On the Surface

NEW EXHIBITORS HEAD FOR SURTEX 2017 With Art That’s ‘Cartoony…Fresh…Fun’

August 31, 2016

Hear that? It’s the seasonal shifting of gears, from Summer’s ease to the renewed energy and ambition that comes with the cooler, crisper days of Autumn. It’s the sound of rising exuberance. It’s the sound of us, getting back to work!

Wait! Whaddaya mean, “getting back“? SURTEX Sales Director John Erich has a right to protest! Since SURTEX 2016 wrapped up in May, John’s been plenty busy all summer long, rounding up the exhibitors, veterans and newbies who will bring zing to SURTEX 2017.

Now, before Summer shifts into Autumn, we touched base with some of the new talents who will debut at next year’s show. What we wanted to know: How did you become an artist? How is your art business coming along? What makes your work stand out?

Here’s what we learned from:

Lynn Johnston, Lynn Johnston Productions, Inc., North Vancouver, British Columbia — Never mind that this prize-winning comic strip artist has made some 220 million people laugh all around the world: Lynn Johnston refuses to take her art seriously.

Creator of the family-based, syndicated comic strip For Better or For Worse (which was translated into eight languages and appeared in 2,000+ newspapers in 23 countries), Lynn has taken up painting since she retired in 2008. Seriously? “Not really,” she reports.

“I can’t paint seriously if I want something to hold my interest,” she explains. However, other people are plenty interested. In 2010, Lynn was honored by the Art Gallery of Sudbury in Sudbury, Ontario, with a touring exhibit of her work. To accompany the tour, she designed a line of comical patterns that, with the help of fashion designer, Kathryn Brenne, were used in a collection of prototype clothing designed to meet Lynn’s avowed goal: designing “attractive, whimsical fabrics that could be used on everything from children’s pajamas to adult bedding and eveningwear.”

The first woman to receive a Rueben Award for Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonist Society in 1985, Lynn’s For Better or For Worse was named Best Syndicated Comic Strip in 1992. She has also received the Order of Canada and claims a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

For Better or For Worse has been republished from its beginning and is now in its eighth year of reruns. Lynn’s colorful, cartoony “serious” art goes on display for the first time at SURTEX 2017 and promises to have show-goers smiling in the aisles next May.

Virginia Kraljevic, New York — Artist, illustrator, and visual designer, Virginia’s studies at the American University of Paris and Fordham University led to what she calls “an array of experiences in publishing, fashion, digital media, and visual display.

“It was a natural progression from my professional background in visual display and design,” she says. There was also another, overweening reason for moving into her career as an artist:

“I longed to work for myself and focus exclusively on my artwork,” Virginia explains.

All those earlier experiences coalesced to define her signature style, which she describes as “whimsical, quirky, colorful, and fun.” You could add “successful” to the list: Virginia’s art has already attracted collaborators with such international brands as Lacoste, Vans, Suzuki Motors, West Elm, and Etsy, she reports.

Shannon McNab of South San Francisco — A graphic designer turned surface designer, Shannon “became enthralled with patterns when I took an elective textile design class” during graduate school (Savannah College of Art and Design), where she was working on a degree in graphic design. “That one decision totally altered my focus as a designer and I’ve been obsessed with patterns ever since.”

Known for her whimsical style “with just a touch of quirk — I love to highlight the interesting imperfections of more traditional art mediums, so I often utilize hand-drawn illustrations and typography” — Shannon has been working for the past six years as a digital designer in the scrapbook industry. Clients have included such companies as Becky Higgins LLC, Studio Calico, and Echo Park Paper Co.

“My absolute favorite project to date is a Disney vacation-inspired collection, Magical Memories, for Becky Higgins LLC Project Life App,” she reports.

Why exhibit at SURTEX? “I am excited at the prospect of collaborating with companies in other markets.”

As someone who’s designed product for manufacturers, as well as sold directly to consumers for years, Shannon says her experience interacting with both internal design teams and customers is proving invaluable. It’s also toughened her up, she confides: “I’m open to constructive criticism and used to troubleshooting!”

Leticia Plate, Portland, ME — A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, Leticia has worked in the editorial world as an illustrator for many years, she reports.

Clients include such bold-face names as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Whole Foods Market, and many other national magazines and design studios.

With such high profile partners already on board, we asked, what brings you to SURTEX 2017?

“I’ve always thought my artwork would be a natural fit for the surface design and greeting card markets,” says Leticia, who says her style focuses on “the hand-drawn line, fresh and playful with flat, bold punches of color.”