I just returned home from an eventful, exhausting and extraordinary experience attending my first CHA Show. The event was hosted at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, and WOW what a show it was!

The show floor consisted of approximately 185,000 sq ft of display area with 592 exhibitors. There were demos happening in every direction – booths filled with people networking, working on make-and-take projects and general craft chit chat. The whole place was over flowing with craft supplies of all shapes and sizes from fabric and stamps to cutters and glitter. For a long time crafter and creative enthusiast, this place was heaven! It was creativity potential on overdrive.

The License and Design section was appropriately placed in the middle of the show floor, almost like a little show within the show. There were artists ranging in style, technique and experience as well as business model and specialty. I had no idea there were so many ways to sell one’s own art creations. From surface design to product design, the license and design section was filled with amazing talent.

I was able to get a hold of an exhibitor pass so I could help a few friends set up their booths. Since I was only walking the show this time, I made a point to stop and introduce myself to nearly all the other exhibitors in the section and offer to help during set up. If you’re looking to make new friends, extending a helpful hand is a good place to start. I was so amazed at the people in this group. Everyone was so friendly and eager to welcome a new comer. I felt at home almost immediately.

The show offered a number of opportunities for artists to promote themselves and their work:

Show reception open to all attendees – a great networking opportunity if you know who will be there or plan to meet with someone in advance. Not everyone attends this event.

Press kits – all attending designers can submit a press kit at no charge. I didn’t know about this ahead of time so at the last minute decided to drop off the postcards I had brought to hand out to those contact I met. I was pleased to see that by the end of the show all my cards had been picked up. There was also an award for the best press kit won by Denise Bosler.

Designer showcase – this event is only for a few hours on night but seemed to be a great opportunity to display work for a small fee. Each designer created a table displayed exhibit while press, buyers and manufacturers browsed through the room.

Classes and workshops – there are a number of classes offered for a while range of topics. An “all class” ticket was well worth the purchase. Not only are these classes great for information, they’re another good opportunity to meet pros in the industry.

Designer meeting – the License and Design portion of CHA has it’s own governing board and official organization which helps to provide the promotion and opportunities for the member designers. There was an official meeting to hear about how the group is doing, future goals. The Plaid New Horizon awards returned for this show, so the winners were announced at this meeting as well: Brenda Pinnick , Tiffany Windsor and Linda Jacobson.

An attendee standing just outside the License and Design section of CHA

I went to this show with the single goal of meeting people in the industry. I did not pre-set meetings – I had no preconceived ideas of who I would meet nor what I would learn let alone what we would talk about. I just wanted to come away with a better view of the industry and what it might have to offer for my art career. I ended up coming home having made new friends, a better understanding and clearer perspective of the industry and how the manufacturers work together with designers and what I want to do moving forward. I also gained a strong appreciation for the organization behind this fantastic event. CHA is wonderful and I’m so very glad to have had the opportunity to participate this year. Watch for it, next year I’m hoping you’ll see JGoode Designs offering art licensing amongst the fabulous booths to browse!

If you need inspiration, would like to network with like minded people, want to mingle amongst your peers or are looking for motivation to move along in your career, I can think of no better place than in the Licensing and Design section of the CHA winter show. Those who participated are an outstanding group and I am honored to have had the opportunity to be around them for the last 5 days.

I end with this little snippet of the CHA Winter Show event opening parade…

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