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HOW ERIC BECAME THE PUZZLE GUY

How Eric Became the Puzzle Guy

      30 years ago, Eric Dowdle was hard at work building his reputation as a budding artist.  He developed an original style of art by applying folk art stylings to modern settings. Things were going along well when one evening he met a celebrity who was assembling a folk-themed puzzle. As they worked the puzzle, the man's demeanor was relaxed and natural. Conversation flowed easily as they worked on the puzzle.  Eric said, "After half an hour, it felt like we were longtime friends. It was an amazing experience. The idea that my art would make great puzzles kept coming up but I balked. I thought I'm an artist. No, thank you puzzles." The idea didn’t go away though. A while later, Eric produced his first puzzle and over ten years, the puzzle market continued to take off, dragging Eric with it. "People started calling me 'the Puzzle Guy, and I would cringe.  I was an artist. No one goes to art school with the idea that 'Yay puzzles! That's where it's at.' I was still pushing back against the idea."

     When Eric was put in charge of a program to celebrate Currier and Ives' art, he was not aware of how it would change his outlook. Currier and Ives sold themselves as "Publishers of Cheap and Popular Prints." Their images showed scenes of American life. They made art obtainable for the average person. Eric learned that people would hang a Currier and Ives print prominently in their homes. Families and guests would gather in front of the art to study and discuss it for long periods. "People don't do that anymore. We live in a 'microwave society' where the competition for attention span is fierce. People glance at art on a wall for a couple of seconds and move on. With puzzles, I get to share art, and a story with people and have their attention for 3 hours or more. It was an epiphany."

    Eric is, above all else, a storyteller. Seeing how puzzles can get the art story in front of an audience for several hours, the puzzle picture came together for him. It was a method of sharing his stories in a meaningful way to bring people together. "It's like it slows down time, strips away our barriers, and opens conversations to create bonds. I finally realized that I was helping create this positive environment with these puzzles.  Suddenly I was ok being 'the Puzzle Guy.' I love the thought of the art and puzzles bringing families and people together."

   Dowdle has produced over 10 million puzzles.  These have been shared by millions more. "I feel incredibly blessed to have been apart of so many people's lives," Eric said," I hope to be able to keep doing this for years to come.  I still believe in bringing people together one puzzle piece at a time." We also feel blessed to work with Eric, to share his vision, and to have so many amazing friends, fans, and enthusiasts who share our love of puzzles, Eric's art. You make our work worthwhile.  Puzzle on.


23 comments


  • Kayleen Allred

    I visited your store this morning and was so pleased to meet Eric himself! Wow, what a privilege! Your staff is so friendly, helpful and kind. I love the artwork and the DETAIL in each puzzle. Our family is becoming a huge fan of your artwork through the puzzles and we are so grateful for uplifting non-electronic device entertainment and diversion from these crazy times. We have found opportunity to open up lines of communication with the older kids and giving encouragement for small successes puzzling 100 piece puzzles with little ones. there’s always a story. A chance to teach. I’m grateful for the wide variety of different sized piece numbers to appeal to all ages and interests. Never tedious. Never boring. Always fun! Always a conversation piece. What a marvelous way to share your travels with those of us who can’t get out and travel now.


  • Brenda S Smith

    This Christmas I received 2 of your puzzles. it has been an enjoyable experience to put them together. The art has made putting a puzzle so much more enjoyable. I will look to buying more of your puzzles this year.


  • Pam Gudas

    I just found your puzzles a year ago and they’re my all time favorite! I love the folk art style and the fact that they are painted with puzzles in mind. Every molding on every building in Venice is unique and every sky has enough variation to avoid “sky fatigue” (were there are 200 pieces of plain blue nothing!!!). Thanks for helping to offset COVID boredom. I’m a big fan!


  • Marie Murphy

    I am in love with his puzzles – not only are they incredibly beautiful and colorful and informativ, it brings our family together to enjoy piecing them together!
    thank you Eric -also love those your video’s


  • Jenn R

    We have always loved Dowdle puzzles but it wasn’t until a few years ago while recovering from a c-section in winter that I stumbled upon Eric’s BYUTV’s Series “Painting The Town”. It was such a huge lift at such a difficult time. I felt like I had been somewhere, learned something (MANY “somethings”) and met people right along with Eric as he got to know the place, people and their story. Such a wonderful blend of travel, history, art, and just humanity! We all (especially my kids) love how he tries anything and has such a fun and entertaining personality! And what an artist! Just incredible to see the final painting of each place!!! Seriously my favorite show! My family flew through every episode in the 3 seasons and only WISH THERE WERE MORE! So we just keep rewatching them and buying more puzzles and wondering about the stories of the people we see in the puzzles! They also are the perfect souvenir of our favorite places. Such a wonderful way to remember and revisit especially now when we can’t go to those places! We’re so glad you are “the puzzle guy” too! Thank you!!!


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