Two years ago, I was given an awesome gift from my family & husband. Don’t laugh. It was my MacBook. I had taken one graphic design class and knew there was no looking back, after years of trying to paint “when I had time”. After graduating with a degree in fine arts in 2003, I had nowhere to paint or practice printmaking…and art became even more unlikely after I started teaching and then had a baby. But once I took that class, I knew there was hope. I had discovered that having a tiny computer would suffice, and a new world opened up. I stayed up every night working on patterns and emailing questions to designers I admired, and later, submitting my portfolio to various companies. Two years after getting this computer, I am diving into a freelance career and finding myself surrounded by new opportunities. Lately things have been rolling along so nicely that I could pinch myself. I am so grateful to have found a way to make art, even if my idealistic 20-yr-old self would not recognize the designer I am now.
I’ve had a lot of conversations about Surtex since May. Mostly they are of the “what-was-that-thing-you-went-to-in-New-York?” variety, and I’m sure I ramble on for days each time. I have had a couple of emails recently asking me to detail my experience from those who are contemplating doing the show themselves. I came across my notes that my friend Jill titled “things done right” and “things to do better” tonight, so I thought I’d write down some of my thoughts.
The year leading up to Surtex, I did a ton of research online to make most of my decisions. Most of the “things done right” were very practical decisions– opting for the vinyl banners instead of paper, having photos of my products, and decorating the pole of my booth (I was moved to a corner booth at the last second). Another good one was having an electrical cord in my booth (an option that of course costs more) that we used to charge the iPad and our phones. Bringing physical portfolios as well as the iPad was a good move, too….Although the iPad was only looked through a few times. Most people want to touch the real thing! They can always look at your images online, but seeing them printed out is a treat.
Under “things to do better”….Well most of these are ideas I have for my personal booth space for 2014. A few that could help others include having postcard-sized business cards (I had both regular and postcard-sized and the larger ones were grabbed immediately, whereas the small ones had to be pointed out), and packing for rain! It rained a lot during the show and we learned that this was very common (It was May, after all) and we were unprepared for it. Also, one issue we never decided on was the table height. There are definitely pros and cons to having a high or low table, but if you plan for the one you order you should be golden either way. If you are curious about anything else I could answer, just comment or message me. hope to see you there next year! it was a blast!
A few more pics from the show:
for the past month i have been taking lilla roger’s MATS class, and learning all sorts of wonderful magical things. the course came at such a great time for me…i’d just quit my part-time job and had launched full-time with my design work in a (terrifying) leap of faith. the class has given me focus and lots of new briefs to generate new work for my portfolio. the strange part of the course has been making just total crap work (happens) but being utterly inspired about every aspect of the process. ha! i won’t post the total crap work i have eeked out, but the week we were painting led to some really fun work. it’s really crazy that i was a painting major who refused to take one single graphic design class, and now that’s all i do…but i do miss the paint, so this could bring more messy nights my way!
Welllll it’s been a while since I last posted but a lot has been going on around here. Luckily I have a bit to show you today and I am so pleased to do so! I have a brand new line on the latest round of Kekacase Kindle and iPad cases. I chose designs that were fun, bold, and bright….If you lose your Kindle as much as some people (ahem, mom) you may find these are up your alley. Here are a few of the designs on cases, taken from the Kekacase site:
Well I made it back alive and well yesterday morning from Surtex, which has taken over my life for the better part of a year. Jill, a.k.a. best friend on Earth and my trade show “assistant”, kept likening it to having a baby. I can’t disagree! The 3 days were almost as surreal as holding my actual newborn for the first time. All that preparation and research, all of the anxiety and wonder.
We arrived on Friday, which was the first day we were allowed to set up our booth. Since it was my first year boothin’, I wanted to be there and get it over with before Saturday. (Who knew I was such an over-planner?) It was really great though because it allowed us to hang out both on Friday and Saturday evening. We visited Rockefeller Center and ate loads of good pizza, shopped some, and visited friends in the area.
On Sunday morning, the first day of the show, we arrived at the Javits Center at 7 a.m. because we are total paranoid fruitcakes. The show started at 9 and we already had 95% of our booth ready to go. We were the only ones there that early, but we made friends with the maintenance crew and I was less nervous from being there all morning!
Sunday was the only day I was really nervous, but once we talked to the first few people and got the hang of things, I felt fine. There are so many wonderful designers, art directors, and buyers who are easy to talk to and glad to be there! On Monday night I had been invited to a company party (a company I recently began working with) and we had a great time with all the folks there. I am always shocked at how different the design world is from the Fine Arts world, which is to say it is much friendlier and fun.
We made ourselves sick off all the mints in my booth. Carrots next time?
I made some great friends by Tuesday, my favorite being the sweetest and loveliest lady, the fabric designer Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom. Her booth was near ours so we were able to watch a professional in action…Jennifer has been designing fabric for years, but this was her first time at Surtex. She is a happy and fun spirit, which shows through in all of her work. Her entire family was there by the end of the show–brother, daughter, husband–they were just too cute!!
A bit blurry but this is me with Jennifer on the last day!
We met lots of other great people, including Rebecca Bischoff, Denise Albright, Patricia Zapata, Elizabeth Olwen, and Jessica Swift! Some of these ladies I have only ever seen online, so it was amazing to see them in real life. We also met Paul and Andrea of Cinnamon Joe, and Patrick Groombridge, among others. And can I please just add that I met Lilla Rogers, because that was a definite “PINCH ME” moment if there ever was one.
So Surtex is over, sort of. A mentor of mine recently told me that Surtex is about “contacts, not contracts”, and I have a lot of incredible contacts now. I am going through them and following up, sending requested images, and crossing my fingers that some of them will wind up being great collaborations. I am planning to be back at Surtex next year, and I can’t wait! I know Jill feels the same way 🙂
Well I’m updating from our hotel room in NYC, after a big fat long day of travel and booth set up. Jill picked me up with her friend Chris, and we grabbed lunch before heading to the Javits Center. So far there have been very little problems, so I’m crossing fingers for another breezy set-up day tomorrow before the big show. All the banners are hung now and it’s entirely surreal to see everything all up! I can’t wait to see everyone else’s work up tomorrow. Only a few of our neighbors were there working today. I was so excited to be on the same row as Jessica Swift! I’m very pumped. Just need some good food and sleep and I’ll be perfect.
Jill working on making the pole cute
my sign! in real life!
This past weekend was just what I needed. One of my dearest friends, Jill, came in from North Carolina in a whirlwind of organization and to-do listing, and I am finally feeling more prepared than not for the 3-day trade show next month. I have no idea how all the other booths are surviving without Jill, but man I’m glad I have her! We holed up in my favorite coffee shop all day Saturday, and then were surprised by my favorite menfolk visiting for a bit. It was a great break from my computer screen, and I really loved seeing the little one I am missing out on while obsessing over vinyl banners and googling “how many inches is 7.5 feet” several times a day.