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Filtering by Tag: surtex

our big Surtex 2014 recap!

Ampersand Design Studio

Our third year of showing at Surtex is a wrap!! We can hardly believe it’s been three years for Ampersand Design Studio. In some ways it feels like it was our first year and in other ways, it’s as if we have been doing this trade show forever! From the time we first decided to show at Surtex in 2012 (full recap of 2012 here), we agreed that we’d do the show for three years to give it a real shot and see if licensing our art was going to be a viable option for our company! So, in a way, 2014 was a big year for us because we just completed this goal!

Of course, we were thrown for some loops. Getting out of town this year proved to be more difficult than planned. On our way out the door for the airport Friday morning, we got a phone call from our airline saying our flight was cancelled. You read that correctly, not delayed. Just plain cancelled....and that we could wait for another phone call to let us know when it would be rescheduled for. We did eventually get that phone call and our new flight was now set for 5pm.....with a layover.....making us miss the entire first day of set-up for the show. Complete buzz kill for us. We were so ready to just get to NYC by that point, it was really disappointing. But....we were SO thrilled when we actually got on a plane and felt like we were on our way....those are smiles of pure relief....

Then....we get to Minneapolis and our flight is delayed again!! ahhh. Then.......we land in NYC (finally) and we had planned on catching a cab, but due to flash flooding, everything was backed up. We waited in the taxi line for over an hour. It seriously felt like we would never get to our hotel. With Carrie still nursing, and therefore pumping for this entire trip, and Morgan being 7 months pregnant, needless to say, we were just beyond ready to be in our hotel room. Alas, we made it and got just a couple of hours of sleep before heading to the Javits Center Saturday morning for a day of setting up our booth.

For those of you unfamiliar with Surtex, here is our empty booth with all the boxes that we have shipped across the country and then lugged into the convention center.  After several hours, mostly of Carrie doing the heavy-lifting this year (thank you, Carrie for taking care of your pregnant business partner!),  we got the banners hung, the signage up, the portfolio books displayed and the samples of our work out on shelves!!  Whew! Many months are spent prepping for the trip, so when the booth is complete, it always feels like we can finally breathe again.

And TA_DA....the booth is complete! Much friendlier and MUCH more colorful than before :)

SIDE NOTE: We wanted to include a few resources for anyone else doing considering doing the show now that we have done our research and learned from our mistakes! This year we got our banners printed at Uprinting (by recommendation from our dear friend, and fellow Surtexee, Josephine Kimberling). In the past years, we’ve had major color issues with our banners and had to reprint them, sometimes more than once. So we were thrilled with the quality and color from Uprinting. We highly recommend them! We make postcards to send out to hopefully give a little teaser and a reason to stop by our booth. We have gotten those printed at Vistaprint all three years and have been completely happy with them (and they're fast for those of us that sometimes run a bit behind). And lastly, we use UPS to ship our precious cargo halfway across the country to our NYC hotel and (knock on wood) everything has always arrived on time and in great condition!

Surtex is three days long, Sunday through Tuesday, from 9-6pm. Here we are feeling all alive and ready to take on the world the morning of the first day! We tried out a new aisle this year, the newly made #200 aisle and we were booth #235. We're not quite sure how we feel about that aisle yet. It was the closest one to the National Stationery Show (NSS), but it also seemed as if there was less traffic in that row over all. Some parts of the show were overwhelmingly busy for us....and then other parts of the day, not so much.

So, everyone always wants to know, “How was the show?”. And the fact is, with Surtex, we never really know much immediately following. We talked to some amazing people and companies that we would LOVE to partner with. Made some really great contacts. We have high hopes for lots of things, but all the details of which pieces of artwork, existing or new, and timeline, and details of each individual contract are all worked out in the weeks and months following the show. So far in our first two years, Surtex has been worth it for us and we feel very lucky for that!

As far as this year, we will let you know a year from now! ha!

