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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Licensing Art to the Jigsaw Puzzle Industry

People love the challenge in putting together jig-saw puzzles and in over 200 years after its inception it is a thriving industry. Jisaw puzzles were originally manufactured to teach children geography in the 1760s ("Jigsaw Puzzle History"). Today children still learn about geography with jigsaw puzzles. Also, with the vast amount of available images on puzzles, assembling them have become a popular form of family entertainment.

Jigsaw puzzles are not only manufactured in the original horizontal format but as ovals, circles, square, vertical and in various freeform shapes depending upon the images place on the puzzles. Some even are three dimensional shapes such as globes, animals and buildings. And puzzles do not always have just a plain 2D picture printed on them but are embellished with glitter, perfume, or with a 3D image. Puzzles are not only made with cardboard but with wood, plastic, and rubber. Note: Wooden puzzles are expensive to produce and they are usually made one at a time. Many times the licensing deal that those manufacturers offer to artists is to put the artists art on their website. "If" the art is chosen by a customer, the manufacturer will product the puzzle and the artist will get paid (royalty or flat fee) for the use.

Puzzle manufacturers normally want art that:
1. has bright and saturate colors
2. have an awe factor such as cute kittens, children playing, beautiful scenery and florals, or landmarks that generates an emotional response in the customer.
3. does not have a lot of "white space." Too much white space makes the puzzle difficult to assemble. But if the painting is of a popular subject or was painted by a well known artist, the amount of white space does not seem to matter.
4. in a rectangular horizontal format which is the most used. However, some manufacturers produce puzzles in other formats as mentioned above so art created in other formats can also be used for puzzles.

Some jigsaw puzzle manufacturers specialize in producing puzzles for different speciality markets such as colleges, museums, children, teens, or mystery while others cater to the general retail market. In order to find out what type of images each manufacturer puts on their puzzles, you need to check out their websites and call them for their art submission guidelines if they are not listed.

Jigsaw Puzzle Manufacturers List
(updated Dec 10, 2016)

 Buffalo Games
 Elms Puzzles (wooden puzzles)
 Heritage Puzzles
 Masterpiece Puzzles
 Melissa and Doug
 Stave Puzzles (wooden puzzles)
 TDC Games
 White Mountain Puzzles Inc

If you would like to share information about other jigsaw puzzle manufacturers or comment about this article, please click on the comment section below and type your comment.


  1. Hi Joan,
    Very happy to have found your blog (through Twitter). Thanks for posting this list & links and for sharing your experience. I can't wait to read all your posts!
    Choose2BHappy Designs

  2. This is great! I forwarded your link to someone who has art that would work for this format.

  3. Joan I have just found your site. Its great, I appreciate you sharing your experiences and knowledge. I'll be a regular visitor here!

  4. Great post as usual Joan. I did think of one other, Melissa and Doug. I don't know how much outside art they buy, but worth checking into...

  5. Thanks Karyn. I added them to the list.

  6. Thanks for providing such a comprehensive list of jigsaw puzzle manufacturers, Joan! Personally, I'm a big fan of Ravensburger puzzles...just finished one today!

  7. This is great! I love to discover licensing in this puzzle Manufacturer. Actually I was the one that Kate recommended. Thanks for this great opportunity!

  8. Hi Joan,

    Thanks for posting such great information.

    Dorothy Reinhardt

  9. Puzzles are obviously great for learning about geography. What else could they be used for? Got any ideas?
    Chinese Jigsaw Puzzle

  10. Hello Chinese Jigsaw Puzzle organization,
    Puzzles could also be used as 1. rubber mats, 2. for adults with low sight and memory problems, 3. the blind and 4. as a party game.
    RUBBER MATS: I've seen rubber floor mats that aren't exactly jigsaw puzzles but are solid colors and assembled with interlocking pieces. This concept can be expanded with art painted on them for mats in the kitchen, children play areas, garage work areas, and as welcome mats.
    ADULTS WITH LOW SIGHT & MEMORY LOSS: I've seen large size puzzle pieces used as floor puzzles (Melissa & Doug Co.) for children but this concept could be expanded with art on them suitable for adults that have sight, memory, and learning problems and assembled on tables instead of the floor.
    THE BLIND: Puzzles that have different texture on the pieces, have raised symbols, or distinct shapes would be good for persons that are blind.
    PARTY GAME: A party game where the participants are blind folded. They assemble a puzzle with a small number of pieces by touch (texture etc.). The winner is the person who does it the fastest.

