Surtex: The Art of Business
By David Gill
The numbers and the designs that will be on display both point to a positive atmosphere at Surtex, which takes place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City from May 16-18.
There will be an estimated 250 exhibitors at this year's show, up from 216 last year. The attendance at the 2009 show ranged between 5,500 and 6,000 and "judging by the number of preregistrants, we'll beat that this year," said Penny Sikalis, the show's manager and vice president of GLM, the show's owner.
The fact that the economy is slowly picking up steam after two recessionary years, leads to the belief that activity at the show will pick up the pace as well. Sikalis noted that there will be heightened interest in exhibitor offerings from product categories such as textiles. "We expect to see added interest from manufacturers of bedding, fabrics, table linens and kitchen textiles," Sikalis said.
Aside from textiles vendors, Surtex will feature resources for manufacturers of consumer goods such as floor covering, gift products, paper goods, stationery and tabletop products.
The return of the U.S. economy to a growth mode is not the only reason that Surtex exhibitors are anticipating a positive show this month.
"Retail shelves are bare," Sikalis said, "and if they are to get consumers to buy anything, it has to be new, fresh and exciting. There is a greater need for new art and new products."
Add to this the fact that vendors in a variety of product categories are looking more favorably at licensing art and design.
"The whole concept of licensing has become more and more appealing," Sikalis said. "Manufacturers are relying more and more on these artists to enrich their brand, including established brands. Outsourcing art is also more efficient and is a means for manufacturers to find new, fresh art."
Retailers will be among the attendees at Surtex as well, for the same reasons.
"We've seen retailer attendance trend up over the last few years," Sikalis said. "More and more, they hold the cards for product development decisions. They come to the show either on their own or with their manufacturing or importing partners, and this includes the big-box retailers as well. I expect this trend to continue in the years to come."
For all the attendees and exhibitors, GLM has incorporated special features into this year's Surtex to provide them with additional tools to improve their businesses. The conference program will include sessions on copyrighting, color and design trends for 2011 and 2012, what retailers look for in artwork and how they determine what art they will license, and how artists and designers can use social media.
Sikalis said a key change GLM made in the floor plan at last year's Surtex will benefit the show this year and over the long term. "Last year, we had the show on one contiguous floor," she said. "It used to be on two floors. I think the floor plan will make a bigger impact this year, in that it's provided designers and artists with a reason to put more work into their displays to make them more attractive to attendees."
GLM will also extend its commitment to licensed art at the summer version of the New York International Gift Fair, which will take place from Aug. 14-19. The summer Gift Fair will include the Licensing Gallery @ NYIGF, which debuted at this past winter's Gift Fair.
"This gives designers another audience," Sikalis said. "It has created much more awareness of licensed original art."