Bearing it All: Skelanimals Interview

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Skelanimals turns cute inside out with its skeleton crew of characters. The Skelanimals have gone from bone bearing graphics and plush dolls to a full blown fashion and accessory line. Stripped of skin but full of heart, each animal is characterized by its doe-eyed skull and black and white skeleton suit. Skelanimals is licensed by Art Impressions, Inc. based in Calabasas, Caifornia. Art Impressions, Inc. is also the mastermind behind the space-age, girl-power troupe, “Milk Way and the Galaxy Girls” and the kawaii brigade, “Wittle Bittle“. Cindy Bailey, CEO of Art Impressions, Inc. reveals the spirit behind the Skelanimals and explains why we can’t stop being haunted by them.

1) What inspired the idea for Skelanimals?
Skelanimals first came to life as the subject of a self-published children’s book by Mitchell Bernal, an accomplished animation artist.  To help his young son cope with the death of a family pet, Mitchell came up with the novel idea of portraying the afterlife in a humorous way, creating a collection of animals who met odd and untimely ends as a result of their own silly behavior.  The book’s humorous poems about each animal really brought the characters to life and formed the starting point for our development of Skelanimals as a broader lifestyle brand.

2) Where and how did you first promote Skelanimals?
We launched Skelanimals plush, keychains and magnets at leading U.S. trend retailer Hot Topic in 2006. It was so popular that in 2007, Hot Topic featured full boutiques showcasing junior and young men’s apparel, loungewear, stuffed animals and plush backpacks, purses, totes, wallets, ID cases, keychains, bag charms, shoes, socks, hair accessories, fragrance and cosmetics, tinned candies, pins and patches, posters, throws, magnets and stickers.

3) What do you think makes Skelanimals so popular?
One of the keys to Skelanimals’ popularity is its unique mixture of cuteness and edge.  Skelanimals are light-hearted, cute and cuddly, never ghoulish or horrifying; irreverent but not offensive.  As a result, the brand has been embraced by people of all ages, nationalities, and personalities…it hits that magical middle point between cute and cuddly and dark and edgy!

4) What is one of your favorite Skelanimals accessories?
The crystal studded panda necklace from PINKO in Italy!

5) Can you give advice to someone trying to get their intellectual property licensed?
The most important thing is to have a comprehensive collection of art including main characters, patterns, boarders, and main images.  It helps to have a back story about the brand and/or its characters (personalities or stories about each character).  You must also have a marketing plan outlining the demographic, target market and support that will generate consumer awareness for the brand such as (depending on the demographic) plans for animation, an interactive website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter as well as promotional & advertising  plans to support your retailers.


Written by corvusblue

February 18, 2010 at 3:47 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Skelanimals is one of the brands that I knew would become a success when I first saw it at Licensing Expo several years ago. Success stories like this is what inspired us to make the trip ourselves to promote our own brands.

    Kurt Marquart

    February 18, 2010 at 5:18 pm

  2. I bought some halloween themed skelanimals for my nephew and nieces this past Halloween. I was never the type to play with girly dolls toys but there was nothing like this when I was growing up. Lucky for my nieces, which happen to be like me, that there are products like this on the market now. They actually ask for things that have skulls on them!


    February 19, 2010 at 8:41 am

  3. Great article – Once again unique and original ideas cut through all of the rubbish and catch the imagination of the public and take off.

    For example “it hits that magical middle point between cute and cuddly and dark and edgy!”


    February 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm

  4. I love Skelanimals. I met Mitchell at Comic-con in 2005 where he debuted this brand with keychains and a book. I’ve been a fan of Skelanimals ever since. I don’t see it at Hot Topic anymore. I wish they still carried it.


    July 4, 2010 at 11:00 am

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