Thoughts on SURTEX

If you license your artwork, or hope to, then you likely know about a little show every spring in NYC called SURTEX.  I have attended SURTEX since 2003 and even exhibited a couple times myself.

BJ Lantz Surtex booth 2007

BJ Lantz Surtex booth 2007

Plenty of bloggers out there will give you practical tips ~ you know ~ wear comfortable shoes, have enough business cards, smile, don’t have your face in your phone all day, etc., but I’m not that blogger.  You already likely know all those things or have read them in several different places. This year, I have decided not to attend the show for a variety of reasons, but thought I’d share a few thoughts about exhibiting for those of you who might be new to it all….

Getting ready for a trade show is a LOT of work.  It is time-consuming and expensive.  In fact, it takes over your life at one point as the date nears, becoming the center of your universe that seems like it is arriving too fast and not fast enough.  You can’t wait, but you want it to be over.

BJ Lantz Surtex booth 2011

BJ Lantz Surtex booth 2011

It is easy to get stressed and over-anxious about it all.  I’m here to say: Calm Down.  It WILL all get done, it will all look fabulous and in no time, it will all be over and you’ll be left wondering what the hell just happened?  And, more importantly, wondering why you got yourself in such a twist over it (and yes, we all do ~ even veteran exhibitors).

You’ll wonder if the thousands of dollars you shelled out for this show will be worth it.  Well…I can’t tell you not to worry about that one….shows are expensive and sometimes, the return just isn’t there.  That part is an unpredictable gamble every single time.

But here are some things I can assure you not to fret about…

You’ll wonder, “Why did I worry that my booth wouldn’t look as good as everybody else’s?”  It did.  In fact, it looked better than some.  But you will see others’ booths that make you think, wow, so clever, why didn’t I think of that?  Next time….

BJ Lantz Surtex Booth 2011

BJ Lantz Surtex Booth 2011

You’ll wonder “Why did I worry that nobody would stop at my booth?”  Plenty of people did.  In fact, some of them were kind of exciting.  Now you have more follow up than you have time for.

You’ll wonder why you worried about the other artists maybe not being friendly (most were) and looking down on you because you’re a “newbie” (they didn’t, in fact, some of them gave you some very good advice).

You’ll wonder why you fretted about your iPad not working. It did. (just don’t forget your charger!)

You’ll wonder why you worried about not knowing what to say to people when they stopped at your booth.  You actually got kinda brave and chatty after the first hour and realized it was fun to talk about your art!

You’ll wonder if you will have enough chocolate for the entire show.  Probably not. Better buy some more.  Or simply mooch off neighboring exhibitors.

You’ll wonder why you worried about not having enough art.  You did.  You’ll wonder why you worried about not showing the right things. You did.  You’ll wonder why you worried so much about your art not being good enough.  It was.  Maybe the best thing I can say about that is to realize that you are exactly where you should be right now, and it is always right now. Your work is what it is at this moment in time and you’re showing the best of it.  (I will advise to leave out anything you aren’t sure you like.)  I am also going to surmise that you would not have made this decision to drop this kind of cash if you felt your art really wasn’t good enough.

You’ll wonder why you worried about all those possible scenarios that never happened.  My booth didn’t show up (if you shipped it), my flights will get cancelled and I won’t have time to set up my booth, somehow GLM will have lost my registration, my art won’t stick to the walls, I don’t have the right fire-retardant proof (I’m here to tell you, stop worrying about that one, seriously), etc.

Joyce Shelton  & I raising a glass ti having survived!

Joyce Shelton & I raising a glass ti having survived!

My best advice is to look forward to that raised glass after you’ve torn down your booth on that last day and dragged your exhausted self back to your hotel.  Then, congratulate yourself for having made the decision to do something scary to move your business forward ~ you deserve a hand ~ Bravo!

Now, stop worrying so much!    Did I miss any pre-show anxieties?  What are yours?

* UPDATE….I’ve gotten a handful of emails asking what size I made my banners and how I adhered them, so thought I would address this.  I hesitate to provide measurements as it is always possible that the booths themselves might have been replaced and be different, also, there are different booth configurations.  GLM should have provided you with a schematic of the booth which provides exact measurements of each panel, including the space between the metal bars, which is where I got my measurements and what I fit my panels to.  If for some crazy reason they did not provide this, contact them and ask . Just bring an exacto knife and a metal ruler for last minute trims should they be needed.  Mine fit perfectly, but one of my friend’s panels had to be trimmed slightly.  It’s no big deal, really (although at this stage, for you first-timers, I know everything feels like it is.

As for adhesive, I used 3M Command strips (a lot of exhibitors do).  I recall putting a few across the top of each banner, one about midway down on each side and a couple across the bottom.  These are great because they are easy to remove and do not damage the booth walls.  Break down is a snap.  Just remember to put the pull tab end up, down or to the side depending on where you will need to access it to remove.  You can get them anywhere from the grocery store, to Lowe’s, to Office Depot, Staples, etc…  Figure on at least 8-10 per panel and bring an extra package.  Always better to have a few extras

Hope that helps!  Good luck, everybody!