Is Surtex really worth the time, MONEY, and energy that designers invest? Surtex recently moved their show to February, giving designers only 9 months to design patterns, textiles, and prints for the show when they normally prepare for an entire year.
Listen below to my talk with very talented and amazing Amanda Brady about her very first experience showing her pattern and designs at Surtex. This will give my readers a great idea and know what to expect in 2019.
What is SURTEX?
SURTEX® is the global B2B marketplace for sourcing original art & design—where artists, art agents, licensing agencies and licensors connect with manufacturers, retailers and licensees to create the next best-selling products in every category imaginable. Home décor and furnishings, apparel, automotive accessories, beauty, bed and bath, fabric prints, floor coverings, juvenile, giftware and novelties, stationery, tabletop, wall treatments, private label and so much more…if it’s any product with a surface or textile design of any kind, there’s a good chance it originated at SURTEX.
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Is Surtex Worth it in 2019
1 | HOW DID YOU BECOME A DESIGNER?
Amanda first discovered Adobe Photoshop in high school and loved it so much that In the college she originally choose to do a major in journalism so she could design newspapers.
Amanda was first introduced to Graphic Design by her cousin who inspired Amanda to change her major to Graphic Design.
2 | WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO TO SURTEX IN 2018?
Amanda has been designing pattern since her college years, and she had a lot to show. Hearing about SURTEX got her really excited so she started working towards her goal of becoming a surface pattern designer. In February 2018, Amanda emailed SURTEX to ask about the 2019 show, but the SURTEX staff really convinced Amanda that she was ready. She made an impulsive decision to join the 2018 show. She is very happy with the decision and considered it to be a great learning experience and a big step towards her goal of becoming a surface pattern designer.
3 | HOW DO YOU GET STATE IN ART LICENSING?
While Amanda was happy with the SURTEX show and it provided a great design networking opportunity, she has not secured any licensing deals. An agent gave Amanda her business card, but she has not starting working with an art licensing agent at this point in time.
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4 | HOW DO YOU START WORKING WITH AN AGENT?
Amanda is currently not working with an agent so could not provide any advice at this point in time.
5 | HOW SHOULD YOU PREPARE FOR SURTEX?
Amanda did a lot of research over the Internet, looking at blogs and Pinterest on how other people have presented their patterns on the show. She made an actual catalog of of all her patterns with mock-ups printed like a magazine and made several copies to distribute to all potential customers so they could take the portfolio with them.
Amanda believes every detail matters in your design brand’s presentation including what you are wearing, the pamphlet designs, and the arrangement at the booth. She also had printed fabric and printed pillows with her own designed pattern to show the buyers.
6 | DID YOU FOCUS ON A PARTICULAR MEDIUM FOR SURTEX?
Currently, her focus is on digital vector art and digital vector design patterns.
7 | WHAT KIND OF COLLECTION SHOULD YOU PRESENT AT SURTEX?
Amanda really likes to design for kids, but for this event she went with a farm theme by including designs like a little farm truck, cow in corn, little pig design , and had a lot of fun and represented her more natural style of design
8 | HOW MUCH DID SURTEX COST IN TOTAL?
Including the time between flights, hotel food, booth and all other costs, it is estimated between $4,500 and $5k USD.
9 | DO YOU FEEL LIKE SURTEX WAS WORTH THE COST?
Amanda is felt the show was very expensive, but now she is getting new clients and it is expected that in the future she will break-even as well as make a profit. She also felt it was a correct decision to go to SURTEX for the personal exposure and networking opportunities in surface pattern design.
10 | DO YOU PLAN ON GOING BACK TO SURTEX IN 2019?
No! Since Amanda’s initial investment in Surtex has not paid off yet, she decided not to return in 2019. Also, she explains you cannot get the same Intro booth two years in a row, which are less expensive at $3,000.
She says it may be changing for 2019, but she learned that the next year you must secure a bigger booth, which is more expensive $5,000. It also requires more money to fill the booth with larger banners, designs, and supplies.
11 | WILL SURTEX’S MOVE TO FEBRUARY WILL BE GOOD OR BAD?
Amanda is not going back, but is hoping it works out better.
12 | WILL YOU ATTEND ANY OTHER SHOWS BESIDES SURTEX?
Amanda signed up for the BLUEPRINT show coming in May. She is very optimistic and expects to have more buyers, a better atmosphere and is less expensive (3rd of the cost) than SURTEX. Woo hoo!!
13 | IF YOU WANTED TO APPROACH A CAREER IN ART LICENSING WITHOUT ATTENDING SHOWS, HOW WOULD YOU DO IT?
Amanda suggests that more and more clients + buyers are searching social-media, especially Instagram, and also sites Spoonflower for surface pattern designers. She speculates that in the future there will be no need for shows like SURTEX since clients have more choice online and one-on-one contact will become more of a luxury than a necessity.
I have to say, that makes perfect sense!
Speaker 1: 00:04 I'm Lauren, of Lauren Lesley studio and today I want to introduce you to special guest, uh, Amanda Brady and she's here to talk to us about her very first experience showing her pattern and designs at Surtex. So we're about to dive into 11 questions and Amanda is going to honestly answer all of these questions so that moving forward, if you're thinking about showing at Surtex, you'll have a great idea and know what to expect in 2019. So before we jump into the questions, make sure to like this video, leave a comment or question below and we'll try to answer those to the best of our ability and definitely subscribe to my channel if you haven't already. All right. So Amanda is a founder of Green Hound press and I'm at her very first Surtex show she was on print and patterns blog, which is incredible. Not sure how she did it, but she's very talented and amazing. So here's just a little snapshot at her Surtex, um, with her artwork. And um, I've been uh, rubbed designer for the last seven years and I'm excited to say that some of my rugs have ended up in anthropology, so that's like any designer's dream. Um, so that's just a little bit of my background and we will jump into the questions. So Amanda, can you tell us how did you become a designer in the first place?
Speaker 3: 01:27 Um, well in high school I was on our journalism staff and discovered photoshop and I loved it and I went into college, going to be a journalism major because I didn't really know graphic design was a thing, so I was like, I'll just be a journalism major and then I can lay out the like, newspapers even how little I knew about anything. And then my cousin is a graphic designer in Maine and she flew out for a wedding and she was like, oh my gosh, I'm a graphic designer because our families aren't really super close because we live so far apart and I'm. So yeah, she showed me all of her stuff, gave me all these magazines and I like changed my major the next day. So that's how I became, that's the very beginning of how I became a designer. Okay, cool.
Speaker 2: 02:19 Okay. So what inspired you to go to Surtex in 2018? Like how did you get from deciding to be a designer to ending up at Surtex?
Speaker 3: 02:28 So back to my cousin Aaron in college, I will flow out to her house and she showed me all of these patterns she had made and it never had dawned on me like, oh, people actually make these. I mean it's just one of those things you don't think about them because they're still part of our lives and I'm so I became obsessed with making patterns in college, but I kinda just did it as a hobby, you know, I'd have files in my computer and I did that for like four or five years and my husband was always like, what are you gonna do with those? I was like, uh, put them on instagram. Some, of course I'd heard Surtex. So I, in February of 2018, I emailed Surtex to ask about the 2019 show and the woman who runs the show called me and she was like, why would you wait til 2019? Why don't you do it for 2018? I was like, I don't know because I don't know. And she's like, you're totally ready. And so I just like made kind of like an impulse decision. It was like, alright, I guess I'll sign up for the 2018 show.
Speaker 2: 03:24 Oh that's so cool. I can't believe that happened. I didn't realize it was that spontaneous and
Speaker 3: 03:29 it was. I mean I've been kind of checking in on this show, like for a year or two, but like, oh yeah, I'll give myself a year and a half to get ready for the show and myself three months basically.
Speaker 2: 03:43 I know I would feel like I needed at least a year to get ready. So when you signed up kind of last minute, did you feel ready once you were there or were you like, that's okay. Like I could have had more, but I'm, I have enough.
Speaker 3: 03:55 No, actually I am glad that I didn't have a year because I think I would have waited till close to the last minute anyways, and since I had such a short amount of time, there was no time to really stop and second guess anything. It was just like I had to go on pure instinct. Like this looks good to me. This is what I'm doing. I like this, this is what I'm doing because I didn't, I didn't have the time to debate it. Really? Yeah. So, um, especially like with the booth design and stuff, because you have to have so many weeks to get that stuff printed and shipped to you. And then I wanted a little wiggle room in case something was wrong to get a reprint. So it was just boom, boom, boom.
Speaker 2: 04:33 I kind of love that
Speaker 3: 04:36 actually for me it worked really well. Good. Okay. Well, what can you tell us about art licensing? I'm still not that much. I didn't know what to expect when it came to the actual, like selling a patterns at the show. And I brought like order form sheets and I couldn't find anywhere in anyone's blog or anyone who had talked about Surtex about the actual selling of the patterns. Oh, okay. So I came prepared if people wanted to buy them. And then I just, what I've been doing now is I got, oh great number of contacts from tags. So I started like an e-blast basically that I send out when I make a new collection and I will send it to these people first so they get, before I even put it on instagram or anything, I'll show it to them to give them an opportunity. So that's just what I've been doing since the show. But I haven't actually done any licensing deals yet. So that's why I don't, I'm, I'm still not sure how that works. And I'm really curious to see in the future how that goes.
Speaker 2: 05:47 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Is that um, sort of the path that you want to go down with showing your things at Surtex or do are you wanting to do more like client work? Work?
Speaker 3: 05:57 I'm really anything I, I would definitely love to get some licensing deals, but since I'm still so new I'm not, I'm not sure if like I'm going about getting the licensing deal the right way or yeah, I'm still, that's very murky waters for me still. I understand that side of stuff. I'm like, can someone else just take care of this for me? I know I think so many artists are like that and I think that art school doesn't really prepare you well for the business side of things or there's not like. I Dunno, I mean it seems like some artists out there have a agents and work with agencies and that seems like one way to do it, but you don't really even know how to make those connections in the first place. And so my next question was going to be, are you working with an agent?
