Exhibiting at a trade show is not… well, I’ll be blunt, for sissys.  There is so much time, money, work and effort involved in getting ready, exhibiting and following up from a show.  In fact, it is almost a year round event.

I’ve been exhibiting at SURTEX since 2005 (wow! That’s a long time!).  I’ve also done the Licensing Expo, the CHA License & Design section of the annual Craft & Hobby Show and PrintSource.  Let’s just say, I’ve spent a lot of time in 10 x 10 boxes with my art and the intention of making connections and building my business.

For my business, SURTEX has been the best show.  I believe it is because of the kind of art I do, the style and the manufacturers who attend.  Artists who have characters and a more brand-driven business might find the Licensing Expo to be a better fit and those that are very involved and invested in the craft industry have had great success at CHA.  For surface pattern designers open to selling designs outright – PrintSource New York could be the ticket to a booming business.  Or maybe a combination of these…

What I’m trying to say is there is no “right” answer.  We are fortunate to have choices about when and where to exhibit – art and art licensing are not one-size-fits-all businesses!

Regardless of where you might set your sights, there are many commonalities to exhibiting at trade shows.  You need to set a budget, plan your portfolio and what your booth will look like.  You need to learn to interact with the people who come talk with you and have a solid follow-up plan.  ROI can rarely be determined on a show within a few months.  Art licensing is a relationship business and sometimes the connections you make in May become licensing deals in October… sometimes they become deals years later.  To me, exhibiting is an investment for the long-term and a way to meet retailers and manufacturers I would never be able to connect with without my butt being in my booth.  (Apparently I’m all about being blunt today!)

I have a few tools that I’ve created to help artists getting started in art licensing Trade Show.  Since I believe NOW is the time to start planning and preparing, I’m offering 20% off any of these 3 products thru November 16, 2012.  Use coupon code TRADESHOWS2013 to receive your discount.

Get the eBook – How to Maximize Your Time and Investment in Trade Shows.  Or if you like to listen and learn, get the audio replay of the Trade Show Tactics Teleseminar.  Better yet – save money and get the combo pack!  You can learn more about all of these options  at  ArtLicensingInfo.com/tradeshows.html

Here are the dates, times, locations and links for the upcoming shows – in the order they will be taking place.

Craft & Hobby Association – Anaheim, CA – January 11 – 15, 2013

  • The biggest Craft & Hobby show of the year, they too have a License & Design section for artists to exhibit.
  • Show website: www.CraftAndHobby.org

SURTEX – 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

Here’s to your trade show success!
– Tara Reed