Meet the Agent | HANNAH CURTIS
last updated 11 April 2019
As Senior Agent, and a Director of Bright since April 2018, Hannah Curtis leads the agency’s Art Licensing and Illustration divisions and truly forms part of the essential fabric of the company - very much the ‘H’ in Bright, if you will.
With over 14 years’ experience in art and design-based industries––including, of course, greetings & stationery––her infectious enthusiasm for and pursuit of new creative trends is integral to her agenting approach; working with artists to develop beautiful and innovative design concepts, with boutique but, crucially, commercial appeal, this energy and focus has also seen her appointed to the judging panel for the prestigious New Designers Award (2018), and a regular contributor to a number of industry publications.
Agent in print…and at large!: just a handful of recent features that Hannah has contributed to for the Art and Design Licensing Sourcebook (A&D LSB), including [clockwise from top left]: feature in the 2018 Summer edition, covering the exciting agency developments coinciding with Bright’s 15-year celebration; the last four successive editions of the A&D LSB showcasing Bright artists work as the striking cover design; a feature in the 2016 Summer edition of the A&D LSB focusing on Bright’s unique approach as an agency, and the opening of Bright’s new purpose-built gallery, retail, workshop & event space, and offices; judges’ equipment and Hannah [centre] and the rest of the judging panel at New Designers Awards 2018; editorial piece on trends, that also appeared in the 2018 edition of A&D LSB
“They say time flies when you’re having fun, this has never been so true since I approached Hannah and the Bright Agency. I knew Hannah from her days at another agency nine years ago, and she rocked then too. Immediately I was struck by the passionate way that Hannah talked about her job and her fellow “brightlings”. It was like opening a window and feeling the fresh air for the first time after a long cold winter…Before Bright, my career was a slow but steady turtle, plodding along: now it is a dragster roaring down a highway.” - James Hearne.
With an impressive and growing list of fantastically talented artists joining the agency and finding great success with Bright Art Licensing––from brand new graduates to seasoned industry designers looking to revitalise their careers––we’re delighted to share something of, what we believe to be, Bright’s, and specifically Hannah’s, unique approach.
Admidst the dizzying schedule of meetings, briefings and emails that characterize a typical working week for Hannah, we managed to snatch a few moments to catch up and to discover a little more about her professional journey to Bright…and something of the method behind the magic:
“After a four-year Fine Art degree, I started work as assistant to an abstract artist - running the studio, generating marketing, setting up and curating exhibitions and selling paintings. Following this experience––which proved an invaluable grounding in understanding what it is to pursue and maintain a livelihood in such a profession––I became an agent with a small art licensing agency local to home and began working with talented artists, licensing designs to the greetings and stationery industry. I joined Bright eight years ago and immediately fell in love with creative scope of the role, developing new and existing artists for the fledgling Art Licensing division I was heading up.
A glimpse ‘behind the veil’! A snaphot of Hannah’s home office workspace: a little oasis of creativity-infused calm.
“I have been working within the industry for 12 years now, and to this day absolutely love both the creative challenges and immense rewards that a close collaborative relationship with both artists and clients brings. I get a huge sense of satisfaction from helping artists realise their creative and professional ambitions, and in finding new avenues of exposure and expression for their work via the strong and pro-active connections we have forged with both independent boutique publishers as well as large brand names.
“Bright has so much more to offer artists than other agencies. The communication is great, there are no false promises, just straightforward honest advice and a close family feel.” - artist Ian Gillibrand
“As an Art Director at heart, I love working closely with artists to develop new styles and ideas, and there’s no better feeling than having a concept snapped up by a happy client just moments after sending it out, or publishing it on site.
“Drawing on industry tips, and personal observations of emerging market trends, I am in constant dialogue with artists, sending out regular trend boards, colour palettes and briefing notes to help ensure their designs are always current, innovative and, importantly, relevant to the demands we are hearing - and anticipating - from clients. In fact, that they are just ahead of that all-important curve!”
Trend boards mailed out to artists to inspire design that speaks to current and imminent fashion themes.
“I love working with Bright. They send out regular briefings which give me trend information (colours, subject matter etc), so that the artwork I produce is what the clients are looking for. And I am delighted to tell you that it works …Bright have a wealth of experience between them, and I trust their judgement implicitly. If they think a design needs tweaking, I tweak it – they are always right! And as if that wasn’t enough, they are super speedy at securing projects, and always so kind and helpful – dream team!” - Jane Newland
“It’s always a joy to see products featuring artists’ work in stores around the world, to see their design ranges on the local high street, and to watch consumers interacting with them. With licenses covering products as diverse as novelty children’s bedding, scratch ’n’ sniff stickers, greetings cards for major greetings and stationery brands, party-ware, interior décor prints and murals, and just about everything in between, we are always thrilled to see clients excited by artists’ work and embracing the genuinely endless possibilities for its application in pretty much every walk of life.
