I have been an inventor since I was very young. I kept a record of all of my inventions, and I studied the market since I was a kid.
As I grew up, some of my inventions were done before I could do them. However, as I graduated college, no one had created a planet made of hearts yet. This seemed really odd to me because I thought surely this planet has to exist. So I had to put it down on paper.
I created Planet Heart methodically, step by step. I also wrote about writing and creating it and about how to organize it.
Drawing and writing came went together, and I could tell which side of my brain wanted me to write or draw in a particular hour and I would listen. Each need received what it needed in the perfect timing. It seemed so helpful. One complemented the other. The process was fascinating. Ideas flowed and healed and ignited and reacted to other ideas--as I switched from writing to drawing.
In drawing, I organized how hearts should combine. First I observed all the different ways that two hearts can combine. Then 3. This fascinated me. They seemed like the main tools and language and ...very powerful symbols for the planet. I would refer back to them often. I wondered if they would be part of the visual design of the characters, or the inside of them. I searched for one main combination for my main characters.
I began to draw every combination of hearts to make the main characters. I would take one angle of the hearts and put eyes inside. Then I would put the eyes on the outside. Each new combination received a series of drawings, like auditioning the different possible images that would result until I could choose a favorite.
When I finished with the eyes/lips/... I finished studying the face. So one day, I felt ready for the body.
I used the same methodological approach to finding the "one" body type for my main characters. I found several main body types that I loved, but there was one that I clearly came back to.
Then came the day that I had to assign hands... This was instant. There was only one. I knew that I didn't want to start to deal with fingers or how and where to put the hands, so I immediately had them make a heart. I paused just to test it with my own, even though I knew it was possible because as a child, playing with my hands in bed at night, I would do it. But after years of serious business in college, I hadn't done it. I just knew I could. I tested it, looked at it, and drew it. As soon as I drew the heart hand gesture, I knew it captured everything I wanted about Planet Heart.
I analyzed, wrote, and developed the heart hand gesture fully. I wrote that it means "hello, peace, respect, and appreciation" on Planet Heart. I knew which main character always did it, but then immediately couldn't help but make all the Heartlings do this gesture on the Planet. I named it the HeartMark. I went to the library and searched the term to keep it available. I tried to figure out how to secure the gesture and name legally. I wrote poems and stories about the HeartMark. Every story of the Heartlings included the Heartlings making the HeartMark.
I wrote stories of "affirmation of the self." Many such stories. Then I created a series of "See What You Love"(TM)--lot of stories starring my main character. (I had narrowed down the main character the instant that main character made the first HeartMark. It was my favorite main design overall and it was the one my hand always came back to draw, even though my hands loved to draw something new each time, too. Lovelle was the "base.")
I made quite a lot of rhymes about the HeartMark, and I made up songs with choreography. I wrote poems with hand choreography and described making heart hands to accomplish the hand games/clapping choreography.
I kept asking my lawyer to help me protect this hand gesture so that only my cartoon characters will be allowed to do it at first and so that I could license it for commercials and for pop artists. I was completely inspired to accomplish this like the man who earned from licensing the Wazzup! Finally, I told the lawyer that all dolls will some day make the HeartMark and that I want Robocop to make a heartmark with Barbie but only upon licensing my rights, and only after my Heartlings are associated with it first. My lawyer finally understood that the HeartMark is not just a 2d illustrations for drawings, as it had been perceived up to that point. He finally saw that it could be translated to 3d products. So we wrote the patent. The head patent examiner agreed that by bringing the hands together, the heart that results becomes a 3rd entity, a product on its own.
So my patent was approved. We included people making hands in the description.
The next years, I exhibited the heartmark in the licensing show. My press release was about the HeartMark and how it will replace the hand shake and the high five. I HeartMarked everyone in my booth. I had all the artwork and poems,...and quite a lot of many years of work of everything related to the heart hand gesture. The patenting of it inspired me in many new ways.
Many loved my work. There were potential leads, especially from Japan, but many leads overall. One agent from Japan would have been my new best friend. But I couldn't follow up with her.
