SURTEX 2014 RECAP - PART 1
Well after 6 months of nose to the iMac dedication — working like a *crazy MAD artist* my Surtex 2014 debut has come and gone. It really was a dream come true moment for me and my art. I cried, laughed and woohoo'd my way through it.
I walked the Surtex show about six years ago and was overwhelmed at the visual beauty of it all. And I came home very humbled by the talented artists — shaking my head, thinking how I could possibly get myself there. At the time I think I was painting abstracts, so I have come a long way!
The response to my art, my booth design and my promo video was really wonderful! And my "LOVE Your Shoes" pug art was a big hit. I used that image twice in my booth graphics, in my Surtex Directory ad, my hand out post cards and in my promo video.
Here is a list of some of my take aways from a creative "dream come true" life experience.
1. Yes, everyone in this Surtex Art community is incredibly nice, friendly, supportive, welcoming, helpful, encouraging and just plain lovely human beings. My peeps! I found my peeps! And being in a community of happiness, beautiful art and design with good natured people contributes to the wonderful energy of the show. Seriously, looking at row after row of beautiful art and smiling people — I was in heaven.
2. I wish I had reached out more and introduced myself to even more exhibitors. I had no problem introducing myself and talking with retailers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers that walked the show. I did track down several artists that I have been following (I think I might have said "stalking") over the years and told them I was a fan of their work. I just wish I had taken a bit more time to meet a few more people since I was RIGHT THERE.
COY CATHY... AND ALOOF ADAM?
3. I did not expect the retailers, buyers, manufacturers and suppliers to be so coy, aloof, or stealth? Of course I'm sure many of them get bombarded by hundreds of artists and thousands of submissions that they have to weed through. I guess I expected them to be a little more open since I had paid for the "ticket to exhibit". One conversation with a major greeting card company executive went like this when we first met;
Me (beaming exuberantly): "Hello, I'm Valerie the artist behind the work."
Greeting card executive: "hello".
Me: "………...… " (as she flips through my portfolio)
Me (cheerfully): "Where are you from?"
Greeting card executive (deadpan): "Washington".
Of course I meant "what company are you from?" not the geographical location they lived in. I did ask gently for a business card from her and got one. And of course not everyone was like this. I met a lovely woman from a publishing company that does calendars and journals that took the time to look thru my portfolios and told me how much she liked my art. I had to followup and send her lots of images she requested to see.
WHAT ART HAVE YOU GOT FOR...
4. Manufacturers were looking for very specific art. I had several experiences where people were looking for very specific seasonal or art collections. One gentleman said "that's a great pug! What else do you have for dog art?" Fortunately, I also had some Boston Terrier and Dachshund concepts in my portfolio to respond with. But it made me realize that people are shopping for very specific things. It's not about me (shocking!), it's about my art filling a need for them. Which is also another reason to keep an eye on TRENDS! Even though I knew owls have saturated the art licensing market — I had owl art in Christmas, Halloween, Children and my Every Day portfolio sections.
DR SCHOLLS, EPSON SALTS AND IBUPROPHEN... OH MY!
5. I knew that I would be working a trade show booth, I've done many in my career over the years. And I knew that I would be standing on my feet. But I didn't realize how physically exhausting it would be. A sign of getting older I guess. Honestly, I was just 26 years old a second ago! LOL! And now at 56 my body really felt the physical part. Of course it didn't help that I had been sitting at a computer for 16 hours a day for the past 6 months to — standing on my feet for three straight days. And I did have really comfortable shoes!
THE WORK IS JUST BEGINNING
6. I came home with lots of contacts, people to follow up with and send files to. Some of the types of companies that were interested in my art were greeting card companies, fabric companies, a stamping company, flag company, publisher—calendars and journals, home decor company and a tabletop company to name a few. So now the relationship building process starts. And of course you've got to start somewhere. And at least I have art now and people that would like to use it on their products. Which is what the art licensing game is all about.
So now as I continue to work on my follow-up contact list, connect with new friends on social media and smile contentedly at the accomplishment of this life long dream — people were already talking about and saying "See you next year at Surtex!" Oh geez… I better get busy NOW creating more ART.
SURTEX 2014 RECAP - Part 2, coming soon!