My Journey to Surtex | February 2017 Update: 100 Days to Go!

It’s been nearly six months since I announced that I signed up to exhibit at Surtex and a lot has happened in that time!

My Journey to Surtex February 2017: 100 Days to Go | shannonmcnab.com

So what exactly have I been up to?? Well, about 90% of my time has been spent on building new pieces for my portfolio because having a healthy-sized portfolio is the most important part of preparing for the show.

Since my last Surtex blogpost, I managed to complete 24 new designs in 2016 (the majority of those were during my Christmas Art Countdown challenge). And so far this year, I've added 14 new pieces to my portfolio. Right now, I'm staying focused on creating new designs that will cater to the markets I'm especially interested in working with so that I can hopefully attract the right buyers at the show.

There's that old saying that you can't be all things to all people, and I feel like that also applies to art. 

I have my own unique design style that is colorful, whimsical, and just a little bit "cutesy". That means that my designs won't be suited to every market, like women's fashion or high-end home decor for example. But children's wear and the greeting cards/gift market??? Well, I think my designs are perfectly suited for them!

Besides adding to my portfolio, I've been busy soaking up every bit of information I can about exhibiting at the show. I've read countless blog posts, listened to webinars, scoured the Surtex website and they all gave me great background about what to expect at the show.

But when talking about the nitty-gritty details (like buyout forms, pricing your art appropriately, and specifics about what buyers are REALLY looking for), I'm SO glad I found Jennifer Nelson! She runs a series called Prep Talks that has been invaluable to me prepping for the show. I think she's considering running the series again after the 2017 show concludes, so if you've been thinking about exhibiting at a trade show, I highly recommend you sign up for them! 

So, What Comes Next for Me??

With just over 3 months to go until Surtex, I still have a huge to-do list that I'm chipping away at each week.

Of course, adding new work to my portfolio will still be my #1 focus until about mid-April. The goal I set for myself is to add 2-3 trade show ready pieces each week. Beyond that, I'm keeping a close watch on how many pieces I have in each design category (Christmas, florals, animals, everyday, etc.). I hoping that Christmas & florals will make up about 50% of my entire portfolio as I've been told those are the two categories buyers ask for most.

Besides creating new designs, I'm also starting to ramp up on marketing and building a solid plan to keep me sane as the show gets closer. For example, I've already built a few Surtex ads that I'll roll out in my Instagram feed later this spring. Each design can be quickly modified into a postcard-size design that I can print and send to prospective buyers – saving me time later on when it comes time to creating my printed promotional pieces.

I'm also planning on continuing this blog series with monthly updates until Surtex and maybe even after the show concludes. There's so many tiny details that go into exhibiting and although it's my first time at this rodeo, I want to chronicle my journey. Not only for myself (as I'm a scrapbooker, I'm always prone to preserving stories), but for anyone else out there who interested in a career in surface design.

I won't always have the answers, but I'm hoping my journey will resonate with you and your own artistic journey :)