Surtex: Should Artists Walk the Floor?

I asked people again this year about the controversy of whether non-exhibiting artist should be walking the floor. Here is a sampling of what they said this year compared to last year.

- 50% of business cards collected was from non-exhibiting competition. I did not pay to be source of free information or consult anybody. I was there to talk to buyers.

In past years, my booth has been inundated with artists looking to license their work. It hasn't been a problem, since most were polite and deferred to other booth visitors. This year - mostly likely because the show offered a full slate of licensing related programming during show hours - only one or two artists stopped by. I actually missed them. Some are talented, and these wandering artists have no booth to showcase their work so I don't see them as a threat.

This was my first year exhibiting at the show. I had about 10+ artists approach my booth each day, which for someone exhibiting for the first time was very disheartening. The first day, more artists approached me than clients. Most of the artists who stopped by would stand in front of my booth and initiate a conversation, asking about licensing, how to get into the business, etc. I watched multiple companies stop and then just walk by, which was very frustrating.

- I was very shocked at how many artists who choose to walk the show haven't done their homework about the business, and barely understand what licensing is.

I wanted to be respectful of those who were exhibiting, yet felt with airfare hotel and the $650 I had to make a few contacts. Most all were very helpful and friendly.

I have never been opposed to artists approaching me, as long as they either do this when I am not talking to someone, or if they ask first if NOW is a good time.

- Over the years I have noticed that less artist approach my booth. This year I only had a few come by. I do not mind as long as they are extremely mindful of show etiquette. Last year myself and a few colleagues did create a hand out for artists coming to Surtex, that might be what you are referring to that was also shared online.

- I was VERY CAREFUL to just observe. I didn't try networking. I didn't bring a portfolio and handed out no cards, etc. After reading some of the "non-exhibiting artists shouldn't be allowed at Surtex" forum posts in different discussion boards, I was even too paranoid to pause in front of anyone's booth to even write down their URL or name though sometimes I'd try to remember someone's name until I got to the end of the aisle and THEN write it down.

Over the years the situation with non-exhibiting artists had gotten out of hand. Know everyone is online sharing about there own experiences about Surtex. I think many artists have been really frustrated for this issue has cost them potential visits from manufactures.

I went because those speaking at the SCBWI workshop on art licensing encouraged us to walk the show to see if art licensing was an area we wished to pursue.

New artists should remember that this is not a club, it is a business, and for many people it represents their life’s work, not to mention their sole livelihood.

If management want to encourage other Artist to Exhibit they simply can have organized tour for such on one particular date and Time.

- I was put in a pretty awkward position this year in particular, when several, different artists walking the show, but it's the lack of understanding about the show etiquette that really surprised me, when I was being nice enough to talk to them "a little bit", but then they decided to just sit down for a while to "chat" some more?


On Using an ipad in your Surtex Booth

Tips from a First Time Surtex Exhibitor

An Artist's Thought's on Surtex: Jen Goode

An Artist's Thought's on Surtex: Jane Sarah Staffier

Doing Surtex: An Artist's Experience

See Surtex by Video

Tips on Exhibiting at Tradeshows for Art Licensing


Build a Better Trade Show Image
Professional recommendations for doing a tradeshow. Advice to take before you attempt one.

How to Design a "Wow!" Trade Show Booth Without Spending a Fortune
Simple tips for your first tradeshow booth.


Maria Brophy said...

It's very necessary for someone to visit a show before investing in it.

Before exhibiting at our first License show, my husband and I walked the show floor to evaluate if it was for us or not.

We determined it was, and the following year we exhibited, and for many years after that.

I always advise artists to walk a show first, talk to artists who are willing to share their thoughts, see what's working for them, and then determine if it's a fit for you the following year.

Surtex is great for some artists, but for others License or CHA is a better fit. There's only one way to find out which is best for you. Walk each show and make a decision based off of what you find.

Anonymous said...

Hi. This year I went to the NSS and Surtex as I am interested in exhibiting. As a 'walker' this is how I see the problem.
If I am trying to learn it is logical to walk the floor. How else do I see if my product fits?
It would seem that someone on the NSS side would take the initiative and find a solution for this. How about they freely offer up information to potential exhibitors about booth costs, set up, shipping items to NYC, etc.,
How am I supposed to learn about these things if everyone is holding on to the how and why's like a top secret?

I was careful not to approach anyone. I was invited 'in' by two dear exhibitors who gave me tips about their experience. This is not information I can sell or use against them.

I do think 'walkers' should have commond decency in not approaching exhibitors because of the work, time and money they have invested.
So, it would seem that NSS should be proactive and find a middle ground.

To date, June 2, 2011, I know very little about how to be an exhibitor as NSS 2012 and it should not be this difficult to get the basic information related to same.