Happy 5th Anniversary to US! ✨
Merchandising and licensing can be a monstrous business.
Artists’ hard work and creations can be stolen by companies for a profit. Those same companies continually seek ways to expand their profit at the cost of their fandom communities.
Licensing often exploits creators with predatory work-for-hire contracts that cut them out of any future profits. A comic creator that illustrates a licensed comic cover for a set page rate never sees additional profit (and often not even credit or samples) when the license holder decides to use the illustration on another piece of merchandise. Film studios can pull heavily from creators’ hard-wrought stories and use them to create multi-billion dollar franchises, while those creators struggle to get by.
We’re in an era where AI is being used as a tool to avoid paying creators: studios recreating background actors as needed in future projects without paying additional costs, text-to-image generators scanning art from skilled artists–who spent years honing their craft–without consent, and bots continually plague artists on social media to steal their artwork and sell on apparel.
The thing is–merchandising and licensing don’t have to be a monstrous business.
Companies can make merchandise that celebrates Intellectual Property (IP), making it canon accurate and high quality. Companies can build community by promoting transparency and clear communication, all while paying their staff and creators a liveable wage and providing a safe workplace environment that prioritizes people over profit.
These are the principles that Rowan Rowden and Adrienne Cho founded Dual Wield Studio on five years ago.
In those five years, Dual Wield Studio has grown from two founders to a staff of over twenty. Our team has worked with more than 10 partners to create and sell more than 500 products via our digital storefronts, and we’re just getting started.
To celebrate our five years, we'll be posting more to share what we've learned and accomplished, the current makeup of our team, and where we're headed next.
We believe in the power of the communities fans build around our favorite books, films, shows, video games, and media.
We believe in tapping the die-hard fans evangelizing IP—the fans that transform what’s great into what’s loved—by acknowledging their work and paying them a living wage.
We strive to be brand stewards to create not simple items, but artifacts: stunning, fan-driven and fan-centered products made with care and love.
Everything we do is out of love for the fans and the fandom communities they’ve built.
Keep up to date on everything we’re working on, as well as when the next installment of our Anniversary Blog series goes live by signing up for our newsletter here.