Posted on 47 Comments

Some Assembly Required

A couple of years ago, through an art licensing agency, Spilsbury licensed four of my paintings on puzzles. But they’re a US company that doesn’t ship to Canada, which annoyed several subscribers.

When a company buys limited rights to put my art on a product, they decide which images they want, how many to create, and when they want to produce them.

I’ve received so many requests for puzzles, however, that I’ve decided to create some of my own. Of course, that means investing in production up front, but then I control which images and quantity to make.

I wanted to source them from a company specializing in puzzles rather than one printing many different products. I wanted sturdy, uniquely shaped puzzle pieces with excellent printing and packaging.

Based in Victoria, I liked what I saw and read on the Puzzles Unlimited site. I talked about pricing and production with a sales rep, uploaded an image and paid for a sample 504-piece puzzle. It arrived between Christmas and New Year’s Day. While the sample box is basic, the company will design a branded box featuring my name, website, and any other details I want to add.

Shonna and I were supposed to spend Christmas up north with her family, but the nasty roads and weather that weekend made that a bad idea, so we stayed home. Shonna was off the whole week, and my workload was light, a perfect window for product testing.
We laughed at our own arrogance, thinking this would be an afternoon diversion for a few hours. Instead, it took us several hours each day for three days to assemble it. Neither of us remembers the last time we put a puzzle together, so it’s unlikely we’ve done one as adults.

I sent snapshots to a couple of friends, and both asked the same question. “Is it easier to put together since you painted the image?”

NOPE! Not even a little.

More than once, while trying to find a piece, I complained to Shonna about the artist.

“What kind of psychopath puts so much detailed fur and grass in one painting?!”
It became an obsession for both of us. After dinner last Thursday night, I asked Shonna what she wanted to watch on TV. She said she’d much rather work on the puzzle, and I agreed. I was pleased with the whole experience, though we were disappointed when it was over. We did, however, learn a valuable lesson on this one. Don’t assemble a puzzle with a lot of brown and beige texture on a surface with a lot of brown and beige texture. Newbie mistake.

We finished it on New Year’s Eve. Clearly, our neighbours will never have to complain about the noise from our wild partying lifestyle.

This is a quality puzzle with sturdy pieces and clean printing. I want to have four designs available in the spring so that I have them for the Calgary Expo.

These are specialty items rather than generic mass market products, so they’ll retail between $35 and $39 each. From what I’ve seen at markets, plus information from the supplier and others, that’s about right for a niche product purchased directly from the artist.
This puzzle is 16″ X20″ with 504 pieces, which will be the dimensions and count for the first orders. For casual puzzlers like us, it’s the perfect size and difficulty. However, it wasn’t too easy, and we could get it done and still enjoy it.

I know that hardcore puzzle enthusiasts prefer 1000 pieces or more, but I don’t know if that’s who’ll buy these. Will it be diehard puzzlers or those looking for an entertaining pastime a couple or family can do together?

Now I must decide on the first four images. Spilsbury has the exclusive puzzle license for my Smiling Tiger, Bald Eagle, Wolf and Great Horned Owl. So those are out of consideration.

The most popular prints won’t necessarily be the best puzzles. The image must be one people like but also fun and challenging to put together without too much frustration.

Grizzly on Grass is one of my most popular paintings, and it was a fun puzzle, so that’s one of the four. The Otter is one of my best-selling prints but has a big blue background, which might be a problem in a puzzle.

So for all of the images you see here, I reimagined them as puzzles rather than prints and cropped and sized them accordingly. If I chose four right now, I’d go with Grizzly on Grass, Otter, Sea Turtle and T-Rex.
I’m also considering these cropped versions of the Flamingo, Parrot, Squirrel, Ring-tailed Lemur, and Snow Day.

But I’d love to hear your opinion.

  1. Would you want to buy one of these puzzles?
  2. In order of preference, which four would be your favourites on a puzzle?

Please let me know in the comments, and feel free to add any other thoughts you’d like to share.

