Making a living as an artist today isn’t easy. Financial success is extremely rare. Merchandise and collaborations are two of the best ways to spread brand awareness and establish a loyal customer base. And no one has mastered this quite the way Instagram’s “Candy Artist” Robyn Blair Davidson aka by robynblair has.
With prices for her work starting at $3200 for an original 16 x 24 inch piece, these ventures have allowed the artist’s brand to grow. “Many collectors absolutely start off high-end and become repeat customers whenever I have a new drop. However, I know that other clients are saving up for their first custom piece, but get their fix on the lower price-point items,” Davidson tells me.
After her brand started to grow in popularity in 2018, the artist launched her first collaboration with Name Glo. “I was a client of theirs before I started by my brand. Right in the beginning, the founders and I went to lunch and I told them about my art and how happy I was about the piece I made for myself. Right then and there we decided to join forces, making my pieces with their neon on top.”
That grew into a pop-up at American Two Shot in Soho, which then turned into a spot at the Affordable Art Fair with Art Star. “As luck would have it, the Vice President of Home from Bergdorf Goodman walked through, saw our pieces, and asked us to be their next Artist in Residence. It was an incredible journey and I was so glad to do it together with Name Glo.”
Davidson feels she made smart business decisions from the beginning, and expanding the brand early was a logical step. “It was important to me that from the beginning I could offer different price points to my clients. My goal at the end of the day is truly to make people happy and smile through my art and my designs.”
Making Art Accessible
Davidson has always felt it’s important to diversify her offerings because it allows as many people as possible to enjoy her work. “I love that I can offer the principles behind my brand at various price points. It’s huge for taking a business like mine to the next step, especially since the core product is on the higher end.”
The theme and vibe of Davidson’s work truly lends itself to a variety of products and merchandise. For example, the lollipop swirl placemats and coasters coordinate perfectly with her art.
The cake serving set is another example of her sophisticated approach to brand expansion. While it is packaged in a sprinkle print box, the pieces have modern white handles and the blade features Davidson’s signature statement box reading “Eat Cake.” At $85, it’s accessibly priced and a great introduction to the brand.
But Davidson is extremely particular. She doesn’t just slap her name or branding on any product. “I like to start with the story,” she says, “For me, if there isn’t a good story behind a piece or collection, it isn’t worth building out. For example, with the Hostess Collection, the story was that we all wanted to gather again. And with our placemats and coasters, I made sure that your gathering would be that much sweeter.”
There are also has several less expensive, giftable merchandise offerings including baseball caps, iPhone cases she designed with Off My Case, as well as puzzles.
The Queen Of Collaboration
Davidson has collaborated and co-branded a list of products. This includes Mini Melanie cookie boxes, Baby Noomie children’s pajamas, Apparis furry flip-flops, as well as with Stephanie Gottlieb on a jewelry box.
Most recently, the artist created keepsake acrylic boxes with celebrity-lauded brand BondEye Jewelry (Olivia Rodrigo and Gabrielle Union are fans) on a box that was sent out to their VIP customers. “I love projects like this, especially when I know my art will be seen by new people and used in a special way. I’m also a huge fan of Jess [Klein, the founder] personally and professionally,” she tells me.
Still, Davidson is still very particular about who she works with. “It’s important for me to make sure the collab makes sense for both brands, and do more long-term ventures together instead of the quick, one-offs that are definitely tempting, but not as sweet.”
In summer 2021, Davison launched a line of Spritzy Rosé with Cooper’s Hawk featuring three colorful ombre-style labels. She was also very involved with product development, even doing a tasting with Tim McEnery, who founded the brand. “The Cooper’s Hawk collab was the dream scenario for me,” the artist says. “I love rosé and was so excited when they reached out to me. The team at Cooper’s Hawk offered me complete creative control, which was both gratifying and humbling. Together we made a set of wine that I am incredibly proud of.”
Cooper’s Hawk Winery produces approximately 700k cases of wine each year and has received over 500 awards in various local, national, and international wine competitions.
As for the future, Davison plans to continue her very successful business model. “I am very intentional with the projects I pursue, and make sure that in each category I partner with the best or I consult with experts to make sure everything I launch is a success. I am very proud of this because I know how easy it is to spread yourself thin and just do it all.”