Guest Blog

Mar 22

Written by: Guest Author
3/22/2011 10:35 AM  RssIcon

Hi, we are Cathy and Ellen Heck, mother-artist/daughter-artist duo. We create designs for licensed products from our two studios in Austin and Berkeley. We love to show at Surtex, and not just because we get to be together in the same city.

If you are new to Surtex, you might be feeling a little bit nervous right about now. You might be wondering, “Is it better to show flat artwork or mocked-up samples?” “What format should I use for my portfolios?“ “How tall is my table ... will it hide my tummy?” We would like to give you a few tips that we have learned along the way.

When deciding which pieces to show and how to present them, you might use this method: WWDD? (What Would DaVinci Do?) See a booth below that our friend, Leonardo DaVinci might have created for his debut at Surtex in 1485.

1) If possible, try to incorporate a strong color story ... this is a little tricky if you are showing a wide variety of samples, but you can use colored backgrounds or headers that can help to give your booth a cohesive look. Here, DaVinci chose sepia, because, well, in 1485, sepia was the new black.

2) Show examples of your designs as they would look on the kinds of product categories that you are seeking. Below, you can see that Leonardo was eager to pick up a paper dinnerware company this year, so he featured his Vitruvian Man design ... not only was the round orientation perfect for a round plate, but the fit figure of the model was certainly a fun surprise to find under one’s party fare. (He added a fig leaf so that his dinnerware collection would be appropriate for multi-age celebrations.)

3) Try to create something that your visitors can carry away from your booth. Leonardo decided to give out quill pens ... with his signature mirror-writing logo ... and sepia-dyed feathers. Fortunately, he had many minions to help him dye his feathers. If you are a one-man/woman show, then be sure to come up with an idea that doesn’t use up all of your time, which is better spent on new work to show in your Look Books.

4) Speaking of Look Books: Many people have asked us which format is best. Some artists like to use standard 3-ring notebooks for easy changing of pages before the show, while others create large pattern pages so that clients can mix and match for possible collections. As an artist who embraced technology, Leonardo chose to display his new work using an iPad–easy, hip, compact and he saved a great deal with his shipping back to Italy.

5) Create your own sign to put on top of the one that Surtex provides (not that there is anything wrong with theirs) but this will help people connect you to your work from the end of the aisle.

6) And finally, choose an outfit that is comfortable. You will be standing ALL DAY for three days. If you can find stylish shoes that are comfortable, buy them. If you can’t, this is one time, you might lean toward comfort over style. Fortunately, for Leonardo, a robe and slippers were de rigueur in his day.

We hope these little tips help as you are creating your booths for 2011 and we hope you enjoy Surtex as much as we did last year. Not only did we meet great new clients, but we made new friends in the booths around us. So, be sure and come by to say hi ... TWDWD ... that’s what DaVinci would do.

-Cathy and Ellen Heck

Here is the link to our blog:


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