Thanks!
Patrick

47 thoughts on “Some Assembly Required

  1. Hi! I’m not a great puzzler by any means but I absolutely love the artwork. I’d go with lemur, T-Rex, Otter and Grizzly on Grass.

  2. Awesome idea Patrick – you are full of them!
    I like Grizzly on Grass, Sea Otter, Turtle and Parrot.
    Can’t wait to purchase one.

  3. I will definitely buy one if not all four as my lovely group of friends all enjoy puzzles at the Lakehouse. My choices are Otter, Sea Turtle, Parrot and Flamingo. I already have the Otter gift card ready for a birthday. Such talent, I think puzzles are a wonderful addition to your repertoire.

  4. Snow day
    Squirrel
    Turtle
    Grizzly
    Dedicated puzzle people like the challenge , so blue sky and green grass and trees are good?

  5. Great idea!
    I’d buy one (or more).

    Parrot
    Lemur
    Squirrel
    Otter

    Chosen because I love colour in my puzzles.

  6. Hey-love the puzzle idea! Here are my top picks:

    Otter
    Sea Turtle
    Snow Day
    Parrot

    Heck-any/all of them will be great! Our dining room table has currently been taken over by a puzzle!

  7. I cannot wait for you to make these into puzzles!! Please send a link when they are ready. I would love to do Snow Day. I love the joy in this picture. The otter I think would be my next pick. 🙂 thanks.

  8. I’d love to see the Parrot and Flamingo! And I will be purchasing the TRex.

  9. I sure did chuckle while reading your post this week, so thank you! My input on the puzzles would definitely be these FIVE (only because I couldn’t pick four) in order: Parrot, Sea Turtle, Otter, Grizzly on Grass and T-Rex. But the truth is all of your paintings would be greats as puzzles. Keep up the great work!

  10. Would love to buy these 500 pieces is perfect for the whole family
    My four favourites are
    Snow day
    Flamingo
    Squirrel
    Otter

  11. TAKE MY MONEY! Where do I pre-purchase! 🙂 And … yes, 1000 pieces would be my jam! My four picks would be Ring Tail Lemur, Snow Day, Parrot, and Otter … they have texture and/or colour variation and sections to build out from (colours, mouths, edges between parts). Ok … I want the Sea Turtle too. Can’t wait!

  12. Yes I would buy a puzzle or two.

    Order of preference:
    Otter
    Snow Day
    Grizzly on Grass
    Sea Turtle
    Lemur

    Great job!

  13. So, in order of preference, I would choose Grizzly, Otter, Snow Day, and T Rex. And if you had another wolf image, I would 100% get that for someone I love who loves wolves and could use something to distract from thinking about chemo.

  14. My top choices would be: (1) Squirrel (Johnny Cache); (2) Snow Day; (3) Flamingo; and (4) Parrot. I like the artwork in these paintings and the colors are diverse enough that I could possibly put together at least a little of each puzzle. It would take some head scratching and, no doubt, carrying a puzzle on a drawing board to a window (or a lamp to a drawing board) to actually complete a picture or even a small area of the puzzle. But then, that would be a first for me. I can’t remember doing jigsaw puzzles in childhood but that was a long time ago!

    1. Johnny Cache! That’s great, Barb. You certainly have a knack for naming my animals in your gang. 🙂

  15. Hi Patrick,
    This is feedback on your puzzle idea. I think it is good idea…but…
    I’m not a puzzle person myself but my wife is a big puzzler, she even has a mobile puzzle board and has a puzzle going all the time, working at 1000 piece puzzles for an hour or two every day.
    She loves your art but says she wouldn’t buy puzzles of your work because they would be too difficult and too frustrating because there are too many areas that are the same, such as fur. Even at 500 pieces.
    That notwithstanding my four favourites in order of preference are; Squirrel, Grizzly, Otter and T-Rex.
    Good luck with your new venture!