In addition to the hundreds, probably thousands, of artworks that are created by our artists and licensed for the greetings card and stationery industries each year, we are always amazed and delighted to discover the myriad other applications our clients license for - here are just a few of our recent favourites [Left to right, from top left]: Jane Newland’s llama design for children’s bedding for Anthropologie; Laura Coleman’s delicate watercolour designs for PaperRose, The Art Group; Claire Wilson exclusively for Noel Tatt’s ‘Boutique’ range; Bryony Clarkson’s Scratch ‘n’ Sniff stickers for Paper House Productions; Emma Martinez’s matching puzzle game for PlayHouse by Paper House productions; Clair Bremner’s gorgeous expressive floral art for PPD’s boxed coaster, ceramic mug and napkin sets; Jo Spicer’s zingy Lemongrass range, exclusively for Abacus Cards;Ag Jatkowska’s bijou postcard advent calendars for ARS Editions; Jane Newland’s fabulous illustrated umbrellas; and baby clothing by [left] Chris Chatterton and [right] Jennie Poh for FirstGive Boutique.
“In recent years I have worked on advertising, packaging and editorial projects with clients including Marks & Spencers, Harrods, Kew Gardens, Pinterest and Waitrose, to name just a few, and we’re seeing more and more interest for our artists from an increasingly diverse client base as the agency’s - and, consequently, their - ‘visibility’ increases.”
A little taste of recent projects completed Bright artists [left to right, from top left]: Mural designed by Migy Blanco for Pinterest’s office space in the US [photo courtesy of Pinterest]; cover and interior illustrations by Jess Smith for hip travel guide writer and blogger BudgetTraveller’s ‘Grand Hostels of the World’, published by Gestalten, 2018; seasonal packaging design by Jane Newland for luxury chocolatier, Leonidas [photos courtesy of Leonidas]; botanical-themed interiors for hot-desk-style office pods by design duo Alicia Perry & Rebecca Intavarant for ROOM [photos courtesy of ROOM]; editorial illustration for a wellness-themed article on glamping by Cheryl Strayed, featured in the online edition of Vogue; detail from Eva Chatelain’s illustration to promote Kew Gardens’ new Children’s Area, opening May 2019 [courtesy of Kew Gardens’ website]; mural for Mercure Bridgwater by Harriet Popham [photo courtesy Mercure Hotel group].You can read more about these and other recent illustration and design projects over on the Bright Illustration blog
“One of the beauties of working across so many different industry sectors––being an agency that comprises literary, children’s illustration, advertising and branding, and, most recently, film and TV divisions––is that we are able to offer both artists and licensees a much broader range of options than a typical art licensing agency might: artists know their portfolio will enjoy greater and more wide-ranging exposure by being accessible across this spectrum of sectors, and licensees know that we are able to work with artists from other specialities to find the perfect match for their brief.
Gilliant Flint was commissioned to create a series of illustrations for a series, Waterways, created by renowned (multi-media!) author and dramatist, Robert Rigby, for Cbeebies Radio. Gillian has a wealth of experience illustrating for children’s publishing, but this project represented something of a departure for her and opened the proverbial door to a whole new realm of possibilites for her future work.
“As an agency, we also recognise the importance of exhibiting at and attending major industry trade shows in order to build new client relationships and to look after existing ones, as well as offering our artists another, truly interactive, platform via which clients can discover and commission their work. I have been doing just that at Spring Fair, Surtex and PG Live for over a decade, and just love meeting with clients, showing off the new portfolio, and keeping up with industry news. I have made some wonderful friends along the way…so much so that my meeting requests get very busy around lunchtime, dinnertime and gin o’clock!”
The industry trade shows are a great opportunity to raise the profile of our artists, showcasing the portfolio to new clients and meeting up with those whom we work with regluarly as old friends. We aboslutely LOVE spotting our artists’ work proudly displayed in its final format on licensees’ stands and, when in the States for the US shows, catching up with colleagues from our sister agency, Bright US, at their base in New York.
Soon after Hannah’s recruitment, and with her energy and direction in building the Licensing division, Bright came to be recognised as a well-respected agency on the Art Licensing circuit: