Sarah Von Dreele was a first-time exhibitor at the SURTEX 2017 show. Although she secured one of the last remaining booths a mere month before the show, twenty of her designs were licensed globally by an international art publisher. We had a chance to ask her some questions about her experience, and what it was like as a newcomer.
What surprised you the most about SURTEX?
Over the last two years, developing surface designs has become a passion in addition to my full-time role as a creative director at Onethread, a brand consultancy I founded in 2003. As my collection of paintings evolved, I began showing the work to various creative leaders, and it became clear to me that there was a market for the work. My decision to attend SURTEX 2017 was at the suggestion of a colleague… a mere three weeks prior to the show! I was thrilled to have a presence at the show, regardless of booth placement, and approached the experience without the expectation of securing a licensing agreement. Much to my surprise, from exhibiting at SURTEX, I secured a global licensing agreement with a fine art publisher in London for twenty designs currently being sold as wall decor.
How was your experience setting up your booth?
For first time exhibitors, the Design District booth was not only economical but also manageable to set up. I have had the fortunate experience of designing custom booths for clients over the years, and the Design District booth simplifies the exhibit installation process. My advice to first-time exhibitors, if you think you need sticky tac or extra tape, just bring it! But, there is plenty of time to set up your booth, so go get a coffee and have a chat with your booth neighbor.
Did you make any unexpected connections at the show?
I was definitely not expecting to secure a significant licensing agreement with a fine art publisher. With the National Stationery Show and ICFF running concurrently, it was refreshing to meet attendees from other shows and connect with colleagues from other industries.
What would you do the same next time?
Over prepare for booth setup. I stock my installation bag with tape, tools, and snacks to avoid having to run errands mid-day.
What would you do differently?
Perhaps as a first-time exhibitor, I was concerned about attendees understanding the potential application of the designs. Tastemakers and industry leaders are an audience which is capable of visualizing product development. If you have sketches, show them. If you have manufacturing samples, show them. Good work will stand on its own regardless, and the SURTEX audience sees potential.