From May 11–15, the Jacob Javits Convention Center will host the 25th annual Surtex. The trade show launched in a time when there was very little licensing taking place in the art licensing space and has grown in prominence as the category itself has grown exponentially.
The 2011 Surtex show reflects this continuing growth and serves as an indicator that the category is gaining strength after a few trying years at the hand of the sluggish economy. This year’s show will include nearly 300 exhibitors (as opposed to 225 in 2010), in approximately 30,000 square feet of exhibit space (compared to 25,000 in 2010), and will host approximately 6,000 attendees (compared to 5,000 in 2010).
“The market is definitely on the upswing again after a few challenging years,” says Penny Sikalis, vice-president and show manager at George Little Management, which produces Surtex. “Manufacturers are seriously in need of new designs now to create more excitement at retail and increase consumer spending.”
The artists and licensors interviewed for this article expressed optimism in this year’s show and confidence in the ability of the Surtex show to meet their needs.
“Surtex has become arguably the premier trade show for art licensing,” says Marty Segelbaum, president of MHS Licensing. “The show brings together a wide variety of manufacturers and serves as a conduit for trends and market demands.”
The ability to present a range of designs to a wide variety of manufacturers is a very important aspect for Surtex. Those that exhibit at the show recognize the opportunity a show of this size offers the art licensing community.
“Surtex is the most important show for an artist like me,” says licensed artist Debra Valencia. “If I had to cut everything but one thing out of my marketing budget, I would keep Surtex.”
Running concurrently in the Javits Center during Surtex is the National Stationery Show. Stationery categories are very strong in the art licensing industry.
Interviewees did mention a few minor issues with the timing of Surtex. Some mentioned that its proximity to Licensing Show is inefficient. And, as with many industries where the development cycles have shifted, there are calls to move the show to an earlier timeframe. That being said, Licensing Show’s move to Las Vegas from New York’s Javits Center has alleviated some of the overlap between the two shows.
However, the complaints about Surtex were few and far between. There was an overriding sense of optimism and growth in regard to Surtex by those interviewed.
MHS Licensing added Patrick Reid O’Brien and Christine Adolph to its roster of artists and brands. O’Brien’s big break came when he was commissioned to create art depicting the lyrics of Jimmy Buffet’s songs for the Margaritaville lifestyle brand. Adolph has lived near the ocean her whole life and it has provided her with reference to natural form, color theory, and surface design.
Valencia’s Pretty in Paisley collection is the first featured licensed artist for Plan Ahead’s line of school stationery products. Valencia, who is saturated in the stationery categories, is looking to expand further into home décor during Surtex.
DSW signed a deal with Picture, Inc., to produce a collection of 20 greeting cards featuring artwork from artist Peggy Jo Ackley’s Queen of Tarts collection. Also brokered but DSW is a deal with Demdaco to produce a home décor collection featuring the French Hens collection by Les Deux Amies.
Debbie Taylor-Kerman has signed a licensing agreement with Hindostone products to produce a line of licensed CoasterStone coasters featuring her Ice Cream artwork.
Robin Zingone has renewed her licensing agreement with Deluxe Corporation for the Girlygirl line of checks. This second collection will feature Girlygirl driving a sports car, lounging at the beach, relaxing in a café, and shopping with friends.
Jewel Branding has signed a deal for Simon & Kabuki with Cranston for a range of home textiles targeted to the high-end quilt market. In addition, for its Izak brand, Jewel has signed with H-R Planning for bags, as well as iPhone cases and accessories.