It was an amazing experience and I have learnt so much from my first exhibit at Surtex, one of the largest art licensing trade-shows in the US. The general advice is to walk the Surtex show before exhibiting. I decided to jump right in and exhibit this Spring. When signing up for a booth back in the Fall, I had a notebook full of questions. Here are some of my answers, which might be helpful for other designers who are thinking about exhibiting in the future.
First of all, I’d like to thank a few people for being so nice, approachable and helpful in answering some of the questions I had while preparing:
For constructive critiques and moral support:
My family :), my friends and constructive critics Sue and Mardie, and My Women-Entrepeneur friends Libby, Chrissy, and Lisa
Thank you all!!!
My most pressing questions at the time were:
- What does a press-kit have to contain and how many will I need?
- How do I show my work best?
- How much will this whole endeavor cost?
These are my answers after the show:
1. I fretted so much over this! I spent hours googling to find out what it should contain and in what formats. After much deliberation this is what I came up with for my press-kit:I bought plain blue folders with an inside pocket. Then I printed up 8.5×11 card-stock covers, which I glued to the front of the folder. Inside I had a Press-release sheet and an About sheet. I also added two oversized postcards, my business card, and a post-it-notes pad. The Surtex prep-class suggested bringing at least 200 press-kits. I brought 50 and that was an over-kill! The press room is located in a far-away corner- I stopped in a few times and never saw anyone else there. It would be interesting to know how many press people go there to pick up information? I noticed that some other designers had post-cards as their press information. I think I’d go that route next time.
2. This is another area where I spent a lot of time thinking and asking around. Some of the options for showing work was: loose leaf, binders, and bound books. I ended up going for 8 1/2 x 11 binders with plastic sleeves. That way I could keep designing up close to the show, which I would not have been able to with a bound book. The desk I had was about 19″x19″ so there was very little space. In retro-spect I would have been wise to have one or two bound books instead. However next time with a bigger table, it will be a different story!
3. One of the crucial questions most of us have to ask: what will it all cost? I tried to be conservative but not “penny-wise and dollar-foolish”. Here is the final tab spelled out. Of course there are so many variables and especially the travel and housing cost is different for everybody. I did not opt for the added advertising options. I’d love to hear if that paid off for other exhibitors.
Surtex 2016 Final Expenses: (not included: meals and taxis)
Booth (the new “beginner’s booth” 3’x3′) 2650
Exhibitor liability insurance 65
Hotel (4 nights within walking distance) 1249
Travel expenses 270
Printing: Paper/cards/business cards 477
Banners (3×8, (3) 1.5×8, (3)1.5×4) 433
Fabric swatches 90
i-pad stand 71
General supplies 108
GRAND TOTAL: 5413
That is a substantial investment and I do hope it will pay off:)
I used Uprinting for banners, Vista Print for cards and business cards, and Express Copy in Portland ME for design copies.
In terms of manufacturers coming through, I agree with what some other exhibitors have mentioned that there was a fair number of paper goods manufacturers and very few fabric companies.
I met so many super talented designers during the show and hope to see them again!
With everything I learnt, I’m looking forward to exhibiting again!