ATLANTA—Art and design licensing is a $32 billion market worldwide. But in many developing nations, talented artists often work for little or no money, with no opportunities to participate in this worldwide market.

Roots Studio, Inc. aims to bridge the gap between the developing world’s artists and the corporate world’s constant need for new art, designs and creative content. Roots Studio operates in the Impact Economy—for-profit companies whose core mission includes addressing a greater social issue. Womble Bond Dickinson attorneys Nick Hanna, Hannah Hope and Nik Patel recently completed a pro bono project to help Roots Studio achieve its mission.

Roots Studio scouts traditional artists in such nations as India, Panama, Indonesia, and Jordan. Many of these artists live in villages in the poorest areas of these nations. The company then digitizes the artwork and sells it as prints and to companies in need of artwork and designs. The artist and his or her community then receive a significant portion of each sale.

“It’s life-changing money for these artists and these communities,” Patel said. As a native of India, Patel said Roots Studio’s work has a personal meaning to him.

“Knowing you can help people back in the country you were born in, as well as in the country you live in, that feels good to me,” he said. In addition to helping indigenous artists earn a living, Roots Studio also allows these creators to keep traditional art forms alive.

Hope worked with Roots Studio on its first round of financing by reviewing an initial investor’s proposed forms of Simple Agreement for Future Equity or “SAFE.”  A SAFE is used to fund many seed-stage startups.  Then, in order to attract additional investment capital, Roots Studio needed a clean book of corporate documents. Hanna and Patel helped create this set of documents, which can be used in investment due diligence proceedings. The pro bono project took nearly three months to complete.

“I viewed it as just as important as my regular client work,” Hanna said. “It was such a valuable experience getting to interact with the client on almost a daily basis. I could tell our work meant a lot.”

Hope said, “For me, taking on pro bono matters is about getting out there and making a positive impact.  It is imperative we prioritize giving back to organizations like Roots Studio because that involvement will have a ripple effect – In this case on the artists and their communities around the world.”  

This pro bono opportunity came about through the firm’s long-time association with the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation. The Foundation is the pro bono arm of Lex Mundi, the world’s leading association of independent law firms with member firms in more than 100 countries.

Nick Hanna advises clients on general corporate matters including contracts, mergers and acquisitions, and other business transactions.  He also counsels clients on corporate governance matters. 

Hannah Hope represents national and regional banks, life insurance companies and other financial institutions in real estate-secured commercial lending matters and banking transactions, including syndicated and single bank financing facilities, secured and unsecured credit facilities, cash flow loans, asset-based loans, acquisition financings, and cross-border transactions.

Nik Patel guides domestic and international public and private companies in mergers, acquisitions, financings and other corporate transactions. His M&A experience includes deals of up to $1 billion. In addition, Nik represents companies in corporate governance and general business matters.

Roots Studio art and Thank You note