in her community. She also donates products featuring her art to school and charitable fundraising auctions. “Working in a business where my customers are all over the country, it is nice to connect more personally on a local level as well.”
But how did Tara Reed get to this place? Deciding to start her own business while in her mid-30’s.
In 2004, she reached a fork in the road: after 13 years of marriage, 10 of them spent as a stay-at-home mother of one, Tara’s marriage was over. With the decision to divorce, she not only needed to pick up the pieces of her life emotionally and make sure her son, then 10, transitioned through the split, but she needed to make some tough decisions about what she wanted to do.
Armed with a degree in Marketing and sales experience, the safe choice would have been to go back into sales – complete with a boss and benefits. Instead, Tara chose to follow her passion for art, putting herself on the line and going for it. She hopes to inspire other women to do the same – follow their passion and live the life of their dreams.
“If I had given up on my dream because I was getting divorced, it would have been one of the biggest regrets of my life.” Reed explains. “It wasn’t always easy but with a lot of persistence I have been able to build the life of my dreams. I own a creative business that provides me with challenges and joy on a daily basis. I work from home so my lifestyle is flexible – a point that is very important to me as a single mom. I wear a lot of hats but I keep them balanced and control each of them as much as a person can. I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
Visit Tara Reed Designs online at