Fine art photographer Leonard Morris captures the simple, yet unnoticed beauty of objects that are often considered utilitarian or insignificant. Typically undetected by the average eye, Morris recognizes the simplistic beauty of paper plates, discarded dried flowers, and leaves. "These objects are markers of our experiences and are often tossed aside after our conditioned perception of their value has been realized," says Morris, whose warm, sepia-toned photos are originally captured in black and white.
Morris, who was once a painter and still-life photographer, aims to move into licensing. He believes that advances in technology have improved the quality of mass-produced items, enabling consumers to enjoy a wider choice of items at lower price points. "I am interested in pursuing art prints, greeting cards, paper products, bed linens, and textiles," he says.
A traditional Hawaiian blessing, led by Hawaiian cultural advisor Ka'ipo Ho, marked the opening of The Wyland Waikiki hotel in April. The boutique-style hotel boasts chic interiors inspired by the iconic artwork and conservation themes of renowned marine life artist Wyland. The first art-themed hotel in Hawaii, The Wyland Waikiki offers 405 rooms and suites that entice guests with pillow-top beds embellished with Wyland motifs.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a hint of sea air and a sense of tranquility. The design reflects an ocean-hued color scheme and sleek contemporary furnishings. The stylish space also serves as an art studio that displays Wyland's water-themed paintings, photographs, and sculptures. Guests can either kick back in the comfortable library, chill out in the "chill" room where they can read or watch TV, or mingle in the Wy-Bar lounge that overlooks the pool. "Given the tremendous appeal of nature and the environment, we're finding extended opportunities in other categories, including an exclusive bed and bath line and home furnishings created around the Wyland Hotel brands," says Wyland. "This is a natural way for us to provide a completed line of branded products for the household, from the children's rooms to the parents' rooms."
The realistically rendered martinis, olives, grapes, and corks that spring to life in artist Michael Godard's cocktail-themed paintings are described as "so realistic that you feel the subjects will leap off the canvas." After inking an agreement with Starlite Originals, under the Starlite Studios division, Godard's two-dimensional work goes 3-D. A collection of limited-edition beverage tap handles will be the first of a series of sculptural decor items. The tap handles, which will depict some of Godard's best-known icons, are designed to be sculptural conversation pieces, but can also be used on Kegerators or bar taps. The collection, which will be limited to 2,500 pieces, will be available in September at Oh My Godard galleries and via Godard's Website. Godard is currently offering licenses for stationery, greeting cards, paper goods, and party supplies; liquor/beverage; slot machines; apparel (men's, women's, T-shirts, and casual); automotive accessories; and furniture. "I am also looking for opportunities with other brands or celebrities to create art for both companies to use for promotion and licensed co-branding," he says. Suggested retails will range from $150 to $200.
Studio Espinosa, the husband-and-wife creative team of Leo and Laura Espinosa, is licensing its signature "Neocomic" designs to a host of new categories. First to debut is Sushi Pack, an entertainment property for tweens that was discovered by American Greetings Properties and written by the animation legends Tom Ruegger and Nicholas Hollander of "Animaniacs" and "Pinky and the Brain" fame. Co-produced by American Greetings and DIC, "Sushi Pack," an action-packed adventure about five crime-fighting pieces of sushi, will showcase this fall on CBS' Saturday morning programming block along with hit properties "Strawberry Shortcake" and "Care Bears."
"Sushi Pack products planned for a fall 2008 launch in the U.S. include toys (girls and boys) and a full line of publishing," says Tamra Knepfer, senior vice president, Consumer Products, American Greetings Properties. "Random House is onboard as our publishing partner and we are in discussion with potential partners for toys." In addition, social expressions (American Greetings) are scheduled for a 2009 launch. Additional categories open include apparel and domestics.
In other news, Studio Espinosa inked an agreement with Houghton-Mifflin for a comic-style picture book based on the Otis and Rae property, which was inspired by the friendship between their son and the girl next door. The book will hit retail in spring 2008, but the Espinosa team will retain all other rights for Otis and Rae. "We will be actively seeking partners in merchandising and entertainment to support the publishing initiative," says Laura Espinosa, president, Studio Espinosa.
Former architect Hartwig Braun aims to build a licensing program for his Arty Globe Collection, which captures the bustling energy of capital cities such as New York, London, Paris, and Berlin. Hartwig's colorful cartoonlike imagery lands on an assortment of gift products following recent agreements with GB Eye and Nouvelles Images. GB Eye's focus is a line of maxi posters and photique-blocs (boxed prints that resemble stretched canvases on frames), and Nouvelles Images debuts art prints and "ad-easy" sticker greeting cards. Available this month at Virgin Mega Stores, HMV, Woolworth, Wal-Mart, and specialty shops worldwide; suggested retails range from $10 to $160. Due to the nature of the images and the capital cities theme, the Arty Globe Collection is ideal for destination gift products. "We would like to find licensees in the New York gift market for T-shirts, magnets, mugs, and more," says Isaac Lilos, managing director, Arty Globe.
Renowned for his interior design work that stretches from Los Angeles to Miami and across the Atlantic, British-born artist Barrie Livingstone readies himself for his next creative project—a foray into licensing. Livingstone, a self-confessed travel addict now based in Miami, recently added photography to his growing list of passions. His subjects range from colorful floral and exotic plant themes to tranquil seascapes. "I am interested in pursuing posters and prints, calendars, and publishing opportunities," says Livingstone, who is currently working on his first book, Colour: Miami, a color resource that captures Miami's unique flora and fauna and then translates the images into paint colors that can be used for home interiors and exteriors.