Thursday, 26 February 2015

Meet Kelly Panacci and a GIVEAWAY!!!

Giveaway at the end=)  

Note from the Editor, The Canadian Quilter... Oops, in the Spring issue we mistakenly printed our feature designer's name incorrectly. Here is Kelly Panacci's article - name corrected - along with her social media. Check out her amazing fabric!

Kelly Panacci – Art Designed to Inspire®
I’d like to introduce Kelly Panacci, an extraordinary creative, who brings us bright and cheery designs in fabric. They are just what we need as we head into spring!  Kelly shares some of her secrets about how she became a fabric designer and shares some tips for those who would like to try it themselves!

How did you first become involved in designing?
I was one of those kids who doodled on everything including the covers of my books, my bell bottom pants and even my shoes. Luckily there are art classes and diploma programs for people like me. I eventually landed at George Brown College in Toronto studying Graphic Design. After graduation I worked for advertising agencies, book publishers and eventually as an illustrator for Sandylion® Sticker Designs. At the time, Sandylion® was the world’s largest novelty sticker manufacturer and I loved creating images and collections for them and the hobby market. With my husband as business partner in 2003, we struck out on our own under the Kelly Panacci Inc. brand name. Since then our licensing partners in the Craft and Hobby industry have produced hundreds of our co-branded products distributed in 30 plus countries for scrapbooking, stamping, stationery, quilting fabrics and most recently school and office supply.

Can you give a brief summary of what licensing is?
A license agreement is negotiated between two parties: the licensee (manufacturer) and the licensor (artist). In a nut shell, it is a set of art use rights allowing manufacturers to use an artist’s work on their products. Intellectual property rights (copyrights) are “loaned” for a specific period of time in designated territories (domestic or international) and limited to product types or categories either on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis. Terms vary, depending on use, market, brand recognition, product category and other factors. In return for art use the manufacturer or licensee pay royalties on sales of co-branded and shared products.

How does a designer become licensed?
The approach varies and many great books and online articles have been written on this topic, so I'll tell our story instead with the hope it will inspire others. In my case, I was sponsored by the owners of Sandylion® Sticker Designs who loved the art I created for them. We had a good working relationship and the products I developed for their company were top sellers in the scrapbooking market. I had a proven track record and a unique style that appealed to their buyers, so it was a win-win for both of us. This is really what it takes to be successful as a licensed artist in the craft and hobby industry. The art should be inspiring, fresh and new so retailers and customers buy and use it. That's why our company tag is Art Designed to Inspire™. In fact that's all we do. We know that if we design art that inspires then our partners will take care of the rest and crafters will have great quality products to create with. Sticking to one goal has really helped us focus and grow our business and brand. We also partner with the best and most trusted manufacturers in the industry knowing that the art is only as good as the quality and reputation of our licensing partners. This is why we are so thrilled to be exclusively licensing our fabric designs to Riley Blake Designs.  

How many hours a week or month do you spend in your studio?
As an entrepreneur and sole designer for our company, most days you will find me sitting at my computer working on future collections. When I’m on a roll I can design for 10 to 12 hours at a time. If I’m not illustrating then I am researching, responding to emails or keeping up with our social media accounts. I also enjoy teaching, which often falls on weekends at events, or during the evening hours. That's the time I get to chat with inspiring crafters, so it doesn't really feel like work. Like any owner of a small business, I wear many hats, but I’m lucky to share the business with my techy and marketing manager husband. He takes on the things that artists like me shouldn’t try: ie. accounting, contractual agreements, sales pitches and IT (technology) so we can both keep to a nine to five schedule.
Have you started making or designing quilts?
Years ago I tried my hand at traditional quilting and for a time I painted on silk and sold scarves and garments at Craft Fairs. I quilted a piece of that silk and made a wall hanging which my husband now cherishes (he's my biggest fan) as a cover for instruments in his music studio. I forgot about that quilting project until your question sparked the memory. Since then I haven’t quilted or even been sewing, but that changed just last month. One of the great things about licensing and partnering with manufacturers is that they send samples of your co-branded products. Samples from our first fabric collection with Riley Blake Designs "Happy Flappers" arrived at our door, and I was so excited that I dug out my old sewing machine immediately. The fact that I hadn’t sewn in a long time didn’t thwart my plan to try my own version of projects spied on Pinterest and DIY Blog sites. I created a baby bib, coffee cozy, stuffed owl toy and drawstring bag before posting the tutorials on my blog as part of the Riley Blake Post Quilt Market Blog Tour. As a beginner sewer, it was great fun to create the projects with our new fabrics and as a designer it was rewarding to see how the fabrics all worked so well togetherthe colours, imagery, scale and patterns all pieced in harmony.

What advice do you have for someone just starting out in design?
Tip 1 - Be true to yourself and find your own style. Experiment, try new things, make a mess and even make mistakes, but learn from them and start again. Be patient and persistent and practice, practice, practice. Draw for a few hours or a few days and you’ll have a body of work in progress. Take some time away from it and come back with fresh eyes. You’ll likely have some new ideas to make your designs even stronger.
Tip 2 - Research and gather your inspiration. We are inspired and influenced by everything in our surroundings, but try to harness some of the imagery by way of an inspiration board. Create a vignette from design elements like photographs, fashions, accessories, architecture, paintings and nature. Include a colour palette and even fonts that help convey the mood and theme you’re going for. Your finished collection will veer from the inspiration board as you introduce your own styling, but it’s great to have a good foundation and start point.
Tip 3 - Don’t hoard your work, get it out there! Submit your art to companies you’d love to work with. Blog about your art and projects, send out press releases to magazines and use social media as much as possible to promote any new work. If followers are engaged by your work, there is a good chance manufacturers will love it too!
Follow Kelly:
Facebook go here to enter her giveaway and like her page while you are there!


  1. Very cute happy fabric. The Owls are adorable.

  2. What an informative post! Now I understand some of the issues you can come across marketing your designs.

  3. What an informative post! Now I understand some of the issues you can come across marketing your designs.

  4. Love the Happy Flappers fabrics and looking forward to seeing more of your designs in the future.

  5. I need to stick to one goal, great interview, Thank you.