As soon as I returned from the Licensing Show, my husband took a job in another state from mine, and I was put in charge of finding us a new house in a different state, packing us, taking care of one child (and pregnant), renting or selling the place we owned,... and so on.
And after we finally moved, ... the baby came out, my office was in boxes, the computer almost didn't work at all, and it was quite difficult to pursue the old contacts.
A year later, it dawned on me that my designs for room decor did not have to have heart hand extensions, but could have half heart bites. This lead to many new designs, games, and ...many new inspirations.
I could continue to list what happened as I tried to pitch my designs for licensing. But this is already very long (and the baby could call me any minute.)
I can say--if I made a pitch for licensing, someone usually stole the idea. If they didn't,they wanted a hefty contract to promote for me, which did not including creating a real product.
In March 2008, I decided to pitch the HeartMark at an inventor's convention. The winner would appear on Donny Deutsche and the products would be on QVC.
This part of the story is painful. I will write it down in an autobiography later. It's just sooo painful. After years of investing, planning, ...
the agents who saw my work told me that they do not see any way to market it. Then they took my HeartMark and gave it to Taylor Swift. She showed it in Dec. '09, almost a year after my pitch for licensing it. (I specifically recall telling my husband how she should license it from me because she's cute but she doesn't have the HeartMark like me! )
The same agent, in a coordinated effort, gave my HeartMark to LensCrafters, HP, Applebey's, and Weber Grill. All came out with a commercial with the HeartMark in April of 2009.
I used to google the words "heart hand" multiple times in that month. There was not a single photo or piece of art online other than my work. Not a single image or combination "heart hand" was ever mentioned.
By May of 2009, the majority of the companies stopped running their ad with the HeartMark. It is as if their lawyers battled each other. Or did they realize they were breaking my trademarks and patent? I think they were just fighting each other's lawyers.
That summer, Disney channel, Nordstorm Rack, Pepsi, Sonic, Travel Nevada, music videos, and other artists began imitating it. It started to grow out of my control. I had filed my own trademark applications by myself, based on advice from lawyers I had consulted with through the years and advice from books. ... This legal part is something I will leave out. Some day, when I understand it better, I will write a book to help other artists with it.
I am getting into too much detail. I would like to say that I invested a lot of personal income--making t-shirt designs, pitches, investing in printers and computers and traveling and trade shows and trying to get people to license this HeartMark heart hand and the inventions and product lines that it represented... years before ...before Taylor Swift was famous. I had degrees from a top university and chose to ignore job offers so that I can develop this HeartMark and offer it to the world. I had hoped that I would be compensated for developing it so fully. I believed the law books that I was using it in commerce first and that was enough.
It's very tough to come out with a product line when you are not a huge company, or even anything bigger than a mom. But I have to prove to all moms that it is possible to still have a piece of the pie somewhere, somehow.
I am not going to give up on Planet Heart. It has to exist. And the HeartMark is still mine. It is my trademark from the few applications that I managed to file (by myself.)
The heart hand gesture was invented by one person--me.
I invented cartoon characters, products, jewelry, room decor, plush, pillows, and many other products --and all connect to make a heart.
Some day, I would like to actually earn from all these years' work. I want to help others see that they can do it too. There has to be a way to work on something positive for so many years and to actually earn from it.
I fear that others who have become inspired from seeing my heart hands are making their own heart hands all of a sudden.
I know I am leaving out too much that I am sure nice artists and inventors would want to know. But ... ... perhaps if you help me by buying my products, I can afford to become a brand name, and then my full story will come out. And also,...you will see a whole new wave of designs on fabrics... all inspired by my years of working on this. My work will innovate the industry even more that it has so far!
By the way, I do not think Taylor Swift has a clue that she is using my trademark illegally and that I have put my blood and sweat and aged and worked through the night in between nursing the children.... all so that she could some day legally license my heart hand gesture legally. She is sweet and she has no idea. If she ever finds this, I hope to creating the legal licensing partnership that ...I deserve. I did the HeartMark rhymes and choreography on stage already in 2004, performing for 3 days at the Women's Expo, and saying explicitly that it is my trademark. And of course, I did this in 2003 at the Licensing Show.
A big HeartMark to everyone!