It's not everyone that can take up painting at age 40 and proceed to become one of the most popular and best-selling artists of the day. But then, Judy Buswell is not everyone.
A nurse-practitioner in her first career, Buswell came from an artistic family. Her grandmother, in particular, was an exceptional watercolor artist; and her mother, aunts, and uncles also enjoyed a talent and love of art. As for Judy, "I always loved watercolors, and always knew I could do it," she says. "I just hadn't taken the time to get into it before."
Once she did get into it, Buswell jumped in with two feet. She worked at it "day and night," and took classes and workshops to learn the techniques. From there, her obviously innate talent took over and after two years of learning and experimenting with designs, she launched her own greeting card business in 1987.
Buswell started with seven cards and four prints, and when she wrote seven orders at her first show, she was very happy. From that humble beginning, she sold over one million cards in just her third year in business. Today, her portfolio of printed work now encompasses some 185 different images.
The majority of Buswell's artwork features flowers or gardens -- a universally appealing theme that accounts in part for her vast and growing popularity. But there is more to it than that, and for many people, the appeal is hard to put into words; they just know that they love her art. For some it is the vividness of her colors; for others, it's the familiarity or nostalgia the images evoke, and the sense that the images come straight from the heart.
"The thing I love most about painting is the feeling that others bring to the work -- their childhoods, their dreams, their secret places," confides Buswell. "When people tell me that they really enjoy my paintings, that's when it's the most fun to be a part of it."
With the success of her watercolors and greeting card line snowballing, it was only natural that other companies would become interested in incorporating Buswell's designs into their own product lines. So about four years ago, Buswell launched an official licensing program, now under the direction of MHS Licensing.
Today, 20 companies make up the licensee roster, featuring Judy Buswell art on a variety of gifts, decorative accessories, and home decor products, ranging from calendars, to trays and trivets, to music boxes, to wallpaper, to rugs and throws. And across the board, their success with the license mirrors Buswell's own success and renown.
Buswell continues to selectively expand her list of licensees, with the goal of achieving longevity rather than simply rapid growth. At the same time, she continues to create about a dozen new designs a year, all of which are incorporated into her greeting card line