Wednesday, March 01, 2006
In 1989 a puzzle deal just fell into my lap. I landed a Japanese agent through my friend, artist Michael Bedard. Bedard and I lived together for 7 years and we shared the same publisher but by this time we were just friends. During the 80's and into the early 90's Japanese agents were coming here and signing deals with artists for all kinds of amazing products. Bedard is originally from (Winsor, Ontario) and Stuart Moskowitz a well known Topanga artist and one of Michaels oldest friends both had good deals selling and licensing their work in Japan. Both of these artists have sold more posters and prints than probably any other artists. Michael did an animated ad campaign for Akai. He had a wonderful agent and introduced me, he liked my work and I signed on and got a major puzzle deal . The company that produced the puzzles, Yamakatsu really made a perfect product. Puzzles were super popular there! They were made replete with a board that folded and fit in the box (an ingenious design). You made the puzzle and could adhere it to the board with the glue and sponge that they provided. The highest quality materials were used, the printing was exceptional and they lifted portions of the image to decorate all four sides of the lid. They made a VW (Valerie Walsh) logo sticker for me that was added to the side of each box.
My puzzles became very popular so they did several runs. One reason people liked them was they were difficult to put together, also they are 1000 pieces. I always have a lot of sky and open space in my paintings and that contributes to the degree of difficulty, which is what you want with puzzles. Collectors would hang them on their walls and then on to the next puzzle. The best part was they used my existing work! That rarely happens for me, usually I have to create something for the project or collector. They really didn't understand some of the sayings like "Puppy Love" and if you will notice the picture is a little naughty so it was cute that they chose that image. They also used Five o' clock, Strumpeter, and After Midnite. It makes for such a nice business experience when a commercial product is treated like a piece of art.