Speaker 3: 06:49 I'm like, are they trying to get you licensing deals or are you still looking for an agent or are you going down that route at all? So the first time I ever even thought about an agent was at Surtex and an agent came up to me and was like, I would love to work with you, here's my card, um, and she's like, reach out to me at such date and it was a couple months after and I don't even think I've reached out to her yet because I'm still deciding if that's what I don't want to waste her time. So I didn't want to reach out to her until I researched more like, okay, this is what I want to do. I'm an agent or um, yeah, I'm still trying to figure out just where I want to take this and where I want to go with this. And I think I've been kind of waiting to see something that naturally happens. But since I'm probably gonna have to like really, you know, start working a little harder at figuring out which direction I want to go with this, you know? And so I would not be opposed to using an agent. I just don't know if that's like, I just don't, I can't commit to that yet. I got Ya. So always.
Speaker 3: 07:57 Okay, well my next question is how did you prepare for Surtex, and I think you kind of answered this with them, you know, just talking about how last minute everything was, but are there, um, is there any advice you would maybe give to someone who is thinking about going to Surtex in 2019 and what are some, like kind of practical steps they could take to get prepared for this show? Um, well I did a lot of research and I, I tried to track down any blog, anything on pinterest I could find of people's booths. Um, you know, what they did for Promo items, just anything I could get my hands on. So, and then I spent probably a couple weeks, you know, when you get in that zone where you, you're trying to, hard things aren't flowing naturally. So I was definitely there. So once I got through that and I was like, you know, just stop thinking so much in doing what I naturally know to do.
Speaker 3: 08:53 It went a lot smoother. But I um, I definitely looked at a lot of booths and was like, okay, what's, and I was really kind of harsh thankfully, like it was just in my head, but like what's working with this booth, what's working with this booth, how can I incorporate that into my booth, you know, and then I noticed like how did people actually showcase their patterns and a lot of people had that big portfolio books are like printed large pieces of paper and I, I don't know why I just did not want to do that. So I made an actual catalog of like a magazine spread of all my patterns and I took that and I made like 100 copies and gave those out so people could take my portfolio with them. I'm not smart. It worked really well. I was in um, yeah, the magazines weren't super expensive to print because that was one of the reasons like I didn't want to like print this super expensive portfolio or even like the sheets of paper. Um, because like they'll print like these big sheets of paper. Yeah.
Speaker 2: 09:55 Where did you use to print? Um, your magazine? I've heard of like blurb and I don't know,
Speaker 3: 10:01 I used a company called overnight prints. Okay. Yeah, it's decent quality, especially for what I wanted it for and it was pretty inexpensive. Um, and so yeah, that worked out really nicely for me. So yeah, was like, well was traveling. What's the question again?
Speaker 2: 10:23 I know I kind of got you off topic, but yeah, just getting or any advice to get people. I'm kind of like a checklist of things that they might need to feel prepared for their tax going into 2019, like obviously your, you did a lot of research on your booth and kind of what that is because like you could have all your designs, but if you don't have a way to showcase them then you're not really going to be able to show at Surtex. So you know, you can go in with an ipad and be like, here's my staff. Um,
Speaker 3: 10:52 I definitely think you have to think about the whole picture. Um, when I was at Surtex one woman, I forget who it was, she was a buyer and she goes, I love your booths. Set up and she goes, I love that you even matched your booth. Like, my outfit matched my booth. I didn't plan that. That's just colors. I'm kind of gravitated towards the details. Do matter so much. Like I would have never even thought to match my clothes to my booth, but it made sense if like, you know, you have a muted color Palette that's kind of your aesthetic, but you're wearing like neon bright clothes, like you're kind of like presenting yourself as a brand almost. Yeah. I would definitely say think about the entire package from setup to what you're wearing to what your promo items are. And then I also had printed fabric samples and I had pillows made. Oh cool. Brought them down. But um, yeah, my cousin made me these cute little pillows with my patterns on them and I had them up on the behind me so people had things they can touch and hold as well. And I think adding just a little element of like, oh this is where so people could see were these patterns could live I think really helped. And I got a really positive response. Awesome. Yeah, people want to go grab them. I can like pause our recording. Yeah, I'll go grab them real fast. Hold on.
Speaker 3: 12:19 I grabbed all my stuff. Okay, cool. They're up in my kid's room so I had to go track them down. So yeah. So I made this pillow while at my cousin made this fabric I just had made at spoonflower and then I had this little pillow and so these were like setting up on a little shelf so it kind of looked like a mini store. Love it. And then I printed off some fabric samples that I had hanging off my booth so people could come up and touch it and look at it and look through the fabrics. Okay. And that was a very um, especially for it because, you know, a lot of my stuff is very childlike and sew fabric would be like a very ideal. So, um, that was like created some huge talking points. So did all of the fabric you get printed on spoonflower and is it all digitally printed?
Speaker 3: 13:21 It is all digitally printed. I um, I actually just like made squares and then made this huge file of like each square and then uploaded that one file and then to save on costs and then just cut like each fabric. Oh, that's so smart because like, it's so expensive to go. So it's like you don't want to like, you know, break the bank on all this stuff, but at the same time you want to like, you know, the details do matter. So of course my little catalog that I made for the show did some mock ups, like I found some nice photoshop ups online and like, you know, because I really wanted to show people like here's what you could do with this pattern. So. Right. Um, but yeah, this was like a big hit because people could just take it and then, you know, like a business card gets lost. But this is like, yeah, you're not going to lose that. Yeah. So, and I'm sure buyers are meeting with so many different artists at Surtex that they probably have a hard time remembering who they met with or you know, it's like even with a business card, they're like a kinder, remember, but maybe not. But with that, they, there's no way they're going to forget like your style and. Oh no, because I put everything in here that I showed. So yeah, they were.
