SURTEX 2014 is over… it is hard to believe each and every year.  All that time, money and energy spent getting ready and then *poof* it’s over… sort of like Christmas.

I’m still trying to get my bearings after getting home – I’ve been doing some of the “we need it yesterday” follow up and am now working to make a plan of attack.  I need to prioritize, make sure all my thoughts are legibly on paper and I can maximize the investment in the show. (blog post to follow on THAT topic!)

Today I thought I’d share a random of list of things…


1.  If you are flying, follow my mom’s advice and put EVERYTHING in your suitcase in plastic!

My parents have done that for years… I will start again.  It was pouring when I arrived and even though my main suitcase was a hard case, everything near the zipper was soaked!  My luggage looked like it was dunked in the river and then put on the baggage claim belts.  My booth number signs were a little damp but thankfully not ruined.  Close call – won’t happen again!

2.  Be prepared to go with the flow.

Stuff happens.  Stuff like overturned trucks closing the road your shuttle is supposed to be on to get you to setup and no one knows where the bus is so you have to walk kind of stuff.  Stuff like the city digging up and re-paving the street by your hotel so there is jack hammering going on ALL. NIGHT. LONG.  (note to self: pack ear plugs – you never know!)

3.  Less can be just as effective as more.

Over the years my sister and I have streamlined my booth.  Figured out how to make it look just as good but with lighter-weight materials.  Figured out what ‘extras’ really make a difference and what just makes more work.  While I won’t ever win an award for most creative booth design, I got lots of great leads that should keep me in business and coming back next year – which is the point.

4.  Some artists think I have a magic ball.

Sadly, I don’t. (I feel a video coming on… but not today!)  I don’t know who the perfect agent is for you or if and when you will get that big deal or which person to talk to to get your big break.  I know how to teach you to understand the business and make your own breaks but there are no short cuts – even if you come talk to me, or anyone else, at a trade show.

5.  There is always room for improvement.

Every year I work on my systems.  How I can keep better track of emails, submission dates, conversations, art and more.  How to work smarter not harder.  How to get ready for the show with less of an emotional roller coaster.  There is always, always room to improve what you do – as long as you are open and looking for them.

6.  We will never run out of ideas.

Every year, about 2 weeks before the show, I start to panic.  I have a list of art collections that I’d love to bring to the show that I would not be able to do even if I only slept one hour a night… and if you read my blog you know how I feel about sleep!  (Get it!)  Now that I’m home the list has gotten even bigger.  Meeting with manufacturers and getting feedback on your work and suggestions for more keeps the creative juices flowing.  You will never get it all done and that’s ok – because the world will always be asking “what’s new?”

7.  We make some funny assumptions about people that we “know” from social media sometimes!

I always love meeting artists that I see and interact with on social media!  It never fails that I don’t recognize someone because I assumed they’d be much taller or shorter or something different… I mentioned that to one artist and another that was in the conversation said she was surprised at how tall I am – 5’6″ – she thought I was a petite little thing.  Nope – nothing petite about me.  It was great to meet everyone that I did and if we didn’t connect – well… there is always next year!

SURTEX 2014 - follow up planFollow up time!

Now I’m going to sit down and make a plan of attack for the coming weeks.  What to do first, second and third.  What to do when I have the ever-elusive “extra time”.

I’m going to get on the phone with my sister again and debrief the show – what worked, what could have been better.  Start planning the booth concept for 2015 while this year’s is fresh in our heads.

What is your plan?

If you exhibited – I hope you are creating your plan of attack as well so your follow up doesn’t slip through the cracks.

If you were an artist who attended the show to check it out, or one who is soaking up all the information you can find about it online, what’s next?  How will you keep the momentum and excitement from the show going?

Art Licensing Academy group coaching class with Tara ReedIf you want some learning, help and structure around it – my next 4 week group coaching class, the Art Licensing Academy, starts on Tuesday June 3, 2014.  We will talk about getting your art and creativity organized for the art licensing industry.  The business side of connecting with manufacturers, nourishing your network and also not neglecting yourself.  Finally we finish up with legal and contract issues you need to understand to thrive in this business.  We have classes, Q&A and a private Facebook group for even more support.

Who wants to join me?  Click here for more information and to reserve your spot…

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed