Seven months to go, and already
exhibitors are lining up in "unprecedented" numbers for SURTEX
What's going on? Can it be good news
for a change in the economy and the art licensing industry? Our
insider sources say "Yes!" in no uncertain terms. And
2011 SURTEX exhibitors are putting their money where their
mouths are, locking in their show spaces at a faster rate, much
earlier than in the past. Read the heart-warming numbers in
Upgrades & Updates.
Then jump to show manager
Sikalis' report from abroad, where she's been feeling the
positive vibes at the European trade shows, too. The brightening
business picture she describes inspired us to go looking for
more, less predictable markets for licensed art.
industry veterans tell what new opportunities they are
keeping an experienced eye on.
Speaking of experience, six new
webinars are coming up soon, packed with how-to tips and
information guaranteed to turn you into an old SURTEX pro, even
if this is your first-ever show. And our fav columnist,
Degenhardt, tells why and how you should re-create yourself
as a brand.
Finally, meet an artist who is truly a
cut above, Sharyn Sowell, whose magic way with a pair of
scissors has won two coveted LOUIE Awards, dozens of licensing
partners, and new admirers by the shipload, quite literally.
REPORTING FROM EUROPE,
GLM VP/ SHOW MANAGER PENNY SIKALIS
SEES SMOOTHER SAILING AHEAD
may tell us that trade winds blow from west to east, but I'd
like to make a case for the reverse.
I spent most of September in Europe on
a mission - I went to see what's going on over there in the
world of art design and licensing. The R&D trip took me to three
trade shows and many meetings with SURTEX customers, friends,
artists, and colleagues. I'm happy to report that I also met
with many fresh ideas and new attitudes that will soon be
flowing westward across the waters to us in the US.
Be glad they're coming!
Based on my observations at Indigo
and MoOD in Brussels and at Brand Licensing
Europe in London, the American art & design industry can
look forward to a revival of optimism and good spirits.
Just as we felt it at SURTEX 2010 in
May, there's a lot of excitement in the air about the art &
design industry abroad. The mood is upbeat, both business-wise
and trend-wise. Colors are bright and happy, and themes are
cheerful and whimsical, some even cutesy.
On the textiles front, we saw many
positive indications- MoOD (which, by the way, stands for
Meeting only Original Designs) is all about fabrics:
upholstery, window coverings, and wallcoverings.
We also witnessed new energy in
licensing itself - at Brand Licensing Europe, many new licenses
were being launched that will be realized on products next year
in Europe, the UK and Russia.It all bodes well for SURTEX 2011 and
the US. In fact, I heard much positive feedback about SURTEX
2010 while I was traveling around, meeting with, eating with,
and listening to Europeans who cover our show, too.
Full disclosure: Here's how I spent part of my
"summer" vacation: the Brussels shows and Brand Licensing Europe
were the business "bookends" of my trip to Europe. In the days
between trade shows, I managed to slip down to Greece - Athens
and the island of Lemnos - where my family roots are. Visiting
my aunt and cousins brought back such memories of wonderful
childhood summers past, in the sunshine by the sea!
Available at No Cost
NEW SIX-PART WEBINAR SERIES
DESIGNED TO HELP ALL EXHIBITORS
MAKE THE UTMOST OF SURTEX 2011
Mastering the art of art licensing - from first
inspiration to finishing touches on your SURTEX booth - will be
as easy as sitting down and tuning in to a new, six-part series
of webinars announced by show manager, GLM VP Penny Sikalis.
Planned in collaboration with SURTEX,
four of the hour-long webinars will be led by art licensing
veteran Tara Reed of Tara Reed Designs, Inc., Portland, OR. An
artist who also has a degree in marketing from Penn State
University, Tara began licensing her work seven years ago and
now accounts for almost $10 million in retail sales, world-wide.
She is a skilled teacher who specializes in teaching other
artists what licensing is all about.
