I am happy to report that I survived another year at Surtex! Surtex is an art licensing show that takes place every year at the Javit’s Center in NYC. This was my 7th year showing my art, but I have been walking the show since the early 2000’s. I’m not exactly sure which year I first attended. I remember walking the show and thinking how amazing it would be to show my art there. Things were a lot different back then. This was in the early days of the internet and social media was nothing like it is now. It was really hard to get your work in front of the right people and back then artists did not share their contacts or information. It was all a big mystery and you had to do the work to get ahead. Now it’s so easy to get information and thanks to social media we have a lot more opportunities to show our work. The first year I showed at Surtex I had my own booth. It was a lot of work and a big expense, but something I really wanted to do on my own. It was a bucket list item for sure. Now, I have agents that handle everything for me. I mean everything! I am represented by MHS Licensing and they are one of the best. They pay for the booth, banners, and any prints needed. They also take care of all contracts, meetings, follow-up and manage all of my files. Suretx is just one of the shows they present my work at too. They also show at The Licensing Expo in Las Vegas and attend the Atlanta gift show two times a year as well as the housewares show, quilt market, textile market and tabletop shows. I couldn’t ask for a better team working for me. It really is a true partnership. If you are an artist looking for representation, be sure to ask a lot of questions and get references before deciding on an agent. They are representing you!
The licensing industry continues to change especially with the growth of shows like Blueprint where artists sell their work outright as well as license. I am happy to say that even though Surtex continues to get smaller the traffic this year was really good and I had one of my best years. My agents and I are pretty firmly in the licensing camp and don’t sell my work outright often. Every once and a while I may make the decision to do that, but it’s rare. I know that in the long run licensing is more profitable and makes more sense for me. I don’t think there is anything wrong with selling outright, it’s a decision you need to make as an artist and be ok with letting go of your art. I think for me it gets confusing to do both and isn’t fair to my licensing partners. I have also heard stories of companies that buy art outright and then turn around and license it. That would be really upsetting to me. Again, if you are an artist looking to get into the business, these are things you need to think about and decide what works best for you! These are personal decisions for us all to make. I’m just sharing my viewpoint and how I like to work. That could change as the industry changes, but for now I’m really happy.
The show was fun, overwhelming, exhausting and inspiring all at once. I love seeing my artist friends and getting the chance to spend some quality time with them is one of my favorite things to do while I’m there. My meetings all went well and not only was the response great, but there were a lot of ideas, dreaming and plans being born for programs which is always fun. I think it’s so important for me to get to spend time with my licensing partners and build relationships. It’s the main reason I attend every year.
I was nervous going into this year because I made the decision to combine my two art brands and create a new look that is a combination of the two. I was really overwhelmed and thrilled with the feedback I received. The months of hard work, experimentation, stretching and growing into this new space was so worth the risk. I feel connected to my art for the first time in a very long time!
There was a lot of prep work that went into the show. I presented 12 new collections with multiple pieces in each plus mock-ups. I started working in February and finished up in May. I was fully immersed in it and loved the process. In the past I just created art that I thought would work for different product ideas. I stuck with my look because it was working even though I wasn’t connected with it anymore. This time was so different! I love the new look because it feels like me. My goal was not only to paint what I loved, but I wanted to convey a feeling that would connect with others. I really got into it. I would pick a feeling like calm and think about how that felt to me. I wrote down colors, words, scents and crystals that had connections to being calm. Then I dove into writing. It was such a freeing experience and it worked. Not only was it incredibly personal to me, it was a strong branded look. My advice to artists is find a style, medium or craft that deeply resonates with you. Dig deep and figure it out, the result will be the most meaningful work of your life. When you find it, everything will fall into place. It’s worth the journey.
Well, that’s it! Job done and time to move on with follow-up work and new ideas. It’s going to be a fun year! xo.