Thursday, October 29, 2020

Return of the Puzzles

 A couple of days ago I finally heard back from my friend down south, the one who got the idea to try turning my artwork into jigsaw puzzles. Such puzzles became popular this past year- people were trapped indoors for long periods of time, and these things can be a nice low tech way to keep occupied. As a result, some stores couldn't keep up with the demand.  My friend, who has collected some of my art of the years, thought my prints would work as puzzle images, and it seemed a plausible idea. My work tends to have bold graphics, solid shapes and colors, images of recognizable objects. So she started looking into the process, and even had a bunch of prototypes made up, mostly around my boardwalk prints, which have all of the above characteristics. She sent them to me to try out.  I tried two of them, both about 20"x30".  Went with color images on all these, figuring they would be easier to put together and have more appeal. The biggest problem seemed to be finding space to work on them. A table is needed, and since these take a while to put together, it needs to be a table that can be used to hold a puzzle for days or weeks.  The ones I tried came from two different manufacturers, so slight difference in how the pieces were cut, but the images reproduced well in both cases.  We learned that my art does translate well into jigsaw puzzles, and that one needs space to work on them.  But then I didn't hear from my friend since July.  I hoped she was okay, but covid being what it is, one never knows.  Sent an email a few weeks ago, and got a reply late last night. 

Good news- she is alive and well, and still interested in this project.  She got called back into work and was putting in some long hours, which accounted for her absence in communication.  

What we know is that the product is good.  We are both doing research into how they work as puzzles (having friends and family try them out, seeing feedback)  What remains is the question of whether they can be made at an affordable price and how and where to sell them.  The prototypes are all beautiful, but cost more than most people would pay for amusement.  And while both of us have residences in shore communities where puzzles featuring boardwalks could be popular,  the pandemic closed a lot of local shops and places that sell souvenirs, cutting off what would have been a good option.  Months ago she had suggested displaying one in the building that has my Studio, a sea coast town, but since the spring the building has been closed to the public, one of those state laws. 

One thing that may be in our favor is we are moving toward the cold months of the year- more indoor activities, which can include puzzles. According to the news, the virus may be making a comeback into this area, as it overtakes the entire country.   That's bad for a lot of reasons, but a stay at home order could create a demand.  This seems like a time to act, get product made and into the public. There may be a lot of emails in the near future.


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