    1. Thanks, Tom. I’m after all opinions, as they all help with decisions. I’m hearing both sides of that, some who love that challenge, others who say it will diminish their enjoyment of putting it together. After the first order, I’ll be asking for feedback again to find out how people fared when assembling. We did find the fur frustrating at times, but also very satisfying when we solved it. One of the nice things about this puzzle was that when it became difficult to differentiate fur pieces, the shape of the pieces helped a lot. We both figured, however, that 1000 piece of the Grizzly, with smaller pieces, might not have been as fun as the 500 due to the fur factor. As with any new venture, some trial and error is expected. 🙂

  16. Hey Patrick! We are very excited at the thought of puzzle options! We absolutely would scoop at least one up!
    Our tops 4 favourites (though so hard to choose from) would be:
    Sea turtle, grizzly, otter, and snow day.
    It was a tough choice as we love all of your art! Close 5th place was Flaminog!
    Wishing you an awesome 2023!

  17. I love puzzles, but yes it would be a challenge to do the sea turtle or grizzly because of all the same puzzle colors. But isn’t that why a puzzler does a puzzle, we like a challenge. I would buy them and like snow day, squirrel, parrot and lemur.

  18. Excellent, these are now marked for Christmas presents. My choice at the moment would be sea turtle, t-Rex, parrot, and squirrel, but all of them would be good choices.

  19. Parrot, Flamingo, and T-Rex. These because they have varying range of bright colours. I like puzzles that make me happy… and having distinct sections of colour and defined points of focus make it less inputs. I get bored with a limited number of colours.

    1. That’s why I added those into the choices. They’re not the most popular prints, but I figured for the reasons you mentioned, they’d be better for puzzles. All this feedback I’m getting is wonderful! Thanks.

  20. Of course I’d get one. 1000 pieces would be better but don’t take Darrel’s suggestion about cutting the 500 pieces in half!
    I definitely, in order, would pick Bear on Grass, Parrot, Snow Day and Sea Turtle.
    The white fold up tables are the best for doing puzzles. Also very good for sewing and quilting as well.

  21. GROUP REPLY!

    Hi everybody. Thanks so much for all of this valuable feedback. You’re really helping me out and it’s likely I’ll change at least one of the original four I chose, based on the choices you’ve made. We all get a ton of email, so the fact that you took the time to read my latest issue of A Wilder View and click through to leave a comment here on the post is greatly appreciated. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

    And for anyone else who just got here to chime in with choices, keep ’em coming! Please and thank you.

    Cheers!

    1. Hey Patrick,
      For grown ups;
      Griz
      Otter
      Lemur
      T Rex

      Depending on the size of the puzzle pieces, if some puzzles had large pieces little hands would probably go for griz, otter, and squirrel. Little boys would like T Rex.

      I like the all!

  22. Definitely Snow Day, Otter, Sea Turtle and Parrot. Great choice in companies too ? Looking forward to purchasing 1 (or all 4! )

  23. Hi Patrick,
    I would pick the Parrot, Otter, Sea Turtle and Lemur in that order, but do love them all. 😉
    Great idea!
    Take care.
    Sherri

  24. Patrick we Patersons are puzzle people Here are the four I will buy when available #1 Griz on Grass for me #2 Otter Sky and water could drive you to drink (either Kendall or Ashley) #3 Squirrel could drive you nuts for Craig and last but not least #4 Snow Days for Drew because no more snow in his life and I think this one would be the most difficult one Nothing like getting even with him Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Shonna Hugs

    1. Happy New Year to you and Shonna.

      My faves, in no particular order, are:
      T-Rex
      Flamingo
      Parrot
      Lemur

      Cheers,
      Big Kev

  25. Hi Patrick, I love these and would definitely buy them, if you are happy to mail a big parcel to Australia.
    Grizzly on Grass, Otter, Sea Turtle and Squirrel are my favourites.
    Best wishes for 2023,
    Sally

    1. Always happy to send your parcels, Sally! As always, thanks for your continued support. And Happy New Year!

  26. Hi Patrick
    Love the puzzles :). Love the 3 animals, but I would prefer the parrot over the T-Rex.
    Hope they do well for you

    1. The Parrot over the T-Rex seems to be a popular opinion. It was Shonna’s idea to include that one as a choice and she was spot on. It will no doubt be one of the four.

