“How do I know if I’m ready to exhibit?”

This is a common question artists ask as they are learning and working towards licensing their art.  There are two main shows that artists can exhibit at in our industry:

Here are a four things to think about to help you decide if you are ready to exhibit.


“Enough art” is, of course, subjective.  You can never have “enough” because people always want “new” – even if they just saw you two weeks ago.  But that said, you need to realize that when you get a booth, you will be in the show with artists who have been exhibiting for 25 years and have thousands of images and new artists who are like you and getting going and lots of things in between.

I was talking with an artist who was worried she didn’t have enough.  She will be exhibiting (money paid, space reserved, no turning back!) but she is exhibiting with a group or an agent.  Since her art doesn’t have to carry and fill the whole booth, I told her not to worry about it.  At this point, her focus is on bringing the best art she can complete before the show, preparing her portfolio and getting herself prepared to ask questions, explain who she is and what she does.

If you are going to get your own booth, you need enough art to fill it.  A good rule of thumb from Paul Brent is that an artist should have at least 20-25 collections before getting a booth.  (disclaimer: I think any advice Paul gives is a good rule of thumb and I think you should too!)  An agent once suggested 100 pieces of art as a good basis – for artists who create in a more fine-art mode of paintings and canvas vs. collections.


It’s not a good idea to show up, set up and then assume your art will “speak for itself”. Your art will get attention and cause people to pause, but then you need to do the talking. You need to be able to talk about who connects with your art, what skills and value you will add to the equation if they choose to license your art and what makes you different from every other artist in the room.

On the SURTEX website they say the show will feature 200 artists, designers, agencies, brands featuring the works of over 1000 creatives for license.  So what makes YOU unique?

On the Licensing Expo website they report that in 2013, over 400 exhibitors representing more than 5,000 brands gathered in Las Vegas and more than 15,000 key decision making retailers, manufacturers, marketing and advertising professionals attended, across all consumer product categories.  What makes you stand out in that venue?

It’s also good to be clear about what you want.  Do you want to sell your art or license it.  Do you want to do special projects they request or find companies that are looking for the art you want to create.  etc. etc. etc.


Sorry folks but these things don’t happen for free.  SURTEX happens in the Javitz Center in New York City.  You will have expenses including but not necessarily limited to:  your booth expense, whatever you put in your booth, hotel & travel,  food (don’t forget to eat!), marketing…

At  SURTEX the 2014 cost of a booth is at $46.50/square foot – so it ranges from $3720 for an 8′ x 10′ booth, $4,650 for a 10′ x 10′ booth and on up if you get even more space.  The booth is turn-key – you get a table, chairs, trash can, walls – you can have a great set-up without adding any additional rentals or services.

The Licensing Expo doesn’t have their rates published online but you can CLICK HERE to go to their website and see who to contact for more information.

So as you can see – exhibiting isn’t something to take lightly and decide on a whim.  As I say – it’s an investment. Usually of $6,000 – $10,000 depending on where you live, where you stay, etc.  You want to be ready before you invest that money in your business.


At the end of the day, you will never feel 100% ready.  There is always a piece of “Here goes nothing!” when you make the decision to exhibit.  So the question is back in your court – is it time? Are you ready?

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed