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A puzzling work of art: Jigsaw firm calls for submissions from artists

The pair launched the business last fall
Tinka Robev and Andrew Azzopardi with their wooden jigsaw puzzles last fall.

The owners of a Victoria-based design studio are reaching out to artists who want people to have a good long look at their work.

Tinka Robev and Andrew Azzopardi of Robazzo want to showcase established and emerging artists in their unique jigsaw-puzzle format.

Robev and Azzopardi, creators of Puzzle Lab, use computer algorithms to laser-cut from wood complex geometrical pieces that make their puzzles time-consuming and challenging.

The benefit to the artist is the knowledge that puzzlers will spend hours studying the forms, colours and complexities of the work.

“It’s such a precarious time for art … nothing compares with being face to face with a work of art in any medium,” said Azzopardi. “We wanted to explore ways to include the greater artist community in our work. There’s so much talent out there.”

Artists are being asked to submit up to three images for consideration.

Robev said artists selected for puzzle images will receive either ongoing royalties or a one-time licensing payment for their artwork.

“We want to challenge the typical puzzle stereotype of images of a farm or a basket of kittens, and curate more modern, refined images,” said Robev.

Since launching last fall, Puzzle Lab has sold more than 1,100 puzzles produced in its boutique studio to customers across Canada, as people looked for hobbies amid pandemic lockdowns.

The Puzzle Lab currently has 15 puzzles available, ranging in price from $55 to $110. Each is cut from one-quarter-inch-thick birch plywood.

The partners did an initial low-profile call and will be releasing the first art puzzles soon, with one design from local artist and former Victoria artist-in-residence Luke Ramsey.

The puzzles, initially only 100 pieces, are now offered in 150-, 175-, 200- and 300-piece iterations.

Robev and Azzopardi met at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture and moved to Victoria in 2014 and started their studio.

The technology used in Puzzle Lab draws from Azzopardi’s skills in parametric design that involve writing custom computer algorithms to generate complex geometry and using robots such as laser cutters, 3D printers and CNC routers to create complex shapes.

Robov’s eye and expertise are behind the visual graphics.

The partners have also launched a Valentine’s Day themed puzzle with a twist. One of the 100 limited-edition puzzles contains a Canadian diamond necklace from Victoria’s Lugaro Jewellers.

“We thought up this campaign as an alternative to social-media marketing,” said Robev. “[It’s] something more tactile and old-school along the lines of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.”

Any artists wanting to submit images should send an email to The deadline is March 5.