Speaker 3: 14:44 So yeah, it was um, this was like, like I said, it was supposed to be like a cheaper decision is why I initially it and then it just ended up, I had a lot of success with it. So that's awesome.
Speaker 2: 14:58 Yeah. There's only kids pillows. Okay. Did you focus on a particular medium when you were creating your patterns for Surtex? Like did you focus on more like digital drawing or like watercolor or. Um, and tell us a little bit about your, more about your style and kind of what you focused on and if you kind of noticed what other artists were doing as well.
Speaker 3: 15:22 Um, so I am very vector art. Like that's my thing. That's what I love to do. Um, so everything I do is vector. I'm like 98 percent of my work I do as an illustrator. So that's what I know. That's what I love and that's what I stuck with at the show. I noticed every style under the sun at the show you see a lot. I saw a lot of watercolors, a lot of, a lot of digital art. Just. Yeah, there was. I'm trying to think.
Speaker 2: 15:55 Any new trends that you noticed? Like in terms of like medium, I'm like, did you see more hand drawn? Things are more like graphic or modern style. It's got clean styles.
Speaker 3: 16:08 I would say watercolor was probably the style that I saw the most that it actually stuck out in my mind. Like, oh, there's another watercolor. Oh there's another water color. But they were still so different. So I'm, I'm guessing that that was kind of trending at this show a lot, a lot, a lot of Christmas art.
Speaker 2: 16:28 Oh, okay. I bet that's a huge. Um, I know, I just feel like, yeah, the seasonal businesses is really huge. I interviewed with um, international greetings at one point and I ended up deciding not to take the job, but they were saying that they would need me to come in like every week for their Christmas season and for Valentine's Day it wasn't like that all year, but it was an app like that enough where I was like, I don't know about this.
Speaker 3: 16:58 Oh, a whole booth. That was just Christmas. Like that's all he did, that's all these women did was Christmas stuff. And I mean I knew it makes sense that the holiday market is the biggest. But one of the big agents that I talked to, um, she told me that it's like 80 percent of surface design is florals or Christmas or like. Yeah, it was like, yeah. So that was, that was eyeopening.
Speaker 2: 17:26 Yeah. So then it's like, what do you do? Because you know, if that's 80 percent of the business you want to be a part of it. But then the competition, I'm sure it was also so high that you're like, you, I should focus on something more niche.
Speaker 3: 17:38 It is. Well, I think because like buyers know that that's the stuff that sells, like florals are always going to be in florals are always going to sell, so it's like a safer by to buy a floral as opposed to like a Llama were only like a few people like llamas or you know.
Speaker 2: 17:53 Right. It's funny though, I will say that in rags and this is so nice and specific, but I'm a rug designer for those of you who may not know. And I mean they have been like anti floral for like a long time. I think just because the lattice designs and even like Persian designs more like oriental, unlike traditional designs have kind of come back into style. Um, but I think we're just now starting to like get back into florals. Even an outdoor, like I design outdoor rugs and I'm like, come on, like I think we can do some florals now. Now that you said that, it's like, oh yeah, I don't ever see floral rugs anyway. Yeah, I think it'll come back, but it's like fitness. All right, well my next question is what kind of collection did you present? Um, and I know you just kind of showed us your products, but if you want to tell us kind of what was your thought process in terms of making a collection, like were you trying to focus on kids products or some other kind of audience or niche
Speaker 3: 18:58 market? So like I talked about earlier, I really struggled the first couple of weeks and I was just overthinking it over trying and just everything I came up with was like, so forced that you could just to me it read is like forest. So I went to a couple parents, I created a year or so before that I loved and never did anything with and it was a farm theme. And so kids, um, the kids stuff is what I really love and, but I, I try not to be too babyish. Like I like kind of like the kids stuff that like you could turn it into an adult thing and it still totally work. Um, like go for anyways. So yeah, so I kind of went with this whole, like farm theme farm. Like there's like a little farm truck and a cow in some corn. This was like a coordinate to go with it. And I had this little, I had this little pig everywhere, a little pin of him. And so yeah. So, you know, when I made these patterns it was just for fun. I didn't have any shows lined up. I was like, maybe I'll put this on instagram, but it's, I, it was just for fun. And so to me they appeared more natural of my style.
Speaker 2: 20:14 Yeah, yeah. That's interesting that you were able to kind of go back into the archives and pull out, you know, things that were just you like that you did for fun and they ended up standing out a lot and getting onto the print and pattern blog, which is incredible.
Speaker 3: 20:26 I mean, I'm a doubt. I didn't even know I made it up there. I just was like, because, you know, I check that blog all the time and I submitted my stuff and I was like, man, you know, good luck. Go out into the universe and about it again until I'm scrolling by and I see this armadillo pattern that I did and I was like, yeah,
Speaker 2: 20:44 oh
Speaker 3: 20:48 yeah. That was like that. I mean, that alone makes it worth going to certain texts. Like the fact that I made it on that blog.
Speaker 2: 20:56 It was crazy. It's amazing. Yeah. Congrats. Thanks. So how much did Surtex cost in total and do you feel like it was worth the cost?
