While I’m still in Surtex Mode- Thoughts from a Newbie


Yay! I finished my followups yesterday! I don’t think I was quite prepared to deal with so many. In retrospect, I should have made an e-thank you card before the show so I’d have it ready to go when I got home. Whoops! So I did that on Friday, sent that out and today I finished up sending out more personal responses with requested images. 

While my brain is still full of thoughts from the show I better lay them all out here. Please remember these are my opinions, they may not be correct! This is me being nervous >> 


1. Do not underestimate the power of Holiday art. This brought about 60% of people into my booth when I mentioned I had holiday designs. So much so that I’m seriously considering putting it on my walls next year. 

2. I wish I did more holiday art. I knew I should of but I was so burnt out! I do holiday art for my agent, Cinnamon Joe Studio and also for a client/past employer. This project drains all the holiday out of me. Must remember to press on!

3. But don’t force it. Quality vs. quantity. If you’re going to do it have both contemporary and traditional art. People asked for each almost equally. Traditional meaning classic themes and colors. 

4. Be active in your booth. This may seem obvious but there’s a whole other art to getting people to talk to you. I stood on the corner in my booth just enough to not be up in people’s faces but enough to say hi easily. Some people deliberately looked away as they walked by and if someone looked just long enough at my work I’d hand them a card/postcard and ask what they were looking for. Sometimes they stopped in, sometimes not. 

5. On that note, be happy, open and you. I happen to like to talk to people. I work from home and I miss being around people! So now’s my chance to talk to someone and not have to blindly send an email out into the twisting nether. 

6. We handed out 120 business cards, 108 postcards and 10 press kits (these were in the press room, actually.)

7. I was thankful I had Ben to help, he took notes or was with a second group of people in my booth. That only happened twice I think. Also it allowed me to step away and have a sandwich and refresh my brain. It felt good to just not be “on” for a bit. 

8. We used binders with my work. I like the feel of paper but I can see the benefits of going to an iPad. We had the iPad there as a second portfolio. I’ve been reading a lot about people’s experiences going all iPad but I just don’t know! Feel free to weigh in the comments! It sure would make things lighter and a bit cheaper. If we did all iPad next year we would need another one. What portfolio apps do you use?

9. Know your terms. It amazed me how many companies wanted to buy outright. Considering it’s an art licensing show and there’s a separate section for purchase prints, I found it interesting. I understand why they want to buy instead of license. 

10. We over-prepared and that’s ok. 4 different kinds of tape? 3 different command strip sizes? Clips in case the tape didn’t work? Yup, we brought it! Do bring a cloth to wipe down your banners, ours were filthy! 

11. Make sure there’s plenty of space to work on your table and it’s easily approachable. We ended up not doing flowers because I probably would have knocked them off! 


Surtex 2014 pt. 2- Around NYC

Once I thought about it, I realized I’d be in NYC for SIX DAYS for Surtex. Six days! Honestly I knew I wasn’t going to have any time to do all that I’d want to but we squeezed in some of our favorites.

But first I must add that I met so many fellow exhibitors and it was a pleasure. If I didn’t get to stop by and say hi, I’m sorry! Everyone’s booths were fabulous and I thought I’d take more pictures with people, but really I was without my phone most of the show.

I did make a serious effort to take my camera over to this lovely lady’s booth.


Sarah Watson is awesome you guys. You don’t even know. I met Sarah about 5 years ago when I was an intern for Carter’s in Atlanta. She was the first person I was assigned to and she took me under her wing and showed me the ropes for pattern design. I haven’t physically seen her since I left the company in 2010 but we reconnected when we both realized we were exhibiting at Surtex. We’ve skyped and typed out all our hopes and fears, supporting each other till tear-down. I’m thankful I had her around! Go check her out, she’s all that and a bag of chips.

Also I must add in a HUGE thank you to two very special people! Although one doesn’t like to be photographed, Paul and Andrea Turk, owners of Cinnamon Joe Studio, provided us with so much advice during the show.


Their booth was in a prominent location and they always do great business! Cinnamon Joe Studio represents my younger style of art and I couldn’t be happier to have them!

Back to food times.

The night we had to gather the cookies and FLOR tiles we ate at one of our “musts”, Ma Peche

ImageMa Peche is one of the restaurants part of the Momofuku empire and we are big fans. Also there’s a Milk Bar attached to the front, making it easy to pick up the cookies and eat here. We lucked out and were seated at the bar at 5:30.

ImageThey changed the menu to a dim sum-style service which we give 15 thumbs up. We tried so many delicious-as-always treats. Rice cooked in duck fat, lamb ribs and our all-time favorite Momofuku item- the pork bun.

ImageOh it got better. This rolled next me.


Yes. A cart FULL of Milk Bar’s offerings. The birthday cake, the candy bar pie, the crack pie… cookies…. truffles.. All of it. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve attempted a few of the Milk Bar recipes with more or less success. I had the candy bar pie and Ben had the crack pie, naturally.

