Caterpillar inspiration

I found this little caterpillar in my garden last week. Aren’t the colors and pattern amazing?! Next spring he’ll become a black swallowtail butterfly. In the meantime he served as inspiration for some new stripe patterns. Which goes to show how much beauty and inspiration there is (literally) in your own back yard.

caterpillar-stripes-for-blog

Surtex 2016 Recap

Surtex the second time around was fun and challenging. Fun because I got to see the friends I’d made last year and because I was more confident in what I was doing. Challenging because last year my goal was simple: introduce myself to the art licensing community. This year seemed harder — like a second date when you’re unsure how to make conversation since the basics were covered on the first date. So I dragged my feet  on booth design until the last minute when I finally got inspired (thank God!) and hurriedly got banners and promo materials ordered just in time.

The Booth
In the end I was pleased with how the booth turned out. Last year I had a corner booth so I only had 2 walls to fill and tried to show as much art as I possibly could. This year I had 3 walls to fill but opted for showing slightly less art in favor of creating a more cohesive look. Since my artwork is meant to go on products, I filled much of the space with large 3-d volumes: colorful cylinders and boxes suggestive of gift bags, boxes, rolls of fabric or wrapping paper. It was challenging and time-consuming putting it all together so I was thankful my sister Sue came along again this year to help.  She worked tirelessly without complaint to get everything looking just right. Thanks Sue.

The Show
I think the show had fewer booths again this year compared to last year. But I think the quality of the work was better with more originality and distinct artist styles than I’ve seen in the past when my eyes would glaze over after seeing whimsical woodland animals in booth after booth. The show introduced a new section of exhibitors this year called the Design District which was available to first-time exhibitors only. While I applaud the show for trying to make Surtex more accessible to newcomers, I’m not sure this was the right idea. The exhibitors sat at tiny kiosks that were practically on top of each other (forget about having a private conversation with a manufacturer with your neighbor inches away). It’ll be interesting to see if these kiosks will be offered again next year or if they can come up with a different way to introduce new exhibitors to the show.

Attendance
The show is officially saying there was a slight increase in the attendance this year. I think that was true. And while the aisles sometimes felt pretty empty, I was pleased with the quality of the leads I got. People who stopped by my booth seemed to be qualified buyers and represented quality companies. I would much prefer that over quantity.

Conclusions
I had a really good show this year. I made some great contacts that I’m confident will result in new licensing contracts in the coming months. In fact I’m finalizing one contract already, just weeks after the show. Last year I (and other artists) was concerned that Surtex was on the decline. It’s maybe too early to tell but based on my personal experience I’d have to say Surtex isn’t dead yet! This year saw more fracturing of the art licensing community with the 2nd year of The Blue show and the introduction of a new group called Field Trip. It will be interesting to see how these side groups affect Surtex. It’s possible they could be the demise of the big show but might actually give it a boost instead. If manufacturers have more venues to visit in New York, it may draw more of them. Maybe it will grow into Licensing week in NY much like Fashion week or Design week. Wouldn’t that be great!

 

The blank canvas — it's always a little startling to see how small the space is at the beginning of the show.

A blank canvas — after weeks of planning, it was startling to see how small the actual space is.

 

The Finished Booth

Ready to open for business!

 

Lots of goodies (including chocolate!) on display.

Lots of goodies (including chocolate!) on display at my Surtex booth.

One corner was filled with colorful 3D volumes suggestive of wrapping paper, fabric bolts and gift bags.

One corner was filled with colorful 3D volumes suggestive of wrapping paper, fabric bolts and gift bags.

My little booth in a sea of beautiful artwork at the Javits Center.

My little booth in a sea of beautiful artwork at the Javits Center.

From idea to reality — I always make a little model of the booth when I'm designing it so I have a better idea how the space will work out. Photographing it at the eye level of passersby gives me a good idea what the site lines will be. It's fun to see the model (left) next to the real thing (right).

From idea to reality: I made a little model of the booth to see if my idea of using 3D volumes to fill the space would work. Photographing it at the eye level of passersby showed me what the sight lines would be. It’s fun to see the model (left) next to the real thing (right).

Hotel View — I love New York and it was fun to wake up to this view of the Empire State Building!

Enjoying New York — it was great to wake up to this view of the Empire State Building from my hotel room. I love New York!

Mixing work with pleasure! Enjoying a fun night out with my sister Sue and fellow artist and friend Joan Chamberlain.

Mixing business with pleasure – Enjoying a night out with my sister Sue and fellow artist and friend Joan Chamberlain.

Surtex 2016

I’m pleased to announce I’ll be exhibiting at Surtex again this year. It’s at the Javits Center in New York, May 15-17. I’ll be in Booth 326. If you plan to go, please contact me to set up an appointment or just stop by to say hello and see what’s new!

Surtex 2016

Kris Ruff Designer Series Luggage

I just returned from the Travel Goods tradeshow in Las Vegas for the debut of Travelpro’s new Designer Series luggage collection. The bags turned out great. The bright colors and fresh graphics made the collection unlike anything else at the show. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with several major retailers placing orders. To top it all off, the weather in Las Vegas was perfect and lots of good food and wine was enjoyed by all!

The new Kris Ruff by Atlantic Designer Series luggage collection at the Travel Goods Tradeshow in Las Vegas.

The new Kris Ruff by Atlantic Designer Series luggage collection at the Travel Goods Tradeshow in Las Vegas.

Travelpro booth 3-lowresKris Ruff by Atlantic Designer Series Luggage

Stationery at Half-Price Books

I just made a visit to Half-Price Books and was pleased to find some of my new stationery for Crown Point on the shelves. They turned out really well and I’m amazed at the quality Crown Point is able to achieve at such low price points — in other words, they’re a great deal!

Clockwise from upper left: A collection of notepads, A casebook with 3 journals, Boxed notecards, Boxed memo sheets

Clockwise from upper left: A collection of notepads, A casebook containing 3 journals, Boxed notecards, Boxed memo sheets

This is a folio of cute little sticky notes -- perfect for page markers or reminders.

This is a folio of cute little sticky notes — perfect for page markers or reminders.

Flower box cards at Half-Price Books

Flower box design on cards at Half-Price Books

Sneak Peek: Luggage

I’m so excited to share photos of my soon-to-be-released luggage collection! This is just a sneak peek at the production samples, but I think Atlantic Luggage has done a great job. There will be an array of bags in each collection: soft-sides, hard-sides, wheeled duffles, tote bags, etc. And each design will come in 3 different colorways. The collection launches at the Las Vegas Travel Goods Show in March 2016 and will be in stores by next fall.

The first of the production samples for a collection of luggage that will launch in March 2016 and be in retailers this fall.

The first production samples for my luggage collection which launches in March 2016. Look for them in stores next fall.

New Wall Decor

I’m pleased to announce I’ve partnered with Gango Editions to produce wall art. The artwork is available as high-quality prints on paper as well as stretched canvases. Here’s a sample of the images available at GangoEditions.com. Soon these prints will also be available at Amazon.com and several bricks-and-mortar stores. I’ll keep you posted!

MidCentury Patterns by Kris Ruff Pen & Ink floral by Kris Ruff

Watercolor Squares-Wall Art framed Counting Sheep framed-collectionMeadow Wall art teal-framed Pair copy