So Surtex is just about 2 weeks away. I have butterflies just writing this — so exciting, so scary! I think back to last year when I was exhibiting for the first time and have to say that I’m a million times more chilled out about everything this year… once you have the experience, you know what to expect and it’s a lot less scary. So, I thought I would share a few last minute tips for new exhibitors! Things that would have comforted me last year had I known, things that could come in handy, and a little reassurance. For the record, I am by no means a pro at this, like the fabulous Surtex guru Tara Reed, who is responsible for holding my hand last year via her super-informative Surtex e-books — but I think the first time is the hardest time, and seeing that it still feels quite fresh, I thought this might help someone out there.
Print your forms!
Okay, this is important — make sure you bring documentation of everything related to the show (or if you have access to it on a mobile device, that’s fine too). Everything is probably going to go smoothly, but you just never know when something pops in and tries to mess with your flow, and you just want to make sure you’re prepared. The show is run by GLM/Surtex, but the facilities are outsourced to the Javits — so there is a little room for error. Example: last year, I ordered a tall table (vs. the shorter table) for my booth, but when I arrived there was a short table at my booth. I thought, no problem — I’ll just go find someone to replace it. But the Javits staff, while friendly, said their instructions showed I should have a short table. They said that they would swap it out for me, but that if I didn’t have a record showing I’d booked the tall table, I would be charged a labour fee which was something crazy, like $300 or something. A bunch of people ran into this situation and LUCKILY, I had printed the confirmation and hopefully everyone else had too. Basically what I’m saying is, it never hurts to cover your arse. If you ordered shelves or special furniture — bring the confirmation, and the placement form for where you’d asked for things to be installed. Your registration badge confirmation — bring it. Basically any confirmations you received — bring it with you!
3M is your friend
So many Surtex exhibitors *swear* by 3M command strips, and I am one of them. They are incredible. I used 5 small command strips per banner and they weren’t going anywhere. Plus, they’re easy to pull off at the end and leave no markings — something to keep in mind, because you are responsible for leaving the booth walls in the same condition as when you started.
Bring cleaning supplies!
You’ve probably already thought about this, but it’s a must! Last year I ordered shelves for my booth and they were in fine condition, but they were *filthy*. But they cleaned up just fine with some of those cleaning wipe thingies.
Last year I read that you couldn’t stand on the chairs to hang banners, as a safety concern. And a legit one at that. But coming from Canada on a plane, I was wondering how the heck I was going to manage bringing a stool or ladder with me — I am short, so a small foot stool wasn’t going to cut it for me. In the end, I left it at home and it all worked out just fine. Those chairs are sturdy… but please don’t quote me on this.
This was another great tip from Tara Reed. If you’re at your booth and starving, you don’t want to be pulling out a big dish of spaghetti from under your booth to sneak a bite when nobody is looking. I had a few friends helping me last year, letting me go for lunch breaks and things, which was extremely helpful so I didn’t really have to eat food at my booth. But sometimes after 5 hours of standing there, you’re going to need to shove something in your mouth. I had some easy-to-eat snacks under my table, like nuts, dried fruit, crackers, grapes, small easy-to-eat things. It’s like on Top Chef when they have to cater a gala and are told to prepare an amuse-bouche. If you must eat at your booth, you don’t want to be caught eating awkward food.
Be prepared with your terms
Try to go into the show with your terms figured out — do you sell artwork or only license? Are you willing to do flat-rate licensing agreements or are you strictly about royalties? What are you willing to budge on for the right client? Last year, I had a ton of people ask if I sold my artwork outright and I was so new to the game that I wanted to make everyone happy and just didn’t want to say ‘no’ to anyone. I still don’t, and I will always try and make it work if it’s someone that I want to work with — but if it’s not a good fit, it’s not a good fit. If you aren’t particularly interested in the product category or don’t see that working with a company will bring value to your business, don’t back down and sell artwork. You’ve gotta look out for yourself. Don’t compromise if you’re not going to be happy with the deal. Try and go in with a clear vision of what you’d like to do and do you best to stick to it. It’s good to think about this before the show so you’re not caught off guard!
Be right back
This might be obvious, but just in case you didn’t think of it (there are a million other things to think about). If you have to leave your booth to run to the washroom, and you don’t have anyone there helping you, at least leave a sign saying you’ll be back in 5 minutes. You don’t want to lose out on that dream client who stopped by at an inopportune time. I swear, last year, every time I left my booth some awesome client would stop by and I’d curse the timing of it all… so it can happen.
I haven’t heard much about this but I think they do it every year — last year they had a happy hour thing after the show on Monday. Free drinks and the chance to chat with some other exhibitors. Also, there are usually some social events for Surtex exhibitors so keep your ears open in case there are. Last year I missed it but Monica Lee had hosted an event and lots of exhibitors went. A nice way to actually be able to chat with people — not so easy during show hours.
You made it! You really made it!