Speaker 3: 21:08 Oh, this is where it gets tricky. So by the time was between flights, hotel food and the booth and all this stuff. I bet I spent between 4,500 to 5 grand. Yeah. So it was a very huge investment so far. I would say it has not paid off financially, but that being said, I also am so new to this world that I feel like I needed to take a very crucial step like this to keep going forward and to figure out, okay, this is what I need to do to make money at this. And so since the show, I've just been doing things to keep working towards getting a licensing deal and making money at this. But um, yeah, it was, it was very expensive.
Speaker 2: 21:59 Right. So yeah. My next question was going to be, um, did you walk away with any licensing deals, which we already sort of touched on? Um, yeah. So you're, you're not doing that yet, but it sounds, I don't know, I follow you on instagram and it looks like you are working on some, you know, client work, some illustration.
Speaker 3: 22:19 I did. I have one client that came out of nowhere and I think the fact we talked about me going to Surtex and I think that gave me a level of um, the word, um, my credibility. Credibility. Thank you. And so I do think it helped me get some other gigs but not in surface assigned, but yeah, so I have been getting a lot of um, I have been in client work, um, illustration client work, which is really exciting. So um, yeah, no it was, I wouldn't say it was a waste of money, but it definitely, it was a, it was a nice chunk of it
Speaker 2: 23:02 change. Yeah, it's enough to make you maybe second guess. Are you planning on going back to Texas in 2019?
Speaker 3: 23:13 No, and I was never planning on going back unless I like knocked it out of the park. I wanted to make my money and like double it before I would commit to going back because since I was a first time showcase or you get like an intro discount and you get a really small booth which is awesome because I mean the bigger the booth more expensive it is not only in terms of like it jumps I think from 3000, I think it was 3000 for the intro booth and it jumps up to $5,000 for one of those big boost. So not only did you have the $5,000 but then the banners and stuff to fill this space is more. And so I was never, like, it wouldn't have, I would have to make so much money to commit to going to Surtex 2019 because I wouldn't be a first time show buyer or show her.
Speaker 2: 24:10 Would you have gotten the same amount of space or would you have like you're required to be bumped up to that next? The bigger booth.
Speaker 3: 24:17 I mean they might've changed it because I think they changed a lot for the 2017 show. But yeah, you just had to go up to the next size. Like you couldn't get that intro space again and get like someone like me that's just because those spaces are really for like the agents who have like multiple artists. So it's really easy to fill. I mean because the blues are like the size of a room. They're huge. So it's like little old me in this like, you know, I just, I couldn't justify that yet. So yeah, I never had plans to go back as bad as that is. I like, yeah, I made like a ton of money but I didn't. So I was like, well,
Speaker 2: 25:00 yeah, I mean, I don't know, it makes me wonder, you know, like how many times would you have to go before I did start to pay for itself? Um, because I read some blog posts by some other artists who felt like they had gotten enough gigs out of it to justify the cost. But I mean at the same time, I don't know, like I have to wonder, I don't know, like you're still like, yeah, you're maybe justifying the cost, but do you really want to give that portion of your earnings to a show like that? And would you maybe still be okay without the show? Like do you really need this show? Are People gonna forget about you. Do you have those relationships with buyers where they're still gonna come back to you year after year, um, for work or maybe is it that you go every other year or something like that? Um, I don't know. Like what was the general feeling that you got from other designers at the show?
Speaker 3: 25:56 So that was really interesting because the general vibe, everyone was like super pumped. I'm hearing from people who had gone to the show multiple times that like there was no one there, like it was really slow show your buyers know, buyers. I think the show itself have how many designers were. There was so much smaller than in past years. And um, I heard from a couple people that were also went to the blueprint show. Have you heard of that?
Speaker 2: 26:27 I heard about it from you. You had mentioned it to me before.
Speaker 3: 26:30 Blueprint was taken at the time I last year. Blueprint took place. Like it kind of overlapped with Surtex like a day or two. So it was like Blueprint's show and then right into Surtex show and there was a ton of people that showed at blueprint and Surtex and they were talking about how much better blueprint was in terms of how many buyers were there. The atmosphere was different. So I signed up for blueprint show coming in May, you did a third of the cost and everyone was talking about how much better of a show it was. So it was like, well I hate to totally give up on shows yet, but I, you know, so I wanted to try this show before I, you know, make a final decision on
Speaker 2: 27:16 these
Speaker 2: 27:18 surface design shows. Yeah, that's really interesting to hear that. It's a third of the cost. So do you feel like Surtex is, um, I dunno, I mean, do you feel like they need to come down in price? Do you feel like the price is justified? Do you feel like they just need different tiers or different options because it's like can't get the artists to the shows and the buyers aren't going to come because what's the point? The buyers aren't going to spend a week or three days or whatever it is if they don't have a good selection of artists to choose from. Like their job is to buy the best artwork possible. Right. So it's just kind of a ripple effect.
Speaker 3: 27:55 Well, once I got there, you know, and hearing all the thoughts and people talking about shows in general, it's like people go to instagram to find new artists now and they go to flower to find new artists. So it's like these companies aren't paying to send buyers out when they can just have their buyers scroll through their phones and so that totally makes sense. I still think there is something about meeting the artists and seeing their work. Um, so I think there's still a place for them, but I wouldn't be surprised if in like 10 years there isn't any of these trade shows.
