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Surtex: On the Surface

Official Enewsletter VOL 5 Issue #5

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By Liz Crawford, VP Emerald

New.  The word itself never gets old.  Like Free, another red-alert word, New never fails to generate buzz and excitement.  Say New, and attention must be paid.

This month we have a double-header: New Year.  New Inspirations. We’re heading full-gallop toward SURTEX 2015, now less than five months away, and we all have our radar tuned up and sweeping the horizon for fresh ideas.

That’s the theme upon which we’ve built this issue of On the Surface:  New Inspirations:  Where to find them. How to tame and claim, filter and process those new ideas until they are truly, uniquely yours.

I can tell you where many of my own new ideas for the New Year are coming from.  It’s my luck to have a job that keeps me traveling into different industries and different parts of the country.  As you may know, Emerald Expositions is a major producer of B2B trade shows and conference events, some 85 every year, addressing a rich variety of special interests.

This very month, for example, I’ve spent two weeks covering the all-inclusive Sports Licensing Show in Las Vegas and Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City, the lively tradeshow that brings together the latest innovations in gear for the Great Outdoors.

A far cry from SURTEX and its focus on surface art and design?  Not at all.  The topic itself may vary, but there are common denominators that run through all successful tradeshows.  Innovation.  Creativity.  Fresh takes on old ideas.  New colors, new attitudes, new solutions. 

When it comes to SURTEX, who better to answer that evergreen question, “What’s new?” than artists, designers and agents who will be new to the show this year?  Read on.  Their personal stories will inform your own quest for New Inspirations in the New Year – and, best of all, they are (to use that other magic word) Free!




Applying Legal Acumen, Marketing Experience To New, Multi-Pronged Action Plan 

(First in a Series Profiling the Experts Behind the Success of SURTEX 2015)

In the nine short months since she was named to lead the SURTEX Marketing team, VP Jill Campbell has embraced a key tenet for Emerald Expositions and brought a sharp focus to three major goals for SURTEX 2015 (one of four shows now under her direction):

  • Her motto: “We are all in the audience acquisition business;”
  • Three means to that objective:  1.  Jill has introduced a process to create strategic marketing “maps” that reach both attendees and exhibitors; 2. The maps produce a collaborative, detailed plan of action to accomplish the overall objective of each event;  3. Further data analysis helps the team achieve a better understanding of attendees and prospects, and develop more effective marketing outreach initiatives, such as direct mail pieces and social media.

Joining the Emerald team in May, 2014, Jill oversees NY NOW, the giant B2B that unfolds at the Javits Center, NY, next week, plus, the National Stationery Show and ICFF (formerly International Contemporary Furniture Fair), which will run concurrently with SURTEX next May.  

She brings an impressive background to her new post.  A non-practicing lawyer who took her JD degree at Pace University, NY, after studying communications and psychology at the University of Michigan, Jill has already spent 10 years in the tradeshow industry.  She owned her own marketing communications and public relations consultancy for three years, then served for four+ years as Marketing Director for LexisNexis, the corporation that developed the world’s first electronic database for legal and public records.

At LexisNexis, she notched several noteworthy successes: 172 percent growth in social media engagement; a first-ever video contest on Facebook that received national recognition; a testimonial campaign that generated seven times the anticipated responses and led to nearly 20,000 product downloads in a single semester.

Coming back to tradeshows after her LexisNexis experience had its surprises, Jill reports.  Such as how quickly the tradeshow lingo came back to her:  “It’s like riding a bike.”

To make the “ride” easier for SURTEX exhibitors and attendees, Jill offers other big plans for the future, including a focus on segmented marketing and increasing verification rates during the shows. As Jill points out “There is always room for improvement.”  


                                -- Reporting by Dania Reyes



Jill Campbell shares her three-step plans for your SURTEX success: 

Attention, attendees:
 1.  Create a “plan of attack” in advance.  Walk into the show on the first day knowing where you want to start.  Set goals for what you’d like to accomplish each day.  Create a walking map with exhibitor booth numbers.  Consider bringing a colleague or two so you can “divide and conquer” the different areas of the show floor.  

 2.  Use our new tool, the SURTEX Planner, available to attendees at in late February.  Using the Planner, you can view the companies, brands, and artists who will be at the show, navigate floor plans and access booth numbers.  Plan to schedule appointments with exhibitors in advance of the show.

3. Dress comfortably. Javits is a large convention center with three shows running simultaneously. Dress in layers and wear your most comfortable walking shoes! 
Tips for Exhibitors:
1.   Actively promote your participation in SURTEX in the months and weeks leading up to the event.  Let your customers and prospects know what you’ll be doing or showing, and give them your booth number.  Consider offering a show special or other incentive to encourage their attendance and promote it in advance. 

