Figments of Imagination

Painted Planet Licensing Group, a division of Viking Folk Art Publications, is launching the work of artist Bobbie Takashima, whose imaginative Figments illustrations are being offered for licensing.

Takashima, who thinks of herself as a contemporary American folk artist, finds inspiration for her art in every aspect of her life. Her grandmother shows up in her paintings as a ladybug. Her sons are elves. She even places herself in her art. In one painting, she depicts herself with brushes in her hand in a hot air balloon shaped like a bunny, a reference to her journey to Washington as the official artist for the White House Easter Egg Roll in 2007.

As a child during World War II, Takashima lived for a time in a Japanese-Americans internment camp, where she was challenged to create playthings out of whatever materials she could find. Using her vivid imagination, she made veggie people from produce and doll clothes from leaves, weeds and flower petals. That creativity still fuels her paintings today and gives them a sense of the unexpected.

Her first line of licensed gift products, from Silvestri by Demdaco, was introduced in January. The Figments gift line, a collection of seven 12-inch sculptured scenes and 12 scenes nestled in egg shapes that are set in the fantasy world of Figment Hollow, is now available in gift stores. In 2011, Demdaco will expand the line to feature more traditional Santas and other figures. "We're building a brand with Demdaco," says Jan Draheim, Painted Planet's president. "Store owners have been asking for a book based on the Figments characters, and we are in the early stages of development in that area."

Draheim says Painted Planet is looking for licensees to work with the company to build Takashima's Figment brand. "We feel that it's a brand that could create a lot of excitement in the marketplace," she says. "Bobbie has a wide imagination that could go in almost any direction." Draheim sees paper products, stationery and gift items as natural product categories.

Painted Planet now represents 21 artists working in a wide range of different styles. "Even though we have only been a licensing agency for five years, we have worked with artists for 20 years, so what we bring to the table is a good working relationship with our artists and an understanding of color and the printing process," says Draheim.

Painted Planet recently signed Art Poulin and is seeking opportunities in licensing for his nostalgic American scenes.