Sketches and Scribbles

Last week, Firefly Brand Management announced that it had signed on to represent professional doodler Todd Goldman for licensing representation. That follows on the heels of Striker Entertainment being retained by the Doodle Boy. It turns out that a long list of professional doodle artists from around the world promote their hand-drawn patterns and characters through social media, how-to videos, live appearances, promotional partnerships, and merchandise. Their work is often very detailed and predominantly black-and-white, although the looks vary widely.

A few of those who have authorized the use of their names and art for licensed and collaborative products:

  • Goldman, who just signed with Firefly, is a U.S.-based artist best known for his David & Goliath t-shirt and poster brand, which has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. The label has attracted attention for its use of the work of other artists, complete with allegations of plagiarism, and for its controversial slogans and phrases. A number of celebrities collect his original artwork. Goldman has also written many children’s books for Random House, Bloomsbury, Simon & Schuster, and Scholastic under the pen name Todd H. Doodler, including the Bear in Underwear series. Firefly will seek opportunities in all categories and retail tiers for Bear in Underwear, as well as other Goldman brands, including Stoopid Factory, Todd Art, Tighty Whitey Toys, Goodbye Kitty, Boys Are Stupid, and Bow Wow Meow.
  • Doodle Boy is the pen name of Joe Whale, a tween from Britain who recently appeared on NBC’s Little Big Shots. Striker is in the early days of putting together a licensing program for all ages. Whale, who gained a following after his parents and an art teacher shared some of his images on their social media platforms, is known for creating a mural at a local restaurant and for his how-to-doodle videos on social media. The massive fires in Australia in 2019 inspired him to create prints of two of his works, which were sold to benefit the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia.
  • Johanna Basford, also of the U.K., is often recognized as the artist who launched the adult coloring book craze. She has sold more than 21 million coloring books, with Penguin as her U.S. licensee. A self-described “ink evangelist,” she appears on most lists of doodle influentials (and, yes, such lists exist). Her licensing and collaboration activities have ranged from puzzles with Buffalo Games to a limited-edition, four-product collection of green household products with Method (in the U.K. and Europe), along with calendars, journals, stationery, and tech accessories. Her website includes a Colouring Community whose members share their colored versions of her work as well as their own doodles, vote on her illustrations for commercial partners including Method, and more.
  • Neha Doodles, the pen name of Neha Sharma, is a social media star based in India known for her activism and for her hobby-turned-full-time career, doodling. She has done contract and collaborative projects with a number of brands, including Dunkin Donuts, The Body Shop, Nokia, and Ford India. She has also published a line of comics in India.
  • Mr. Doodle, a.k.a. British artist Sam Cox, has created a world called DoodleLand around his intricate drawings—sometimes described as “graffiti spaghetti”—and has worked with partners including Fendi, Adidas, New Balance, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, art supply store Cass Art, MTV, and Boardies. He has a strong social media and traditional media presence and participates in live events around the world.
  • Jon Burgerman, a British-born, Brooklyn-based artist, is often credited with being the leading player in doodle art, and he has one of the longest careers of any pro doodler. His licensing and collaboration deals over more than a decade have ranged from Nike and Rip Curl to Nintendo, Levi’s, and MTV. Projects have ranged from producing a collaborative style guide for The Beano, to creating an interpretation of SpongeBob for the character’s 29th anniversary, to developing collections of vinyl figurines with Kidrobot, and he has been the focus of art exhibits around the world.

These are just a handful of the professional doodle artists who have strong online and social media presences and product lines of some sort. This segment of the art business has been popular for years, but has gained a higher profile thanks to the adult coloring book craze of a couple of years ago, which led to a burst of consumer products featuring this style of art (and is seeing another boost during the COVID-19 pandemic).

Doodling offers many characteristics that fit with broader current trends. It satisfies consumers’ desire to create DIY/Maker projects, no matter their level of skill, and it lends itself to sharing with a community. Creating doodle art, as well as watching videos of professionals creating it, is also a way to reduce stress, an important part of the self-care movement. All of these attributes, along with the fact that doodling is a pleasant way to pass the time, are in demand during the coronavirus lockdown.

Speaking of the pandemic, Raugust Communications has launched a Coronavirus Resource Page that gathers together all of our writings related to the crisis. It provides easy access to articles that were published first in RaugustReports, in Raugust Communications’ monthly e-newsletter, or in other publications, as well as featuring pieces written specifically for the resource page. Topics range from broad overviews of COVID-19-related trends as the crisis evolves, to sales opportunities created by the pandemic, to how licensing executives are marketing themselves during difficult times. Visit the Coronavirus Resource Page here, and check back often; it is regularly updated.

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