Jehane Ltd’s Jehane Boden Spiers on her approach to bringing artists and licensees together

“Develop a strong sense of your own vision”: Jehane Ltd’s Jehane Boden Spiers on what artists need to be licensing ready.

Jehane, it’s great to catch up. Firstly, can you give us some background to Jehane Limited – and Jehane the person! What inspired you to start your own agency?
I founded Jehane Ltd in 2018 with a vision for it to be the most imaginative, most alive, and most loved artist’s agency. I now personally represent 20 distinctive artists from the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, and New Zealand. I was inspired to start my own agency in order to have the freedom to curate and personally work with artists whose work inspires me personally and has the depth to be applied across multiple disciplines. Our clients include Chronicle Books, LEGO, Anthropologie, Godiva Japan, and many more.

Jehane Boden Spiers, Jehane Ltd, Art, Homewares, Publishing

Jehane Limited encompasses work across illustration, publishing, editorial and art licensing… Can you explain how the different disciplines work for you?
When choosing the artists we work with, I always look for the potential to work across all of these areas. It gives us more breadth and variety commercially and gives the opportunity to apply creative ideas across all areas. Within publishing, we tend to focus on non-fiction books, book covers, and pre-school which gives us a rich source of inspiration when thinking about new ideas for art licensing projects.

You represent a very talented and diverse roster of artists and creatives. How do you identify new talent to work with?
Thank you! I’m so glad you like what we do. As an artist myself with a strong colour sense and a personal interest in both narrative and pattern, my criteria when identifying artists includes having a sparkling sense of colour, strong draughtsmanship and an interest in both publishing and art licensing.

The artists I work with also tend to have an illustrative style with a touch of the decorative. I try to ensure that no one’s work is too similar so that each artist stands out, while sharing these general qualities which inspire me and I know clients will respond to.

How do you ‘sell’ your portfolio to licensees? What’s involved in matching up an artist with a licensee?
My focus is definitely on matching an artist to the licensee in a bespoke way. My starting point is to have a deeper sense of the vision of both artist and licensee; this enables us to create and pitch work which is targeted, considered, and makes the best use of the time and opportunity to connect with clients.

“The artists I work with also tend to have an illustrative style with a touch of the decorative.”

A lot of our readers are creatives including artists and illustrators. Many of them are interested in licensing their work. What advice would you give to a creator to be ‘licensing ready’?
Develop a strong sense of your own vision and personal style, ensure you have top quality files for repro, and ideally a minimum of 30 fully available pieces to start things off!

Good tips! Are there specific ‘gaps’ in the art and illustration market you are looking to fill at the moment?
I would say potentially artists who are particularly interested in lettering or in creating illustrated maps.

Reflecting on a couple of your artists and some of their work, I noticed Nina Pace has worked with Chronicle Books and LEGO? Can you explain how this collaboration worked?
We were thrilled to be commissioned for the LEGO book. The inspiration was to create realistic drawings of their botanical flower sets in the style of old botanical art prints. This meant creating final art which included sketchier “unfinished” areas within the drawings… Both to give a vintage look, but I imagine also as a nod to the way the flower kits are actually built step-by-step as LEGO. Nina’s signature style tends to be more stylised, so creatively she picked upon her skills of creating hyper-realistic florals which is actually how she worked when she first started out.

Jehane Boden Spiers, Jehane Ltd, Art, Homewares, Publishing

I also noticed Jenny Zemanek has worked with publisher Union Square on a series of book covers featuring classic titles like Treasure Island and The Secret Garden. The covers look wonderful and original. How does an illustrator like Jenny succeed in bringing something fresh to classic books?
Jenny loves to research the story, the history, and everything around the book to source her inspiration. She works hard to bring a sense of this story into her illustrated lettering, which brings a fresh and modern touch to the classic books. Her artwork is bold and graphic – and her digital medium of working in Procreate keeps the results contemporary.

Jehane Boden Spiers, Jehane Ltd, Art, Homewares, Publishing

Lee Foster -Wilson has a homewares range with Half Moon Bay. Can you tell us a little more about this range, the design and approach taken?
The Bond Forest range is inspired by Lee Foster-Wilson’s bold colours and interest in adding sentiments and lettering. It was about combining both motivational statements such as “Do your thing” and bold elements and patterns which work for both adults and children.

Jehane Boden Spiers, Jehane Ltd, Art, Homewares, Publishing

Are there any market trends that you think are emerging that are noteworthy from a licensing and design perspective at the moment?
My feeling is that the biggest current market trend is in general artwork, which has the increased sense of having been created by hand – or by the human hand. Clients are also increasingly seeking artwork which stands out for its individuality – away from the wider trend of artwork which is perceived as generic.

Jehane, before we start to wrap up, if we go back to 2018 when you set Jehane Limited up… Are there things you have learnt along the way that you wished you had known back then – good or bad?
It’s amazing to think that it’s already seven years since I incorporated the company. When I first set up Jehane Ltd, my experience as an agent was predominantly as an art licensing agent working with existing art. I was keen to move into publishing and a higher amount of commissioned work. It was a learning curve to learn how the publishing world splits into different areas – from trade publishing to creating art for covers. The other thing is to develop an efficient system to track and log all of the assets needed – as well as how many rounds of amends there have been for each stage!

Finally, if you had the opportunity to be the ‘curator’ of one museum and one gallery for a day which two locations would you choose?
I love this question! It’s not an easy one to answer but I would want to choose two different locations. I would love to be the curator of the Science Museums and the V&A! This combines my interest in both. Art, creativity, and science are increasingly inseparable, even though one might think at first glance that they are poles apart.

Great stuff. Thanks Jehane. And for anyone interested in reading more of your top tips, let’s direct them to your ‘Find Your Art Agent’ resource here! Thanks again.

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