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surtex 2013 // the big recap

Ampersand Design Studio

Although it was just two and a half weeks ago that we returned home from Surtex, it already seems like months have passed! This was our second year showing at the biggest art licensing trade show in the country and it was a complete whirlwind of seeing new and old friends, catching up with past clients and meeting many potential new clients, and of course, finding a little bit of free time to explore NYC!

If you're reading this, wondering what Surtex is, here's a brief description from their site:

"SURTEX® is the global B2B marketplace for original art & design—where artists, agents and licensors connect with manufacturers and retailers to create the next best-selling products in every category imaginable. Wall coverings, decorative accessories, bed linens, stationery, giftware, tabletop and so many more…if it’s any product with a surface design of any kind, there’s a good chance it originated at SURTEX. That’s because each year some 7,000 buyers/manufacturers from 49 countries converge on the SURTEX exhibit floor to buy or license the newest designs from approximately 1,000 trend-setting artists. It’s a veritable who’s who of manufacturers and retailers seeking first dibs on the best original art & design being created today."

When each artist arrives into the humongous Javits Center, this blank, cold, empty booth is what is waiting to be transformed. After doing tons of research last year, we pretty much had our set-up method down! We got our banners hung and shelf displays put up in just a few short hours and ended up with the entire afternoon to play in the city! (Last year we spent two days setting up-yikes!)

This was the first year we decided to put some of our actual products on display. We showed off some of our awesome licensed pieces like the patterned notebook sets and bicycle boxed cards (currently sold out-sorry) from teNeues, the Cream & Sugar fabric collection with Windham Fabrics, and even some of our very own products like the famous ampersand prints and our newly-released cell-phone cases!

Psst...we had some rainbowy-bright "I Heart Ampersand" pencils to give away for everyone that visited our booth! Note to self for next year: sharpen pencils BEFORE you arrive in NYC. Our booth was filled with pencil shavings but at least it gave us something to do during down time.

How amazing is this banner??!!! We found it on etsy from Studio Mucci and the entire shop is filled great handmade paper decorations in some pretty fabulous color palettes! Make sure to check them out! It's crazy how many compliments we got about our fun tassel garland!!

We had a few takeaways to go alongside our pencils! Hey, you never know what's going to make someone remember your booth, right?

We sported our ampersand bracelets (from Make Pie Not War) for good luck. And we accidentally dressed like our booth every single one of the three days. At one point, Morgan's pants were practically camouflage with one of our banners.

Overall, the second year showing at Surtex felt very different than the first. We just sort of knew what to expect, everything wasn't so unknown. We had many current clients that we were excited to get to see in person again after an entire year has passed! It's crazy how frequently we email and talk with so many people that we collaborate with, but don't actually get to see them in person, so, Surtex and Design Week in NYC is our form of a little reunion, and talking to our work friends was a real highlight! This year we also attended the Surtex happy hour and the Smart Creative Women happy hour, both of which were so great! During the show hours, we really feel tied to our booth to make the best of our time there, so the little get-togethers after hours allowed us to meet and hang out with some fellow artists, many of which have been huge inspirations to us! Others we've only talked to virtually, and others we met last year and were excited to see again. You're getting the point, right? It really is like Designer Camp in NYC!

Everyone keeps asking us, "how'd the show go?", and the truth is, you never really know until many months following because you don't actually sell artwork or sign contracts on the spot. All those discussions happen once we get home. That being said, we're pretty darn excited about the relationships we made this year! We were walking out of the show on the last day, dancing and singing. If all goes well, we cannot wait to be sharing the fun products that Ampersand designs will be making a splash on....so fingers crossed, right?!!!!!

We had to share the picture below of The Highline. On the last night, we packed up our booth in record time, dropped off our boxes, and just walked. Walked and walked all the way from our hotel down to The Standard Hotel for our tradition of celebratory drinks. There are a lot of long nights and crazy work days leading up to the show, then we try to make the very best of those three days while we're there, so it is such a relief when it's over! We can literally feel our shoulders resting a little lower. Just making it to the show is a success. So yeah, we just walked The Highline and talked about the future and took in the fresh (non-convention-center) air and the beautiful view!

And this is too funny not to include, this is how we ended all of our evenings in NYC! ha!