With the SURTEX show just over a week away, I’m getting excited!  To stay excited, I need to watch my focus and energy – avoiding the negativity and “doom and gloom” that can be found in certain conversations online. I made the decision to exhibit months ago – I’ve spent a lot of time and money and energy getting ready.  Personally, SURTEX has been an integral part of my business’ growth and my marketing plan.

I usually stay out of the “muck and mire” as someone once eloquently put it.  There is little sense trying to convince everyone to take my point of view when it isn’t the right move for everyone and others aren’t open to any point of view but there own.  I have obviously placed my “vote” about the show by choosing to exhibit.

However, I have decided to post my 2¢ about something that is concerning me – this year more than any year past…

One thing that I love about art licensing is that an artist can be a part of this industry on their own OR with an agent.  With shows like SURTEX, individual artists have a place to meet people we would be hard pressed to connect with on the web or by phone.  We have a place to build relationships with manufacturers and connect face-to-face year in and year out… or every other year if that works better for your time and budget constraints. A few years ago we had four options – two are gone. (Atlanta and CHA)  Now we have the two that began the industry – SURTEX and the Licensing Expo – and we need them.

There seems to be an energy building of “will the show last?”  There are very high expectations for swift change from new management. Making changes to a show like SURTEX is like moving the a barge, not adjusting the sail of a two person boat.

Is everything perfect and sunshine and unicorns?  No.  Never is and never will be.  No management and no show will ever be able to live up to the expectations of the many people they serve – in any industry.  Could things have gone smoother?  Yes.

But let’s also remember that this new management also implemented some NEW, FREE MARKETING opportunities for us this year.  We are able to showcase not 1 image for 1 month in a rotation in the marketplace on the website home page but also SIX (yes – 6!) designs that we can tag by category in the SURTEX Planner.  It’s a big deal to me.

I hear some of you saying, “But that PLANNER!  I don’t understand it and it wasn’t working and …”  Again, growing pains.  I also think it was “trying to teach old exhibitors new tricks” growing pains too.  (I fit the bill anyway!)

I for one, don’t want to see either art licensing show end.  A few years ago we had four options – two are gone. (Atlanta and CHA)  Now we have the two that began the industry and I believe we need them.

I fear that if either stopped helping artists connect in the art licensing industry that it will become an industry where having an agent is a MUST and not a CHOICE.

So yes – do your due diligence. Make sure you are ready before you step up to the plate and exhibit.  Make sure it makes sense to continue.  Respect the choices of others and don’t make it difficult for those who choose differently than you.

Trade shows are BUSINESS EVENTS – their goal is to connect exhibiting companies (artists and agents) with licensees.  It isn’t a SOCIAL EVENT where artists should be free to roam the aisles in packs year after year without ever exhibiting.  It isn’t a place to do business in the aisles and to be offended when someone suggests you actually get a booth if you want to come for the 5th year in a row…


I will be attending the SURTEX advisory board meeting during the show as one of the voices of exhibiting artists.  I would love to hear your constructive thoughts about how the show can be even better and stronger for us and for the licensees.  Please bear in mind that we are talking about a show that takes place in New York City, in the Javitz Center with the unions and everything else that goes with it – so $300 booths are not going to be the answer.

You can leave comments on this post or if you prefer to give your opinion privately, email me at info@artlicensinginfo.com

You may agree with some or all of what I’ve said or you may agree with none of it… this is how I’m feeling about where our industry is and where we could be headed if we as a group don’t focus on keeping things working.

If you are exhibiting – have a great final week of preparation and be sure to take care of yourself so you can bring your A-Game to the show floor.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed