It’s been a whirlwind month of May preparing for and attending trade shows. First, let’s talk about Blue Print. Blue Print used to be an in-person surface design trade show and was a little more informal than Surtex. Your designs were spread out on a table in front of you so buyers could sort through them with you. Then, The Pandemic hit, and Blue Print moved online. The online format seemed to work well for Blue Print the first time around but has seen a decline in more recent shows. Paul, the manager of Blue Print Shows, anticipates that they’ll be returning to an in-person show in 2024. I decided to sign up to exhibit at the online show despite hearing from some that it wasn’t worth the $250 price. My expectations were low because I really rushed to get my portfolio done (although it really made me get my act together), and I was taking into account what others had told me. I ended up getting one company from China. I was a little disappointed about that, but so far, it looks like they will be having me create a decent amount of work for them. I’ll update you all on how that goes. You do receive a list of all of the companies that supposedly attended the show with their email addresses so, in my opinion, I think it’s worth doing the show. If nothing else, it makes you get your portfolio in tip-top shape and gets you some contacts. Let’s move on to Surtex. I arrived about an hour after Surtex opened on May 9th at the new location at The Metropolitan Pavillion. It was an easy, but expensive ($18), ten-minute taxi ride from Penn Station and convenient entry into the building. There were only two people ahead of me to register so I was able to enter the venue quickly. My initial impression was “Where do I start?” The layout right in the very beginning was a little confusing, but once inside the main portion, it made much more sense. I actually liked this venue because it has a much warmer feel and was easier to navigate the smaller rows than the past setup at The Javits Center. Surtex is supposed to move back to The Javits Center next year with dates of May 16th and 17th. My first thought about the show was that it seemed slow. There weren’t a whole lot of buyers around, but the pace seemed to pick up by midday. I took a break in the back row where there was a coffee/latte stand with some baked goods. I love Chai Lattes but, unfortunately, this was the worst one I’ve ever had in my life (LOL). I drank some water instead, had a snack, and then went back to do a more thorough walkthrough. I stopped and asked some of the newer exhibitors how it was going. Most said it was a bit slow and I sensed that they probably weren’t going to recoup their investment. However, the designers who had exhibited at past Surtex shows said they did very well and were really happy with the results. A handful of
first-timers also said they were happy with the sales and licensing that they got from the show. Hopefully, those who didn’t fare so well will still be able to get something through following up with buyers who stopped at their booth. Booth prices vary at Surtex depending on the size you choose but expect to spend a minimum of $4000. Add in your travel, food, and promotional materials/prints and you’re looking at a $6000-$7000 investment. I think Surtex is best for designers who already have a few licensing deals or clients under their belt. I’ve talked about this before, but you shouldn’t just sign up for a trade show and show up without a plan of how to get buyers to your booth. It’s so important to invite buyers beforehand so they make a point of stopping to see you. Their time is limited at these events so getting their attention requires action on your part. Below are some snapshots from the show (Thank you, Kevin Russo Photography). It was a pleasure to finally meet some of our subscribers and friends in person! The camaraderie between the designers was wonderful to see and I think those in attendance had a great time! I’m already looking forward to next year’s show. If you attended the show, I’d love to hear your feedback. Feel free to post in the Surface Design News Facebook Group or send me an email. The more information we receive, the better advice we can offer designers in the future.