Speaker 2: 28:34 That's interesting. I've heard people say that before, um, just even in the rug industry, which you would think with their rug, you would need to touch it and feel it more so than maybe with a pattern because the pattern can go on anything. But that's interesting. Yeah, it is nice to have kind of a meeting place for, um, yeah, like you said, like for the buyer to actually meet the artist and cultivate that relationship. But at the same time, at the end of the day, like there's a little bit of personal in it, but for the most part it's business and they're just going to want the best artwork.
Speaker 3: 29:06 Exactly. And what I learned from, you know, like the big fabric companies like Birch and um, cloud nine they want. This is just like some things I've heard from the show, so this isn't like factor or anything but that I heard that they want to see that you have a following before they sign you to a big fabric deal. Oh, that's interesting. That totally blew my on instagram specifically. Grant, they want you, they wanted, you know, to. I don't, I don't even know what the magic number is. But before, yeah, they want to make sure you have so many followers, you know, because then they know it's safer, you know, because they're like, oh, they have fans already. So these fans. Yeah. So that really was eye opening and it was like, man, I really need to focus on instagram.
Speaker 2: 29:56 No, I'm fine. I mean, this is kind of a tangent, but I find instagram to be so difficult to, um, I guess to gain a true audience on because there's so many people using bots and like on follows and follows and like even when people comment, it's like, you know, I love instagram for the visual aspect of it. Like I'm being an artist. Like I mean I really do love it and I love stories. I love using it, but I don't know, like I went in terms of growth they say to like focus on one platform and I really liked the SEO qualities that pinterest and youtube have because people can search and then the content that you made is evergreen, you know, like as long as you have the key words in there, like it can be found over and over again. Whereas instagram, it's only really relevant for like a day. Um, and he just is so much work. How do people do it? I don't know.
Speaker 3: 30:50 I talked to one woman, her name was Erin and she was, I'm writing an article so we had like a nice little talk about this and she was talking about how like not only do they want like instagram followers, but they want to see how many likes. So because like anyone can, like I could go by in theory a million instagram followers, I'm posting something and there's two likes that's like, oh, there's something off here. And it was just like so many things that I just never thought about like that. And then leaving the show I was like, Oh wow, you know, so. But it gave me a good thing to focus on like you said, because it is hard to like which platform do you focus on? But
Speaker 2: 31:30 yeah, I mean I definitely think instagram is a good one to focus on because it seems like that's what buyers are going to be looking at more so than like they're not going to go to your pinterest and say like, oh, how many people are following her on pinterest? Like maybe they should. Because once you actually look like there are some people that have hundreds of thousands of followers on Pinterest, but it's just not as popular, especially on your phone. Um, as instagram is,
Speaker 3: 31:53 it's so funny because I feel like I use pinterest as a tool for myself and like forget that it is another, like it is another media platform like that.
Speaker 2: 32:02 Yeah. Well, if you're trying to drive traffic to your website, it's really good too. That's what I've kind of found with it is that it's slow, but it's very steady growth. So I feel like when I first got serious about my pinterest strategy, I had about like 300 followers. It was just like my friends from when I first signed up for it, like back in South Carolina when I still lived there and we first met. Um, I mean, yeah, that cod, that was like 10 years ago. I don't know, I'm so old, but um, yeah. But then I started to implement like a more serious pinterest strategy and now I have over a thousand followers on pinterest and it's driving traffic to my website which should lead to sales. You know, so
Speaker 3: 32:49 okay.
Speaker 2: 32:50 You know, but if, if a bigger buyer seeing your stuff on instagram and you get a licensing deal that way, I mean you can go about it obviously multiple ways
Speaker 3: 32:58 but can't hurt to have. Especially because pinches, I feel like it's like you can link instagram to pinterest so you can close on instagram posts on pinterest. Same time completely given up on facebook though. I will say, yeah, well the business, I was like no things.
Speaker 2: 33:15 No, they suck with their algorithm. I think that's what scares me too is that they own instagram. So that's a little scary for me. I'm like, what if they do the same shit? They did the facebook and businesses spent so much time trying to get people to like their business page and I mean facebook owns it and they just took away the. Took it away with the algorithm. It didn't even show up in people's feed. Even if they liked your business page.
Speaker 3: 33:40 I found that and I get annoyed just with like your friends and like you know, so because they did that a couple months ago with instagram where they changed it where it wasn't in chronological anymore. It was like based on what they thought you wanted to see. Yeah. So frustrating. Like I'll make that decision as a woman. Like I will make choices of who I want to follow.
Speaker 2: 34:06 No, it's, it's messed up. I don't really don't like it. You should at least be able to toggle, you know, whether you want to see things and like recent in like chronological order or if you would rather see it based on their algorithm. Like you should be able to choose I think.
Speaker 3: 34:19 Yes.
Speaker 2: 34:23 Yeah. So, sorry for the tangent, but my next question was going to be a, do you think February will be good or bad for Surtex because they, I think they realized that they need to change something. So they've changed it to February, but do you see it as like a good or a bad thing?
