June 20, 2010

Would you like a bookmark?” – My Surtex thoughts.

Would you like a book­mark?“
This is how I was get­ting the atten­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ers, retail­ers and artists who were pass­ing by my booth at the Sur­tex Show. And it worked! Peo­ple stopped to take their book­marks, and so it was eas­ier for me to talk to them, and intro­duce them to Poki­dots! studio.

Would you like a bookmark?

I was very excited about the show. I heard about it three years ago for the first time and now I was finally ready to be part of it.

It took me the whole set-up day to stick every piece of art that I had with foam dou­ble tape, while other more expe­ri­enced artists, unrolled and hung their ban­ners full of art in five min­utes and left… I also cre­ated a dress out of paper with my pat­terns printed on it, and some tis­sue paper, and dis­played it on a man­nequin. It was a cre­ative way to show a part of my pat­tern col­lec­tion, and that dress was def­i­nitely the star of my booth which was nice and sim­ple, just like I planned.

Pokidots! booth at Surtex 2010

What I liked most about the show was that every artist had a dis­tinct draw­ing style (and tar­get buy­ers) and there was a lot of vari­ety. Because of that, there was no sense of com­pe­ti­tion, and most artists were gladly will­ing to share advice and tips with each other.

Inspir­ing: There is so much tal­ent out there and the art that was in the show was over­whelm­ing. It was very inspiring.

Surtex 2010 overview

Moti­vat­ing: Speak­ing with poten­tial cus­tomers who appre­ci­ate your art, and get­ting feed­back and ideas from them is also extremely moti­vat­ing. This feed­back gives you, the artist, a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what the mar­ket needs, it allows you to eval­u­ate your art more objec­tively, and plan your next col­lec­tion bet­ter. I think this kind of feed­back is nec­es­sary for inde­pen­dent atists who work alone.

Help­ful: I was sur­rounded with expe­ri­enced artists, who were exhibit­ing at Sur­tex for the 5th, 12th and 18th year! They gave me valu­able feed­back and advice. Here are the two pieces of advice I wrote at the top of my white board in my studio:

1* Expect busi­ness to be slow the first year but don’t give up; make sure you exhibit at Sur­tex again and again.

I know that suc­cess will not come overnight. But as a new­comer to the indus­try, you’re all excited and eager to see your art on dif­fer­ent prod­ucts. You’re also hop­ing to get a quick return on invest­ment: par­tic­i­pat­ing in Sur­tex is not very cheap… It’s thus quite dis­cour­ag­ing to hear vet­eran artists tell you that very lit­tle will hap­pen in your first year in the indus­try, and advise you not to lose your moti­va­tion, but come back the next year to Sur­tex. They’re more expe­ri­enced than me, so it must be true… I do want to be part of the “com­mu­nity”, so I am already plan­ning for next year’s show. But before that, the sec­ond piece of advice:

2* The post-show follow-up is as impor­tant as the show itself.

Buy­ers don’t typ­i­cally reach out to the artists they meet at the show. The week after the show is then very impor­tant, to estab­lish a rela­tion­ship with those buy­ers. To that end, make sure that not only do you hand out your own busi­ness cards, but you also col­lect the busi­ness cards from the peo­ple stop­ping at your booth.

I had fun par­tic­i­pat­ing in Sur­tex this year, but I haven’t seen the fruits of my invest­ment yet. I will know in a cou­ple of weeks, or a cou­ple of months, after talk­ing to my con­tacts.
In the mean­time, I will be elab­o­rat­ing my port­fo­lio and cre­at­ing new art with a bet­ter plan in mind.☮

4 Responses to “Would you like a bookmark?” – My Surtex thoughts.”

  1. Maria Bertolini says:

    Hi,
    I am an aspir­ing designer and I would like to thank you for the advice. Do you ever exhibit at PrintSource in NY? I am not at the point where I could be an exhibitor but I am work­ing on my designs. What do buy­ers wnat to see? Swatches, sketches? Thanks for any help
    Best regards
    Maria

  2. louma says:

