Guest Blog

Jan 28

Written by: Guest Author
1/28/2013 6:22 AM  RssIcon

As artists, we spend so much time and energy getting ready to go to SURTEX that sometimes we forget to think about what we will actually say to manufacturers who come to our booth.  The last thing you want to be is tongue-tied when a manufacturer approaches you and asks you questions!

One of the first things you need to be able to communicate well is what sets you apart from all the other talented artists in the room.  This is where an “elevator speech” comes in handy.

Creating an Elevator Speech

If you were to meet someone in an elevator and they asked who you were or what you do, how long would you have to explain it?

Not long.

The idea of an “elevator speech” is to quickly communicate who you are and what you do in a short period of time. Your elevator speech is an introduction to you and your work in a few sentences.

Creating an elevator speech isn't an easy thing. Have you ever tried to explain what you do to someone who has never heard of art licensing? I can't tell you how many people listen to what I say and then decide I'm a graphic designer and that I create logos and brochures for a living. As you well know, nothing could be further from the truth.

For SURTEX, you need a different type of elevator speech. The people you meet know what you do –you either license or sell art. However they may not know you, what your focus is or how you could help them. Here are the key ingredients to your trade show elevator speech:

1. Your name
2. Your niche, art style, etc. What makes you unique in this room of artists.
3. Your strengths and how that can benefit the person you are talking to.

Your elevator speech shouldn't sound like a speech but should be conversational. Let your personality shine through – this will likely be your first impression so make it a good one. It will evolve as you use it and interact with people, but you want to start armed with something to say so you look and feel confident.

Here are some examples to get you thinking.

“Hi, I'm Mary and I specialize in beach art using both watercolors and acrylics as my medium. I have had great success licensing my designs in
the stationery industry and feel my art would do well for gift product
manufacturers as well.”

“Hi, I'm John, very nice to meet you! Before I got into licensing, I worked
in-house at XYZ agency. Not only do I create traditional and on-trend art, but I understand the challenges you face as a manufacturer and would love to work with you to get great results.”

“Hi, I'm the artist, Kelly (assuming there are a few people in the booth).
Coming from a background in textiles, I have a wide array of juvenile
patterns and images. From whimsical to traditional my work covers a
variety of themes and can be easily adapted to different products.”

Write and practice your elevator speech.  Be sure it includes who you are and what makes you different – your prospect will be talking to a lot of talented artists, why should they remember and work with you?

Here’s to your creative – and confident – success!

– Tara Reed

In 2013, Tara Reed celebrates her 10th year in art licensing and her 9th consecutive year exhibiting at the SURTEX show. In addition to licensing her art, Tara is a SURTEX Advisory Board Member, and a regular speaker in the SURTEX Conference program. She teaches about the business of licensing at

This article may not be reproduced with the expressed written permission of the author Tara Reed.