Monday, May 28, 2012

The Dynamic Surtex, NSS and ICFF Shows! ...And Now, What's Next?

Colorful cookies based on one of
my designs - handed out at the show!
It was a great show! It was so much fun and amazing to meet up with artists and agents from around the country - I got to meet many of you, which I think was the highlight of my trip!

The aisles between the colorful booths were bustling with people, licensing artists who were happily ready to present their new fabulous work, focused manufacturers looking for specific and novelty artwork, and curious but respectful newbies pondering whether they should be exhibiting next year. Free and paid seminars were delivered in different locations while monitors in the Cafe area advertised all sorts of design styles and new concepts.

The Surtex staff were also busy taking care of everyone and doing a great job. And finally the Press - The Moon from My Attic was also present amongst those walking the floor, and was very active in setting up interviews and sharing insights with many smiling faces, including the four finalist students of the annual Surtex-sponsored student design competition, who were all awaiting for their designs to be judged by a panel of licensing experts.  Check out Designext 2012 link for the winner!

Surtex 2012 Designext Finalists

I will be publishing post-Surtex interviews for the next couple of months to give the opportunity to many emerging and established artists to share their own stories about the show and their passion for art. My agent, Montage Licensing, was very happy about the outcome of the three days there and was in fact so busy talking to clients that I could barely chat with her when I went by the booth. Time will tell, as follow-ups are just as important as the concentrated frenzy of the show, but we can all hope for the best.

My own impressions of the show: as I talked to many, some were very happy, while some were not as pleased but everyone seemed to enjoy the meetings with manufacturers that were diligently set up before the show started. So this is one thing I learned over again - it's important to set up your appointments before the show as opposed to waiting for some unspecified walk-in to show up at your booth.

Some booths were spectacular, so well planned and set up. Cheers to many of you who went the extra mile to display your work!  You can see pictures of some exhibitors who have shared their booth displays through their blogs, through the official Surtex site, or as part of some of the interviews I'll be publishing in the coming months.

The other important piece of information from the show, in my view, is that the National Stationary Show adjacent to the Surtex area was also jammed with people and manufacturers - it was interesting to watch the stationary show exhibitors crossing over to shop for new art, while licensing artists were crossing over to pick up the pulse of new trends and products. I wish there was a way to evaluate that exchange of energy and information flow, as it is potentially one of the most dynamic aspects of Surtex I believe. It seemed very engaged this year.

As for trends, I am not an expert but my opinion is that brighter colors were showing up a little bit everywhere, especially the warm tones in connection to neutrals like grays and browns - I had noticed this trend coming in from Europe last year, which was confirmed in a very well hosted free seminar by French designer Emmanuelle Linard with Edelkoort, Inc. Yellow is the new pink, she mentioned, and green/eco design is also a growing trend she talked about which I saw very clearly in all three shows (Surtex, NSS and ICFF). Although not a new one, it is definitely gaining even more prominence and strength.

The large growth of vendors providing letterpress printing services is another example that illustrates a trend that has been emerging for some time now and more explicitly could be described as the return to hand made crafts, an alternative in-touch-with-nature life style assisted by high-tech futuristic technologies of tomorrow. I noticed, for example, that laser-cut, lace-like techniques are being applied by some start-up vendors to numerous products such as stationary and cards and other commercial products, which illustrates how artisanal handmade and high tech collaborative concepts can be turned into appealing products for the mass market.

From the International Stationary Show, 2012
Other trends spotted at the shows are the ever classic retro and vintage ones, as well as designing with words. Still strong and fun, they seem to be the favorites of many artists.

Finally, the one trend I personally love and favor is the hand drawn-illustration style of artwork, which is showing up everywhere. Many companies had this type of art as a background to their displayed products in the NSS but this style is also everywhere in the artwork of many artists. Not to say that flat-digital art isn't still a strong design look, but it is nicely balanced by the counter-trend of the DYI-hand drawn and primitive art. Again the handmade and natural ethos comes to life here.

So what's next after Surtex?

Follow-ups are key to all involved with the shows, so this is on the top of my list. In my next blog post I will give a few more details on specific trends I think are closer to my heart, including colors, shapes, home textiles and furniture. I will also add that there will be a special editorial sometime soon with a manufacturer and art director who have been very instrumental in sharing their side of the story as art licensing is concerned. So we'll cover the field from all fronts.

I advise you to read all the other blogs that are covering the 2012 Surtex/NSS shows as well, since multiple views are invaluable to help you get an overall idea of what's going on. Since we have such mix of trends and concepts, you can pick the one you feel is closest to your heart and art style!

I want to thank several of the artists and friends we met, including Montage Licensing's teamCathy Heck Studio, Sue Zipkin, Lance Klass' team, Eriko Maeda, the DANG! gals, Carol Van Zandt, Iza Pearl, Paul Brent, Marilyn MacGregor, Lilla RogersChris Reed, Tamara Holland, Jennifer Castoldi, Karen Harris, and Linadona Botanical to mention a few, as well as many others who made time to say hi or agreed to be interviewed. 

Finally, after the massive input and impressions I received while at the show I decided to just get some fresh air and see a little bit of NYC. I picked a walk down the High Line Park and really enjoyed it! Interestingly, the park rather exemplifies the trend towards a high-tech solution that incorporates vintage elements with a back-to-nature ethic. Here are some images from the stroll along this beautiful elevated green path, not too far from the Javitz Center. What a treat, and what a great way to end a fantastic trip to New York!

The High Line's busiest resident - © 2012 Paul Stout
Best views of New York - on the High Line  © 2012 Paul Stout


Patti said...

Nicely said. Lots of good info.

Unknown said...

Hi Alex, I'm so sorry we never connected at the show! We had a great time at our booth at Painted Planet Licensing Group. Traffic was constant and manufacturers spent lots of time looking through portfolios. It was my first time exhibiting through an agent and I can certainly see the benefits. I will stay tuned for your upcoming show posts and hopefully we can connect on my next trip to San Francisco to see my kids.

Dianne Poinski said...

Thanks for sharing all that wonderful information! Can't wait to hear more!

kayajoy said...

Thanks for this Alex. Sounds like it was inspirational. Can't wait to see more.

Paul Brent said...

Thanks for the comments. We all do a better job in our businesses by sharing. Paul

Unknown said...

Thank you all for leaving such a nice feed back!

Paul - exactly right. Looking forward to listen in to your after-Surtex webinar of Wednesday!

Jackie - it sounds like your show went really well too, good for you! Let me know when you will come out to the Bay area, it'd be fun to meet up :)


Marilyn said...

Great insights and observations Alex - I loved walking around with you and talking everything over! We'll be finding ways to put Surtex ideas to good use for a long time to come!

LoriLynn Simms said...

This blog was so informative , thank you for sharing your perspective and insiight! Great read ❤ I look forward to reading your next blog.

Melissa Ybarra said...

Love hearing everyone's recaps! (Your's is one of the best!) Can't wait to hear more!

Melissa Ybarra said...

Fantastic recap Alex! Such a great resource! Thanks!