Interview with Hannah on Trend Spotting Mar 23 2012

Advice and call outs

Last week, we uploaded our latest trend boards to the Advocate art blog, these include ideas for everyday and christmas trends. Since then Advocate's Hannah has done an insightful interview on trend spotting and our fantastic new mood boards, read on to find out more . . .   When you’re managing work from over 300 artists, supplying most major multiples through to boutique publishers of paper products, wall art, ceramics and melamine, you need to have a handle on not only what is on-trend, but also on future fashions. It is also important to understand what will only be an accent and which looks will have longevity, as well as which ones will have a mass-market appeal and which will remain niche. If you get it wrong, not only will you be sitting on artwork that remains unsold, you may also be selling designs through to retailers that trust your opinion and then end up with stock that won’t shift. Over the last 20 years, Advocate have made a real effort to establish themselves as generators of trends. Here, Advocate’s Hannah explains how the process works. How do you spot new trends? Mostly by keeping our eyes and ears open! Some of our artists are great at spotting new ideas and often share them with us. We also receive hundreds of new designs a week, sometimes you can spot patterns of recurring motifs. These ideas are often validated (or sometimes disproven!) by the mood-boards and trend forecasts that our clients send us. We find that if we share our ideas with publishers and artists, they’re more willing to reciprocate and discuss how trends are being received in the market place, so we can be quick to expand upon, or dilute, an idea. How can keeping up with trends benefit artists? Just like fashion or interior design, the greeting card and stationery market is a trend-led industry. New trends can act as a springboard to inspiration for an artist, helping them to keep variety in their portfolio and offer something new to clients and retailers. What are the best places to spot new trends? Retailers like TopShop, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie are a good place to spot new trends  - they have a very high turnover of new products, and are quick to market them, which mean they are constantly being updated. High-street fashion magazines such as Grazia and weekend newspaper supplements are also good resources. Personally I always find interior design magazines – Elle Decoration, World of Interiors, Ideal Homes etc. – a great inspiration. We also have an active internship program at Advocate – sometimes we can see a trend reinforced when it walks through the door on an intern’s t-shirt! And what are the worst places to spot new trends? Other publisher’s ranges. If you are constantly looking at competitor’s work, the best thing you will produce is a ‘me too’ design, and you could also be replicating something that is not selling. Is the internet a useful resource for trend-spotting? Although the amount of information you can find online can be overwhelming at times, there are some great resources that are devoted to trend-spotting. Sites such as print and pattern, design sponge and pinterest are updated daily and often showcase cutting-edge trends. Artists’ personal blogs and company blogs are often also useful. For inspiration with colourways, kuler is a great help – users can upload images to extract pantone colours, or create their own palettes from scratch. As part of Advocate’s blogging routine we spend 2 hours a day looking at other artists’ blogs and commenting on them. This helps link us to the artistic community. How can you tell if a trend will have longevity? It’s hard to tell without hindsight, however trends don’t just start and stop – there is a process of evolution. For example, one of the key trends for Christmas 2011 was peacock (jewel-colours of purple, green, gold and fuschia) which this year has split into two new looks. The first of these is ‘snowflake’ – a soft, light look with key tones of mint green, teal and mauve. The second is ‘midnight velvet’ – a sumptuous mix of dark purple and black with metallic highlights. Similarly, the woodland theme has evolved from stags on natural colours, to a brighter trend combining natural grounds with neon highlights. Do Christmas trends work in the same way as everyday trends? Just like everyday trends, we notice a yearly shift in colour palettes, subject matter and art techniques. Sometimes a popular subject can even cross over into Christmas – just look at the number of London-themed cards that were on the market last year. We do tend to look in different places to spot new Christmas looks. One great resource is ChristmasWorld in Frankfurt (part of the PaperWorld show which is held in late January) – they are normally very early to spot new looks and are bold with the trends that they promote. After walking around a show like this, you tend to come out with a better overall understanding of trends than you would doing a competitor shop. Is it important to keep up with trends in different retail areas? At the moment we are seeing an increasing flow of ideas from one product area to another. On a practical level, wall art is often successful when it fits in with wider interior design trends – people want art that fits in with their colour scheme and furniture. Some retailers like Matalan, Next and B&Q actually group their products by colour and theme. Interior trends often also filter down to different retail areas – the influence of motifs and colourways in fashion can often be seen the next season in greeting cards and stationary.   What are the key trends for 2013? For everyday we are seeing a resurgence of nautical-themed icons – anchors, retro sailor tattoos, tied in with British seaside nostalgia. Modern Craft is a combination of traditional crafting techniques (applique, cross-stitch, knitting etc.) with a modern digital look and a 1950s colour palette. Design Classics takes inspiration from mid-20th century design icons such as typewriters, telephones and classic movie posters. The colour palette is bold and masculine. We have also identified Edwardian Etching as a key look – this combines traditional botanical etchings with a modern colour palette of teal, muted mauve and lemon yellow. Lastly, Tropical Paradise combines bright, bold prints with icons such as parrots, palm trees and pineapples Christmas trends are very colour-focused this year, with similar subject matter running throughout. My personal favourite is Snowflake – a beautifully soft combination of muted teal, mint green and creamy white. Midnight Velvet is a sumptuous mixture of deep purples and black with metallic highlights. To see Advocate’s trend forecasts in full, visit