Surtex Takes It to New Level

Surtex attendees are noticing some changes in the show this year—the biggest one involving the show's layout. Surtex and the National Stationery Show now are situated adjacent to each other on the main floor of the Jacob Javits Center—something show planners have wanted for a long time, says Penny Sikalis, vice president and show manager for Surtex.

The move allows for easier crossover between the shows and easier navigation for attendees, she says.

According to Sikalis, Surtex is unique in that it is exclusively dedicated to artists and designers and encompasses many different product categories from art to home to automobile. "It's a great opportunity for attendees to meet with potential customers in a three-day time span," says Sikalis.

This year's show is expected to host nearly 400 exhibitors and 6,000 attendees from the United States and around the world, according to Surtex executives.

Sikalis believes that artists are more important to retailers than ever. Retailers need a unique product offering to get consumers to shop in their stores over the competition and then part with their hard-earned dollars during this tough economy. "Developing relationships and lines with artists are where retailers can get that differentiation," says Sikalis.

And while artists and attendees may be at the show to do some serious business, it looks like there will be a lot to laugh about at Surtex.

Sikalis sees the trend this year being the shift toward more lighthearted and humorous product lines. "I am seeing artwork that is more upbeat and happy, and I think that is in direct response to our surroundings and current state of affairs. It's exciting and refreshing to see," she says.

The show, now in its 23rd year, benefits from a wide diversity of artists, agents and studios—some of whom have been dedicated to the show for many years and others of whom are new attendees who offer a fresh perspective on the business.

One new element of this year's show is designext, an area open exclusively to new designers and students. Sikalis plans to cap the area at a little over a dozen vendors and feels that it is a great opportunity for artists new in the business to get their foot in the door.

"If ever new talent needed broader support, it's in today's uncertain economy," Sikalis notes, "so we've created designext to reach out a hand to these creative beginners."

The designext space will be located prominently on the show floor, available at a special price to these first-time exhibitors. The space will include 8-foot-high hard walls, lighting and other furnishings, plus marketing support, public relations assistance and additional show amenities.

In addition to the exhibition, Surtex has a conference program that includes about 10 sessions, offering a retail forum, a panel on art and design branding and a session targeting the licensor-licensee relationship. Session presenters include executives from Benjamin Moore & Co., MM FAB, Wild Apple Studio and Milou Ket Styling and Design.

Sessions Schedule

Art Licensing Fundamentals I

Sunday, May 17, 2009, 10:30–12:00 noon
Presenters: Steve Harris, founder/Harris-Sachs LLC; Jeff Grinspan, director of licensing/Wild Apple Graphics and art licensing consultant

Art Licensing Fundamentals II

Sunday, May 17, 2009, 1:00–2:30pm
Presenters: Jeannette Smith, president/J'net Smith Inc.; Jeff Grinspan, director of licensing/Wild Apple Graphics and art licensing consultant

Working with an Agent ... Do it the Right Way

Sunday, May 17, 2009, 3:00–4:30pm
Presenters: Suzanne Cruise, owner and president/Cruise Creative Services Inc.; Linda McDonald, owner and president/Linda McDonald Inc.

Licensing Legal Workshop

Monday, May 18, 2009, 8:00–9:30am
Presenters: Amy Goldsmith, Esq., partner/Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman; Jeffrey Kaden, Esq., partner/ Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman

Manufacturers "Talk" Licensing & Art Buying

Monday, May 18, 2009, 10:00–11:00am
Presenters: Pete Malone, vice president of product development/Demdaco; Ruth Beck, president of Design Directions Inc.; Michael Quackenbush, creative director of Avanti Press Inc.; Moderator: Jeff Grinspan, art licensing consultant

Retailer Forum

Monday, May 18, 2009, 1:00–2:30pm
Presenters: Liz Ross, designer and consultant/formerly of Williams-Sonoma, Restoration Hardware and Marcel Shurman/Papyrus; Jenny Israel, formerly of Bed Bath & Beyond; additional retailer to be announced; Moderator: Jeff Grinspan, art licensing consultant

Emerging Themes in Color, Style & Design

Monday, May 18, 2009, 3:00–4:00pm
Presenters: Milou Ket, owner/Milou Ket Styling & Design (The Netherlands)

Jumping on the Brandwagon

Tuesday, May 19, 2009, 8:00–9:30am
Presenters: Leighann Schwarzkopf, founding partner/Project Partner Network, LLC; David Stark, president/Artestar LLC; Moderator: Jeff Grinspan, art licensing consultant

The Licensor-Licensee Relationship ... an Intimate Dialog Between Artists & Manufacturers

Tuesday, May 19, 2009, 10:00–11:00am
Presenters: Tara Reed, artist and designer/Tara Reed Designs; Cyndi Hershey, independent marketing consultant for fabric companies; Julie Ueland, artist/Julie Ueland; Edward Kaeding, design director/Certified International Corp.; Linda O'Donnell, product development manager/Certified International Corp.; Moderator: Jeff Grinspan, art licensing consultant

All sessions take place in the Javits Center in Meeting Room 1A (on Level 1).