"The day before something is a breakthrough, it's a crazy idea. If it wasn't, it would just be an incremental improvement."
- Peter Diamandis, founder of the X-Prize Foundation
And the day AFTER the breakthrough it becomes known as a Brilliant Idea. Let's not forget that the execution of that idea may have taken weeks, months or years, but that is the nature of crazy ideas - they require focus and persistence to make them work. Art licensing is a business where the great majority of the participants (on both sides) tend to approach it from safe ground, that incremental improvement viewpoint, basically offering up slightly different designs or products that will work in already-proven formats. Worse yet is what can be called a fractional viewpoint where the intent is to peel off a fraction of the existing market to call their own by offering "me too" artwork or products that match what is already out there.
Don't get me wrong - these approaches can get you some work, and I suppose one could argue that incremental improvement is the path people may need to take - both to learn the business and to GET some business. Licensees are notorious for playing it safe. Of course there's not much buzz about the artist who paints a few more cute butterflies or bunnies, or creates yet another graphic pattern, because generally those approaches just don't leave much of a lasting impression.
But the artist with all those crazy ideas... the one enthusiastically spinning off a steady stream of concepts, some good, some off the mark, and occasionally a great one…
Everybody remembers who that is.