  27. I would love to do these puzzles. The bear would be my number one choice followed by the turtle, otter and parrot.

  28. Would love these!
    1. Grizzly
    2. Otter
    3. Squirrel (instead of T-Rex)
    4. Turtle

  29. Happy New Year,
    The pictures I would choose would be:
    Bear
    Otter
    Turtle
    Squirrel

    I would also like the Rat, but that is not a choice!
    All the best 🙂

    1. “the Rat”

      Not a choice YET, anyway. I love that painting, but people have their phobias and it’s not super popular. Thanks for voting! 🙂

  30. Patrick
    Puzzles? What an inspired idea. Something your fan/client base can do to enjoy your creations in a whole new tactile way. As I have found, in the past, that constantly rubbing my fingers on my prints leaves smudges and causes a glare of unmitigated “Do Not Do That” from my wife.
    I am glad you and Shonna were able to get a good work out on your puzzle. As to the “but it should be easy for you, you’re the artist” theory. If that were true, why are puzzles so challenging? There’s the picture on the box right in front of you? So, HA.
    I agree with Grizzly on Grass and Otter. However, Squirrel and Snow Day would be my choices to round out the “first fabulous four”. Your decision my vary and that’s all right.
    Will your puzzles be able to be available for shipping across your Southern border? With, of course, the added requisite extra stipend to satisfy the government and civil requirements?
    Regardless, many thanks for your messages and the entertainment you provide.
    Happy New Year to you both.

    1. Thanks, Steve! The voting has been incredibly helpful. While three of my original four will still be going ahead, there’s a replacement based on voting. I’ll talk about that in another post once I’ve finalized everything.

      Shipping is another concern I need to figure out. That’s been frustrating for prints this year as costs have gone up to a ridiculous level. I actually talked a long-time customer out of buying one print the other day, advising her to wait until there was another she wanted as two ship for the same cost as one, but one is almost as much as the print.

      Thankfully, the puzzle box is well designed, small and light. So I’ll be doing some shipping tests next week to devise the most economical means of delivery. With many of my subscribers living in the US, I want these to be available to them (you!) as well.

      Happy New Year!

  31. ANOTHER GROUP REPLY!

    Thanks again for all of the valuable input, folks! You’ve helped me a lot and I appreciate it. Cheers!

    And if you just got here, still time to vote. I’d love to hear more thoughts.

  32. OMG, I LOVE puzzles. I just wish there was a cheaper way to ship to the states. Although I do have a friend that lives in Victoria and she could store my items until I can get over to pick them up. Hmmmm…..

    Love love love your work! Have you ever done a opossum?

    Shelley in Sequim, WA

    1. Hi Shelley. I’ll be checking on shipping costs this week to see what I can do to minimize that, but it’s unlikely I’ll be able to make a big dent. That’s unfortunately beyond my control and it’s just a tough time for shipping costs right now.

      I haven’t done an opossum yet, but that’s a good one to add to the list. Thanks!

  33. Hi Patrick
    I would definitely buy a puzzle. Trex, sea turtle are my top 2. I’d also like the otter. Good luck with the puzzle venture!

  34. As an avid puzzler, love this idea, although would really look forward to 1000 pieces, as I like a challenge. I also live near Victoria, so that would be super helpful, as maybe there’s a possibility of picking it up and now having to have it shipped. My choices would be Grizzly on Grass, Otter, Parrot and Lemur as they would give me that challenge! Good luck, and hope you go into 1000 pieces too!

    1. Thanks, Ingrid! The company is in Victoria but their factory is elsewhere and they ship directly to me, so there wouldn’t be anywhere near you to pick it up, unfortunately. As much as I’d like to launch the 500s and 1000s at the same time, the larger piece puzzles will have to wait until later in the year, once I see how demand for the first group works out. But I will definitely keep you and other subscribers notified. Cheers!

  35. Hi Patrick! We would definitely purchase a puzzle. We would prefer one with more pieces but we’ll take anything we can get.
    In order of preference, I’d love to see the Squirrel, the Otter, the Sea Turtle, and the Parrot. Best of luck in this endeavour. I can’t wait to do a puzzle.

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