The other two webinars will address
the nitty-gritty of exhibiting at SURTEX, from shipping and
moving in, to handling details on electrical hook-ups, labor,
and furnishings. Led by SURTEX Operations Manager Mike Edson,
who has spent more than 16 years handling operations for a
diversity of GLM shows like SURTEX and the New York
International Gift Fair®, the Operations Basic webinar will
condense the key contents of the Exhibitor Set-Up Manual
into a user-friendly, informative one-hour session.
"The webinars are designed to quickly
and easily educate both beginning and experienced exhibitors,"
Penny explained. "First-time exhibitors will get the inside
picture on the industry. And everyone will profit from the
marketing expertise, display tips, and how-to information shared
by our experienced presenters, Tara Reed and Mike Edson."
Complimentary to all SURTEX
exhibitors, each of the webinars will be followed by an
additional l5 minute question and answer session. Participants
will also be able to submit specific questions in advance of
each webinar. Exhibitors will be receiving e-communications
about the webinars and information on how to register easily
on-line for individual webinars, as well as
the entire series. Attendees will also receive a PDF of the
presentations for future reference.
The webinar series runs from November
3, 2010, to March 23, 2011.
November 3: "Getting Started in Art
Licensing." Designed to arm artists new to the art licensing
industry with a stronger knowledge of the business of art
licensing, the opening webinar will cover the terminology of art
licensing, discuss who licenses art and what they are looking
for, and tell how to create, present, and successfully promote
art for licensing. Presented by Tara Reed.
January 12, 2011: "Operations Basics:
Logistics for a Smooth Move-In/Set-Up."
For all exhibitors, especially
first-timers, this webinar explains the key logistical issues
involved with setting up a SURTEX booth. From shipping,
moving-in, and dealing with electrical issues to labor, and
furnishings, the session will tell exhibitors how to get
everything done easily and smoothly. Presented by Mike Edson.
January 19, 2011: "How to Find,
Interact & Work with Manufacturers." Helping artists better
understand the manufacturers they will interact with at the
show, this webinar discusses the kinds of manufacturers who
license art; explains how to isolate product categories best
suited for individual artists' work; tells how, first, to
attract and become acquainted with manufacturers, and then, how
to develop relationships with those manufacturers. Presented by
February 16, 2011: "Marketing to
Maximize SURTEX 2011 Participation." Any artist exhibiting
at the show will learn to how engage manufacturers and get them
before they even arrive in New York.
Strategies include individual activities that can be
undertaken in advance, as well as the many avenues of marketing
exposure provided by the SURTEX show. Presented by Tara Reed and
March 16, 2011: "Preparing Booth
Presentation for SURTEX 2011, and More." A well-designed
booth can have a huge impact on success at the show. This
webinar will give new and experienced exhibitors alike a better
grasp on the logistics of effective exhibiting, including ideas
on how to create an eye-catching booth that sums up the
exhibitor's individuality at-a-glance. Presented by Tara Reed
and Penny Sikalis.
March 23, 2011: "Operations Basics:
Logistics for a Smooth Move-in and Set-Up."
Worth repeating, this webinar reprises
the how-to details (from the January 12 session) that will ease
every exhibitor's way into the show. Presented by Mike Edson.
RONALD REDDING, AWARD-WINNING DESIGNER, VP & ARCHIVIST
AT YORK WALLCOVERINGS, TRACKS THE TRANSFORMATION
York Wallcoverings design team has attended SURTEX since the
show started in 1986. When shopping for and buying art, we are
selective and specific. Our stylists comb the show, each
searching for designs to define and round-out upcoming
One stylist might seek out classical
motifs, while another may be on the lookout for transitional or
trend-specific looks. Another might walk the show in search of
subtle textures. And yet another might have her sights set on
licensed designs. It's wonderful to be able to view and access
such a range of options all in one venue.
My personal style is neo-traditional.
Just as I re-imagine an archival document into a new classic, I
evaluate new art for its potential to be loved today and for
years to come.
EARLY-BIRD FINDS THE TALENT
usually one of the first attendees on the SURTEX show floor. I
tend to gravitate to certain designers with whom I've developed
long-standing relationships and whose offerings I'm anxious to
see early-on. But I'm also on the lookout for new talent.
