Fractal Spirit, Napa
Timothy Helgeson is a digital artist living and working in the Napa, California and owner of Fractal Spirit Arts. His award-winning art has shown in San Francisco at the Blue Gallery, Galleria de la Raza, the Mexican Museum, Saint Mary's Cathedral, and various places in the Napa Valley. His line of cards is sold nationally. He has been featured on the cover of the New Age magazine, "Bodhi Tree Book Review," and was a Burning Man artist. His work is in the collections of celebrities including: Julie Harris, Burt Reynolds, Charles Nelson Reilly, Boz Skaggs, Steve Halpern, Dennis Kuchinich, and Robin Williams.
Fractal Spirit’s goal is to make art available to low income people through donations, as well as to higher income individuals. In the past two years, the business has expanded to include art-licensing contracts with bCreative.com and StarShineArt.com. The art licensing companies have formed subcontract agreements with vendor companies to produce his art into posters, a calendar, cards, fabric, pillows, magnets, and air freshener.
The images have national appeal because he uses recognized icons such as spiritual icons, nature, and nostalgia. Fractal Spirit receives an advance for work accepted, plus royalties on sales of the products produced.
Fractal Spirit has two employees. Timothy is the owner and artist working at home on his computer creating designs. The other employee manages operations and lives out of state. Contacts are made by referral and online. The website was designed and is maintained out of state. Licensing contracts are made via online, email and phone calls.
The challenge is for a right brain in artist to market to a left-brain business world. Two different worlds must meet to form agreements. Art licensing contracts are lengthy, complex and confusing. There is great risk for the artist entering into agreement, for the wholesale and retail sales are unknown, and thus royalties are unknown. The licensing companies are clearly in charge and this is essentially, a “take it or leave it” agreement, with much competition in the wings. Timothy admitted that he needed assistance in his artistic approach to business matters.
A contract with bCreative was signed before Fractal Sprit began with SBDC. Business Advisor Jerry Jinnett and Carolynne Gamble later reviewed the agreement with the client to make sure the client understood the agreement and the impact on the “business side” of his art and production.
Timothy worked with the SBDC staff to identify how to streamline business operations and make fair and reasonable business and contractual decisions when entering into licensing agreements and contracts. The decision was also made to also approach other art licensing companies for similar contracts.
Fractal Spirit licensing agreements have expanded from one licensing company t o 3 companies and royalties has increased. Last year’s earnings exceeded $25,000 including advances and royalties. The client is now savvy regarding contracts, reads them thoroughly, and understands the accounting reports for royalty payments. Timothy is now more active and less passive in forming the agreements. The art is widely popular and the first licensing company, bCreative.com, is able to sell images to vendors for many different products.
Fractal Spirit was recently included in the Leanin’ Tree Greeting Card and Gift Catalog as a featured artist, which generates and drives sales. Leanin’ Tree is a subcontract card company with bCreative.com. Fractal Spirit website, www.fractalspirit.com, was recently updated and improved.
Product lines have increased to include a 2008 calendar, high quality fabric for pillows, a commission for a book cover, a black light Buddha poster, and a new line of cards. All new products receive an advance and royalties based on sales. The client is currently making an adequate living with advances and royalty payments. With help from the SBDC he has embraced “The Business Side of Art.”
“The SBDC is so fortunate to have Carolynne Gamble working with artists in the marketing of their work. She is amazingly savvy regarding the ins and outs of the business and art worlds. She has been most helpful to me and our business, Fractal Spirit, for almost two years. We owe a part of our success to Carolynne and the SBDC.”
Consultant: Carolynne Gamble, Marketing Advisor
Napa Valley College Small Business Development Center