The idea for Clarke’s Lonely Dog was born after leaving his own pooch behind while on a family vacation. Turning that world of emotion into art, he invites viewers on a journey through the whimsical world of Port Alveridge, a place where cats and dogs live side-by-side.
Today, viewers and collectors from more than 40 countries, more than a million people, have visited his Queenstown Art Gallery. Now, ready to take his business to the next level and find some licensing partners, Clarke is taking his world to exhibit at the 2016 Licensing Expo.
Licensing Expo spoke with Clarke to learn more about his uniquely designed booth and what he’s looking for in a licensing partner.
What inspired you to create the Lonely
I’m a second-generation artist, so commercial and landscape painting is what I did for a living. Then, after leaving the family pooch behind and joking about it with the kids, I painted this character. I looked at what I created and wanted to know more about the world. I’ve spent the last number of years getting to know those characters.
It really has grabbed people’s attention. In Queenstown, we get people from all around the globe visiting here, and the art seems to have an international appeal. It grabs people’s attention and once they get drawn into it, they start asking questions. Each painting has a backstory.
Why Licensing Expo and why now?
We’ve been having a comfortable life exhibiting from a mom-and-pop gallery. But this is a new adventure. We’ve been preparing the brand and while we’ve exhibited in our own gallery and others in New Zealand, so far there has been no roll out to the global licensing community. We’re waiting for just the right deal. And this is
Show in the U.S., so it’s a great place to start.
What will grab the attention of attendees walking by your booth?
First of all, I’ve designed the booth myself. It has my stamp on it, and it’s a representation of the Lonely Dog world. I will be there personally sketching daily, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and people might find it entertaining to hear my running commentary of what I’m drawing and creating. People will enjoy getting inside of my world. Plus, we’ll be unveiling a collection of greeting cards I designed specifically for the Show. They are a series of vintage cards, with verse, songs, poems and humor.
What are you most looking forward to at the Show?
The response we get from people in general. I’m enthusiastic about seeing people’s eyes light up as they get introduced to the world of Port Alveridge. Most people pause when they walk by our gallery. Next thing you know is you find them inside and still reading three hours later. From time to time I get a sincere thank you from someone at a function. I don’t know what they have gone through but I’m reminded that the world needs humor and fantasy and that’s enormously encouraging to me.
What are you ultimately looking for in a licensing partner?
It’s most critical to find a partner that understand he brand and the world of the brand, and how to bring it to life, in whatever category that they’re working in. Probably the most important criteria for us is identifying suitable partners in the U.S. or internationally that have the same kind of passion for the brand that I feel.
For more information about the Lonely Dog collection, visit
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