Speaker 3: 34:39 I can't Surtex, or not Surtex, is national stationery show moving to February as well. I don't know about that. See, that's the part I should have researched that because certain texts is in this huge, huge convention center and there's Surtex on one side. National Stationery show was right on the other side, so it's all in one big room. And honestly most of the traffic I got was from national stationery show. They didn't realize I had so many people were like, what do you guys do? Like, what are you selling? And they were like, oh, we're part of the like, what's that, you know. So um, I'm wondering if like they're separating them if that is going to hurt them, but it definitely tells me that something is not going right to make because it's been in may forever. Right. So, um, yeah. So I just googled that. And the national stationery show is February third to sixth in 2019. So maybe that does have something. So is that, is that when Surtex is the beginning of February
Speaker 2: 35:45 and I know it's in February. Let me see when the exact dates are because that is an interesting point. Did were any of the artists talking about. Yeah, the dates are the fifth or sorry, the third through the fifth. So they are overlapping. So that's good at their key to they're keeping them together. Yeah, I definitely thought that was interesting.
Speaker 3: 36:12 Um, but I kinda just ignored it because I already knew I wasn't going back. So it was like, well good luck. Hopefully it works out better, but I know there was a, a general vibe in the air of like the artists were not particularly happy
Speaker 2: 36:27 about February, have less than a year to like make their new collections. Right.
Speaker 3: 36:33 Just that like people were like, where is everyone? Like what is this like, you know? And so it was, it was interesting for sure. There's a lot of gossip going on. It was kind of like high school but with pattern designers. Oh Gosh. But that's it [inaudible] like I hate to say I had a bad experience because I didn't cause it was so cool to get to like hang out with likeminded people, you know, how many, how many times have you like hung out with like another pattern designer? Like not very often, you know, so
Speaker 2: 37:09 I will say like my best experience was probably when I studied abroad because I was only with other artists and it was so fun. I loved it and I like grew so much just from being in that environment.
Speaker 3: 37:20 You really do. So that's why like, you know, because people have, I've had people message me on instagram asking about would you do sir again? And um, you know, I never know what to tell them because it's like, oh, financially did not pay off, but personally and like
Speaker 2: 37:36 you just point them to this video
Speaker 3: 37:40 because like typing on the ground, like I hate that. So yeah. Um,
Speaker 2: 37:47 okay. Well, okay. So the next question which we kind of touched on is if you wanted to approach a career in art licensing without attending shows, how would you do it?
Speaker 3: 37:57 Social media. And I heard from several people there, spoonflower, which surprise me because there's a lot of, um, I guess I just never thought of using. I'm sorry, my dogs whining at me. I never thought of using spoonflower as a platform. I just always used it for my personal projects or stuff like this. Um, and so that was really eye opening to me, but it totally makes sense that if you're going to do a fabric collection, you'd go to a place like spoonflower to see.
Speaker 2: 38:31 Right. And I've heard designers also complained that they don't make a lot of sales from spoonflower, but if people are using it in a different way and it's more to get found, that's an interesting point as well. But I correct me if I'm wrong, but when you upload a pattern or designed to spoonflower, they technically own it. Like you can't then go put it on creative market or another platform. Is that right?
Speaker 3: 38:54 I don't think so. I think you still own the rights to it, but if you put it up for sale, like anyone could print that fabric and do whatever they wanted with it or a paper or, you know, make, make their own stuff from it. So that kind of, you know, it was a little unsettling way because you have no control. Right. Right. But yeah, so there's definitely some flaws with it. But like, I have so many patterns that are just sitting in technique, like I also heard at the show that buyers want patterns that nobody's seen. They want to be the first, they want exclusive rights. So basically it's like you put it on Instagram, it's like you, what can you do with that pattern now? Which is so discouraging because it's also how you get found. So it's like this weird double digits.
Speaker 2: 39:44 So much work. I like what you did, but now do something just for us and you're like, okay, then I don't know if you're going to like it.
Speaker 3: 39:52 Exactly. So um, you know, so I've been struggling with that as well because like, yeah, you're trying to build an instagram following but you can't post stuff on instagram because they want exclusive rights. And so a lot of my old patterns and when I say old, I mean they've been out, people have seen them, so they're not exclusive. I had been putting on spoonflower because they're just sitting in my computer. So you know, no one I know for a fact, no one seeing them in my computer. So if I can at least try to get them out, maybe it will lead to more licensing deals. Was my thought process.
Speaker 2: 40:25 Yeah. That's a really interesting point. So is it kind of stuff that maybe you've used as like a piece of a design back in the day and you're like, well I could actually use this and put it out there and like people can see it or maybe it'll sell on spoonflower. Um, is that kind of your thought process?
Speaker 3: 40:42 Basically? Like, so these, I waited, I waited until actually, like last week I started putting on still fire. I wanted to see if I got anything from the show for these particular patterns that I showcased. If I didn't hear anything I was going to put him on spoonflower so I hadn't heard anything. Um, so now I'm starting to upload them and sell them on spoonflower just to know, try to build that following. Yeah. Have you tried, um, pattern bank, just out of curiosity? I haven't. I think you told me about that awhile ago and then I think I looked at it and then it was one of those things that I never followed up on.
