ART & DESIGN MONTH: Sector Guide Special - Licensing.biz

ART & DESIGN MONTH: Sector Guide Special

We highlight a selection of the companies currently operating in this busy sector...
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Art Ask Agency
www.artaskagency.com

The firm has been working with art and design properties for over ten years.
One of its current success stories is Anne Stokes. Her fantasy art has been featured on a number of book covers, games and merchandising, with her designs covering the likes of romantic and enchanted forests through to the dark underworld of gothic vampires.
Being able to work with living artists is a great advantage for the firm, meaning there is the possibility of being able to adapt and change the art work to fit a licensee’s needs. The artist themselves can also act as a source of current trends and looks when it comes to renewing and updating the collection and the style guide.
For the Anne Stokes Collection, licensees are already on board for puzzles, games, posters, calendars, apparel, lighters, cards, skins, flags, sculptures and jewellery. Deals for back to school and outdoor toys are also due to be closed shortly.

Art Impressions
+ 818 591 0105

The award winning IP firm is known for its retailer-focused licensing programmes. Among its proprietary brands are Skelanimals, a breakthrough brand for juniors and tweens that has achieved triple digit sales increases each year, in the specialty channel, since its introduction in October 2006. In 2008, sales surpassed $35 million globally and the property has been nominated in the Best Art Brand by LIMA at this year’s awards.
The brand is poised for further growth this year, with Art Impressions having aggressive plans for expansion into new channels, as well as the development of a tween programme and its first animation projects. A Skelanimals lifestyle boutique will be displayed at Licensing International next month.
Art Impressions will also showcase a full range of art and design brands such as the Japanese pop culture influenced Kawaii by FriendsWithYou. The brand is launching this year with junior apparel and bags for specialty retailers and Target for girls tees. It also boasts up and coming designers Corky Mansfield (whose Wittle Bittle brand for toddlers has continued its momentum at Target) and Jessica Louise, who specialises in girly punk fashions.
The firm is also building up a head of steam for Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls, a property from the writer of Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.
Art Impressions also represents a select roster of traditional artists, evergreen properties such as fairy artist Josephine Wall, Schim Schimmel – known for his environmental surrealism – and photographer Valerie Tabor Smith, who specialises in photos of babies and children.

Art Makers International
www.artmakersintl.com

The art licensing company offers over 40,000 original designs to manufacturers worldwide.
For starters, AMI represents Morehead, whose collections of animal, children and angel character art has proven successful in territories including China, France, Germany, Russia, The Netherlands and the UK. COD Novelties’ products featuring Morehead designs are sold in over 15 Spanish speaking countries, while Brazilian firm Grafon’s sells children’s notebooks and cards using the designs.
AMI also represents designs by Current and Vicky Howard. Companies can search Current’s vast portfolio of artworks organised by a variety of subjects, occasions and themes including country, cute, vintage and religious.
Meanwhile, Vicky Howard’s art ranges from traditional paintings to fun and bright graphics. Best selling products include cards, kitchen and bath textiles, gift bags and partyware.

Boomerang Studios
+001 (410) 439 0772

Green Street Garden Party is a licensed line of characters whose ‘community unity’ and interpersonal bonds aim to inspire children – and adults – to care for nature, neighbours, themselves and others as a rewarding way of life.
Created by Diane Gray, she says that her intention is “to provide a successful brand that not only performs well for licensees but also reflects well on them with its earth-friendly positioning”.
For licensees, the brand offers a variety of product options, with storybooks, stationery, apparel, gift items and garden merchandise becoming more widely available as Green Street expands. Click here (www.greenstreetgardenparty.com) to go to the official site to find out more.

Brand Concept Design
+44 (0) 23 92 484880

Based on the south coast of England, BCD designs for the toy, gift and licensing industries. Its expertise covers all areas of design from visual ideas, artwork, packaging, product samples for pre-sale and exhibitions, through to manufacturing in China.
The firm has worked with a number of licensed characters including Betty Boop, Spongebob Squarepants, Shrek the Third and The Simpsons among others.
Indeed, it continues to work with some of the leading collectables companies in the UK designing Betty Boop and Baby Boop product and packaging, plus the same for the Felix the Cat and Spongebob Squarepants brands.
BCD also lists timeless collectable firm Wade among its current clients. It has produced a range of Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs Wade Whimsies, as well as packaging. BCD has also designed two additions to the Famous Bank Pig Family of Grandma and Grandpa Pig.
Just completed it the 2010 back to school concept Toffy and Joy, one of BCD’s in-house character brands, which has been produced and distributed by Herlitz Germany for several years.
The company has also been responsible for developing gift concepts from existing character ranges, developing style guides, packaging, soft toy sampling, POS and branding for several of its clients in the greetings card industry.

Chris Chun Art & Design
+61 416 020 649

Based in Sydney, Australia, Chris Chun has over 15 years experience working in design, styling and product development in the UK, Italy and Australia.
Chun has licensed his work – which fuses Chinese traditions of flower and bird paintings with contemporary western collages using tissue, origami and Japanese papers - with a select group of companies around the world including The Art Group, Ashdene, Clothworks, Papyrus and Woodmansterne. Check out his designs at www.chrischun.com.

