One of the most fun ways to choose your next design idea is through collaborations. This could be either through partnering with another designer on an idea or doing outreach and partnering with an artist with existing artwork. As a shop owner on Shapeways I recently partnered with UK based illustrator Sophie Corrigan to turn her Pugtato illustration into a 3D printed figurine. The 3D printed Pugtato is now currently available for sale on my Shapeways shop.
The way the 3D printed Pugtato came about began with me browsing Twitter for art inspiration and I came across an photo of a cute, adorable, pudgy hybrid between a pug and potato; a Pugtato. The original illustration and artwork was owned by Sophie Corrigan. The image resonated with me and I wanted to turn it into a 3D printed figurine so I reached out through email to see if she would be interested in licensing her Pugtato design to let me turn it into a 3D printed figurine. Upon reaching out, Sophie was very receptive to this collaboration. We discussed terms and conditions and agreed upon a licensing payment structure for the partnership. Once the licensing agreement was finalized and signed between both parties, I had the green light to make Pugtato into a 3D printed figurine. The 3D printed Pugtato figurine was modeled by designer Kostika Spaho based off Sophie’s pugtato illustration. Pugtato was printed in full color sandstone.
What made Pugtato particularly attractive as a potential collaborative partnership design was that the owner of the artwork was not a A-list celebrity or corporation which made her easy to get in touch with. It was also a super silly design that fit the theme of my Shapeways shop. Pugtato has already proved to be a favorable seller on various other sites such as Etsy, Redbubble, DesignByHumans, and TeePublic. From a marketing prospective, the product has already proven that there is selling potential which would make promoting Pugtato receptive among previous customers from Sophie’s online shops. The best way to grow your customer base is to acquire a fanbase, which is why collaborations is great at bringing multiple fan ecosystems together.
Is there an original piece of artwork that you would love to turn into a 3D print but don’t own the intellectual property? A collaborative licensing agreement might be the best course of action. Here are some best practices for going about it.
Approach your potential partner collaboratively. There are several ways to get in touch with an IP owner, my preferred way is through email but there is also Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, or contact form on the person’s website. Here was my email script to Sophie Corrigan which got the conversation started. My recommendation for outreach is to have a friendly tone of voice and try to resonate with the IP owner. Explain clearly who you are, what you are offering, and why this would be of interest to them.
My name is Eric Ho and I am the shop owner of the Shapeways shop Raw Legend Collaborations. Shapeways is the world’s largest 3D printing service and marketplace where anyone can make, buy, sell products. You can learn more about Shapeways here. I make cute 3D printed figurines and animals and your illustration of Pugtato on DesignsByHumans really caught my eye, I am a big fan. I wanted to reach out to see if you might be interested in collaborating with me on turning your Pugtato into a 3D print and make it for sale on Shapeways. I think a 3D printed Pugtato would go well with your audience. Would you be interested in licensing your design?”
Get the agreement in writing. It is always a good idea to get a license in writing, and that is exactly what this is. A written license helps make sure that both of you are on the same page going into the partnership. It can also serve as an important reference if there is an unexpected dispute in the future. What that written agreement needs to include can vary (and it can be helpful to talk to a lawyer about specific cases you have in mind, especially in an area as new as licenses for 3D printing). Generally speaking you want to make sure that the agreement makes clear that your partner owns things like the copyright in the original image, that they are giving you permission to make and sell a 3D model, and how you will handle things like payment.
Interested in learning more about different types of rights that may be involved with models and files here at Shapeways? Michael Weinberg, the head of general counsel here at Shapeways has written several blog post covering topics from IP, fair-use, and copyright.