I met Simin Banafshe and Susan
Schippel of Banafshe Schippel Design (Birmingham, England) at
SURTEX and, over the years have incorporated a number of their
designs in my collections. A particular favorite is called
Raleigh, which I've renewed for a collection due out this
We also admire and work with Forte Air
Factory Design Studio (Guivataim, Israel) for their unique
ART INTO WALLPAPER
Once we purchase a piece of art, there
are various ways to translate it into wallpaper. It may serve as
inspiration from which a new design is hand-drawn. Or we may use
computer software to take the design in a more geometric or
textural direction. The computer can also help adjust scale and
color. And finally, we determine which of York's five in-house
printing techniques - surface, rotary screen, gravure, flexo-graphic
or digital - would best showcase the design.
Some studios offer designs that are
"wallpaper ready" - they show the design in repeat as it would
appear on a large surface. In those cases, we walk away with the
completed design on disc. This minimizes our development cost
and allows us to go directly to production.
From SURTEX to finished wallpaper -
this process can be completed in as little as three months. And
because of this increasingly abbreviated timeframe, and the
depth and breadth of design at SURTEX, the show is invaluable to
our team at York Wallcoverings.
MORE ABOUT RONALD REDDING:
Hailed as one of the most influential wallcoverings designers in
America, Ronald Redding oversees both the extensive archives at
York Wallcoverings and the production of 25 new collections a
year (including his own Ronald Redding Designs). An innovator
who believes in pushing the boundaries of manufacturing
technologies, Redding led York to become the first American
manufacturer to offer such surface embellishments as sand and
glass beads. No surprise, really, when he was named winner of
the Allman Award, the industry's highest honor and so exclusive
it has been awarded only four times in the last half-century.
MORE ABOUT THE WALLCOVERINGS
- It's bigger than you might think: some 500 million rolls
are manufactured annually; world-wide.
- York Wallcoverings relies on new art for half its
products; the other half are inspired by documents in the
REDDING'S GUIDE TO COLOR, PATTERN,
IN THE HOME --
- Patterns should vary in scale and dramatic impact.
Large-scale wallpapers make an even bigger statement when
balanced by smaller patterns on adjoining walls.
- Traditional prints and florals can be paired with grass
cloths or muted textures, resulting in walls with
wonderfully unexpected visual richness.
- A mural or scenic wallpaper becomes "art work," creating
a backdrop for stimulating conversation or creating a single
focal point as an alternative to disparate framed works of
art on the wall.
- Metallic wallcoverings add instant glamour. Gold is the
universal metallic and silver is contemporary; bronze and
copper are earthier options. Metallics work beautifully in
combination with each other.
- Nature provides lessons in color, texture, proportion,
light, and sheer beauty. There's as much to admire in a
single leaf or branch as a tree in full bloom.
FOUR PROS GO IN SEARCH OF
NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR LICENSING ART
Does your design idea have a snowman's chance
Not if it is a snowman, advises
top licensing agent Suzanne Cruise of
Suzanne Cruise Creative Services, Inc., Overland
Park, KS. There's little interest in snowmen in the US desert,
Not surprised? But then she goes on to
say that snowmen designs often translate easily into products
for other cultures with clement climates. And how to explain the
mega- popularity of momiji, those little story-telling dolls
from Japan that are becoming so influential on both coasts of
Is art licensing really so mysterious? Is it possible to predict
what will work where and why? Who knows what's trending and
where the new art licensing opportunities really are?
We asked four key players in the art
licensing industry and came up with a quartet of informative
marketing is one answer, says
Jeff Grinspan, Grinspan & Co., Plainview, NY. "The
more market-specific your art is, the better your chances of
getting a licensee for it," Grinspan believes. Niche markets
that still have some "vitality," as he puts it, include the pet
market -- "historically somewhat recession-proof."
Once non-specific in terms of
products, Grinspan says he's now seeing pet themes on things
like leashes and decorative objects, food dishes, for example.
Also notable is inspirational art. "Live! Love! Laugh! Keep your
chin 'way up! Inspirational art gets stronger when times are
tougher. It became powerful after 9/11, and it's resurfacing
today," he says.
