SURTEX is coming! SURTEX is coming! (Say it fast enough and it can morph into “the circus is coming” and honestly – it can be that too!)

Lots and lots of creative people will be descending on New York City for the show which takes place from May 17-19, 2015. Manufacturers and retailers will be coming to find art for their products. Artists will be coming to exhibit in their booths. Agents will have booths too and represent all the artists in their roster.

Many artists will also be coming to check out the show, to take classes and learn more and to decide if they too, might one day want to be an artist in a booth. Some may be coming in search of an agent.

Here are a few things to remember if you fall into the non-exhibiting artist category of creatives that will be at the show:

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1. You can not stop manufacturers in the aisles and ask them to look at your portfolio.

BIG NO-NO that will get you escorted off the show floor if you are seen. The artists, like myself, who exhibit are paying a lot of money to be at the show – why should we in we could just stop everyone for a chat in the aisles? Without exhibiting artists the manufacturers wouldn’t be there… be respectful of the show and don’t come with the expectation of making amazing contacts in the aisles.

2. Be incredibly aware of your surroundings and respectful of an artist’s time if you stop and talk with them in their booth.

Manufacturers won’t know if you are a potential client or an artist and may keep walking instead of coming to learn more about our art. While most artists are happy to answer a question or two – remember that our #1 goal is to connect with clients so we can keep paying for our booth and building our business.

If you are talking with someone and see people come up the aisle, politely step away.

If you really want to connect, ask questions and chat with artists who are exhibiting, Tuesday afternoon is your best bet. The show gets pretty slow then so we have more time – bring treats and I bet you make even more friends happy to give you a little friendly advice. 🙂

3. Don’t take photos.

There will be plenty of photos of booths to be found online after the show – never take a photo of someone’s work without their permission (yes, we can usually see you sneaking that pic with your phone when you think you look like you are texting 🙂 )

4. Do take classes!

If you are spending the time, money and effort to come to the big apple to learn more about art licensing, spend the extra money to take the classes. Years of experience are represented by all of the people that are conducting the classes and a lot can be gained by attending. Many are also happy to stay for a few minutes after the class to say hi, take business cards, etc. If someone you really want to connect with is teaching – take the class then get their card. Then you will have a way to connect and follow up. “Took your class – loved what you said about XYZ…” etc.

5.  Advice if you are looking for an agent.

If you are looking for an agent, here is some great advice from art licensing agent Alicia Dauber of Licensing Liaison

Although most agents are interested in seeing  new work and meeting new artists, please keep in mind that the trade show floor is not the place to review your portfolios!   Trade show expenses including the cost of a booth are extremely high and the agent has spent thousands of dollars to be there.  They have to make it pay for themselves and the artist partners they represent by following up on as many appointments as they can for the artists that are currently in their stable.

It is absolutely acceptable to unobtrusively leave a business card or flyer on their table while making a note of the agent’s  name for future follow up after the show.  If the agent is not busy speaking to a client when you walk by, a quick hello and that you would like to email him or her about your work after the show is completed is fine.

Have fun!!  Wear comfortable shoes, enjoy the show and the education about the industry that it brings you while being appropriate and considerate of those who have paid to be there to work.    And BEST wishes to you in your search for an agent!

This advice is great in regards to artists as well.  I love meeting people who read this blog, listen to the Ask Calls and more but it can be overwhelming to try and juggle meeting artists with the main reason I’m there – to meet manufacturers.  So if you are there and I’m busy – be sure to wave and if I’m not – say hi!  As I mentioned in #3 – Tuesday afternoon will be your best bet to stop by and find me idle… I will be in booth #416.

Here’s to your creative success – maybe I’ll see you at the show!

– Tara Reed