An Interview with Jim Davis, Creator of Garfield

19 06 2015
(c) PAWS, INC.

(c) PAWS, INC.

Jim Davis stopped by The Art+Design Resource Center at Licensing Expo last week and he granted us, what turned out to be a very heartwarming interview. I also learned that today, June 19th is Garfield’s 37th Anniversary. So Happy Birthday Garfield! I love how cartoon characters age so gracefully!

I asked Jim specifically about he regained control of his intellectual property rights, which were earlier owned by UFS (United Feature Syndicate) and what’s in-store for the future with Garfield. (In advance, please excuse the naturally loud background noise on this video, which was difficult to avoid and edit out at Licensing Expo.)


Licensing Expo Recap and Mastering the Next Steps

14 06 2015

AAL Booth C13 at Licensing ExpoFrom set-up to break-down, the Licensing Expo delivered on its promise of bringing together worldwide brands, creators, artists, retailers and manufacturers to build business partnerships. We shared information daily from exhibitors and attendees in our blog…both from the Art+Design Zone, but also up-n-coming character properties.

Direction at Licensing Expo is so important!

Direction at Licensing Expo is so important!

I heard from many people, there was plenty of traffic and the leads were excellent.  I don’t think Licensing Expo has posted their ‘official’ attendance count yet, but the first day was pretty strong and the second day was even stronger with, of course, the inevitable slower third day. But for the Resource Center it never slowed down. We were still taking appointments even as the Booth was being demolished around us.

What a wonderful whirlwind. As Licensing Expo’s Art+Design Resource Center, we gave away 30+ free consultations, to exhibitors and attendees alike, as a part of our services. We also gave one of our new video classes and our 80+ free Minicourses to everyone, charged cell phones and laptops, printed urgent papers, and handed out bottled water to the thirsty.

Carlos Neville moved from the Art + Design Zone, closer to Characters, with his Pop the Balloon.

Carlos Neville moved from the Art + Design Zone, closer to Characters, with his Pop the Balloon.

Everyone participating in the Expo seemed to be very excited about the variety of prospects. While many artists mentioned they couldn’t get meetings with their ‘A’ list potential manufacturers, I heard later that several persistent artists caught their attention and managed to get those exciting appointments after all.

Joan Marie Celebrates Art in her first booth.

Joan Marie Celebrates Art in her first booth at Licensing Expo. She joins those who will be back in 2016.

Two hot topics throughout the Licensing Expo event were global exposure and digital media. Manufacturers from around the world met with artists and new properties and every corner of Asia was especially well represented at the Expo. All properties, new and evergreen, are seriously considering how they will gain and maintain exposure in this new digital world. And today it’s not just about exposure and the numbers, it’s all about ‘engagement.’

Debra Valencia and I catch up in her beautiful booth, designed as a brand concept store.

Debra Valencia and I catch up in her beautiful booth, designed as a brand concept store.

Engagement is how your audience will choose to interact with you and your brand. Also, who will help bring your products and brands into the limelight. Whether an artist or a property, there is a big trend in utilizing celebrities to increase exposure. Strategic alliances are well and good, as long as you have engagement once the audience grows. While this may not seem relevant to those of you who are new to art licensing, specifically, it does relate. Many new artists are turning to manufacturing some items on their own to develop their ‘following.’ Then online marketing and sales efforts will build your audience and strong sales numbers will absolutely impress manufacturers. It gives you something to leverage.



There was also a great deal of chatter about artists, designers and new properties getting high-level leads with companies the exhibitor didn’t expect! Each freely admitted they were in product categories they had never even considered would be interested. Exposure to so many types of properties and product categories at Licensing Expo is always an eye-opener and fuels broader business goals and plans.

Of course I heard complaints too, such as, ‘There is no room for new artists or properties.’ ‘How can we get anywhere when it’s all about the big-guys?’ ‘You need TV before you can do licensing.’ Or ‘You need publishing before you can get TV.’ But I was witness to several artists and properties who made great strides by being well prepared and really understanding what media players and manufacturers would want from a ‘newbie’ in the industry. Let’s see if they can stay the course and keep moving forward.

So now the final results for everyone is in the hands of our attention to detail and follow-up.

Mark Lubratt  and his Mom Linda spoke to many prospective   partners about Zoonicorns and will be attending Licensing Expo in 2016.

Mark Lubratt and his Mom Linda spoke to many prospective partners about Zoonicorns and will be attending Licensing Expo in 2016.


Now everyone has to sort and make decisions about how to follow-up with each and every person they met.  We have two classes this week to help you with these processes.  One is our FREE Ask J’net Q&A, in which I’ll focus on ‘After the Trade Show Questions.’  Feel free to ask about things: you saw at the Licensing Expo; that maybe didn’t make sense for you as a first-timer; which you are still confused about; and how to make the most of your time there through your strategic follow-up.  Ask any questions important to you right now and put them on your registration form. This Ask J’net Q&A is scheduled for Tuesday, June 16th at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT (you will receive your Classroom Access Information at least one-hour before the class). Register Here.

Art+Design Zone Action

Art+Design Zone Action

Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques

You won’t want to miss Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques. on Thursday, June 18th at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT. This live phone event will be 1.5 hours and the cost is $75. After your purchase, you can attend live or after the event you will receive … an audio (MP3) file, 60+ page PowerPoint presentation (PDF format) and video link to watch the entire class at your convenience. We know everyone has a different way of learning, so we offer more ways to learn than other training events in the licensing industry.

This class has 3 parts which cover the 1) Organization of your follow-up, how exactly to 2) Follow Through carefully and accurately on your leads and 3) Sales Techniques that will close the deal and grow your business. You may place your questions on the registration form, and they will be answered during the live event.

The training will focus on characteristics of licensing sales which you won’t find in a traditional sales class. You will receive your Classroom Access information the evening before the class, June 17th, via email. Register Here.

Hope you can join me for one or both of the classes this week! Please share all this information with those who might want to attend the Expo next year or learn about our business. Thanks.

New and Old Connections Ignited on Day 2 of Licensing Expo

10 06 2015

Jim Davis cropped setLicensing celebrity sighting alert at the Art + Design Resource Center Booth (C13)! Jim Davis, iconic cartoonist, best known as the creator of the comic strip Garfield, stopped by the booth to catch up with me.  He is excited to be celebrating Garfield’s 37th Anniversary on June 19th, 2015, as well as exploring all kinds of new digital and international deals. Don’t tell anyone, but he brought a plush cat with him–AND IT WASN’T GARFIELD. Jim was so nice, but the cat was grumpy.

supapopyesSean Danconia is an old soul. He loves everything retro, and really not much of anything after 1979. A 15-year career in design, animation, film, and recently fine art, Sean has taken his love of all things classic to create a universe sealed back in time — SupaPop.  The SupaPop story universe unfolds as a Time-Capsule-Toy city, created and sealed in the 60s in San Francisco. The time capsule is “popped” open in 2016, where a classic version of the city remains unevolved. A city where heroic idealism and a classic positive attitude is rampant, the comic book inspired universe encompasses more than 20 different themes packed with licensing opportunities. You can visit the SupaPop world at Booth V200, or better yet, join him at the Joseph Watson gallery tonight, June 10, at 7:30 pm for the world premiere reception.


kokonuzzBased out of Hong Kong, Kokonuzz is just one of four brands created by Spanish graphic designer, Alexis Bautista. With magnets, headwear, clothing, baby and digital sticker licenses in place from connections made at the Hong Kong Licensing Show, Kokonuzz is attending its first U.S. Licensing Expo to take its brand global. Kokonuzz is comprised of seven characters from different parts of the world who want to be YouTube celebrities. Their YouTube channel and other content follows their struggles towards a goal for stardom. Developed as a true mobile brand with licensing as the focus from the start, Kokonuzz characters live their own reality series, even posting comic strip commentaries to real world problems. Visit Kokonuzz at Booth V198.

Rugrats Creator Moves into a New Age and Other Licensing Expo Highlights

10 06 2015

rugratssplaatRugrats are going Splaat! Arlene Klasky, the co-creator of the 13-year hit Nickelodion cartoon, Rugrats, stopped by the Art + Design Resource Center booth (C15) yesterday to talk about her new project. Joining us with brand manager Megan Pearson, Arlene gave us a little sneak peak into her new property in development, Splaat!  All I can say is it’s great fun…and totally different. Now I’m a two-time fan!

American Posterity

American PosterityAmerican Posterity encompasses three very unique and different intellectual properties being launched at the Licensing Expo. The patented Interchangeable Stimulation Device is a system of cognitively stimulating panels that adhere to any baby or child carrying device. As a child ages the panels can be changed out to new age-appropriate designs. Zini & Friends is a character set that grows along with their kid buddies, morphing as they grow. On the younger side, each character is associated with a different shape, type of music, and language. As they grow, a different occupation, sport and learning style is associated with each character. Lastly, Chimpadoo is a character set that teaches sign language through everyday, hands-on applications, using sign images for things like bibs, plates, and bottles. Developed by Macey Schoen, you can check them all out at Booth E14.

Suzanne Cruise Creative Services Inc. Art Licensing

SuzanneSuzanne Cruise Creative Services Inc. Art Licensing has been coming to Licensing Expo as long as I have! After 20 years pf offering creative art licensing services to artists, Cruise represents 30 individual artists. The agency’s newest property, Sally Ball Sharp, has been very well received as a new and super versatile artist. A few other artists of note represented by Suzanne Cruise is Victoria Hutto, Gail Flores, and Lynnea Washburn.

Properties Getting Ready to Deal on the Second Day of the Licensing Show

10 06 2015

LeeWhat do you get when you cross a biologist and a camera? You get an incredible new art form created all from the glass of a microscope. Biologist turned photographer, Lee Hendrickson, has discovered a new world of photography by growing different crystals (think coffee and wine!) under a microscope and then shining light through the glass and photographing the result. Hendrickson, a career research scientist, author and inventor, uses this process to grow intricate crystal patterns creating a kaleidoscope of multi-dimensional designs. His unique talents caught the eye of Rinekwall, a renowned California-based design company, which teamed with Hendrickson to create a new line of home décor products. 

Jay’s Daughter

Lil BitOne of the few new properties that represent characters of color at Licensing Expo, creator Janeen Uzzell says visitors to her booth are calling the look of The Adventures of Lil’ Bit and Friends “bold.” A series of stories about a 7-year old girl named Lil’ Bit, who goes on wild adventures when she daydreams–while she’s supposed to be doing her homework–Janeen has 10 complete stories already developed. Created from a place of grief when her father died in 2009, Janeen’s stories celebrate her relationship with her Dad, his stories and Janeen’s real world life adventure as an engineer who has lived in Asia, Africa and India. Her goal is for girls and boys to find their own bravery, adventure and openness to new, diverse friends through Lil’ Bit’s love of travel. Not only her first year at Licensing Expo, this is Janeen’s first ever public presentation of her new property. You can visit Lil’ Bit and her friends at Booth D17.

Magic of PoofThe Magic Poof

Another special property with a strong and independent character of color at center stage, The Magic Poof is a book series and animated series in development about a girl with giant, magic hair. Magic hair that is also her best friend. With the first book in the series launched in 2013 and the second last year, creator Stephen Hodges expects an animated short to be completed by fall of this year. His first year at Licensing Expo, you can experience the power of the poof at Booth F15.

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