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  1. #1
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    Tartan Bear: 50 States Tartans

    Hi,

    I registered with this forum just today. Let me introduce myself.

    I've long been interested in the study of symbols, including national symbols and symbols of the 50 states, Canada's provinces, etc. I'm also interested in the psychological aspects of symbolism, especially the use of symbols ins the political arena.

    I'm currently working on a book about symbols of the 50 U.S. states. As you may know, some states have official tartans. I decided to try my hand at tartan design and wound up creating tartans for all fifty states.

    I joined this forum in hopes of learning more about tartan design and getting some feedback on my designs. I'd also like to learn how to market my designs (as tartans, scarves, blankets, etc.). Do tartan designers link up with manufacturers and get royalties, are their affiliate programs they can join, etc.?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    10th January 19
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    I'm going to burst your bubble.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan Bear View Post
    Do tartan designers link up with manufacturers and get royalties, are their affiliate programs they can join, etc.?
    Most of the tartan designers who earn royalties are also people who occupy another space in the supply chain. For example, Polly (I've forgotten her last name) who is a designer for House of Edgar has designed multiple tartans. House of Edgar manufactures the tartan material.

    As a second example, Rocky of USA Kilts has designed multiple tartans. His shop is one of the notable companies that sells kilts. He sells kilts that use his designs (in addition to the more traditional tartan designs).

    If you're expecting to make money by creating tartans ... well ... best of luck to you. Tartan design is easy. Executing the idea is far more challenging.

    I realize that I sound flip in saying that (and that's not entirely unintentional). I make a living by valuing intellectual property (which includes designs). Ideas are easy. Execution is hard.

    If you want to make money by designing a tartan, you better be at least as good as the Isle of Skye tartan.
    Trying to look good on a budget.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karl R View Post
    I'm going to burst your bubble.
    That's the best advice. ;)

    Seriously, I have some experience in the publishing industry as well as the political arena, and I know how tough it is to sell both new ideas and products.

    If I can't make a penny from my tartan designs, that's fine. They'll still make a good addition to my book - which I recently discovered I won't be able to sell to my primary target, libraries. (Talk about bursting bubbles!)

    But I'm going to spend a little time scouting around just to see if I can find a way to sell my designs...or if they're even worth marketing. I need to get some feedback on a few of my designs first.

    I'll say up front that I think some of my designs are a lot nicer than designs that have been officially adopted by some states. But that could be my ignorance showing; maybe I'm missing something about the tartan design process, or perhaps I just don't have a good sense of what most people would perceive as aesthetic.

    Anyway, thanks for the feedback.

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  5. #4
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    Well met and welcome from the Magnolia State. I say that (as you may or may not know about our state flag design debates) because I have some input into the legal issues of design and acceptance of the flag here (as a grass roots voice). That is a problem left alone on this site but relevant to your endeavor.

    Bringing a tartan design before the people must include many ways the fabric can be used by the whole population. Kilts are but one item of clothing that best equates to a tartan, but shirts (even jackets in your area) sell to and fit the majority of the populace and would gain attention and acceptance faster. I think this must be included in your design ideas.

    Good luck and glad to have you with us here.

  6. #5
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    Welcome to the “Great Rabble”!
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, dreamer, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Sinclair.

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    Well met and welcome from the Magnolia State. I say that (as you may or may not know about our state flag design debates)...
    My book is half reference, but the other half is very opinionated. I'm actually very critical of many state symbols, not limited to flags. However, my book is going to include flag proposals for all states that have substandard flags.

    As far as commerce goes, I'm actually more interested in jackets, blankets, scarves, etc. I guess I figured kilts were the logical starting place for discussions of tartans, but I'm not sure how big a demand there would be here in the U.S. Kilts are Greek to me. ;)

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  9. #7
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    Welcome from Western Canada 🇨🇦!
    "Good judgement comes from experience, and experience
    well, that comes from poor judgement."
    A. A. Milne

  10. #8
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    I have two thoughts to share:

    You will see from the many discussions on this forum that there is a significant number of members who stick pretty much to their clan/family tartans. That's not to say no one buys other tartans - the Wildcat Tartan has shown to be somewhat popular and I've seen some with the Maple Leaf tartan (I think that's the name for it) in Canada. And tartans like Skye, Black Watch etc always garner some support. But state tartans not so much (again not saying that no one buys them). But all in all my impression is that the established tartans get the most play.

    The other is that while I respect your effort to create something new and run with it, I have to admit I'm not a big fan of just creating a "State Tartan" with no official basis. Connecticut (through it's legislature) adopted an official state tartan many years ago - can't say I really like it - but then others have created State Seal tartans etc. Seems to me it just confuses the issue.

    That said - good luck with your endeavor. I'm all for the free market so I guess we will see where it goes.

    CTB
    President, Clan Buchanan Society International

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  12. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctbuchanan View Post
    The other is that while I respect your effort to create something new and run with it, I have to admit I'm not a big fan of just creating a "State Tartan" with no official basis.
    It's kind of a weird situation. Legislators are increasingly complaining about the sheer number of often trivial symbols that are adopted each year. Some states have even attempted to pass legislation forbidding the adoption of new symbols or even repealing some existing symbols.

    In all honesty, the state tartans I've seen really don't impress me at all. In fact, I've seen just one or two that make a good impression on me.

    So, in a way, that makes me kind of a hypocrite for attempting to design tartans for all the states. However, I don't expect any of my designs to ever be adopted. In addition, I wanted to demonstrate the fact that, if a state is going to adopt an official tartan, there's lots of room for improvement, similar to state flags (most of which are incredibly lousy designs).

    On the other hand, I'm not sure if my designs are really an improvement or not. I think they might work as simple educational or decorative items that you might hang on a wall, but they might not be something that people would want to wear.

    But, as you said, it's ultimately about the free market. I just want to throw out lots of ideas and see what happens.

  13. #10
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    Welcome to XMTS from up the Sound and across the Straight!
    "Touch not the cat bot a glove."

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