With the two big art licensing industry trade shows quickly approaching, SURTEX and Licensing Expo, artists are beginning to wonder how to go about walking a show.

There are several reasons you would walk a trade show – if it is an industry specific show you might walk it to see the new products in the industry and make connections with the manufacturers who are exhibiting.  This is what was going on at the gift show this month in Atlanta.  If you are trying to figure out the art licensing industry and on the fence about exhibiting at a show yourself, it’s also a good idea to walk the show and get a feel for it.

Last year, art licensing agent Alicia Dauber gave this advice to artists walking the SURTEX show:


Although most agents are interested in seeing  new work and meeting new artists, please keep in mind that the trade show floor is not the place to review your portfolios!   Trade show expenses including the cost of a booth are extremely high and the agent has spent thousands of dollars to be there.  They have to make it pay for themselves and the artist partners they represent by following up on as many appointments as they can for the artists that are currently in their stable.

It is absolutely acceptable to unobtrusively leave a business card or flyer on their table while making a note of the agent’s  name for future follow up after the show.  If the agent is not busy speaking to a client when you walk by, a quick hello and that you would like to email him or her about your work after the show is completed is fine.

Have fun!!  Wear comfortable shoes, enjoy the show and the education about the industry that it brings you while being appropriate and considerate of those who have paid to be there to work.    And BEST wishes to you in your search for an agent!

Learn more about Alica and her agency – Licensing Liaison


This advice is great in regards to artists as well.  Any artist in a booth at SURTEX or  the Licensing Expo, has made a huge investment in their business.  An investment of time, creativity, energy and of course, money.  So while you might be excited to meet some of the people you see and want to ask for advice, it is very important that you respect their time and space.  If they are talking with a manufacturer – keep walking and check back later.  If they are free and open to talking to  you, keep your eye on the aisle and graciously leave if someone looks interested in their art.  Connecting with manufacturers is priority 1.  Networking with and meeting other artists is a nice “extra”.

Take advantage of the learning opportunities!

SURTEX or  the Licensing Expo have amazing conference programs for artists to learn about the art licensing industry at their trade shows.  Don’t spend a lot of money to travel, stay in hotels, etc and not leave any room in your budget for education!  You can learn a lot from a variety of experts in the industry in a short period of time – take advantage!

A question was also asked about credentials to get into the shows.

Each show has their own rules about acceptable credentials for entry.  It is important for the shows to control in some way, who is on the show floor.  Again, exhibitors are paying a lot of money to exhibit and want to connect with the people that will help grow their business.  Shows have to walk a fine line between getting the right people in the door and making it so hard that even those that exhibitors want to meet won’t jump through all the hoops.  Contact the shows directly to see what you need to qualify for entry.

Here are the dates and details for the upcoming shows:

tradeshowtssSURTEX – New York City – May 19 – 21, 2013

  • Trade show solely focused on artists and agencies in art licensing.
  • Show website: www.SURTEX.com

Licensing Expo – Las Vegas – June 18 – 20, 2013

  • This show covers all aspects of licensing – sports, movies, tv as well as art.
  • Show website: www.LicensingExpo.com

If you are planning on exhibiting, I have some great tools to help get you ready.  Check them out at ArtLicensingInfo.com/tradeshows.html

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed