We Tell Your Story To The World
Menu
Previous Page

“My first big sales were at Target Stores, partly because they are a national chain with many stores and part because they usually purchase on a large scale basis.”

Linda McManus takes ordinary images and makes them into extraordinary products. Linda’s website LindaMcManusImages.com shows her portfolio of stationary, cards, prints and more.

Linda started by taking one picture of her baby with kisses all over him and submitting it to Graphique de France, who happily accepted it. Now you can find her work at places all over the country and on-line, such as the Chicago Botanical Garden Gift Shop, Target stores nationally, Wegman’s Food Stores stores nationally, and various catalog companies such as Country House, Potpourri and Sturbridge Yankee Workshop.

MO:
Did you have a background in photography before all of this, or did you teach yourself?

Linda:
I received a BFA with a concentration in photography. I was trained in black and white film photography and spent countless hours in the darkroom perfecting a perfectly “zoned” print. I was disciplined to have a critical eye and exceptional compositional skills, but I feared the color photography world would be lost to me. I took an internship at a commercial studio in the city and learned the “other” side of photography, color film, studio lighting, staging etc. I also took some computer illustration classes, learning the necessary programs needed for the current digital photography world, which at that time had not yet surfaced.

MO:
Congrats on being in Target stores nation wide! Tell us about the process of submitting your photos and prints to different places. What advice can you give to readers on getting their foot in the door.

Linda:
My first two cards, titled “Kisses” and “Ricardo”, were available at Target stores nationally for about 4 years. They were sold there through two of my licensees Graphique de France and Oatmeal Studios.

My process was simply to go through the card aisle and pick up cards I liked or thought shared my style of art. I’d take note of the publisher on the back of the card and research on line if they had a submission process. The beauty of licensing is not having to deal direct with the retail store. Greeting card companies are the experts when it comes to retail. They have years of experience and relationships with the store buyers. Licensing an image pays you a royalty rate for the use of your image and leaves the rest the experts. It allows the artist do what they do best, create! I am slowly stepping into the selling direct to stores world and it is a lot of work, of course the pay out can be larger than a royalty, but I am learning it is a whole other ballgame so to speak.

My advice for getting your foot in the door is persistence. If a greeting card company turned me down, I would proceed to the next on my list, then six months later I would circle back and re-submit. I found companies needs are ever changing, a “no thanks” right now could turn into a “we love it” later down the road. I think I was turned down 5 times by Graphique before getting a contract for “Kisses”. If you really believe in your product it will be noticed, it just takes time. Also, never underestimate the importance of networking, really do your homework, learn who is who, attend some shows and get yourself acquainted with what is selling. Be polite, introduce yourself to people, ask if they have a business card and of course you must follow up!

MO:
It’s great that you can buy your work in stores and online, where do most of your sales come from?

Linda:
It depends on the store and the volume sold. My first big sales were at Target Stores, partly because they are a national chain with many stores and part because they usually purchase on a large scale basis. Since then my “Funny Felines” series have been gaining steady ground via mail catalogue companies such as “Potpourri” and “Sturbridge Yankee Workshop”. Most companies that sell direct to consumers have an on line shop as well, which doubles your reach.

MO:
Where does the inspiration for your greeting cards come from?

Linda:
EVERYWHERE! I find everything and everyone fascinating, dogs, babies, trees, movies books, you name it. The things people say, the way they walk, the way they sneeze all of it somehow turns into a card or a one liner.  For instance my mother in law was going on a much needed vacation. So I said to her…”hope you find much needed rest and relaxation”, then I added jokingly…”and the third “R”, Ricardo the cabana boy”. I drew up an illustration of woman on a beach, under a palm tree complete with a coconut drink, submitted it with the above phrase and it was picked up by Oatmeal Studios and sold in Target Stores! I try to look at things a little differently and somehow, someway something comes to mind. In the majority of my work, you will find a vein of humor interjected. I feel those that have the comic “gene” are truly gifted. Life is way too short to take too seriously, if you can’t laugh at everyday life, in my opinion you need to loosen up!

MO:
What advice can you offer to other mom-entrepreneurs on running a business with a baby at home?

Linda:
Becoming a mom is truly a blessing; I have been blessed doubly with two wonderful sons. With that said, I also feel you shouldn’t have to trade being a mom with following your dreams. Having a career and being a great mom are entirely possible! It’s a juggle for sure but if you take just one step everyday toward achieving your personal goals, whether it be a phone call, sketching, or simply jotting down some ideas, it’s all possible. I feel like a better mom knowing that I am staying true to who I am. My two boys are now at the age, where they can help me with my creations, it’s awesome bonding time and I get the job done, a win win! I hope to instill in my own children, the mentality that you can do anything you want with this life, you just need to give it the effort.

MO:
Can you talk about the licensing process and any challenges this created for you early on?

Linda:
A creative mind I certainly have, but when it came time to read and understand my first contract, I felt a bit lost. Fortunately I built a vast network of people who were more than gracious and offered to help. I will forever be thankful to those who took the time and explained what it all meant. If I didn’t understand something I simply asked, better to feel awkward before signing that feeling “taken” after. I think also it took some time to get over feeling rejected. Art is such a personal thing, it can feel like it’s “you” being rejected, when in reality there are many behind the scenes factors that play into what image is chosen. Now I just try to shrug it off and say to myself “ehh, I’ll get em’ next time”.

Find the right Domain Name for your business at Fabulous.com!

Let's Connect