This time last year, I was getting ready for SURTEX, the art licensing tradeshow at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC. The show was just three days, but I spent months getting ready for it. It was my first time exhibiting and everything was new for me.
I wrote a blog post about my experience last year, but since I have a new website I thought I'd do a new look back on it and also share what's happened since then. Since I moved to Sydney earlier this year, it's too soon/far for me to go back to the show again, although it's been on my mind a lot recently, especially how I would approach doing it a second time.
If I was exhibiting at SURTEX this year, I'd do the following the same:
1) Research, research, research - I took full advantage of the SURTEX directories and researched companies to find ones that might be a good fit for my work. I then sent each targeted messages before SURTEX inviting them to connect at my booth.
2) I had my banners printed on canvas and hung them with 3M command strips. I liked the look of the canvas since my art is hand painted and the 3M strips held the banners up the entire time. Pro tip: hold the strips down for 30 seconds like the back of the packaging recommends.
3) A friend recommended Influence Graphics in LIC to print the banners and they were GREAT to work with. They even print overnight if you run into any disasters during the show.
4) Have helpers. I had two helpers and it made a world of difference. Even though I was nervous to miss something if I left the booth, one of the most valuable things I did during the show was to walk around and meet the other exhibitors. Everyone was SO NICE and it was great to connect with other artists. I also walked the Stationery Show and ICFF - both so inspiring, especially ICFF.
Now for some things I'd change if I was exhibiting again this year:
1) Last year, I had several look books printed for people to look at while they were in the booth. I put a lot of time into the books, but found that people were more interested in the banners, the display and the promotional materials. I had an iPad with a slideshow of my portfolio and this worked quite well. If I was exhibiting this year, I wouldn't print books again and instead would exhibit with a second iPad to save money.
2) I overdid it with promotional materials and ordered way too much. Even though I gave away a lot, I definitely over ordered before the show and wound up with lots of extra promotional materials. After SURTEX, I spent my time targeting the companies that visited my booth, so I needed some fresh new materials instead of the ones from the show.
3) The biggest realization I had last year at the show was that even though it's pitched to the exhibitors as a massive marketplace, the expense for me really fell under marketing.
All in all, it was a great experience and I was able to shore up four licensing agreements from it after a few months. I wish everyone exhibiting this year good luck and I'm excited to follow along on Instagram!