Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Puppy Love





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.

13 comments:

andrea said...

I like that you take us into a world (design) that few of us have experience in. It's a real education for me! I was originally planning to study graphic design but ended up in a university fine arts programme instead. Not a very wise economic move! I can see how your work would make difficult puzzles. Those unbroken stretches of colour that make for such strong design would make for an excrutiatingly challenging puzzle!

HARDWAX said...

Intricate and complicated, I can certainly understand that, but wow the end product would be grand, must have been exciting and satisfying to have some of your creations put in a form that so many people could access, and puzzles, the nature of them, gives a very intimate knowledge into your work.

Janet said...

I checked in, hoping for one of your interesting "between Illo Fri" posts.I enjoy these so much;as Andrea said,"It's a real education" for me also!My mom loves doing puzzles and you're right...those big blue skies make for difficult puzzles!

Majeak Ann said...

wow..WONDERFUL Valerie..and congratulations! sure is fun..and a precious time to spend while put it all together!
My grandma collects puzzles..she is soo good at that!!

Brian the Mennonite said...

My seven year old son, Micah, was looking over my shoulder as I was reading your post. He just said that if that was a real house, he would visit there. I'm not so sure he would like to tackle a 1000 piece puzzle, however. That sounds like a Christmas day project for Joyce's mom and her four sisters.

"Maggie" said...

Valerie,

It's so great to read your posts and so interesting when you talk about the jobs you have taken. I love the pink house in "Puppy Love". What a great opportunity to have it made into a puzzle. I have done many a puzzle in my time and with my children. We later glued them and mounted them on their walls. Such a fun project. Thank you for your comments and support. Now what are two gals like us doing home on a Friday night reading blogs??? :)

Rayne said...

This is really cool. I never thought about the people who were behind the puzzles. Just kind of took it for granted that the puzzles were there and that was that. Interesting what goes on behind it. I really like the picture by the way. I love odd houses and stuctures.

Michelle said...

What a fantastic picture, a great puzzle too!

Andrea said...

wow! what a great idea. congratulations!

AscenderRisesAbove said...

How did this pink puppy house escape me previously?? Wonderful - but then I havent seen anything that is less then wonderful.

Congratulations!

Collin said...

Fantastic painting! Your buildings are always so creative. I think it would be awesome to design puzzles. I wish I was involved in some part of the gaming industry. Board games, card games, or puzzles. Are your puzzles still made?

LDahl said...

Hey pal, I really think the crooked pink house is most fun... and then the naughty doggie(!!!)too funny. I can really see why this would be popular in Japan, it is perfect!

piero said...

indeed beautiful