What a wonderful experience my first Surtex was! After months of preparation everything went so smoothly. I met lots of great people, had fruitful discussions with manufacturers and enjoyed every minute of being in New York. Surtex is a very big investment, but all in all I was glad I did it and will probably do so again next year.
I walked the show in 2013 and 2014 so it was a huge relief not to feel like a stranger in a strange land when I walked through the doors of the enormous Javits center. I was also grateful for all the experienced exhibitors who have generously blogged in great detail about their Surtex experiences. I definitely stood on their shoulders. (Special thanks to Josephine Kimberling for recommending Uprinting.com for banners in one of her blog posts. I was so pleased when I unrolled my banners to find bright, beautiful, accurate colors. And their prices were hundreds of dollars less than other printing companies.)
I had heard about the wonderful camaraderie among Surtex exhibitors and it was so true. My next door neighbor Joan Chamberlain was delightful as were my across-the-aisle neighbors Jenny Foster and Kate Nelligan and Nidhi and Namrata from Blue Fish Designs (who travelled all the way from India to exhibit!). We shared lots of laughs and traded business tips and shared stories about our adventures in art licensing. For me, since I work alone in my studio everyday, these interactions were priceless. Thanks, ladies!
The only downside to this year’s show was that traffic seemed slower than in previous years. I think that had something to do with the huge jump in admission cost for people to walk the show. It’s hard to say whether there were fewer manufacturers as well. Admission remains free for manufacturers but with far fewer artists exhibiting this year I worry that the show is in decline, as some have suggested. I guess only time will tell. With travel costs ever-increasing and art directors’ inboxes stuffed daily with pitches from increasing numbers of artists getting into licensing, Surtex may become obsolete. Maybe there’s less of a need to travel if the artwork is coming right to you via email.
I hope that doesn’t happen because there really isn’t any other opportunity like it to gather as an industry and connect face-to-face with peers and customers. The internet and email will never replace that kind of communication.
So here’s to Surtex 2016! Will you be in New York next May?