Well it’s all over but the follow up!  Another SURTEX under my belt and I’ve survived to blog the tale…   There have been some great posts by many artists at the show – I’ll add links to a few in my eNewsletter on June 5th.  If you blogged about it and it didn’t hit my radar, be sure to let me know so I can include you!

Let’s start with Adventures… Getting ready for and traveling to and from a trade show is not for the faint of heart!

Getting ready… There are weeks and months of asking yourself, “Am I ready?”  “Do I have the best art I can to take to the show?”  “Will my art be well received?”  Make no mistake, these questions go through the head of every artist, from first time exhibitor to the most seasoned veteran.  We are only as good as our most recent collections!

Getting to… Heading to New York seemed easy enough.  I was happy to be on a flight that stopped in Denver instead of having to make a connection – 19 people on my flight didn’t make theirs.  The plane was late arriving and then there was a medical emergency so all the kids in the boarding area (and me!) were treated to fire trucks, ambulances and emergency medical teams going up and down the stairs to the airplane.   Then we had to wait for our oxygen tank to be refreshed before we could push back and push on east.

The excitement didn’t end there!  As we are finally landing in La Guardia – and if you’ve ever landed in La Guardia you know there are some serious turns and banking of the plane, not an easy straight down involved – we had some excitement in my row.  I was on the aisle, seated next to a young couple (mid to late 20’s I think?), the wife next to me and the husband at the window.  Well – he apparently hadn’t eaten anything but the jelly beans and pretzels she had in her purse but had 2 drinks (of the alcoholic kind) and they polished off 2 bottles of wine.  (The wine bottle was in between a regular bottle size and single serving.)  Well, he was quite drunk and decided he HAD TO USE THE BATHROOM right then.  He attempted to climb over his wife who had to treat him like a 5 year old.  He pretended he was going to be sick – she assured me this was a ploy to get his way… what he did do was WET HIS PANTS.  Really.  I can just say I was one happy artist when I was off the plane and my head finally hit the pillow at my hotel.

Getting home… you think you have everything organized and in order and then mother nature throws some thunder storms in your way.  Getting home took twice as long as expected with nearly as many hours with my butt in a not-so-comfy airplane seat on the runways as it did in the air.  I was thankful the delays were extra long on the way home and not on the way there!  Some of my friends never made it home that day but got stuck in airports over night so I am thankful that I did make it home, bleary eyed and exhausted.

One interesting upside to the “adventure” of returning home was that I ended up talking to a potential client while getting ready to board the plane.  She had shoes that were not only cute, they looked comfortable and that is like the holy grail to me.  My poor feet can’t do stilettos on a good day let alone all day at a trade show.  When I sent my first follow up email, we of course bonded over the whole experience – it was good relationship building.  Talk about turning lemons into lemonade… 🙂

These things are all part of the trade show experience.  You simply don’t know what will be in or out of your control and you have to learn to roll with the things that aren’t.  (I will admit to some whining on Twitter and in person but overall, I kept a better attitude than many of my travel companions.)

Now for Impressions from the SURTEX show…

I really want to say “What Jim said” because Jim of Two Town Studios really did a great post about the show. But I’ll give a few of my own impressions as well. 🙂

Trade shows are an emotional roller coaster.  I decided to be all zen about it and told every stressed out artist (which at times, was me) that “We will meet who we are meant to meet and all will be well”.  It’s true.

You have to look at the totality of the show – at the end of the three days, do you have leads in your hands that you feel good about and that you believe will turn into a deal?  Have you met people from companies you’ve been longing to connect with?  Have you enjoyed your time and networked with other artists at the show?  All of these things and more are the reason I show up year after year.

Sunday had some slow spots… Monday was rockin’.  Tuesday morning was good, Tuesday afternoon got slower but was still useful.

We went digital!  Another source of pre-show anxiety and excitement revolved around the iPad.  I decided to go digital this year – no binders at all.  My sister was kind enough to load my entire portfolio onto her iPad and I had it on mine so we were armed with two digital copies of everything.

The first people she tried to show art to had some technical difficulties.  I arrived back from the loo to find her in a panic and them perplexed and trying to keep her calm.  They couldn’t get the pages on the pdfs to turn.  Thankfully I figured it out and everything went smoothly after that but wow – that could have been a disaster!  As it was, it was easier to travel with an iPad rather than 50 lbs of paper and I got interest in art I wouldn’t have brought.  So I’m a believer – iPad all the way for me!

I got to meet lots of amazing artists who I “know” from social media, who read this blog, who are trying to figure things out.  I taught a class with art licensing agent Alicia Dauber and through the process got to know her a lot better.

Statistically – the show was as big as last year with some new exhibitors and some not returning for a variety of reasons.  Some that were new last year went with agents, others decided it wasn’t for them and others were busy with current clients that they decided not to look for new ones yet.

The show continues to do more each year to promote the show and get the manufacturers in.  I’m on the advisory board and my advice when we were talking about marketing the show, helping exhibitors etc was that while it’s great to help us get visibility, the bottom line is that the show needs to get the people on the floor that we want to meet.  Without the manufacturers looking for art, there is no point of coming.  They’ve done a great job and are working hard to keep it up.

One thing many artists don’t realize about the SURTEX show is that it is a combination of artists who license art and who sell art outright.  About 25% of the floor space is booths for art that is sold.  I got to talking to a few of the advisory board members that sell their art and we are going to do some blog posts and possibly other joint ventures to help artists understand how that works. (I’m excited to learn more about it – I haven’t a clue!)

All in all, it was another great show.  I’m ever grateful that my sister comes to help and hang out every year, that the manufacturers continue to come and that I can make a living doing what I love!

Now to start planning for the May 19-21 2013 show…

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  Don’t miss the Ask Call with Paul Brent on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 – he’ll be doing a SURTEX show and trend recap as well as answering questions submitted by artists. Head to www.AskPaulBrent.com to get the details – it’s free if you listen live!

P.P.S.  Sadly I couldn’t bring my video camera to the show this year – my son needed it for a school project.  So I don’t have a slew of artist story videos for you – PLEASE create and submit your own – everyone loves them!  Get inspired and then add your story to the mix! http://www.artlicensinginfo.com/stories/