Art Break Wednesday: Trademark!

certif fancy background with trademark letter

Nice surprise in the mail this week: I’m the proud owner of a new trademark!

A business name does not have to be registered as a trademark, of course. But I wanted to give it a try. My experience was fairly fast and painless as these things go.

When contemplating starting an art business and Etsy shop last spring, I came up with lots of brilliant business names.  Only to find online that other folks had come up with said brilliant names long before I.  When “artsyletters” meandered into my mind, I was happy to discover I couldn’t find it online.  First stop:  website domain.  Then I opened an Etsy shop with the name, though I wouldn’t add any items to it for a few more months. I got a Facebook page, Twitter account and Pinterest account using it.  (Plus a few other social media outlets that I haven’t really set up yet.)

It’s somewhat easier/cheaper to get a trademark if the name is already in use by you in commerce.  So I made some sales starting in late summer last year, stocking my Etsy shop and hitting some art shows in the fall. I put my name/logo on all my products and had a banner made for my show tent. Now I was ready to apply for a trademark.  Watching the budget, I opted for LegalZoom.

My eyes tend to glaze over with legal-ese, but I was (pretty much) able to figure out the forms.  When I had questions, the LegalZoom folks responded in emails or when I called. I decided to apply in an already existing category (International Class 16) that most closely matched what I’m producing, even though I don’t make all of the items in that class (um, pressed flowers?).

They conducted an initial search.   This search brings up names of businesses which might cause confusion for consumers, and therefore might keep you from being able to trademark your chosen name.  After these results, I opted to upgrade my membership so I could speak with an attorney by phone for 30 minutes before sallying forth.  (You can upgrade without any kind of lengthy contract – in my case I did for the first couple-few months of the process so I’d have access to an attorney appointment at a very reduced rate.)

The person I spoke with was very clear, professional, and friendly.  He pointed out one other existing business name which might give the USPTO pause when considering mine, because the category of products was similar.  He said he thought I had at least a 50/50 chance of getting through the first time, though.  With those precarious odds and crossed fingers, I decided to proceed. I filed in October, I believe.

To my delight, my business name was published in the USPTO Trademark Official Gazette in March after its initial review.  This means it was “published for opposition.” Well, let me let the USPTO explain it:

If the examining attorney raises no objections to registration, or if the
applicant overcomes all objections, the examining attorney will approve the mark
for publication in the Official Gazette, a weekly publication of the
USPTO.  The USPTO will send a notice of publication to the applicant stating the
date of publication.  After the mark is published in the Official
Gazette, any party who believes it may be damaged by registration of the

mark has thirty (30) days from the publication date to file either an opposition
to registration or a request to extend the time to oppose.

I never discovered any objections, and I got the lovely certificate above in the mail this week.  The entire process can take from six months to a year, and in some cases, longer.  I was happy to enjoy pretty smooth sailing for mine.  The whole process cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $500, with the very modestly priced phone consultation tacked onto the registration fees.

If you decide to pursue it for your business, be prepared for some other interesting mail to come your way.  I’ve had several letters from entities whose return addresses are countries in Eastern Europe, claiming to offer international “filing” or “registration” of my US trademark, all for say, a few thousand dollars.  I love the fine-print disclaimer that came in one yesterday:  “...please notice that this registration has not any connection with the publication of official registrations, and is not a registration by a government organization….” –  yet the “fee” was $2327.00.  (!)

Please also note that this little ramble in absolutely no way whatsoever constitutes any sort of legal advice, which I am unabashedly unqualified to dole out.  (Also, no animals were harmed in the composition of this blog post.) But I wanted to share this little piece of my journey for other indie artists/interested folks out there.  Thanks for coming along!

Art Break Wednesday: Enjoy Meandering through these Great Links!


Yay Images

Yay Images

That good old Road Less Traveled can lead to some wonderful surprises and delights!  I’m always coming across art-related links I’d like to share, so today I have a meandering kind of assortment for your enjoyment.  (Some I’ve mentioned before and others are new here.) Click on whatever tickles your fancy:

Like reading about artists and discovering new original work?  Check out Jama Rattigan’s  Alphabet Soup blog for her brand new series this year spotlighting indie artists.

First you’ll meet Kari Van Gelder, Mandy Troxel, and Amy Lum of Bossy’s Feltworks.  (You’ll have to click on the feature to learn how that business name came about!)  You’ll also meet some adorable fuzzy characters you just might not be able to live without.

Then, enjoy the miniature sculpted delicacies of Stéphanie Kilgast  of PetitPlat.  You won’t believe your eyes!

If you love printmaking as much as I do, check out the website for printmaker and illustrator Holly Meade and her Reach Road Gallery.

Her bold and lively work can be found in a trio of books by David Elliott – On the Farm, In the Sea, and one of my favorites, In the Wild.

Is photography your thing?

My author friend Sarah C. Campbell has a terrific website with lots of great info about how she and husband Richard created photographs for her award-winning nonfiction books for young readers.  Here is a great little video interview with Richard about making the pictures for Growing Patterns.

Lettering fan, you say?

Take a peek inside the wonderful print journals offered by the amazing folks at John Neal Bookseller, Letter Arts Review and Bound and Lettered (Scroll down to click on sample issues.)

Are you mad for mixed media?

Check out Pam Carriker’s inspiring blog and website.  Her second book is now available for pre-order, Creating Art at the Speed of Life.