    Hi Maria,
    Buy­ers want to see art that they can use for their prod­ucts! Tex­tile buy­ers, for instance, would like to see mostly repeat pat­terns to print on fab­ric. It could be fab­ric for home dec­o­ra­tions and fur­nish­ings, or it could be for baby clothes, it depends on the buyer. Print and poster buy­ers would like to see a draw­ing or a pic­ture that would look good hung on a wall for exam­ple. Buy­ers want dif­fer­ent things, and artists pro­vide dif­fer­ent styles of designs. I say eval­u­ate your art, know what you do best and approach man­u­fac­tur­ers accord­ingly with a con­sis­tent col­lec­tion of images, enough for them to under­stand your art and what you can offer.
    Good luck to you!!

  3. allison tannery says:

    Hi,
    I will be help­ing my biz partner/friend who is a designer, at Sur­tex this year. We are fig­ur­ing our way around all the busi­ness and con­tracts, what we want and don’t, etc. My ques­tion is this (or these!): when it comes to exhibit instal­la­tion, light­ing, even booth food ser­vice and clean­ing, tele­phone ser­vice, etc., what is nec­es­sary for a first time? The list of things avail­able is mind­bog­gling, and we cer­tainly don’t want to spend money we don’t have to! Any tips here would be greatly appre­ci­ated!
    allison

  4. Louma says:

    Hi Alli­son,
    Every­thing that is included can be found on the Sur­tex website.

    Instal­la­tion and light­ing: You get a grey car­pet for the floor, like what you see on my pic­tures (you can click to see larger). Each of the walls is made of 3 lam­i­nated (pla­s­ticky) white pan­els, mounted together with an alu­minum bar that sticks out a lit­tle bit, about 1/8″ or 1/4″. As for the light­ing, you get 4 pro­jec­tors — you can see them in my 2nd photo. They are placed on the alu­minum bar that’s on the side of the booth that doesn’t have a wall (the ‘entrance’), and you can move them and point them wher­ever you want. You also get a table and 2 chairs. High table and chairs for free and low (like the ones I had) for a fee. All the info and prices are on the Sur­tex web­site. The tables have shelves inside for stor­age. You can put your purse and per­sonal things in there dur­ing the show. I also put the things I had on my table in the inside shelves overnight…
    > I didn’t need to add any­thing and I was per­fectly fine. The light­ing was great, I don’t think you need more. The car­pet is clean (I added a few round black car­pets to make a poki­dot design ;) I got the low table for extra because I just thought it would be more com­fort­able to sit at nor­mal sit­ting height, and I wanted more of the back of my booth to be seen.

    Clean­ing: It is included with your pack­age. They vac­uum the first morn­ing before the show starts, and at the end of every show day. You also get a black garbage bin.
    > How­ever, if you’re wor­ried the booth would get dirty dur­ing the show, you can bring a cord­less vac­uum or some­thing and put it inside the table, just in case. I had a small clean­ing spray and tis­sues for the table and the walls; they don’t clean that dur­ing the show.

    Food: There are cafe­te­rias and sand­wiches which could be close or far from your booth depend­ing on where you are on the show floor. You won’t be alone, so I think when it’s quiet you can take turns to eat.
    > I don’t rec­om­mend eat­ing in the booth, unless you are alone and have no choice. In that case, take small sub­tle bites because you don’t know how the buy­ers appear :) (no spaghetti or sushi for instance :)

    Tele­phone: There are pub­lic phones in the cen­ter lobby… Other than that, you can use your cell phone (which I also do not rec­om­mend doing in the booth)… I don’t think I used the phone at all dur­ing the show.

    There are metal ‘carts’ that you can use to bring your art and ‘equip­ment’ to your booth if you’re bring­ing them in boxes…

    So basi­cally, besides the low table, I didn’t add any­thing to my booth, and I don’t think you need to. At least not the first time. After that if you want to go fancy then you can make a won­der­land of your booth but if you’re on a bud­get, what is included is just enough and perfect.

    Good luck! :)

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