I’ll spare the rest of the food pictures but we also ate a really good (and cheap!) pizza place off 48th and 8th called Patzeria. Of course we had one meal at Shake Shack! Mmmmm that chocolate shake!

One of my favorite stores happens to have many locations in Manhattan, so I make a point to visit at least one Anthropologie 🙂  I had to capture some pretty things, I used my phone so they are not great photos.


Mmm these bowls!


Always super fun displays.


I know it’s blurry, but I love the patterns ❤


Fun table runner.


Free People had some great displays. Love the color dipped lanterns!


Look at that! How fun!

Ok I lied, there’s two more food pics. Another must-go on my list is Le Pain Quotidien. I just love it here. I know it’s a chain but it’s soooo gooooood. The coffee was the best I’ve had in a long time. Maybe because we ate here the day after the show ended, but man, it was a fine cup of coffee. It came in that cute little pot with a perfect amount of cream!


And this waffle. Super good. Super filling!

ImageAnd that was the other stuff we did while in NYC! I wanted to walk the High Line but it just didn’t happen. Maybe next time!

Surtex 2014, Part 1- Booth Set Up

It’s hard to believe that 7 months of obsession is over. I was amazed at how quickly our trip flew by! There’s about a billion thoughts running through my head, so if these posts seem scattered, I apologize! I took the weekend to not think about Surtex/follow up etc. and just let my brain empty out.

No better place to start than the beginning!Image

We flew out of the Sarasota airport on Friday May 16th. I sure do love our home! We have the best airport ever…. I hope they never close it. Probably 10 gates? I’m a terrible traveler, so a quiet airport is welcomed.

As for luggage…. I was terribly intimated by the system GES (GES is the company that furnishes/maintains Surtex) has in place to ship your booth goods ahead of time. They store them in a warehouse then deliver it to your booth at the show. It required a multitude of labels/forms and fees. So at some point I decided we were going to haul everything in suitcases. Image

Some how it all fit in one normal sized suitcase and weighed in at 45 lbs. Well.. minus two binders that went in my carry-on (a soft vera bradley duffle) and the banners. I’m glad I put the important binders that had all my work in them in the carry-on…. because when we flew home, I put them in the suitcase and they got all beat up!

I’d have to say I’m glad I booked with Jet Blue… we each got to check a bag! One bag for clothes and one for booth stuff. We also checked the banners and that was 40.00. Ben carried the laptop in his backpack and the iPad (my second portfolio) went in my purse. I purposely booked a direct flight so I’d ensure our banners made it to NYC.

Banners…. one of the most important parts and also the most anxiety inducing.Image

We had 9 banners that went on the booth walls plus three for the table. We packed them in two 40″ x 4″ shipping tubes (we cut them down from 48″) and taped them together like there was no tomorrow. I was convinced they were going to bust open because of all the weight and our banners would be rolling down the luggage carousel. We used reinforced tape and packing tape.. then more tape! In total they weighed 25 lbs… but lugging them around Manhattan it seemed like they were a metric ton! Also we got a lot of looks at the airport with these big cylindrical tubes. Just as an FYI, they didn’t appear in the luggage carousel, I had to go hunt them down. Also the TSA opened them to inspect and did a terrible job re-tapping them. They arrived in one piece so all was good.

It was rainy in New York when we arrived at JFK. We opted for a cab (vs. Super Shuttle) because we had so much awkward stuff. We arrived at the hotel, threw everything in the room, then headed out to collect our give away cookies and Flor tiles. I’ll write up another post about the fun, unrelated show stuff we did! We picked up the cookies, which were heavy.Image

Something we didn’t take into account… and then headed out to get our FLOR tiles from an acquaintance storing them. Ben carried the cookies in a large bag on his shoulder and he still has bruises. We ordered 30 tiles for our booth floor. They didn’t come evenly boxed so one weighed more than the other. Combined, the boxes weighed 85 lbs. Plus the cookies. Plus it was raining and cabs did not like our bulky load. Eventually one stopped and we made it back to the hotel completely wiped! Whew! We did have to assemble the cookie/postcard give aways…


We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, Times Square. Mostly because it had a shuttle bus to the Javits center on show days and it had a mini fridge. It had a large room and was close to my favorite NY eats.


I’d say the jury is still out on where we stayed. We liked the free shuttle EXCEPT the pick-up point was a few blocks away, so we had to walk there each morning and after the show. Also, the pick-up/drop off at the hotel could only be reached by going through Times Square. It made for some very long bus rides home because of traffic. We may consider a different hotel next year or an airbnb place.

Now for the fun part… SET UP DAY!

We took a cab to the Javits because of all of our stuff…. the FLOR tiles… the cookies… the suitcase… the carry-on… the banners… I ended up leaving Ben on the curb while I checked us in and made a quick run to our booth to drop off some stuff. Together we hauled everything else in.

