There was an almost palpable feeling of optimism in the air as I walked the conference floor on the first day of SURTEX 2013, as the artists and agents were preparing themselves for the hopefully oncoming hoards of art buyers and manufactures of all kinds. Having attended a few indoor trade shows (Vegas’ Magic, Seattle Gift Show) and worked as an exhibitor at several over my 16 years in business, I knew what was ahead for them for the three days of this show: long hours, tired feet and a general weariness from having to smile at everyone passing.
SURTEX is advertised as the place to be for for artists, designers and agencies who have art for a multitude of product end-uses: decorative fabrics and textiles, wall coverings, floor covering, stationery, greeting cards, gift wrap and other paper products, tabletop, giftware, toys, ceramics, packaging and publishing.
SURTEX 2013 Beth Logan Booth
While it seemed not very crowded and relatively quiet, I’ve been at shows where it is quiet and yet it only takes one big sale to make the show a success. Sometimes you can’t really know what business will come down the road, it’s a lot of advertising. I read once that sometimes you need to be seen three times before a buyer will make the final decision.
If you walk through and ask an exhibitor how they’re doing, you’ll get the practiced reply of “Good!” or “Great!” But sometimes I can tell the difference between the reply that means you are successful (because success breeds more success) versus the more accurate reply that translates more like, “People have been stopping by and been really interested, but no one has given me a definitive order.” It’s a little like the generic, “How are you doing?” A question that one usually answers, “Good,” whether you are feeling lowsy or not.
I met Tara Reed and saw her wonderful booth and thanked her for her fabulous blog that I try to keep up with, Art Licensing Blog. I saw Lance Klass from Porterfield’s Fine Art Licensing engrossed in a conversation with a client and really wanted to thank him for his nice rejection letters over the years, but I never saw him not busy and I know agents are there to make money and talk to people who will hire their artists.
SURTEX 2013 Roaring Brook Art Company booth
Gary Levine, agent and Caitlin Dundon, artist
I connected with my agent Gary Levine ofRoaring Brook Art Company, as well as fellow artists: Marie-Elaine Cusson, Cynthia Coulter and Sarah McAnerny ofTre Sorelle Studios. It was also a pleasure to meet Linda from Roaring Brook as well. The booth look fabulous – it was also very distinctive – showing some end products, not just the flat art that all the rest of the agencies were showing.
New Work, “Little Bird Says III: Sing,” by Caitlin Dundon from the Spring Collection of Roaring Brook
SURTEX 2013 Diane Kappa booth
I enjoyed wandering around the show – especially seeing the amazing work coming from the real surface designers in the Atelier section. I was delighted to find Diane Kappa who I knew from the early days ofVenue in Seattle where she first showed her hand painted silk banners and pillows. Even back then I knew her work was beautiful, but that the possibilities of mass production would be much more lucrative than hand sewn, hand painted pillows. Her work continues to be absolutely gorgeous with excellent color combinations and and overall sweetness that is very much Diane.
Orange Twist greeting cards
I also spent a lot of time wandering the aisles of the National Stationery Show and was happy to find some familiar faces there as well. AtOrange Twist Cards I chatted with fellow Seattlelite and designer Claire Jauregui and I spent some time admiring the full display of ilee paper goods by master letterpress artist Busara Teuber. I also introduced myself to Benjamin Paul – another Seattle letterpress designer who’s postcard calendar was one of 2012′s National Stationery Show Best New Product finalist.
I stopped by theCompendium booth (a long-time client) to congratulate them for the six Louie Awards from the Greeting Card Association but didn’t see Kobi Yamada their president and CEO in the booth, just sales people.
I marveled at the sheer numbers of letterpress cards and how
Busara Tueber of ilee paper goods
hard it is for anyone to really stand out. I love letterpress, but I almost started to get tired of it, and was happy to see photo postcards and silkscreened work. Booth display definitely had an influence, and cute company names, but what drew my attention was the laser cut paper designs.
I enjoyed several of the main floor seminars and then settled in for one of the longer seminars downstairs: Category Spotlight: Tabletop, Home Decor & Gift moderated by Allison Zisko, Managing Editor of HFN magazine, featuring Toni Kemal, Senior Trend Analyst, Lifetime Brands, Ingrid Liss, Creative Director, Demdaco and Sue Todd, President of Magnetworks.
The seminar was a treasure trove of great advice for first time and seasoned artists of licensing do’s and don’t. I love hearing the scoop even when I think I know it. And it was great to see the seminar full of eager artists and designers hanging on their every word. It’s everything that I’ve been learning in the past year or two. Keep files in layers so background can be changed if need be or pieces can be manipulated and added to other components during a manufacturing process to go from tabletop to 3D gifts, etc. That’s something I’ve definitely learned very quickly.
They said there was still a definite trend in woodland creatures, and even owls, but as Sue Todd from Demdaco said, “I don’t want to walk into every booth and see an owl. But still, I might want one owl.”
They also said there’s been a continued repurposing of typography which can only bode well for all of us in the industry who work with lettering, so I still have high hopes that the trend of handwritten script on art will stay strong as I expand my business with more and more beautiful images and look to the next season of design with excitement.
Advice from the panel:
- Keep artwork files in layers
- Have high resolution files 300 dpi tiff’s
- Always submit jpgs that are lo res and small for review
- Art needs to be commercial
- Art should be in sets of 2 or 4 of similar style/design
- Have great art
- Know yourself/know your art
- Be on trend, but START new trends