Spring-Fresh Art & Design Coming Full-Bloom at SURTEX 2017 - Surtex

On the Surface

Spring-Fresh Art & Design Coming Full-Bloom at SURTEX 2017

Q:  Can you name three of the most effective words in the lexicon of successful marketing?

A: New, Fresh, and Original.  (Some would add “Shoe sale!” to the list of red-hot attention-getters, but that’s another story.)

The story at SURTEX 2017 is all about those three magic words, New, Fresh, and Original. Which is why SURTEX is the marketplace to which the world comes every May, seeking artworks and designs to be applied to an endless variety of products, including shoes (shown at the V&A booth last year.)

With art licensees and art buyers always on the hunt for what’s New, Fresh, and Original, it’s amazing how artists manage to come up with such year after year.
Where, we asked these veteran exhibitors,  do you go looking for new inspirations?

Misha Zadeh Graham, Misha Zadeh Illustration & Design,  Seattle, WA — “What inspires me?  I like to draw things that make me happy — I think they make others feel this way, too.  Beautiful florals, nature, animals, brush pen lettering.  I’ve found that my most successful (and most popular ) art tends to be the pieces I was driven to create by an unexplainable force.”


Do trends influence you at all?  I have always striven to create work that feels contemporary or current, but also timeless. It’s hard to ignore trends these days with social media being what it is. The flip side is that trends have a shorter shelf life now.
I think it’s important for designers and manufacturers to stay ahead of trends rather than simply answering to them: work with ones that feel right for their brand, while confidently brushing off the others.

“Again, with social media being what it is now, trends really run the risk of being overdone and being everywhere. Artists and manufacturers who want to make a name for themselves will be the ones creating the new trends, or at least, new takes on trends….”


Suzan Lind, Suzan Lind Art Licensing, South Salem, NY — “It is the desire to be in the flow that inspires me.  My best work comes from within — when I am not looking, not thinking.

I believe it is all about being present, aware, and engaged with my surroundings, others, and myself, and then being able to let go and give in to the process. It is in this way of not-thinking which invites authentic creative expression in, that brings originality to the surface.”


Both new technology and current trends also inspire Suzan, she says.  “Technology, like nature… has helped me diversify my portfolio, which currently includes 3D, liquid marbles, wovens,  and abstract/glitch design. Keeping current with advances in CAD tools, printer capabilities, robotics, and artificial intelligence all play a part in pushing the envelope and experimenting with new or untapped features in surface design.

“Because real trends happen organically, I have found that by practicing flow I am sometimes ahead of the curve….nothing is forced and uniqueness is apparent. That said, if a client wants art on-trend, I am surely going to give it my best shot.”


Tara Reed, Tara Reed Designs, Portland, OR (now represented by Roaring Brook Art Licensing) —  “How do I keep coming up with fresh and original art?
Sometimes I wonder that myself!  ‘Re-creating Santa’ might seem hard year after year (but) the possibilities really are endless:  Graphic or painterly? Serious or whimsical? Digitally or by hand? Watercolors, oil, mixed media?

""“There are also color schemes, iconography, typography, and more to consider.  Inspiration is everywhere – magazines, television shows, and shopping.  Pinterest is a great resource.  Often just sitting still, closing my eyes and thinking about a theme and all the possibilities brings ideas that I become most excited about.”

Does new technology play a part in creating the New and Original” Technology can make the process faster and opens up new possibilities for artists and designers. The things you can do in Photoshop or Illustrator with type, texture, and more are amazing  and fast (but) it is the person using the technology that matters.”

Do you follow trends? ” Personally I enjoy looking for and watching trends but I don’t jump on each and every one – if snakes become a trend, I will NOT be participating!”