On the Surface


We’ve rephrased an old saying —The proof of the pudding is in the after-tasting” — and asked a handful of SURTEX exhibitors how things are going two months after the final bell. Who’s enjoying the sweet taste of success? Chalking up new partners? About to close meaningful deals?

How’re we doing?” It’s the question made famous by the late NYC Mayor Ed Koch. Here’s what we heard.

BOB STONEHILL, Antique Abstracts, Nashville, TN: (His first) “SURTEX was a great success for me. I received plenty of positive feedback from professionals that said my work was very striking and stood out in a sea of pastels!

“I landed a licensing agreement with Laila’s from Canada for wall art — posters. I have another agreement pending and I generated interest from others. I was overwhelmed at the various items on which people wanted to display my designs, everything from greeting cards, phone cases, and calendars, to textiles, including pillows, and pillowcases. It is endless!

“The take-away for me: creating the alphabet with skeleton key letters allows people to design words with special meaning to them. It will be gigantic!”

ERICA WIGGIN, RIUMORE, Tiverton, RI: “Thomas Deininger (lead designer) and I (lead project manager/asst. designer) founded the business about a year ago, and launched RIUMORE around the New Year. This was our first show (and) it was incredibly exciting.

“We knew our design focus was a little out of the ordinary and I had been fairly warned that we might not fit in with the other designers (RIUMORE juxtaposes erotic images to create graphics and patterns). All but ONE of the SURTEX attendees we spoke to loved our designs and products. For most attendees it didn’t fit what they were looking for but they always had a friend or family member whom they grabbed cards and stickers for!

“We had a booth in the Design District (small and out of the way; I think we would have been better off getting a full-size booth). But, we met a ton of great people, great connections, and had many follow-ups. We are in the process of trying to work with some companies we met at the Stationery Show and ICFF (the furniture expo next door).

We do also have non-graphic prints, such as animals, yoga, and abstracts, which we have launched since SURTEX.”

NICOLE TAMARIN, Nicole Tamarin Illustration, Worchester, MA: “SURTEX has always been a great place to meet with existing clients, as well as make new connections, and this year was no different. I licensed 12 greeting cards right off the floor with a commitment for an additional 20. Such quick-moving deals aren’t always common but they are definitely exciting!

“…the quality of connections were considerably higher (this year). Overall…another successful show. Over the years I’ve learned what my client bases look for from me… but SURTEX is a great time to learn what holes your clients are actively looking to fill in their lines. Also, I love discovering clients’ “white whales,” those themes or subjects that they need every year….”

JOHN CHESTER, Wild Apple Licensing, Woodstock, VT: Yes, I am still registered as a presidential candidate, running on the single issue of Copyright Protection. My campaign is very grass roots…so grass roots it hasn’t reached ground level yet. Even so, I do have over a dozen supporters, including close relatives.

“Also, what kind of a show did we have? Great show, meaningful meetings with existing clients, and many new prospects.”

EMILIO BARBERO, Marble Knot Design Studio, London, ON, Canada: “It was my second time on the show and it was so much better now than last year. People recognize my work and me, too. I got to reconnect with people who are now friends, (and) I met new and very interesting people who could be potential clients — even suppliers for my own products.

“Overall, it was a great show. I also got to see the city and enjoyed myself after the show hours.”

JEANETTA GONZALES, Jeanetta Gonzales Art & Design, Garden City, CA: “I have exhibited in the past with a collective — this was my first time exhibiting on my own. I really didn’t know what to expect and how my brand would be received.

“I felt my hard work paid off when I began to hear the nicest compliments on my booth design and artwork from my fellow exhibitors and attendees. I put my best foot forward, worked hard on my branding and portfolio (and) had the pleasure of meeting several manufacturers in different product categories, such as fabric, kitchen textiles, stationery, greeting cards, and home decor. I also was able to meet with many of my existing clients, some face-to-face for the first time, and discuss upcoming projects. I have a few exciting opportunities that I am following up on.”

RHONDA ADDISON, Great Falls, MT: “My SURTEX experience was amazing! Meeting prospective licensees face to face makes all the difference in the world, beats ‘cold-call jpegging’ hands down! I am in final contract negotiations with two large publishers that I had instant connection with when we met at SURTEX!

“I also loved the friends I made with fellow artists that I don’t usually get to have, creating art in my studio day after day…on a bluff,…in the middle of Montana!…and in New York City, of all places! What’s not to love?”