Cobble Hill Puzzles Interview

Here's an opportunity to read about an inside look at the Cobble Hill Puzzles 'backend' in our email interview.

What's especially interesting to inspiring Artist's is the process of how they choose which images they will produce.

Also, the photos and process they use to create their own images that have become so popular among puzzlers.

Brand: Cobble Hill Puzzle Company

Title: Country Diary Quilt Puzzle

By: Cobble Hill

Pieces: 1000

Size: 26.625

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I have a close connection to Cobble Hill Puzzles as I do many puzzle reviews for them. The following is taken from a Q&A email interview provided by Linda Maxwell and Allegra Vernon.

Q&A eMail Interview

Q. How many warehouses does your company have?

A: (Linda) For Cobble Hill puzzles, there is only one 70,000 square foot warehouse in Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Q. What made you choose your Head Office company's location?
A. (Linda) 
Victoria, BC is where the owner lived and started his game company, Outset Media back in 1996. In 2005, Outset introduced the puzzle company, Cobble Hill. We get asked all the time if we're located in Cobble Hill because it's just a couple hours north of our headquarters on Vancouver Island, but the owner just liked the name! It had nothing to do with the actual city.

Q. What is one inside tid-bit at work you can share with us?
A. (Linda) 
Our company is very dog friendly! Ironically, the owner was always a cat person and didn't care much for dogs. Now he has a Duck Toller, Kona, who was in one of our puzzles with her Duck Toller friend, Schooner.  Sometimes we'll have up to seven dogs roaming our building!!

Q. When you assisted with Puzzle, The Movie, do you have a blurb about the actors that you observed?
A. (Linda) 
We didn't get to meet the actors from the movie as we simply shipped puzzles to their New York location. Our team usually works with the Set Decorators to get all the puzzles shipped to their filming location. We do a surprising amount of work with various productions from Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, Netflix's Riverdale and Scaredy Cats to Hallmark movies.

Q. How do you decide what images to produce?
A. (Allegra) 
We look at our sales numbers. We look at who our retailers are. We look at consumer feedback. We look at what’s trending in the world at large. We look at what’s available (resolution issues negate a great deal of art). We think about what our talented in house designers are capable of. We follow up in areas that are always popular, while also pursuing subjects and approaches we don’t already see on the market. Questions we frequently ask are: Is it better than what we already have? Or does it add something new to the line?

Q. How long does it take to create a puzzle from start to finish?
A. (Allegra) 
On the image-creation side, our puzzles can take mere hours or some weeks to make ready to print. On the extreme fast end, we have images that magically appear in my inbox just begging to be made into puzzles. Created by professional artists and illustrators, they’re cleanly scanned and colour balanced and ready to hit the presses. All that’s needed is to execute contracts, send the advance, create the box art. But this is a rarity. 

More often days are spent searching online, going through artist and licensor portfolios trying to spot puzzle potential. Many licensors have thousands of images to sift through. Then you make a wish list and ask to see larger files. Many artists/licensors preview their images very small and watermarked to prevent theft. But it means you don’t always have a clear idea of how detailed or well-painted an image is. The licensor receives your wish list and knocks off any that are already under license as puzzles, and sends their high res files. Sometimes these files are ready to go to print.

But this is the exception rather than the rule. After all the hours of sifting, a good amount of our wish list will have files that are of insufficient resolution or clarity to be one of our puzzles. This is why, in addition to single large images, we also look for collections we can license to collage together into a puzzle.

Collages, of course, are their own time sink. For instance, the Country Diary seasons are made of hundreds of individual elements – flowers, bees, branches – and all the elements had to be separated from their backgrounds, the digital equivalent of cutting everything out with scissors. Before you can even start to arrange them.

Many of our titles are photographs of collections. Sometimes the amount of time taken is clear – like icing dozens of cookies, or arranging dozens of teacups. Sometimes it’s deceptive how long things can take, for instance Vintage Tins.

For a year every time I was in an antique or salvage store I would grab decorative tea caddies of sufficient age (we don’t want to step on the trademarks and copyrights of contemporary companies). When we had enough we built shelves by dismembering a palette (we wanted the shelves to be weathered). Why build our own? Because we can measure them to be exactly the right height for the tins, so that the image area is taken up with interesting tins rather than background. But just in case – we also collected fun fabric and papers to line the back of our shelves. Arrange – light – photograph... but wait! We’re not done. Now we take our digital file and lighten/brighten/sharpen, as well as more substantial changes like narrowing the shelf edges (they’re not that interesting) increasing the size of some of the pretty parts, and adding colour to monochromatic bits... sometimes it feels like you never finish, you just decide to let it go.

Q. What is your biggest project so far?
A. (Allegra) 
The longest project we’ve produced so far was the Rainbow. A single 27 foot long assemblage that took Shelley Davies 6 months of kneeling patiently arranging and rearranging elements into an attractive whole. Six months of opening doors softly (no wind please!) and keeping the cats out. But Cobble Hill has an even longer project in the works... stay tuned.

See more about Shelley Davies below...


ABOUT THE AUTHORWith her self-published book and  over 300 jigsaw puzzle reviews,  Linda has established herself as a prominent social media marketing influencer and jigsaw puzzle-preneur.  If you want to send Linda a quick message, visit her contact page here.

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Cobble Hill Puzzles and Shelley Davies

Shelley has become a leading artist in the field of Modern Art. She is a Canadian artist who creates paintings, collages and photographs, some of which end in 3 dimensional. Shelley has abackground in animation, feature films, television and theatre.

She has worked as an editorial illustrator and has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers across Canada.

Many of Shelley's works of art have been turned into jigsaw puzzles at Cobble Hill Puzzle Company selling over 110,000 which includes the following titles:

Others include; Catsville, Dogtown, Beach Scene, Sewing Notions, Dollies, Time Pieces, Vintage Art Supplies and Shelley's ABC's.

Special thanks to Linda Maxwell and Allegra Vernon for their time to provide us with this interesting inside look at a jigsaw puzzle company.


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