Share that information with the SURTEX marketing team, and we’ll help to promote your in-booth events and show specials in our many communications, including social media.  Send the information directly to the SURTEX Exhibitor Marketing Manager, Trish Rivas, at

 2.  You, too, can take advantage of our new tool, the SURTEX Planner, available soon via our website at  Watch for a letter announcing that the Planner is live, then log on and complete or create your profile.  

This is where attendees will go to learn more about your company, to see any press releases and product images you post, and see how to navigate the floor plan and access booth numbers.  Registered members of the press will have access to this information, as well. 

As we also use the Planner to create the Show Directory, don’t leave your profile empty or incomplete -- you’re missing out on a critical opportunity to let attendees know you’re at SURTEX.  There’s also an appointment-making feature on the Planner to let you accept appointments with attendees.

3.  A final tip that may seem obvious, but it never ceases to amaze me: at every single trade event I’ve ever attended, I pass many booths, both large and small, where the personnel don’t appear welcoming.  They don’t smile or acknowledge people walking by.  Or they may be eating, working on iPads or laptops, talking on their cell phones, reading, or otherwise conveying a lack of interest in interacting with show attendees.  

Particularly with smaller companies or limited personnel, I realize that sometimes you may need to eat in the booth, but when it comes to getting traffic to visit, it makes a world of difference if you present a smiling, professional, and welcoming appearance. 

Finally, be cognizant about the conversations you have on the show floor.  You never know who may overhear your comments and negative conversations turn buyers away.




Got talent?  It’s a merciless blessing.   Any creative person knows that the real question is not, do you have talent? The question is, does talent have you? Does it get you out of bed to make notes at 4 a.m.?  Assail you in the shower?  Exhaust you with endless demands that you make something new, something better, something, ahem, original?

Where to find the inspiration to meet those demands?  It’s an old question that’s forever fascinating.  So we put it to some of the new talents you’ll be seeing at SURTEX in a few months.

MARTA BERK, New York – Born in Belarus, raised in Brooklyn, Marta is an illustrator, surface designer and painter now living and working in New York.  

Q:  What made you an artist/agent in the first place?  
A:  “I feel that if I've always been an artist. I've spent my childhood doodling and painting… I majored in graphic design in college because I thought that was a more practical career choice.”


Marta says she discovered the world of selling art and licensing after taking Lilla Roger's MATS (“Make Art That Sells”) class and meeting other successful designers like Helen Dardik and Elizabeth Olwen, who gave her “the confidence and inspiration to push myself toward this career path.”


Q:  Has that changed your style?
A:  “In the past year, I tried to include more textures and a variety of weights in my work. I'm also constantly experimenting with color and Pinterest is my greatest secret weapon.”

Q:  What do you think is the biggest challenge for artists in the surface art industry?
A:  “Themselves. We're often so hard on ourselves and that fear of not being good enough keeps us from even trying. For a long time I was afraid of showing my work because I thought it wasn't good enough. I still battle with that, but other artists from online communities have been very supportive…”

Jon Q Wright, JQ Licensing, LLC, Walker, MN – A leading wildlife artist in the 1980s, specializing in fish, Jon saw a new future in the agency that now combines the talents of in-house artists, including himself, and others who adhere to the agency tag-line: “We believe in challenging the status quo and creating differently.

Q.  What inspired that motto?

A: “I saw a way to make my art business more lucrative through licensing. I began licensing my own images back in 1990…. (and) as my licensing business grew, I saw a need for additional art categories and talents and began representing other outdoor wildlife artists.”

Q: Why and how has your art changed (in style, colors, techniques, etc.)?
A: “At JQL, design is essential. Taking the beautiful art from our represented artists, and enhancing it through design to fit the manufacturers’ product shapes and retail markets is key to large volume sales for us."  

Q:  What do you see as The Big Challenge to the surface art industry this year?
A:  "Copyright infringements."  

Annie Chen, Lemonni Design, Vancouver, BC – With a background in graphic design, Annie “loves pattern so much,” she says, “it wasn’t enough just to create patterns:  I wanted to see them in application. So I started Lemonni – a stationery and home decor line.”

Q:  How did you become an artist?  What/who inspired you? 
A:  "I guess you can say that it runs in my family. My mom was a graphic designer and now a painter; my sister is an interior designer. My mom taught me drawing and color theories since I was little”

Even so, Annie didn’t pursue a creative path in school (she studied science and psychology!). “In the end, I still chose a creative career because creating makes me happy.”

Other sources of inspiration? Self-taught designer Lotta Jansdotter and singer-songwriter Leslie Feist. “They’ve proven that you can still make art without a degree in art school if you work hard and persevere.

“My photographer husband also inspired me to follow my passion…I have learned so much from him.”

Q: Has your art changed (in style, colors, techniques, etc.) as you have grown in your career?  
A: “I came from a background of graphic design where everything is carefully controlled.’ Surface design is very free, so I'm definitely learning how to let go and be more unpredictable.”