  11. Hi Joan

    Love the website. Very informative and helpful.

    Regarding puzzle payments paid as flat fee or royalty... which do you find more advantageous? $1500 or $800 plus 5%? Is there a mean average that puzzle sales usually attain?

    I guess with global sales it could all add up.

  12. Hi Mary,
    I don't know the puzzle industry well so I can't tell you the mean average of puzzle sales. However, the percent royalties for art in general range from 4 to 8 percent royalties with the percent lower for mass market such as Walmart (only 3 to 4 percent royalties but can make more money because distribution and the amount sold is huge). As far as recommending whether to accept a flat fee licensing deal of $1500 or an advance of $800 with 5% royalty it would depend on the manufacturer (well established or new), their distribution (number of retail stores), amount of expected sales, how many will be printed for the first printing and do they expect to do additional printings, and price point the puzzle will sell at (500 piece puzzle will sell at a lower price than 1000 piece). All of this information should be asked before making an educated decision. However, personally I like taking a chance and I'd go for the royalty deal because unlike many other industries that license art jig-saw puzzles are often reprinted if they are popular.

  13. We've been struggling to find a list of US based manufactures, so this has helped a great deal.

  14. Puzzles can also help a child to develop their fine motor skills when they are young. Having to pick up individual pieces and slot them into place without breaking up the bits they have already completed can be a complex task to learn.

  15. I'm wondering if this list of puzzle companies is just a list of puzzle companies, or puzzle companies that license artwork. I was looking at Spilsbury and thought that my company's artwork (aka, my mother's artwork) would work well with their brand. I couldn't find any information about submission guidelines on their website, so I called to ask. I was told that they don't license work from artists.

  16. Kelly, I'm sorry that you wasted your time with Spilsbury. When I assembled the list, I made some assumptions that they licensed art or not when I viewed the manufacturer website by looking at the art. I called Spilsbury after you sent me your comment and the person I talked to obviously did not know anything about the company and was most likely just routing phone calls from a foreign country. Even when I ask to talk to the person responsible for the art on the puzzles I was routed to a answering machine to leave a message. This is a company that I wouldn't trust to license my work even if they license it so I have removed them from my list. Thank you for letting me know your experience. Joan

  17. Hi! I learned a lot in your blog site. Very informative. I just begun my blog site about jigsaw puzzles also. :)

  18. Thank you for sharing such relevant topic with us. I really love all the great stuff you provide. Thanks again and keep it coming

  19. Thank you so much for always keeping us up to date Joan. Your blog is the mother of information for anyone interested in licensing.

  20. How do I go about my photography being made into jigsaws

    1. If you are interested in licensing your photographs, you need to submit a few of your photographs to manufacturers that produce jigsaw puzzles. BUT not all manufacturers use photographs so you need to first find out if they do and also find out if the themes of your images are what they are licensing. This article has links to some jigsaw manufacturers website so you need to look at their websites to see if your photos are suitable. Then look to see if they have instructions on how to submit the images. If not, contact them and ask for the email address to send the images.

  21. This is really great information. Thank you so much for sharing!

  22. When the puzzle has a collage of say cereal boxes, do they have to get permission from every single one of the companies? Pat

    1. Pat, Yes artists do need to get permission or purchase the rights from companies when using their brands (i.e cereal boxes) in a collage if they want to license it legally. Unfortunately, not all artists/photographers believe that they need to get permission and they are taking a chance in being sued. Also, when you sign a contract with a manufacturer to license your art, a clause in it says that you have the right to license the art to the manufacturer. If you don't have the right than you are in breach of contract. Joan

  23. This list should be erased. They are all either closed down websites or do not have a call for artists. The only one that did wanted original art printed and mailed to them. I would not waste my time on this list it is outdated.

    1. I’m sorry that the list wasn’t updated since the article was written in 2010. I replaced it with a jigsaw puzzle list from my 2016 article “List of Manufacturers that License Art”. Joan

  24. Hi, Joan. I was looking for information on how to submit photographs to puzzler makers and came across this post. Thank you for the information. I love the fact that one of the companies is right in my own hometown!

    Looking forward to seeing more of your posts.