Speaker 2: 41:20 Yeah, I mean it, it's hard to, to know which platform to beyond like their spoonflower, which is kind of more for fabric and then there's pattern bank and they both want exclusivity to your work. Not that they own it, but just that you're not selling it on another platform. But it's kind of hard to be like, well, I mean if you're not attracting their customers, I should be able to sell it somewhere else. No,
Speaker 3: 41:45 I actually wanted to sell my patterns on create like places like creative market though for some reason, like, especially like the vector files would make me so nervous. Like if I think if I designed something with the intent that like, okay, this is a vector file, they can do whatever they want. But um, yeah, I. because I do have small fears of being ripped off even though like I had like no followers, instagram, but it's still a legit, legitimate fear when you put artwork out there that someone's going to rip you off.
Speaker 2: 42:19 Oh, they definitely. Well, especially like when you do get big and you will. I mean it's gonna happen. Like do you listen to the honest designers podcast? No. Okay. Well it's really great and I'm. Lisa glands is one of the designers and she's huge. She's like made a really nice living on creative market and kind of inspired me, but she's talked about getting ripped off is a huge problem and I think it's just kind of inevitable. I hate to say that, but unless you want to actually get a lawyer and sue people like Orla Kiely did and she almost went bankrupt to doing that by the way. Um, and she got her point across, but like, I don't know if it's really worth it. Like you could spend all that energy creating new designs rather than like being in court
Speaker 3: 43:06 all the time. A rifle, paper company sued Walmart to Ooh know I need to follow up because that would be a huge. That'd be huge if like she won that for all artists really because it is so, such a prevalent problem in our industry.
Speaker 2: 43:21 It is, it's a huge problem. Yeah. And sometimes like, I dunno, I'm the first drug company that I worked for, they didn't even have designers for awhile so they would just buy things from vendors overseas. So they were working with Chinese vendors, Turkish vendors, Indian vendors, Egyptian vendors, Belgian vendors, like vendors from all over the world. And so if these guys, the vendors you were looking on pinterest or wherever and getting inspired by some someone like rifle paper, Co, they may totally have knocked them off and the sales guy who is just buying stuff wouldn't even necessarily know that because they're not an artist or designer. So it's, it's a problem everywhere. It's hard to control. It's hard to control. But um, anyway, well, Amanda, do you have any kind of final thoughts on Surtex or any final advice for aspiring surface designers?
Speaker 3: 44:16 So I'll tell a quick story from Surtex, um, it was kind of slow afternoon and this woman walked in front of my booth and she was looking at my booth and I could tell she was like, you know, like she's not admiring, but she was definitely like intrigued by is the right word. And I kept looking at her. I was, I know this woman wired, I know her from and it was Elizabeth Olsen and I was like, oh my God, when I realized I was like forever, blah, blah blah, and she can't even talk to me for like 10 minutes. And it was amazing and she was like, she told me, she's like, the biggest mistake new designers make is they give up too easy. And like, I don't even really remember all what we talked about, but that has really stuck with me because, um, I could definitely see how it would be like it'd be so easy to quit after my first cert tech show. Like I think get any art licensing deals. So it'd be like, well, I guess I'm not good at making patterns so I'm going to move on. But it did the exact opposite. Um, and so that would be my advice I guess is a.
Speaker 2: 45:16 I Love that advice. Did you know that um, when I was at genealogy I felt like that because Michael, I don't think it was intentional but he wanted me to just recruit artists instead of like actually work on anything creative. And so I kind of felt like what? Like do I suck, you know? Um, but yeah, I dunno, I got some freelance gigs on the side and that kind of helped boost my confidence. But it is, I mean when you're an artist you're putting your heart and soul out there and it is really easy to get your confidence crushed if you don't have some kind of reassurance. But yeah, I mean you just have to keep going, keep working and you will get better. Like the more you do it, like with anything,
Speaker 3: 45:54 it's just practice especially like on instagram or you know, if like you post something that you really love and it gets like Ken likes this is how we make money. So like, you know, it sounds superficial but like likes are important because that means like, oh, people would be interested in buying us, people would want this. So it is so easy to like
Speaker 2: 46:12 get so discouraged. And then you also think, well, I mean on a platform like instagram, you're like, well, did I just posted the wrong time of day? Is that why nobody is. No one's seeing it in the feed or you know what's happening?
Speaker 3: 46:29 Yeah. So it's been A. Yeah. So don't give up because like you said, like you get better as you go along. You learn things and prove your skills and.
Speaker 2: 46:41 But Hey guys, I'm definitely leave a comment down below and let us know if you have any further questions about Surtex or about becoming a surface pattern designer. Um, we will definitely try to answer those as best as possible. Um, and definitely subscribe to my channel like this video and click the little bell so that you get notified the next time I come out with a new video, you can find me on my website at LaurenLesley.com. Lesley's with an E-Y. And also look into description for a little Freebie pdf that I have for you guys. Amanda, will you tell everyone where they can find you on instagram and on your website?
Speaker 3: 47:23 Yes. So I am at Green Hound press on both my instagram and website. So greenhoundpress.com. And My instagram handle is @greenhoundpress. And so awesome your thing.
Speaker 1: 47:36 And I'm @LaurenLesleyStudio on Instagram. Lesley's with E-Y and um, we're also going to have a podcast version of this video so that if you want to kind of listen along to the next episode, you can subscribe on itunes or spotify and that way you can listen in your car. You don't necessarily have to meet. We also have a facebook group. And thank you guys so much for watching. Amanda, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it. And thanks for sharing your experience. That's my girl. Have you have a good day? Yeah, you too.