Another, newer art licensing opportunity Grinspan has spotted is
the outdoor furniture market. "Six or seven years ago, it was
all solid colors. Now we're seeing florals and geometrics. The
manufacturers are still motivated. They want fresh, new, vital
art because they know it sells product."
advice to artists: do your own due diligence in the marketplace.
"Be much more analytical. Go see what's out there. And not just
in brick-and-mortar stores. Look at what's on-line. That's where
Marty Brochstein, senior VP of LIMA
(Licensing Industry Manufacturers Association) also
points to the e-world as a growing market. He sees new
opportunities to license designs for on-line calendars and server
screens, for example, and he advises artists to get involved
with chat rooms like the two-year-old Art of Licensing Group, a
networking group on LinkedIn (artoflicensing.com).
John Haessler of MHS
Licensing in Minneapolis: "New opportunities for art
licensing are opening up in mobile phone content, phone covers,
iPad covers, and Apple accessories, everything from red-neck
humor to art that appeals to 20-something girls."
John also sees a growing American appetite for special holidays,
like St. Patrick's Day. And he's observed one immense and still
largely untapped category: the Hispanic market. His own MHS
Licensing "family" of artists includes Mexico-born painter and
marketing consultant Luis Fitch, a fine artist whose bright
colors and Hispanic icons have been licensed to markets like
tabletop and stationery.
also puts his money on sentiment - "A reflection of what's going
on today" - and humor, especially what he calls "female-specific
humor " Punch lines, vintage and floral art, and feel-good art
are still in demand, he says.
But to get back to that snowman in the American Southwest:
"You'd have better luck with him in other countries, even if
they don't have much snow," says Suzanne Cruise. "Some 75 to 80
percent of American designs work in English-speaking countries, including
So does humor, even if they don't
always get it overseas. Ditto kittens and puppies. But you can
forget Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, Suzanne warns. "They
just don't translate."
We no longer live in a time where a beautiful
design - or even a beautiful collection - is enough to make a
manufacturer or retailer yearn to negotiate a license.
No, no. Today it is critical for us to
create our own brand.
The question is, how to do that
without breaking the bank.
One time-tested answer is SURTEX. You
need effective ways to expose your work to a wide array of
businesses --businesses that are actually interested in
licensing. And that's what SURTEX is all about.
Every May, thousands of manufacturers
from all over the world converge at SURTEX. Just imagine how
many years it would take you to reach this amount and caliber of
qualified and eager potential business partners on your own!
There, gathered under one glass roof of the Javits Center, is
all the potential business you need. Keep in mind that
participating in SURTEX can keep you in business for the entire
next year to come.
But first, it's important that you be
ready to do business.
Begin by looking at your design work
as a "business." It's a good idea to know how to run one. Even
if you don't want to do the day-to-day work (that's what
partners and agents are for), you should at least know how to
read the books, understand the bottom line, be comfortable in a
board room during negotiations, and how to search out the right
people to help promote you and your brand.
You also need to understand what it is
that you will be branding. Answer these questions and you'll
have the start of your game plan:
What makes your work distinct?
What is your style?Contemporary? Traditional?
Transitional? Country? Urban? European? Latin?
Who is your ultimate customer?
Where does your customer live?
How do they live? What does their house look like? What colors do they prefer?
Are they casual, traditional, a
neat freak, middle class, upper class?
Are they married, single,
divorced, middle-aged, young, older? Do they have children?
How old are they?
What kind of car do they drive?
Where do they shop: at mass-market retailers, boutiques,
on-line, in catalogues, department stores, thrift shops?
Once you start to get a picture of
your ultimate customer, you can begin to design with them in
mind. And the next question - now that you know who you're
designing for and how they live and shop - is how to get the
right companies to manufacture your work.
The answer: You make sure that
they know who you are and where to find you. Where: at
SURTEX, next May 15-17. It is the brightest, savviest way
Next month, I'll write about
building a brand empire…or maybe just a nice little brand
"Exhibitors are signing up in
"unprecedented numbers," reports a delighted Penny
Sikalis, show manager and GLM VP. SURTEX 2011 is already off to
a rousing start with the number of confirmed exhibitors up a
whopping 29 percent over last year!
