Why I wont do licenced party themes.

Licensed Party Themes Stationery School

I was out walking today and saw these little toadstools and that little bunch of fungi bought back a memory from when my kids were smaller. 

Toadstools | Emma Smith Event Stationery

Side note - I sometimes wonder why “mommy blogging” wasn’t invented back then. I have plenty to say on my kids toddlerhood/early childhood. But then again, they were the dial up days and I had zero time to wait for that wretched screech noise to take over whilst I waited for the internet (dial up mind you) to connect, How things have changed in 10 years.

Back to the story.

When the toadstools used to pop up we often would see them and say “Look! the fairies are setting up a village – it must be time for someone to loose a tooth”. And as luck would have it the kids were always close to loosing a tooth or someone they knew had lost a tooth that day. 

They would stop and wonder and look desperately around the toadstool patch to spy any sign of glitter or fairy’s fluttering that they could find. It took a good 5 minutes or so to realize that fairies don’t flutter when kids are around, that’s why the tooth fairy only comes at night and we would walk on.

To the contrary, on a recent trip to a well known large chain toy store (against my *religion but we had a voucher to use) I was somewhat saddened to see that almost 100% of the toys and items for sale there (from gift wrap, to new baby furniture, to 1000’s of toy lines)  featured a licenced character. Even the ones that encourage imaginative play were licenced (brands such as Lego included, along with art smocks, crayons and pencils and even themed easels.)

Not quite sure when this had happened – the take over of licenced products and the en masse licenced marketing that we as consumers are almost driven to buy through having no other choice. Rant over…..that’s a whole other post.

Now lets bring this back to stationery.  

Those who know me personally know that I much prefer imagination and originality over licensed themes any day when it comes to kids play and kids parties. I know I know….it is hard to resist when you’re child has their heart set on a certain character. 

And because of that, I often get asked to do licensed invitations and stationery. 

What is licensed theme? 

A licensed theme is one that uses Characters that are owned by a company (ie. Disney, Marvel etc) and that third party companies pay them to be able to use the artwork. The licences in some cases are very expensive, and come with strict style guides.

A great and easy to follow article is written on the Paintpal website here. (A quick google search led me to find this).... I have copied the first Paragraph here for you. 

"Whether you are shopping on Etsy, browsing your favorite FP forum, or walking the streets of Chinatown, copyright infringements are everywhere. Most of us have the attitude that since everyone is doing it, its really not that big of a deal. The reality is that copyright infringement is illegal,  and ignorance is not a defense in the court of law. You may never get caught, but it’s best to know some facts and avoid any legal nightmare that might arise from using a licensed character without approval or licensing agreements."


When I am asked to do these licensed brands in the form a of a printable or invite - I have a standard line in reply. 

 “I do not hold a license to print X - however I can use colours and fonts which will imply X theme”. 

 There a few of reasons for this.

  1. For the sake of imagination and kids being kids, dress ups and make believe. 
  2. I don’t wish to buy a license for the products and pay the royalties associated with it because well, for all that is listed above, and I am for the little man, the makers, the creatives not the big companies.
  3. I know you can buy character X related items on specific hand made sites and even buy downloads, some of which are legitimate and some of which are not however, I wont risk it (X company may never find me in an online world of makers and sellers, but you never know, and I am not willing to risk the fine if ever they do).
  4. I guess I want to just make new original stuff instead of placing someone else’s already designed and marketed product onto a piece of paper and printing it off - to show my kids that you can create new things, and to believe in yourself in doing so.

So you certainly can ask, but you will hear my standard line delivered in return. I am hoping this post explains a little as to why I have the standard line. Let it be known though, I have created some beautiful pieces for licenced themed parties without having to use specific characters or titles.

I guess I’ll leave you with this.

As the late Muhammad Ali is known to have said,  “The man who has no imagination has no wings”. 

*religion – so you know I have no affiliation with any particular religion – just using this term to make a point.

Below are some examples of our invitations that have implied a theme - of course along with our Snowflake (goes with Disney's Frozen) and Wiggly Birthday (matches the Wiggles Colours) printable ranges you can find in printable party packages.

Inspired By Minnie Mouse invitation | Emma Smith Event StationeryBeauty and The Beat Inspired Invitation | Emma Smith Event StationeryInspired by Frozen Invitation | Emma Smith Event StationeryInspired by Minnie Mouse Invitation | Emma Smith Event Stationery

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