The Many Facets of Diamond Painting

Modern diamond painting—a craft in which the user applies tiny colored resin “diamonds” to a canvas in a process sometimes described as a hybrid of paint by number and cross stitch—is a relatively new hobby, introduced in 2015 in Asia and brought to the U.S. in 2017. Its fast pace of growth has quickly turned diamond painting into a licensing opportunity for artists as well as other IP owners, with Disney being one prominent player.

Diamond art’s popularity has been steadily on the rise since 2018. As with other crafts, interest spiked in March 2020 as the lockdown began. According to Google Trends, the number of searches related to diamond painting quadrupled from mid-March to the end of that month, followed by a smaller spike in December due to another surge in COVID-19 cases, coupled with the holidays.

Participants describe the activity as easy to learn and stress-reducing, thanks to the concentration needed to apply beads of a wide range of colors to their proper spot on the canvas. Kits come in a variety of degrees of difficulty to appeal to all ages and skill levels. During the pandemic, diamond painting has been embraced by a number of celebrities, from model Alessandra Ambrosio to dancer Peta Murgatroyd, and has become a trending topic on Tik Tok.

The growth of the craft has led to a crowded market of diamond painting brands and retailers, many of which sell mostly online. These players have differentiated themselves by the quality of their kits and supplies, the images they offer, where their products are made (e.g., U.S. or U.K. versus China), the sorts of gems they stock (colors, sizes, shapes, opacity, number of facets, etc.), and their range of projects (greeting cards, journals, pillows, clocks, and the like, as well as wall art). Some offer custom kits made from user-supplied photographs.

Each brand carries a wide range of images and frequently adds new options to retain the interest of avid fans. Some focus on stock art, in-house designs, or older, public domain images, but several tout their range of officially licensed artwork. Often the agreements are nonexclusive or encompass limited exclusive rights, leading some artists or other property owners to work with multiple companies in this space. Brands most often organize their images by theme (e.g., sunsets, cats, or romance) rather than by artist name, but a growing number of vendors are creating full, exclusive collections around individual creators and brands.

Among the many vendors producing, selling, and/or distributing licensed kits:

  • Diamond Art Club, which touts its licensing deals with independent artists and other properties. It introduced a collection with Cheryl Burke, a dancer and TV host best known for her work on Dancing with the Stars and a diamond painting aficionado, last year. It also offers the works of artists, including what it bills as the largest collection of diamond art available from illustrator Abraham Hunter, a collection with YouTuber and artist Baylee Rae, and a range with Chuck Pinson. The company experienced triple-digit year-on-year growth in 2020, when it entered the wholesale channel. It expects to announce licensing deals with several studios in 2021.
  • Diamond Dotz, which prominently highlighted its new license with Disney at Toy Fair 2020 and also has collections with Peanuts and Ohio State. It oversees a Diamond Dotz at Home brand, a home party and community platform, and supplies Diamond Dotz beads and accessories to other craft marketers, both for licensed and unlicensed kits. This helps its partners get into the diamond-art game and has established Diamond Dotz as a leading brand, both online and in retail locations. Both Camelot Dotz, a brand of the fabric licensee Camelot, and diamond art kits from Leisure Arts, a publisher of needle arts books and patterns, are “powered by Diamond Dotz,” with licensed examples offered by the two ranging from Warner Bros. and Norman Rockwell to the NFL and NHL.
  • Dreamer Designs, which sells kits featuring images from a roster of 21 artists. These include Sagittarius Gallery, which creates pop culture paintings in the style of Van Gogh, including a Grumpy Cat image; Barbara Felisky, who specializes in scenes of yards and porches; and Michael Humphries, whose work includes several images of lighthouses. Some of the artists sell just one or a few images through Dreamer, while others have collections of nearly a dozen works.
  • Treasure Studios Art, which features the work of more than a dozen artists, ranging from Debra Dickson to Lizzy Falcon to Howard Robinson. The latter is a painter of animals with a well-established licensing program, including for his Selfies brand, some examples of which are included among his Treasure Studios’ portfolio.
  • Paint with Diamonds, the company that holds claim to bringing the craft to North America and offers more than 3,000 officially licensed kits. It highlights collections with artists Jim Warren, Dean Russo, Paul Walsh, Ricardo Chavez-Mendez, Shannon Roberts, and Shiloh Sophia McCloud. In addition, it offers a range of artistic renditions of musicians and other celebrities, incorporating images of Elvis, The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, and others, including several by Warren.
  • Craftibly, a bricks-and-mortar store in Fort Worth, Texas, that specializes only in diamond art and also has an online presence. It offers works from a variety of artists. The most recent additions, announced in March, include Jody Bergsma with six images, Mark Daehlin with seven, Dennis Lewan with six, and David Rottinghouse with four.
  • Craft Buddy, a U.K. company that markets its diamond painting kits under the Crystal Art brand. It signed a license with Disney in November 2020, and also offers a collection of Crystal Art kits under the Thomas Kinkade license.
  • Diamond Painting Kits, which is based in the Netherlands and offers kits under the Diamond Art Home brand in the U.S. and U.K. It sells a line of Disney kits in mosaic and stained-glass styles, as well as simple designs of younger versions of characters such as Pooh and others.
  • Diamond Paintings U.K., which is based in the Philippines and ships to the U.K. and Europe. It offers kits tied to 14 English football clubs, as well as character-related products for a range of Disney properties, Barbie, Peanuts, Marvel and DC Comics, The Gruffalo, SpongeBob, and Spyro the Dragon.

This is a craft that has taken off globally, and other vendors and retailers across the world also manufacture and/or sell licensed kits. In addition to a strong ecommerce presence, both through these specialists and generalist players such as Amazon, diamond art kits are sold through craft chains such as Joann, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and their international equivalents, as well as at mass merchants including Walmart and Target.

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