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where the character driven industries meet

Jay Rogers is a man of many talents: designer, illustrator, art director, California Highway Patrolman.

OK, so that last one only happened in Jay’s childhood imagination, where he immersed himself in character role-playing and, for a time at age 4, would only—ONLY—answer to the name “Ponch” from CHiPs.


Today, Jay answers to ”Owner” and “Creative Director” of Jayro Design & Illustration, showcasing his passion for characters and his knack for pop culture, animation and entertainment.


Jay earned a degree in Illustration from Ringling College of Art and Design and simultaneously worked for Creative Arts Unlimited where he designed character-based displays and fixtures for theme parks, museums and retail.

After graduating, Jay was first employed by CNN then later transitioned to Cartoon Network. In his eleven years at Cartoon Network, he made his way up to the level of art director for their in-house creative team working on consumer products and industry-related promotional materials for characters and shows like Adventure Time, The Powerpuff Girls, Ben 10 and Dexter’s Laboratory.


Since starting Jayro Design & Illustration in 2010, Jay has brought that animated spirit to a wide range of clients such as Cartoon Network, Cartoon Network Latin America, BBC America, Robots and Cupcakes, The Salvation Army, CARE International, and Kurtz Art Studio. He loves the variety of projects he gets to tackle but particularly enjoys tapping into his passion for character work.


Jay has also enjoyed the chance to participate in several online-curated shows. He was one of the inaugural artists in the Pixar Times Blog’s “Knick Knack” series, in which artists follow a custom format to re-imagine Pixar characters. He also contributed to Ray Gun 52, a site showcasing 52 different artist-interpreted rayguns, A Beast Every Week, a collection of creature designs by a new featured artist each week, and the To Resolve Project, a collective of iPhone wallpapers with inspirational New Year’s resolutions.


To find out more about what Jay is working on now, check out his blog or contact him here. You can also follow him on Twitter (@jayrodesign), where most Fridays he holds “#twifridoodle” and takes requests for doodles on-demand.

The do's and the don'ts, the opportunities, the pitfalls and the way character licensing works have recently been put up for discussion in our Linkedin group.

A number of group members immediately urged everyone thinking about going down the licensing route to ensure that their creations are properly protected. While some thought that it is essential to copyright work, a representative of the British organisation Own-it pointed out that if you live in a country that has signed the Berne convention for the protection of literary and artistic work, you automatically own the copyright to your work. The full text of the Berne Convention can be found here.

She went on to say that, in the USA, registering your work greatly helps with enforcement and that Own-it recommends registering copyright in order to protect valuable intellectual assets.

An executive for an Asia based licensing firm then picked up on a point made by the IP developer who started the discussion, according to which, “There was a time when character-led IPs needed to have a presence in the market already before licensing agents would consider taking on a property".

The executive thought that character properties that had already achieved a certain level of public recognition are indeed highly prized for their revenue power, but that promoting up and coming talent is also very important, to ensure that the pipeline for new properties does not dry up.

In response, the IP developer asked him, what the many members of Characters Engage who create characters and are thinking about taking the licensing route should ask themselves about their properties. In short, he wanted to know what licensing agents are looking for in a character based IP.

The licensing executive explained that when characters engage with target audiences, products, services and stakeholders, licensing becomes feasible.

He thought that character creators should honestly consider questions such as: What is a character supposed to achieve and where is it supposed to achieve these things? What are the superior and inferior aspects of the character, when compared to all others? Has the character's appeal with the target audience been verified and how was this confirmed? Has it been compared with two or three successful licensing projects that use a similar business model, and what are the terms and the price for licensing it?

This informative discussion looks set to continue, so why not join our group and share your thoughts about licensing characters... here.

Connie Kang was born in Changhai, China. She studied Art and Design at Donghua University, but became increasingly interested in the illustration field. Given that the Shanghai market for her intended profession was relatively immature at the time, Connie decided to move to the USA to pursue her dream. She now studies at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.


While still in China, Connie worked as a character designer for 9YOU, an online community games company, designed clothes, accessories, and stylish T-shirt prints for the ENO Trading company, and mugs and tumblers for "Starbucks" and "The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf". Her illustration project "Freedom" was adopted by Nokia, with the help of the British company HuntHaggarty.


Having worked in the Games, Illustration, Graphic Design and Product Design fields, Connie is very diverse and adept at using various mediums to satisfy her clients needs.


Apart from her studies, Connie currently works for Lolapps, designing characters, layouts and decors, among other things.

She would love to continue working in these fields in the future, both in the animation and the film sector. Connie tells us that film art fascinates and inspires her.


Connie is currently working on her final thesis and plans to remain in the USA to work in the industry, after graduating.


For more of Connie's wonderful artwork, please check out her portfolio here, and you can contact her here.

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