It was such a surreal experience walking into the Javits centre with all my booth supplies last year, trying to find the booth that I would call home for 3 days and had the opportunity to be a game-changer. Be proud of yourself for taking on the challenge, for getting there, for all of your super hard work. And enjoy it, savour every second. Greet every person that walks by with a welcoming smile. And remember to keep your chin up — there will be some slow periods, and your work won’t be the best fit for every client that walks by, but keep your eye on the prize and focus on the good connections you’ve made. And the new friends you’ve made. And the fact that you made it to NYC and competed in an international marketplace for something that you’re passionate about!
And then breathe…
I relied on adrenaline to keep me going through the show and keeping my energy levels up. Last year, I felt very much alive and excited about everything until 5pm on the last day, when the show officially closed, and I literally just dropped behind my booth and burst into tears. This might sound crazy, but it was just the whole experience coming to a close — a mix of joy and exhaustion. I was so happy, but I also felt my body breaking down and giving in. Give yourself a nice relaxing evening, a low key and healthy dinner, a good dose of vitamin C, and a good night’s rest. And hopefully you have some time to enjoy the city before you ship out.
Best of luck at the show everyone! Looking forward to meeting you all, so soon!!
(I’m at booth 741!)
*****I got a few emails with other questions today so I thought I’d add them to the mix! *****
I didn’t get electrical for my booth. I used an iPad to present my portfolio, and as long as I charged up the batteries before I left for the show in the morning, mine lasted all day long with no issue. Tara Reed mentioned that if you run out, you can use the exhibitor centre upstairs to grab some power if needed. But again, I didn’t need it! But on the same topic… Last year I needed to iron some things, and had posted on the Surtex Linkedin group to see if there would be outlets. I was assured there would be some for us to use, but when I got there, the power source mentioned wasn’t there. I went on a wild goose chase trying to find power and was told by the Javits staff that we weren’t supposed to use it. We ended up sneaking around to make it happen, but this year, just to be safe, I’m just going to iron everything at the hotel!
Ahhhh, the eternal issue of flameproofing! I don’t think anyone is clear on this! But this is what I was told last year when I asked, and it’s the same explanation this year. Basically, if you have fabric in your booth and it has your artwork on it — then you’re all set. No need to flameproof. BUT if you have linens in your booth that don’t have artwork on them, those should be flameproofed. Honestly, the rationale doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me — fire doesn’t exactly discriminate – but I suppose it would be tricky for people to only show products that were flameproofed so they’ve made concessions. If in doubt, there are apparently special flame-proofing ‘dips’ you can use to dip your fabrics in and it flameproofs them but I didn’t have luck tracking them down. But if the fabric has your artwork on it, you’re good to go.
Oh my goodness, things really start to feel real and you understand just how close Surtex is when it’s less than a month away. In less than 4 weeks, one of my very best friends and incredible sidekick Sam and I will be getting on a plane for NYC! So excited, but can’t help but wish I could press the ‘rewind’ button so I could whip up the millions of patterns I have ideas for, but there will never be enough time so at some point, you have to make the call and get on that plane and put up your work for everyone to see. I’m super excited!!
I’ve moved booths this year but will be in the same aisle — booth 741. If you’re going, please stop by and say hello! Here’s a little sampling of what I’ll be showing (plus a link to my promo video if you haven’t seen it)! Hope you all have a great week.
I recently came across a letter I’d received from a fabric company about a year ago. I’d been reaching out to some companies that I thought my work might be a good fit for. And while I had my top picks for dream companies, I was also aware that dreams don’t happen overnight, so I was hoping to just get fabrics *somewhere* and that maybe it would get my foot in the door. One of the options was a company that required I send a package in the mail, and a few months later received, if I might say, I rather snarky rejection letter. Essentially the letter said (and I’m paraphrasing, but not by much) that my work brought nothing new to the table, and that I’d essentially wasted their time. While I appreciated the personal reply, part of me almost wished that I’d never received it… it was so negative and unfriendly, and for some, could have been a dream killer. It wasn’t my dream company, so I decided I better not let it crush my dreams. So the other day when I came across this letter, while working on my second collection for Cloud9 Fabrics (which, by the way, *was* at the top of my dream list), a whole bunch of emotions came up for me. It made me realize how much has happened in the past year. And how happy I am about it all. And how glad I am that I didn’t listen to that letter or let it alter my path.
I just wanted to write this post because sometimes it’s hard to keep your chin up when things don’t seem to be going anywhere. You submit, submit, submit… and feel lucky if you even get a reply. Sometimes it all just seems pointless, when you’re investing soooo much of your time and your heart into something, and hoping your dreams come true, and nothing is happening. You start to think your work isn’t good enough. I just wanted to share this story as a reminder to always try and keep your chin up. To persevere and keep at it and use that rejection as fuel to do better. And if at first you fail, then try, try again. And then when you reach one of your goals, you can feel a little extra proud of how far you’ve come.
Hello all! Just wanted to share a few geometrics I’ve been working on. I’ve been looking through some old sketches and found some doodles that needed to be worked into proper patterns. And I thought it was a good opportunity to start playing around with Pantone’s 2013 colour — Emerald Green!
Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you’ve all enjoyed some time off to relax, hang out with your favourite folks and eat way more than you can normally justify! I’ve been having a really lovely holiday so far and I’m keeping this party going until the New Year, heading to Montreal for a few days.
So I have some really exciting news! I’ve been trying to keep it under wraps but am happy that I can openly share it now. A few months ago, the lovely Thomas and Estelle at Dioton, a stationery company in France, got in touch to see about licensing some of my patterns for their beautiful (and I mean, BEAUTIFUL) line of customizable stationery products, including birth announcements, thank you cards, wedding invitations and more. And I was absolutely flattered and thrilled, and I couldn’t be happier to share with you what they’ve done with my patterns. They’ve captured the essence of the illustrations with their type and graphic treatments, and absolutely taken them to the next level. I couldn’t have dreamed that they would be more beautiful!
These two birth announcements will be available beginning January 1st, with three more to come in the early part of 2013. Currently the designs are available only in french, but they’re looking to expand their offerings in the future. Check out their blog post too!
I’m very grateful for all of the amazing things that have happened in 2012 and I can’t wait to see what happens next! I wish you all the best that life can bring for 2013 and hope you’re all ringing in the new year in whatever way suits you best!
I’ve been so thankful to have the time to focus on some patterns this week. Signing up for Surtex has already been an adventure with a ton of planning ahead, so it’s nice to just sit and take a break from logistics and planning and focus on what this whole thing is all about for me — pretty patterns! And since it’s the holidays, I thought I’d whip up some festive spirit by doing some holiday-inspired patterns. I’m also introducing a little thing I’m calling ‘Wouldn’t it be nice?’ — with concept mockups showing how the patterns might be used… in hopes that a buyer will see them and agree. Take a wee peek!
So as some of you know, I recently moved into a new apartment with my beau and my absolute favourite part is that I have my own studio! Going from working in a small corner to an entire room for all things creative is a big treat, to put it mildy. I honestly smile when I walk into this room, I still feel so lucky to have such a great space to work in. Big, full of light, and has lots of wall space which is now adorned by things and folks that inspire me including prints by Lab Partners, Leah Duncan, Debbie Powell, Rifle Paper Co., and a few other gems. And a cozy sofa for those times when I want to step away from my big beautiful desk. I’m just thrilled, so I thought I’d share! (Click to see larger shots)
AND… In other news, my application to exhibit at Surtex was accepted! So it looks like I’ll be exhibiting in NYC next May! Ahhhhhhhh! It’s all starting to happen. Super exciting, but I’m already nervous! To be honest, I kind of feel a bit sick, but in the best way possible — it’s kind of like when you’re going on a first date with someone you’re really excited to meet. I have 6 months to train my nerves to succumb to stronger forces, like confidence and excitement. I think it’s going to be an absolutely amazing experience.
You know that magical time of day, as the sun goes down and it becomes dusk, and you can just start to see the moon appear in the sky? That’s where the soft and dusky colour palette came from for this little series, a mix of florals and geometrics. I think they’re fun and playful, and I hope you like!
In other news, I took the plunge and applied to exhibit at Surtex this coming May! I’m nervous, excited, hopeful, terrified, but mostly completely stoked! But first… they have to approve my application. So, here’s hoping that I’ll have some news to share on that soon! Then all of the daydreaming of what my booth should look like can begin.
Finally, I’ve just added a sign-up button for my upcoming newsletters. If you’re interested, please go to the side bar of this blog page, or the bottom of any other page of my site and look for the sign-up!
As always, thanks for looking!
What a month! A great month… but a busy one. We moved into a new apartment which I absolutely adore (but have been somewhat obsessed with settling into) and it’s finally coming together. The new place includes a new studio (!!) — I’ve expanded from a corner of our living room to a whole room and every day I just want to pinch myself… it’s such a treat!! In addition to this, I’ve been working on a commission which I’ll be excited to share when the time comes. January is going to be an exciting month!
I have some new patterns to share, a new floral series, and it felt soooo good to sit down and have some dedicated time for them. Take a look, I hope you like!
As most of us freelancers do, I spend most of my days tied to my laptop. And at the end of that day, when my work is done and it’s time to play and draw and have fun with shapes, the last thing that I want to do is sit back down at my computer to do it. So during my late night doodling time, when I work best, I would step away, grab a pen and my sketchpad, and draw by hand. And this is awesome. Until I see the piles and piles of sketches I’ve accumulated and have to figure out a way to turn them into beautiful, editable, digital artwork — which usually results in way more computer time, redrawing things with my tablet.
So I was absolutely delighted when iDiscovered there is a solution! And it’s called… an iPad. It was a huge splurge but so far, this smart little gadget is changing the way I work on patterns. I bought a stylus pen and an app called Inkpad (which is a lot like Illustrator) and I’ve been doodling away, away from the computer, but my sketches are done digitally and are therefore completely usable and editable and is making me about a million times more productive!
Here are a few patterns that I created using elements I handdrew onto my iPad.