A Design Powerhouse
What is it about Dena that makes her artwork so irresistible, to the tune of $400 million in career worldwide sales? It’s gotta be the paintbrush. For those who are not familiar with this design powerhouse, Dena is an award-winning artist, illustrator, TV host, syndicated newspaper columnist—and celebrated author.
Products from more than 35 leading licensees take Dena’s art into the daily lives of millions of consumers who relish her signature style—bright colors and joyous prints—on everything from stationery and fashion accessories, toys and books, to gifts and a wide range of decorative products for the home.
What is Dena’s secret to building her vibrant and colorfully patterned brand? It really is the paintbrush: Dena creates each and every one of her studio’s pieces of artwork herself, a design process that is becoming “rarer and rarer these days,” according to the artist.
“I start out with a big stack of white paper and a few guidelines—I ask myself a few key questions before I begin designing. Who is my consumer? How can I make this product special? What kind of unique embellishments can I add to make this product jump off the shelf? I take all of these things into consideration before I begin to sketch. I try to think of how I want my consumer to feel when they see my products. I try to develop something that is unique and special.”
Dena’s hand-painted designs are inspired by gardens, flea market finds and a constant interpretation of the latest trends, which are then applied to product by a core team of production designers.
How does Dena keep things fresh with so many demands on her time and creativity? “I’m always looking to see what’s out there, and I keep an eye on the fashions and trends. I read a million magazines!” explains Dena. “But, I think essentially my style has stayed the same from the very beginning, and everything I do has that hand-painted touch.” Dena’s trademark combination of floral patterns and geometrics combine traditional elements with a modern twist, and that’s what has made her work so popular—and unlikely to change any time soon. “I like designs that make you feel happy. I try to design products that are all about making you feel good.”
Dena’s remarkable longevity and continual growth reflect her ability to deliver the brand experience consumers are looking for. She’s also been recognized within the gift and stationery industry: Dena has won 17 Louie Awards (the “Oscars” of the greeting card industry), in addition to creating the Greeting Card of the Year, named by the Greeting Card Association. Dena has also twice been nominated for Best Art Brand Program of the Year. In 2012, Dena is not only nominated again, but is up for Overall Best Licensed Program of the Year for 2011 at the prestigious Licensing Excellence Awards presented annually by LIMA (Licensing International Merchandisers’ Association).
Even with so much success, Dena’s portfolio of brands and powerful creative engine doesn’t show any sign of slowing—she continues to add more products (across various industries) that come together to present a compelling story. Over 15,000 retailers currently carry Dena branded products throughout the U.S. and worldwide, even as far as Asia, Australia, Europe and the former Soviet Republic.
Independent U.S. retailers may be most familiar with her partnership with C.R. Gibson, a company she has collaborated with for over 20 years developing best-selling baby collections and more.
In the gift and home décor realm, Dena’s painterly designs can also be found on tabletop items by Zrike, bedding by Nostalgia Home Fashions, and in her upcoming book (September 2012 release) from Abrams Publishing, “The Painted Home”, among others.
The Dena brand is a dizzying, yet dazzling example of a real powerhouse art brand making waves in the marketplace. Who knew so much would come of such a small paintbrush?