5 Jan 2010

Was this art licensed? I hope not!

Posted by Moshe Mikanovsky

Couple of weeks ago, while sitting with our friends for a Hanukkah/Sabbath lunch, I couldn’t have not noticed some very weired art on the paper-ware and napkins the hostess used. That’s what happens when you are an artist and you learn how to market and license your art – your eyes are open at all times and places, looking for artwork, and for products that carry artwork. No one from the guests or hosting family actually noticed the problems in this art, although in careful examination it is very obvious. I sure hope this art was NOT licensed but just created in-house by the paper-goods manufacturer, and giving them the credit of the doubt, I am sure it was just an honest mistake. But hey, this is why Quality Assurance is for. Not only to check that the napkins can actually wipe dirty faces, but also that the art on them is not wrong, or may I say even – offensive.

You judge for yourself. Here is the napkin image I am talking about. Do you see the problem? Not yet? Look again…

Hannukah Napkin

Hannukah Napkin

Yes, you are right! This Menorah has 6 candles! Very interesting… Last time I checked every Kosher Menorah (and also the not-so-Kosher) had 8 candles, plus one more called the Shamash (usually higher, lower, or more to the side from the other eight candles). So is there a new Jewish tradition for six candles Menorah that we don’t know about?

And it doesn’t ends here. Unfortunately I didn’t keep one of the plates, but the same artwork was also on the plates, with addition of few Dreidels around the perimeter. Looking closely at the Hebrew letter on the Dreidels, I noticed that one of the letters, the Nun (נ), was turned around (mirror image) to the way a Nun should be written, and another letter, the Hei (ה), was not really a Hei but a Taf, another Hebrew letter that you won’t find on any Dreidel… Again, artistic mistake that fell through quality process.

So I am asking - is it better to go with professional artists who know their niche market and won’t make such mistakes, or should we expect to have mediocre products out there?

To bottom line is, thousands of people bought these products (at WalMart) and didn’t pay attention to the actual details. On our lunch table it was a great conversation topic!

Wishing everyone a wonderful and happy new year!


[Update January 7, 2010] I have contacted the manufacturer, as well as WalMart, to get their response on this art issue. The manufacturer promptly responded that they took action and discontinued this design from their product line last year and no longer produce it for the very reasons I have pointed out, and that the product recently purchased is outdated. I yet to receive a response from WalMart.

[Update January 13, 2010] Quick update – I got a call yesterday from Walmart, apologizing for the mistake. They said that the product was discontinued by their vendor and it will not be on their shelves any longer. Well, for this year its off the Hanukkah season anyway…. Got to remember to check the shelves next year ;-)

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3 Responses to “Was this art licensed? I hope not!”

  1. Three words: “MADE IN CHINA”


    Don Carter

  2. LOL Don :-) and thanks for your comment

    The manufacturer is actually a company in the USA and the package also states it was made in the USA. I didn’t want to mention the specific company though.

    Even if it was a made in China, it is still few steps removed from the consumers – the importer would have to review what is it that they import, and the distributer, and the store… Our friends bought it at WalMart, which could have served as all of the above, but there are still people who should be responsible for the quality of the products they sell. Or maybe WalMart is not the right example?



    Moshe Mikanovsky

  3. It also appears the colors don’t match: There’s a darker blue square in the middle that doesn’t blend into the outside of the napkin. I suppose if a person can’t count candles, it’s too much to use an eyedropper tool to match the color, right?

    Freelance illustrator for HarperCollins, PS Publishing, Pocket Books, Solomon Press, American Media, Fort Ross, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and many other publishers. See my illustrations at: http://DuncanLong.com/art.html


    Duncan Long

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