Prior to the show we had to decide how to approach our booth design. There are varied ways that exhibitors choose to outfit their booth. Some artists treat it as a singular display with an overall theme showcasing one collection or look. Other artists and most (if not all) agencies feature a variety of art on their walls. The more elaborate booths often have every surface decorated--even the corner posts!--and make use of alternate seating, tables and accessories. We chose to take the simple approach for a few reasons. First, our primary goal and purpose for attending the show is to license artwork so with that in mind we chose to focus on presenting art rather than creating a pretty and unified booth. I freely admit that the booths that were all decked out were definitely prettier but keeping things simple worked fine for us. Second, we wanted to be able to pack everything (except the banners) into a single, wheeled tub that could be loaded in the car so there would be no shipping and we could unload it ourselves. Third, we wanted to keep costs under control and our largest expense to decorate the booth was to order banners. Another factor was time. Leading up to the show I wanted to focus on adding to my collections not creating custom decor for the booth when it would only be used once.
I ordered my banners from smartpress.com based on a tip from another artist (Megan Aroon Duncanson) on Linked-in. I opted for 36" x 72". These filled all horizontal space on the panels but stopped short of the full length. I didn't see any reason to go with longer banners since the bottom would be hidden from view. The banners had grommets at the corners, which allowed us to hang them using hooks provided by SURTEX. Opening morning I was glad I selected the grommet and hook method of hanging the banners because quite a few exhibitors arrived to find several of their banners on the floor. Admittedly, this did not provide a seamless look for the booth but each banner featured a different collection so hanging separately was not an issue.
We took samples of goods featuring licensed art that was also shown on the banners. One reason for taking the samples was to add a bit of dimension to the booth. Another is to show that I am already a licensed artist. The samples proved to be a huge draw as quite a few manufacturers/art directors stopped to inquire about them and then proceed to review artwork. Print on demand services allow you to create items to add dimensional product to your booth but may not offer the same advantage as actual samples. Most who stopped because of the samples began by
asking if they were licensed as well as the identity of the manufacturer. We displayed dinnerware by Certified International, a journal by C. R. Gibson and a few bolts of quilt fabric featuring my latest release from Studio e.
In lieu of a print portfolio we used two ipads loaded with pdf's for each collection. This worked well and we definitely needed two. At the busiest times we could have used a third person and ipad. No one even inquired as to whether we had a print version for viewing. This saved the expense of printing as well as dealing with several print books to transport.
Rather than order a singular-themed post card to distribute I printed two-sided, half-size tear sheets for fifteen or so different collections. When a contact expressed interest in specific collections we gave them the corresponding cards for reference. We used matte photo paper and the prints were photo quality. These were very well received and much appreciated. We will definitely do these again.
High Desk vs. Low Desk
The default desk height provided is the low desk. Exhibitors have the option of selecting a high desk. We chose the high desk. Both have their advantages. Contacts tend to sit down at the low desks, which could encourage a more leisurely review. On the other hand you may miss out on those who don't feel they have the time to sit. The low desk blocks less of your booth so more of your walls are visible. The high desk allows you to get off your feet without appearing to sit and you remain at eye level with passers by. Conversely the higher chairs do tend to obstruct the view of your walls. After having the higher desk at this event and discussing the pros and cons we did not have a strong preference for one or the other until we realized that the high desk offered considerable storage. We will stay with the high desk for future shows.
The show was terrific! We made new friends and met several linked-in connections in person. We gained a large number of new contacts including multiple new contacts for categories we were hoping to add. I am not even close to being done with the follow up and sending art out but I wanted to take a moment to share our experience with you.
SURTEX is a dynamic market filled with the latest trend-on artwork, designers and licensors from around the world. Diverse art & design draws quality buyers and licensees from manufacturers and retailers of all product categories. Attendance is roughly 6000.