Before the Show
I received a lot of inquiries on how I came to the decision to show at Surtex representing myself without the aid of a studio so I'd like to start my recap by answering that. I will also be touching on what went into preparing for the show.
In 2013 I made the leap to full time freelance artist. In that first year I signed a 6 month trial with Cinnamon Joe Studio. Through them I brought my work to Surtex for the first time. I did not attend the show but it was still nice to have art there. If I remember correctly one pattern sold.
I chose to not continue with a studio as I wanted to focus on creating more work and develop my portfolio/brand. I also personally like having (some) control over where my art goes.
Two years later I felt like my career was at a plateau that could only move forward through developing more contacts and I felt Surtex would be a perfect place to do just that. I would like to say there was a lot of fanfare but it was more just me procrastinating on dredging up the courage to file my submission. After being accepted I read anything and everything I could on the internet (spoiler alert there was still a lot I realized I didn't know when I got to the show, more on that later).
Being a freelancer gave me the opportunity to layout my schedule so that I would be able to work furiously up until the time I would switch over to full Surtex mode. Ideally I would've worked towards Surtex for a year and casually added to my portfolio. Instead I started a week into February 2017. I focused on only creating art up through the end of April. In a prime example of learn something from every experience, I knew from Cinnamon Joe and my research I needed to focus on holiday art. I decided to have a minimum of 50 pages of patterns. In the end I believe I ended up with 54. My goal was to have half of that be holiday with the bulk being Christmas. I honestly don't think I met that goal exactly but I was correct in thinking holiday art would be popular. Despite creating for a commercial market I tried to keep my art voice true by creating art that I liked. The one piece of holiday art that I forced with a more "tradition" feel to it had very little reception. After holiday I worked on birthday and then character heavy art, as that's what I like to specialize in.
In the first week of May I created all of my printed promotional material. I would like to make a major (unsponsored!) shoutout to MOO for printing all of my business cards and promotional flyers. This had to be done twice as my booth number changed at the last minute and everyone at MOO was incredibly understanding and helpful. Thank you MOO! Second shout out goes to Smartpress without them I would not have my beautiful booth banners! I had a very tight deadline for printing my banners and Smartpress met that date with room to spare. The print quality and color matching was perfect. When those banners came in and I unrolled them on the kitchen floor it was the moment that felt most like "well I guess I'm really doing this then". I honestly didn't want to unroll them until the show as I knew they'd be a beast to roll back up and pack (which was true!) nevertheless, it was still exciting to physically see them.
This concludes my first blog post of my Surtex recap. I hope you found it helpful! The next one will be on my promotional processes. If you would like to received email updates feel free to sign up below.