Q:  What big challenge do you see facing the industry?
A:  “How to promote your work online while avoiding copycats. You can’t stop showing your work just because you’re afraid someone would steal your ideas. 

“I’d say transfer the energy from trying to protect your work to creating and showing more work.”

Mitsushige Nishiwaki ( Etching Artist ), Tokyo – Early travels in charge of European business for a Japanese industrial company, followed by postgraduate studies in graphic design in Arizona and work as a graphic designer in New York City, inform Mitsushige’s singular, humorous images.  

Q:  So it was seeing the world that first inspired you?
A:  “Yes. I got inspirations to create my works from my experiences going around the world.”

Q:  What has influenced your style since?
A:  “I worked for books and advertisements mainly, and started to work in the apparel industry. I made etchings for tee-shirts at a Tokyo-based fashion brand last summer and sold 40,000 tee-shirts in Japan. (Now I have) made a new contract with Paris-based fashion brand…and I am also going to have an opportunity to create show window displays."

Q:  The biggest challenge?  
A:  “To keep art projects going.”




Missed the webinar on how to minimize trauma and max traffic to your display space at the Show?  Here’s your second chance to tune in on the expertise offered by designer Robin Zietz and Emerald Expositions’ Traffic Manager Keith Colavito.

Booth Design:  ROBIN ZIETZ, Robin Z Studio, Lakewood, Co
It’s January.  We’re into the first portion of booth-planning, the brain-storming, research, obsessing-over-visual-merchandising, art installations, windows, scouring Pinterest, phase of creating your SURTEX booth.

This is the really fun part when you can be free and open to big crazy ideas, strive to be different and stand out from the crowd.  For example, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could build a 23-foot-tall papier mache cliff and hire a cliff diver to dive into a tiny little pool in the middle of my booth, and have fire dancers, and someone making fresh guacamole, all to launch my new collection “Acapulco!”.

Reality Check -- Also known as the idea-crusher.  But it doesn’t have to be if you think of it as a challenge, instead: How can you get your big amazing idea to fit within the very real parameters of time, budget, safety, regulations, feasibility, and implementation?

To meet that challenge, first lay out your Theme.  Base it on your brand, your industry, color story, new collection(s), your inspiration.

Next, test your theme.  This stage includes digital and physical mock-ups, adjusting scale, refining, and simplifying, testing out rigging (to ensure everything you hang in your booth doesn’t fall down overnight).

Repeat your theme:  Instead of the familiar lather, rinse, and repeat, this process is called “decide, embrace, and repeat.”  Embrace your theme and repeat it across all items on your list, including,  booth, signage, postcards, business cards, press kits, giveaways, whatever.  

Other important points:

  • Be clear, concise, refined:  Don't try to show everything in your booth;
  • Make your presentation balanced, eye-pleasing, not chaotic;
  • Create an environment, lifestyle, branding;
  • Be unforgettable -- plan something unique and memorable as a giveaway that represents your brand;
  • Focus lighting- adjust your spots;
  • Focus You! Your smiling face and positive energy are key ingredients in effective booth design.



NUTS & BOLTS: KEITH COLAVITO, Operations Manager, Emerald Expositions: 

Hard facts make booth set-up easier:
  • Your booth package includes one 5-ft.white formica counter (30 ¾”x60”x30” or 40 ¾” high) with a shelf underneath. You will need to request which counter you want within the set up manual.
  • Your booth package also includes your choice of three chairs or three stools per 10’x10’ booth. You will need to request which counter you want within the set up manual. 
  • A light track with four light fixtures is also included with your booth package.  It only powers the lights.  If you need additional power, order it through
  • Booth vacuuming is provided the morning the show opens, provided cleaners can enter your booth.
  • Deadline dates apply when ordering Javits services (May 2)
  • Shuttle bus service is provided to designated hotels within mid-town Manhattan.
  • The Javits Center work rules have relaxed such that exhibitors can now build booths up to 250 square feet without union labor. For specifics, refer to the Labor Rules and Regulations in the set-up manual. 
  • All exhibitors are required to carry booth insurance. This protection is important. Please read the Insurance Requirements page for details.
  • An overnight storage room is available free of charge. Rooms are staffed 24 hours a day, from Friday, May 15 to Wednesday, May 20.


Attendee Registration is open!Click to register to attend SURTEX today! Show dates and hours are as follows:

Sunday, May 17, 2015 – 9am - 6pm
Monday, May 18, 2015 – 9am - 6pm
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 – 9am - 5pm

Exhibitors – Time to Shine! – With the show just a few months away, now is the time to begin getting your presence out there! The SURTEX team will help promote your designs. Simply fill out this form.

Meanwhile, begin following our social media pages and tag us in your postings, using #SURTEX. We want to know – and tell -- what you’re up to as you plan for the show.


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in On the Surface, please contact
Editor Rose Gilbert at

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 SURTEX all rights reserved.
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