Welcome to Bird Meets Worm! Usually, on the first Tuesday of the month I share an interview with a fabulous artist/illustrator/designer. However, this month, in lieu of my usual monthly blog interview, I'm posting the BEST tidbits of exhibiting-at-Surtex advice from 10 smart, talented and very superstar artists, whose booths I got to enjoy at Surtex 2014. I had an amazing time at my Surtex debut and I couldn’t have done it without an immense amount of love, support, and yes, advice from so many generous artists. So today I’m sharing, celebrating and paying it forward! Hooray!
|Me, Super Jane, on set-up day, getting ready!|
1) Put your I-love-to-talk-to-everyone face on. It's so important to be active in your booth. If passers-by show the slightest bit of interest in your booth, strike up a conversation and give them a card. You never know!
2) It helps to have support at the show. I arrived at Surtex by myself—but knowing that my friend would be coming in Saturday afternoon to help me finish my set-up, go to dinner with me, spend the night and help me for the first part of the first day did more for me than I realized at the time. Even just 'knowing' that she would be there calmed my fears and gave me self-confidence. Another friend came in on Sunday through Monday afternoon, shoring me up even more—leaving me pumped-up and so sure of myself and my work that I sailed through the remaining time on my own.
3) Although your entire booth design is important, the panels by the aisle are the first things most people see as they walk down the aisle. Put something eye-catching there, such as bold art or attractive product, to get the attention of people passing by.
4) I would recommend 'indexing' your work for quick reference. A lot of the people visiting your booth are on a time limit and don't have all day to thumb through every piece of art that you brought (even if they want to), so I did a few pages of thumbnails. On the thumbnail pages, I had the names of each piece and numbered them all, and then I numbered the back of all of the collections. This helped me be able to quickly reference pieces to show. For instance: if someone dropped in for Christmas art, I could quickly page through my print-outs and find just the Christmas pieces, instead of them having to flip through children's art or florals or whatever else that they were not interested in.
5) Make sure you say hello to every person who walks by your booth. Surtex is so visually overwhelming that it’s easy to fall into a “tradeshow daze”. A simple greeting does wonders to snap people out of this. It encourages them to stop and look at your booth (and then hopefully your portfolio.) I can’t tell you how many connections I made this way.
6) 1. Try and have a near death flight experience the day before like I did—it will completely remove all stress about Surtex!
2. Have a good, organized system for collecting all your leads effectively for follow-up. We had a form with questions, and attached the person’s business card also, and that worked fab!
3. If eating healthy is important, then eat here, it is close enough to go for lunch, but also could be good for picking up meals before and after the show too. They had everything!
4. Wear comfy shoes! I wore my comfiest flat boots, and still had aching feet for days afterwards!
7) Be yourself! And be nice!
8) Try and reach out to as many exhibitors as you can at the show while you are RIGHT THERE. Everyone is very warm and receptive and it is a unique club of lovely artist exhibitors.
9) It's hard to whittle down everything I learned from Surtex into one tip—In fact,I did a recap post of several things I learned here. But, something I did not include in that post, and that I would like to share with the Super Jane readers, AND that I think is probably THE most important tip is: Pre-Show Marketing. I didn't do such a hot job of this, and boy do I wish I would have. Take a significant amount of time a couple of months prior to the show to target companies you would love to meet and work with. Send them marketing materials and samples of your work. Try to get meetings set up with them. My neighbor at the show, Victoria Johnson, did a good job of this (also her first year) and it was obvious from day one as her booth was jumping right out of the gate!
10) My top Surtex tip is to take ALL the tips to heart! Comfortable shoes, yep. Keep snacks handy, check. Meet your neighbors (they'll be great!), definitely. Bring a buddy to help out at the booth (even if it's part time), sure. Take everyone's advice. My personal 2¢? Take the time to do some press kits and put them in the press area. I definitely had a few people who came to the booth because of mine. Totally worth it!
Kimberly Ellen Hall
And lastly, here’s MY best tip for exhibiting at Surtex:
When it gets overwhelming and you are second-guessing pretty much everything – yourself, your booth design, your outfit, your hotel choice, your fill-in-the-blank – (and it will happen at least once or twice!) take a deep breath and remember that this is part of the LONG game. Your career is not composed of one moment; its all your efforts combined over a long period of time. Which means, you’ll be back! Surtex isn’t something you do once. And when you exhibit next time, you’ll course correct about a million little things and then you’ll learn about a million more that you weren’t ready to learn the first time around. So cheers to all the first time exhibitors! And I can’t wait to see you all again next year! XO