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Oct 2012
DoodleArt joins forces with PlaSmart

Tim Kimber the Ceo of  Plasmart has become a partner in DoodleArt. Tim brings with him a wealth of knowledge of the toy industry. PlaSmart is a Canadian toy distributor based in Ottawa, Ontario and focuses on distributing unique, simple, and educational toys for children. Formed in 2003 by Timothy Kimber, PlaSmart launched its first product, the PlasmaCar, to the North American market.

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Hippie-era DoodleArt makes a comebackPsychedelic colour-it-yourself artwork strikes a chord with young people

By Shelley Fralic, Vancouver SunSeptember 11, 2011

Andrew Perkins (left) and Michael McLennan are reviving DoodleArt, the hippie-era, colour-it-yourself posters finding favour with a new generation.

Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG, Vancouver Sun

If you came of age in Vancouver in the 1960s and '70s, there's a fairly good chance that you were a hippie. Not the harsh Haight-Ashbury kind of hippie, all dreadlocked and reeking of patchouli oil, but the kind of middleclass pseudo hippie who hung out on 4th Avenue, made an appearance at the Stanley Park Easter Be-in and, perhaps, ventured in those heady pursuits once referred to as free love and hallucinogenic experimentation.

If you did all the above, and let's neither pretend you didn't nor make apologies for doing so, then you will remember DoodleArt.

It was the brainchild of Glenn Anderson, a Vancouver man who, in 1972, dreamed up the idea of postersize black and white drawings that could be coloured using felt-tip pens. The first was Ecology, drawn by Len Masse, an intricate fantastical work featuring a bordered vase of flowers with birds and insects flitting about, all under a wrought-iron arbour. It would sell one million copies.

Anderson commissioned more, and a craze was born. Fifteen posters in all were created, all drawn by B.C. artists and with titles like Aquarium, Bugs N Birds, Jungle and Flowers. The $6.95 poster came in a cardboard tube kit, with pens, and it was estimated that each one took 60 hours or more to complete. The goal, and marketing slogan, was "do your own thing in colour."

DoodleArt was the perfect creative psychedelic time-waster for a dropped-out generation, and the brightly coloured posters, with their iconic logo and dense artistic look, began showing up on the walls of living rooms, bedrooms, dorms and cafes all over the globe.

The company produced a special poster for Expo 86 but, after a time, Anderson moved on to other things and his mother Jean took over, working idelines out of her Chilliwack home. Posters were still available online, but the franchise languished as diversions of a mail more technological nature captured a new generation of creative minds.

in 2010, Vancouver businessman Michael McLennan was moving houses and looking for something interesting that his children might like to decorate for their new bedrooms. He remembered DoodleArt, contacted Jean, and told her that if she ever wanted to sell the company to call him.

She did, and earlier this year, McLennan and partner Andrew Perkins bought the rights, including the trademark and all the original artwork, from the Anderson family.

The new owners reproduced several of and the Guidelines original 15 hand-drawn posters, and worked out a deal with Chapters/ Indigo which today finds DoodleArt available in 276 stores.

And while they have remained true to DoodleArt's retro roots — the poster still comes in a cardboard tube but costs a tad more than it once did, at $21.95 — the 12 felt pens are new-age, made with environmentally friendly vegetable-dye inks, a double tip with a calligraphy point on one end and a fine-tip on the other, and caps with built-in breathing holes should a child swallow one.

This year, DoodleArt made an appearance at the PNE, where a brand-new poster, titled Zombies and drawn by local illustrator Liam Hayes, attracted more than a little attention.

Perkins, 43, thinks the timing is just right for DoodleArt, an art form he says "helped define an era."

In a society that today is so wrapped up in technology that no one seems to communicate in person any more, there's something organic and comforting about sitting down with friends and family at a table and colouring for hours. It's slow and social and calming, like doing jigsaw puzzles and, you know, talking.

"My daughter, who is 20, and her friends love it," says Perkins. "They get together, sit around colouring and having conversations. It gets people away from the computers."

Moira Carlson, a still-active B.C. artist, was one of the locals first commissioned by Anderson, and her original Butterflies, Fairy Tales and Circus posters remain among the most popular.

In keeping with tradition, Perkins has Carlson working on a new poster that will be unveiled next year at the New York Toy Fair.

Why DoodleArt, all these years later?

Well, because it's old-school cool. And, like the hippies of yore, Perkins will tell you that he, too, is seeking world domination. The difference, of course, is that he has a business plan.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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