Customworks
www.customworks.co.uk

The Scottish-based manufacturing company has been specialising in the museum and heritage market since 1998 and now boasts over 20 different lines across a range of subject areas including art, literature, history and science.
It has a number of famous art imagery from Salvador Dali in its portfolio. Images such as Girl at the Window, Persistance of Memory and Galatea of Spheres are just three which are available across many products including fridge magnets, magnetic bookmarks, sketchpads, jigsaw puzzles, button badges and pocket mirrors.
Customworks has also recently extended its Beatrix Potter collection into a variety of categories, from sketchpads and notebooks to magnetic bookmarks and rulers.
The company also has a new licence agreement in place with the Science Museum, producing magnet sets of 19th and 20th Century inventions, as well as number of items based on the periodic table and its elements.
Finally, Customworks is making the final touches to a collection based on the Horrible Histories books. Products will include fridge magnets, sketchpads, light switch covers and stationery items, all available from this month.

Eamon O’Donoghue
023 8071 0328

Eamon O’Donoghue claims to offer the complete package with a vast array of styles in illustration through to print-ready design.
Mostly known for DVD sleeves, book covers, pin-up art and licensed properties, the list of licences he works with is continuing to grow. His roll call already includes Transformers, Marvel Superheroes such as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, Barney, Masters of the Universe, Princess of Power, Digimon and Super Mario Brothers to name a few.
As well as producing illustrations and design, O’Donoghue has also helped develop new licences with key art and branding for new properties like Legends of the Dragon, Dork Hunters, Zorro: Generation Z and Pocket Penguins.
He also has his book cover illustrations and designs for Scholastic and Macmillan. Check out his work on www.theextremist.co.uk.

Heidi Sturgess
www.heidisturgess.co.uk

So far this year, Heidi has mainly been working on developing new artwork and products for her own range to licence out. Recent commissions, however, have included t-shirt designs for Wedding TV and card designs and development for Camden Graphics, including a new character range for Clintons.
Heidi is also due to finish development on her first children’s books at the end of May, including picture books she is writing and illustrating. She is also working on a character series with her brotherm Glenn Sturgess, who is a senior copywriter at advertising agency Wunderman.
A marketing and sales campaign is due to kick off shortly to boost product sales, while later in the year Heidi is hoping to develop the books and characters further.
The artist’s new product range is now available online, with her print designs and artwork featuring on silk scarves, greetings cards, t-shirts and jewellery.

Jewel Branding & Licensing
+001 (404) 303 1872

Based in Atlanta, Jewel Branding & Licensing is a full service brand management and licensing company. President Julie Newman began the firm after working with Creative Brands Group for six years, where she worked with a variety of properties including Kitson, Rachael Hale, LIFE Magazine, Thomas Kinkade and Heidi Klum.
The company is currently working with several potential licensees for the Robin Pickens brand – known for her linear art style - in the areas of social stationery, home décor and craft.
In addition, the firm has recently partnered with Traffic NYC, a creative management agency which represents IZAK Zenou. There are plans to licence the brand for all product categories including apparel, stationery and home décor. Zenou’s work is usually associated with exclusive brands and high-end publications. Among his clients are fashion brand Celine; Guerlain, which featured Zenou’s work on a limited edition Valentine’s fragrance; and La Samaritaine, the Parisian department store.

Thomas Kinkade
www.thomaskinkade.com

Painter of Light, Thomas Kinkade is celebrating his 25th anniversary as a published artist this year. Highlights for 2009 include the releases of the second Studio Masterwork in the artist's Disney Dreams Collection, Pinocchio Wishes Upon a Star, plus the centennial celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for which Kinkade became the official artist. His new work - Indy Excitement, 100 Years of Racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - is a celebration on canvas spanning 100 years of motorway history.
Graceland, Major League Baseball and NASCAR have also engaged Kinkade to produce work for them.

V&A Licensing
020 7942 2981

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world’s leading museum of art and design. Founded in 1852, the V&A is home to more than five million artefacts and its collections are unrivalled in their scope and diversity. The purpose of the V&A is to broaden access and knowledge of its collections and to encourage exploration of the cultures that created them, as well as to promote, support and develop creativity in individuals and industry by inspiring contemporary designers and manufacturers.
For the past couple of years, V&A Licensing has focused on developing products for the gift sector. One licensee which has achieved excellent results with its gift-boxed mugs is Creative Tops; indeed, it recently secured a silver in the prestigious Housewares Magazine Awards 2009.
The V&A’s plan has always been to expand the most popular designs into ranges of tableware and home textiles. The firm now has four lines of tableware: Brocade, Brompton Rose, Victoria and Chinioserie. John Lewis has been enjoying strong sales of the gift sets and is planning to increase the number of designs and expand the product types for introduction to stores in the autumn.
As well as broad distribution in the UK, some of the range are already being exported to customers in the US. In addition, V&A has developed exclusive lines of mugs for Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, due in-store by late summer.
Elsewhere, a new collection with Slemcka of gardening tools and accessories in launching in Wyevale Garden Centres in the autumn.

Vision Licensing
+ 44 207 593 0510

Vision’s collection of contemporary and fashion illustrators are going from strength to strength with a number of new recent signings.
Reilly, who has worked with Jimmy Choo and Matthew Williamson in the past, recently launched his own t-shirt line, now available at high-end retailers such as Dover Street Market.
Since January, WH Smith has been stocking a stationery line through Portico and two other stationery licensees in the US and Greece are about to launch their lines. Ravensburger is also reporting strong sales on the Reilly Puzzleball, as is GB Eye, which has licensed a number of his designs for posters, canvas prints and badges.
“The response we have had from Reilly’s and the other Vision artists’ work has been fantastic,” says MD Adam Meiklejohn. “Licensees are certainly looking for something different to set them apart from their competitors, as well as work with top designs and give retailers something fresh looking for their shelves.”

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