With their bright colors and pop-culture references, painters identified as pop artists, from Roy Lichtenstein to Damien Hirst, have been attractive as licensing and collaboration partners almost since they first came on the scene in the 1950s. The past year is no exception as pop artists, both current and classic, have been expanding their licensing activities in a variety of ways:
- Signing new agents. Lisa Marks Associates began representing the Peter Mars Authentic brand, with plans for collaborations and licensing deals across a variety of categories, while Level Brands’ Encore Endeavor One division, part of the Kathy Ireland Worldwide empire, signed Romero Britto as a client for licensing and brand management.
- Forging traditional licensing deals. Calvin Klein is featuring Andy Warhol imagery on an apparel assortment, while Kidrobot expanded its range of collectible figures inspired by Warhol’s artwork.
- Offering brand collaborations. Philip Colbert of The Rodnik Band partnered with Discovery Consumer Products for a Shark Week apparel and accessories collection; earlier last year he collaborated with Perfetti Van Melle’s Chupa Chups brand.
- Driving designer collaborations. Warhol’s estate teamed with Billabong for a second surfwear collection; Takeshi Murakami is working with designer Virgil Abloh to create t-shirts and totes; Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton launched a “Masters” collection; and Keith Haring’s estate authorized Coach to include Haring images in its spring/summer 2018 accessories assortment, as well as Attaquer to produce a 10-piece biking-fashion capsule for Australian consumers.
- Participating in museum spin-offs. L.A. art museum The Broad signed Bernardaud for a collection of tableware inspired by pop artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors retrospective, which traveled to museums in five cities across North America.
- Extending into entertainment. Britto and his talent reps at Grey Matter and United Talent Agency signed a development deal with Nelvana for an animated TV series with a working title of Happy Art Happy Life.
Perhaps because they are comfortable with pop culture and commercialism, pop artists and their estates often tend to be more adventurous in their licensing and related ventures than artists in other genres, who are more apt to stick with tried-and-true categories and traditional types of deals.