After the show each day, we try to get out and see and do as much as possible in NYC! We celebrated our booth setup with some street tacos and fresh juices at Tacombi at Fonda Nolita (and yes, there is a VW bus in the middle of the restaurant-what's not to love about that?), We were lucky enough to get invited to the opening of the Alexander Girard pop-up exhibit by a friend which was just incredible, we did some last minute work at the Ace Hotel bar and of course, hit up the photo booth (see below), and after the last day of the show, we had a half day to do some exploring and even squeezed in a bit of shopping (see the "hey" entrance to the Kate Spade Saturday Soho store above). Each and every time we got to New York, we dream up ways of being able to live there. It’s just one of our favorite places on earth. Although living there doesn’t seem possible at this point, we’re pretty glad we get to go once a year, at least!

Coming off our third year, we feel like we have a bit of Surtex experience under our belt. So, we thought we'd share just a few tips for those of you that are considering going this route for your business:

1. Do your research. Walk the show first. Study what Surtex booths look like. Read other artists blogs about their journey to Surtex. Join a community of people who show at Surtex. Look into licensing coaches or websites where you can watch tutorials or receive emails. In general, the more information, the better!

2. Make a back-up calendar. There are SO many things to do for the show besides creating lots of great artwork to license! Start with the date of the show and go backwards setting mini-deadlines for yourself for each week. We have been using a 14 week calendar, but it would be ideal to start sooner than that. When marking deadlines for yourself, keep in mind things like making an announcement on social media, designing and mailing out postcards and/or designing and producing giveaways for your booth, updating your website with current info, designing your actual booth walls and anything else that might be on display, researching and printing all of the booth materials including banners and/or samples of your work, making travel plans including a place to stay and plane tickets if necessary, checking dates to order your furniture for the booth, and of course, setting a date to have your booth supplies shipped (if necessary). There are a LOT of things to keep track of, so lots of deadlines along the way are so helpful.

3. Be yourself. please, please, just do you. There are hundreds and hundreds of other artists showing their work. There is no need for you to look like anyone else. Sometimes, we feel like its best to be naive in this way. Don't look at what other artists are creating. It's wonderful to be on top of trends and understanding why types of pieces companies are looking for. But make your artwork your own!! That's the best way to stand out.

4. Don't overlook anyone. One thing we have learned is that just because someone stops by your booth and you don't recognize the company name, that does not mean it is not worth your time. In addition, what is a good fit for your work, might not be a good fit for someone else. So no need to compare what companies your friends have talked to. Some of our best partnerships have come from companies that we originally had never heard of!

We wish all artists the best of luck if you decide to go the Surtex route!! We hope to see each and everyone one get matched up with the perfect companies!

Lastly, the other thing we get asked the most is, “Are you going back to Surtex next year?”. And for that, we don’t necessarily know. It is a huge investment for a tiny company like ours. Three years was our goal and we just completed that. We have a lot of really exciting things happening for Ampersand right now and  we have set some big goals and new directions for our company in the next couple of years!!!

As for the future.....we will all just have to wait and see.

Just in case you are so inclined,  read our full Surtex 2012 recap here, and read our Surtex 2013 recap here.

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!

we're headed to surtex 2013!!!

Ampersand Design Studio

We're headed to Surtex 2013! Yes, we know we've already let you all know what we are up to, but this is our super-official announcement! We've been busy creating lots of exciting new artwork for the show and we are just ready to get there! For those not famililar, this is the one trade show that we attend each year to license our artwork to be applied to all kinds of products like stationery, fabrics, wall art, tabletop, bedding and more! This is what we gear up for every year and now it's just a couple of weeks away!

If you are a buyer, creative director or licensee, come see us in Booth 356 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in NYC, May 19, 20th and 21st!

So do you want a little sneak peek of the patterns we'll be showing? Ok, twist our arm...you know we love to share!

This black & white-with-a-hint-of-color group already has one happy new home — it's just a hint of what's to come in our second fabric collection that will be out this October!!!

Then we tapped into our Girls-Just-Wanna-Have-Fun selves and went super girly! Gems, bows, big hits of pink—it's all here! You can take your pick on what really is a girl's best friend!

As two gals who met in Typography class, we can never hide our love of all things lettering! What do you think this pattern should land on? A journal? notecards? gift wrap? We tend to think the possibilities are endless!

There are also plenty of designs perfectly suited for the cool little ones in our lives. Perfect patterns for boys and girls bedding are all hiding within our binders and binders of designs ready for a new home!

And really, just SO much more. We have hundreds of designs, so don't forget, all buyers and licensees, come by and see us at BOOTH #356!!!