Empty booth! Here you can see the banners in their tubes.


We put down the FLOR first. Super easy. We didn’t, however, consider that the booth would not be at a right-angle. We cut the tiles using a box cutter and they cut perfectly with no fraying.


We hung banners next. No photos because I was busy! We used 4 large command strips at the top and a slew of artist tape with a piece of double-stick tape on top along the rest of the edges. We also added a piece of artist tape/mounting tape in the middle top to help hold them up. Nothing fell so it was a win. Totally bought way to many command strips and clips. Now we know!


Sign is up! Two 11 X 17 sheets. I guess this is new this year. Instead of a hanging system, it’s a plexi sleeve the paper fits into. Fine with me, no holes to punch! They did not tell exhibitors it was like this. I know one person who planned ahead and mounted her sign to a piece of foam core, came to set up and it was different! This is why you bring digital copies of all your work and booth assets in case of last minute printing.

And all done! It took us about 5 hours to put it all together! This was on the first day of the show, nerves abundant.


Back of our booth table. I had a curtain up, this was shot just before we tore the booth down.


We had three binders to show potential clients. One was full of collections, another with individual prints and one full of mock-ups organized by category. The binders worked really well, people could come in and flip quickly through my work. I also could easily point them in the right direction because I use tabs to separate everything.

In the mock-up binder were 13 categories of products. I didn’t know who my work would interest, so I did it all. Everything from housewares, to drink ware, to stationery, to tech, to apparel. Probably the only one that wasn’t really looked at was apparel. I doubted putting about 2 solid weeks of work into the mock-ups but I’m so glad I did. I could instantly show potential clients what my designs looked like on a product. One down-side was that people thought that because it was drawn up the way I did it, it was already in production.

The two clip boards in the photo above was how we kept track of leads. We wrote down information as we talked and then stapled their business card to the paper, ripped out the paper and put it in a special folder. This worked really well for us. Sometimes we had people coming into the booth as others were leaving and this system was pretty quick to wrap up and start again.  I thought we took good notes, but now that I’m home and sifting through, it doesn’t seem like enough! I might do a form type thing for next year with ample writing space at the bottom.

For the record the cookies were a bust! Nobody wanted to take a cookie. Maybe they were too big? Or people were watching what they ate? Who knows, but all the artists I talked to happily accepted a cookie and were surprised that no one wanted one! Lesson learned. We also gave away totes that I painted. It was super cool to see them around the convention center! I made 29 and I have 3 left. I did end up giving some to other exhibitors towards the end.


When the clock struck 5 on the last day, lights shut off and the aisle carpet was rolled up. It was amazing how quickly everything was dismantled. Our booth took about 30-45 minutes to pack up. We easily peeled off all our tape (yay artist tape) and rolled it all up and headed out. Since we didn’t have anything stored, we were out pretty quick. Ben left the show about an hour before and got our stuff from the hotel. We left the FLOR tiles. I know. There was no way I was going to drag those things around, again, and have them shipped home. Plus it had about 3 days of people’s dirty shoes all over them.

Wow that was long! There’s still so much more to say. The real work started the day after I got home…. sorting through leads, making spreadsheets with contact info and sorting out who was interested in what. Should have taken a vacation BEFORE the show 😉

I’ll be writing some smaller posts soon, about individual things, but thank you for reading through. This was a huge deal for me. A massive investment into my business that ( I think? Ask me in 3 months. ) was wonderfully successful. I read through SO MANY blogs to nail down every detail about how the booth worked and this whole process of getting there. I hope my post will be helpful to future exhibitors!


Surtex 2014 Prep


So, for the last..mmmm…. 7 months (!!!) I’ve been thinking, scheming, creating, planning to exhibit at Surtex in NYC, May 18th -20th. We’re two weeks out from the start of our trip and now’s an excellent time to share some prep photos. Maybe these will help future exhibitors? I know I SCOURED the internets, reading every.single.post about setting up, design and makin’ it look good. I found so many helpful posts and not to mention the excellent webinar hosted by Cathy Heck.

I’ll have an 8′ x 10′ booth (452!) situated close to the middle/back of the convention center. I’m hoping for decent traffic, it seems like it’s on a main “road” to the cafe. Also we will have cookies. Just sayin’. We took some photos since I had everything all laid out..




Press kits and business card stacks…

ImageAction…. ImageOne of the binders… ImageOne of my “take aways”, a friend told me she liked collecting bags at trade shows, mostly to carry all the stuff you get! I had fun making these.

ImageI always have to have something ridiculously pink…

ImageWe went with vinyl banners for out booth walls. The colors are stellar.


Yay! Can’t wait to hang everything up! We also have deep navy carpet tiles we are putting down, but I haven’t seen those yet… Wish us luck!