Then be sure and enjoy all the layers at Seth Apter’s amazing blog, The Altered Page.  If you really want to get lost, start clicking through the hundreds of art blogs he’s painstakingly compiled in his Art Blog Directory!

Getting serious about launching, or growing, your art business?


Yay Images

Yay Images

Beth Rommel pointed me to this first one:

The Art Biz Blog by Alyson B Stanfield. All kinds of great resources for those doing this for a living!


The Etsy blogs are a terrific resource for art business entrepreneurs.  Here’s an article from yesterday about what kind of business structure to choose. 



Interested in illustrating for the children’s market? 

Check out the expansive website and blog of my author and illustrator friend Elizabeth Dulemba,  with this page of helpful links.

Finally, for the art history buffs and gallery geeks among us – have you seen this?

MetPublications is “a portal to the Met’s comprehensive book and online publishing program with close to 700 titles published from 1964 to the present…

MetPublications includes a description and table of contents for most titles, as well as information about the authors, reviews, awards, and links to related Met titles by author and by theme. Current titles that are in-print may be previewed and fully searched online, with a link to purchase the book. The full contents of almost all other titles may be read online, searched, or downloaded as a PDF. Many of these out-of-print books will be available for purchase, when rights permit, through print-on-demand capabilities in association with Yale University Press.”

Oh, my.  If I go missing, I have likely gotten lost in these amazing publications.  Please send a search party.

Let me know if you’d like to do this again sometime – there are plenty of wonderful trails to explore, and you might even have a favorite to share, too!


Art Break Wednesday: the Makers Summit


photo 3 makers summit MAKE

On Saturday, I tooled up the road a couple of hours to Greenville, SC, for the first-ever Makers Summit sponsored by Indie Craft Parade, held at a great elegant/industrial meeting space called Zen.   It was a day full of sessions and networking for artist-business owners.

photo 2 makers summit crop

Greenville is a special town to me, as my husband and I met at Furman University there and married a couple of weeks after graduation.  Our daughter is a student there now!  But back in the day, downtown was not exactly the destination spot it is today, with so many vibrant shops, restaurants, and a glorious park at the falls.  It’s the perfect location for a workshop such as the Makers Summit.

photo name badge

As you can imagine, it was a talented group of attendees enjoying some very savvy, talented speakers.  In fact, a little Googling online will take you to some professionally shot photos of the day by several who were there.  But maybe these pictures from my phone will whet your appetite to sign up when they do it again!

Speakers included Stephen Fraser from  Spoonflower, Grace Kang of Retail Recipes, designer  Justin Gammon, author  Amy Flurry, artist-entrepreneur and author Barb Blair of Knack Studios, Mail Chimp’s Amy Ellis, and Etsy’s own Kimm Alfonso, with a few other experts on hand to offer additional business advice.  Topics in the general sessions included branding and product lines, online selling, and expanding markets.

Kimm Alfonso from Etsy speaks about "Doing Business Intentionally."

Kimm Alfonso from Etsy speaks about “Doing Business Intentionally.”

One of the perks of the day was meeting fellow artists and craftspeople making a business out of their creative passions.  I had connected, through an Etsy blog, with Karen Sims Deady before the big day.

robyn and karen 1 makers summit

Robyn with Karen Sims Deady of KSDLuxe

It was fun to meet her in person and chat between sessions.  She has a gorgeous Etsy shop,  KSDLuxe, with contemporary artisan jewelry.  She’s also from Georgia, not terribly far from my neck of the woods.

I also had a 10-minute review of my Etsy shop with Etsy Support representative Nicole Bogatitus.  It was helpful to have professional feedback, since running an indie art business is at times like navigating without a map.  (And I found her comments encouraging for my first few months out in the big online world!)

Gatherings like this definitely help artist-entrepreneurs along the way, however.  Navigating by the stars is more adventuresome anyway, don’t you think?

Oh – and there were goodie bags to swoon for.  Just look at all this fun stuff:

goodie bag makers summit

When I finish playing with it all, I have to get back to business – the business of selling my art!  I’m thankful to have some new strategies to ponder and new peers to keep up with.


I’ll definitely sign up for the Makers Summit when it comes around again.  My guess is, we should all sign up early.

The Maker’s Summit!


I’m so excited! I just signed up to attend “The Maker’s Summit,” an all-day business conference on Feb. 2, 2013 for creatives, sponsored by Indie Craft Parade in Greenville, SC.  (The Indie Craft Parade takes place in September.) Speakers include Stephen Fraser (founder, Spoonflower), Grace Kang (founder, Pink Olive and and Kimm Alfonso (Etsy, community outreach).

It’s only a couple hours away from my home in Georgia, so within striking distance, even during a busy weekend on my end.  My husband and I met at/graduated from Furman University in Greenville a few moons ago, and our daughter is there now. Back in the day, downtown was not really any kind of destination spot!  I loved the art museum, but the rest in my memory was just kind of industrial terrain to stay away from.

Now the city is a vibrant tourist destination, with a gorgeous park at the waterfall, many fine restaurants and unique boutiques, horse-drawn carriages, art galleries, and character galore.  We love going up there!

I look forward to connecting with other artists and creative indie business owners.  In fact, I stumbled upon a comment on an Etsy blog about this conference from an Etsy shop owner who lives in the Atlanta area.  So we’ve already exchanged cell phone numbers and plan to meet up. :0)

It this conference is calling you, too, click on the logo above to learn more.  Happy Creating!