"I'm thrilled to say that not only are companies locking in
their spaces earlier than in the past, we have an unprecedented
number of new applicants - to date nearly 40 new or
returning companies. Roughly 15 percent of them exhibited at
SURTEX in the past and are now interested in coming back.
"If we continue on this path - and I
anticipate that we will," Penny said, "We'll hit our projection
of some 300 exhibitors in 2011."
Early birds get the best nests: Hotel
bookings now open for all.
Book now, pay later. With Travel
Planners, the official travel company for SURTEX handling the
details, you can choose among the best hotels in New York City
at the guaranteed lowest prices. Many are within walking
distance of the Javits Center, and most are served by shuttle
buses during the show.
It's risk-free. You pay nothing
now. You pay when you check out. Plus, there are no fees for changes or
cancellations up to 72 hours before you arrive. And you'll still earn rewards with
your hotel membership/loyalty programs. Click on
www.myglmtravel.com and check lodging off your worry list
And beware - while other travel
companies have claimed to be the official SURTEX agency, there
is only one - and that's Travel Planners. Proceed with caution
Calling all talented design students!
Mentoring a young talent? Know a budding designer in
the third or fourth year of college who is studying surface
design? Urge him or her to enter the 2011 designext®
competition. Four winners can jump-start their art licensing
careers at SURTEX 2011, and one will take home the $1,000 Grand
But hurry: the deadline is
February 24, 2011. Details at
A CUT ABOVE, AWARD-WINNER
SHARYN SOWELL OVERTURNS TYPE-CASTING
It starts out like a cliché: the slender, softly pretty artist
gently clipping out paper designs in her tiny, rose-covered
cottage in a bucolic corner of Washington State.
But then you hear how Sharyn Sowell
goes jogging through the surrounding farmland looking for design
ideas "to inform her work." And how she's written several books (the latest is "Silhouettes" from Lark
Books), keeps chickens, bakes her own bread, and sails off from
time to time as the artist-in-residence aboard Royal Caribbean
cruise ships headed all over the bounding main.
Officially, she's on board to enchant
passengers by cutting out their silhouettes in black and white.
In fact, the cruises provide "grist for her mill," Sharyn says,
including a new collection inspired by a fragment of sculpture
she saw in Ephesus, and angels she encountered in Venice and
What really puts the "shy-artist"
cliché to rest - and tells you that here is a Creative Person
with a capital "CP" - is Sharyn's story of the vintage
letterpress that now sits in her studio.
"I love words," she says. "So when a
friend said I could have the press that was stored in an
airplane hanger in Idaho, I rented a semi to bring it home,
fork-lifted it off, and rolled it on pipes into my studio."
The press provides the vintage
typography that blends with cut paper, calligraphy, and
airbrushing to form the distinctive Sharyn Sowell style that has
won her international fame, a slew of licensees, and two LOUIE
Awards, the "Oscar" of the greeting card industry. Her delicate
cut-outs have been celebrated in magazines, on TV (NBC's Style
channel), and added to the collection of the British National
And to think, she tells with her
signature twinkle, it all began in a row boat two decades ago,
as she tried to keep her two young sons amused while their
father, Russell Sowell, a jeweler, was attempting to catch fish.
At the time, Sharyn was designing
jewelry herself, a graduate of the Gemological Institute in Los
Angeles, whose art medium was 18-karat gold.
That day on the water, "I picked up my
husband's Swiss Army knife scissors and our lunch bags and
started cutting out silhouettes to entertain the children,"
Sharyn tells the story with relish. Perhaps a million snips
later, she's still clipping the fanciful designs that now appear
on Hallmark Cards, covers for Amazon's Kindle, and gifts,
textiles, and home decorating products worldwide.
Licensing her art hasn't lessened her
determination to follow her own Muse, Sharyn says.
But it has taught her how to "adjust
her ideas to suit the needs of my licensing partners," she
declares. "I adjust my work every day!"
"We have the same goal, my licensing partners and I. You have
to make it sell, or we're not in