Guest Blog

Oct 16

Written by: Guest Author
10/16/2013 10:51 AM  RssIcon

As publisher, editor and designer of UPPERCASE, a quarterly magazine for the creative and curious, I am always searching for content ideas and new talent to feature within our pages and on the blog. Despite never having attended the show in person, SURTEX has been a valuable event in showcasing great talent. Every year, as "SURTEX season" approaches, there is a flurry of activity online as bloggers and artists share forthcoming work and their display preparations. Through these posts, I feel like I experience a bit of SURTEX vicariously.

Indeed, SURTEX reaches mythical status among aspiring surface designers and illustrators. I asked the participants featured in Work/Life 3 —UPPERCASE's latest book featuring 100 illustrators from around the world—about their perceptions of SURTEX.

"I can only dream of the mind-blowing inspiration that must happen there," writes lettering artist Kal Barteski.  "The universe must be smiling when creative energies of so many forms come together." Nidhi Chanani also speaks of the excitement of the event. "I believe SURTEX has some of the most exciting and inspiring artists and brands represented and it would be wonderful to connect and learn from such talented individuals." Salli Swindell of Studio SSS has attended frequently over the past years, but has never exhibited. Nonetheless, the experience is worthwhile. "You leave feeling incredibly humble and unbelievably energized at the same time," she describes. "The energetic creative buzz is abundant and contagious. You carry it home with you and let it infuse your own work."

Beyond the visual stimulation and creative inspiration of the actual event, the importance of SURTEX can be felt across the pond. Gabriela Larios is a London-based illustrator, has exhibited and offers some good advice: "Although I still have not had the pleasure to visit SURTEX personally, I have had the fortune to showcase my work through representation from my agency in London, which is the best option if you cannot exhibit and be at the show yourself. I believe that the best way your work can get noticed is by focusing on polishing your work to the highest standard possible, creating quality and uniqueness instead of quantity. It is also good to be prolific, be aware of trends and develop collections constantly throughout the year so when the time comes you have a strong body of work to present for the show. Potential clients are always eager to see new and fresh work. It is also important to have a distinctive and consistent branding and promotion strategy before, during and after the show has finished."

Dinara Mirtalipova exhibited for the first time this year. It was a rewarding experience and she uses an amusing cooking metaphor to explain: "SURTEX is a kitchen where art is cooking. There are many yummy ingredients like us artists. Some of us, I could say, are more like nuts, but that would be me talking about myself! No seriously, some of us are more fruity, while others are more like veggies. And then, there are the cooks—the art directors who pick up all the deliciousness from the art garden and prepare festive dinner for people who shop at stores to make their habitat look rather like a home."

The tangible results of SURTEX-based collaborations are the strongest pull. Artists dream of seeing their work made into things. "I'd love to go to SURTEX one day," agrees James Gulliver Hancock. "It would lead to great product-based connections, taking my work onto physical things around the world. One day I'll get there. It's such an internationally renowned convention that it has to be done!"

Tammie Benett is looking forward to her first booth at next year's event and the possibility of seeing her dream of fabric designs come true. "I think I can make so much more happen for my art by meeting people face to face. With all of the emails and digital communication in the world, I think people crave actual meetings with the people they will be working with. I'm expecting to have a lot of conversations with buyers and manufacturers—conversations that start at SURTEX and continue long after the show."

With such great commendations and experiences by the illustrators that I know, it is certain that a trip to SURTEX in 2014 would yield great inspiration and connections for UPPERCASE magazine content ideas. I've marked my calendar and look forward to attending for the first time next spring. See you there!

Janine Vangool is the publisher / editor / designer of UPPERCASE, a quarterly magazine for the creative and curious. She has also developed and published many books (10 and counting) under the UPPERCASE name. Janine worked as a freelance graphic designer for a dozen years in the arts, culture and publishing sectors and has also taught typography and publication design at the college level.


*photo credit: Heather Saitz