Surtex prep, follow along with us

Well, its time.  Time to start Surtex prep. For those who haven’t heard of Surtex, it is a trade show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York May 19-21, where artists and designers exhibit their work for the manufacturers, retailers and publishers who comb the aisles looking for new art and design to license or buy for their products.

This year I have three local designer friends and acquaintances who are doing Surtex for the first time, so there is a bit of a buzz and banter amongst us about getting ready for the show.  And it brings back memories of my first year and all the questions I had!  So if anyone wants to follow along, I’ll be posting things here at a laughing gate.

To start off, my February tasks are:

1. Start booth design.  Best to start this early as it also helps one assess the other tasks that go into getting ready for the show.  At this point I am editing my booth layout from last year.  I created it in Illustrator so that I can plan what is going to go on each wall–banners, shelves, etc. Some people even make a physical diorama. Starting this prompts me to roughly decide which new collections to show on the banners.  It also helps me coalesce my final list of collections I want to have finished for the show (and a wish list of more I wish I could finish!).

2. Write first pass of press release. This is optional. One doesn’t have to send out press releases or do a press packet, but if you do decide you want to ride that train, many editorial deadlines are in March.  So preparing your release now, and choosing some images to send in with them gives you time and space to edit with a fresh eye before pressing the button. For more information on how to do press releases check out Tara Reed’s ebook How to be a Press Friendly Artist.

Along with booth design comes other decisions.  Do you want to put individual pieces of art up on the walls, banners that hang off the panels either to the floor or part way down, or so you want to do a whole booth wrap. If banners, do you want paper or vinyl.  One thing I have to say is that it is a good idea to plan to have at least some of your booth look new and fresh every year.  So investing in an expensive branding concept for a booth design to use year after year may help in brand recognition, but there are a lot of people at the show actually shopping for art and looking at the walls to find it. So do have something new up to catch their eye every year.

There is no best way to display things in your booth.  It depends on your art and design and the markets it serves, your budget in terms of dollars and time, and your goals for the show. Do remember that every moment spent on logistics and booth design is not being spent making new artwork or following up on leads. Also please please remember that people are looking at your booth from the middle of the aisle so size your wall art accordingly. 150-200% scale at least (depending on the beginning dimensions) and 150dpi looks fine for this purpose.  Stand ten feet away and judge for yourself!

Here are some photos that show some of the details of the booths that might not show on all the great materials available through the exhibitor center on the Surtex website.


This is an empty 8×10 booth with the tall counter and 3 stools that all come with your booth (or you can choose to have a low table and 3 chairs instead). One trash can also comes with.

IMG_5974 - Version 2

See how the walls don’t go all the way to the floor. Also notice the frames that hold the panels have the notches in them for shelves. The shelves can be ordered and installed through Surtex.


These are the track lights. Its pretty good lighting. You can order extra cans through Surtex, though the vast majority of people use what is provided. There is no electricity in the booth except what is there to power the lights (all included). If you want an electrical outlet or anything else electrical you need to fill out a form and order it.

IMG_6051 - Version 2

The panels are RECESSED in the frame. On this shot you can see I covered the metal between my banners, though most people leave them as metal, but hopefully you can see that the metal frame comes out 1/2 inch or so and can cast a bit of a shadow,  so trying to have the banners go exactly to the edge may not be worth it. The easy way to not worry about the details of the dimensions is to plan on 36″ across.  It will give you a bit of room on either side. If you want to hang things over the panel dividers–plan on doing it from the top frame, not the top of the panel, or you will have the side frames bumping things out.

Ok, that is it for now! Stay tuned….

3 thoughts on “Surtex prep, follow along with us

  1. Pingback: Surtex prep is ON! | a laughing gate

  2. Hello! Visiting here through The Moon from My Attic by Alex Colombo. This is very timely and informative advice for me as I am a first time exhibitor (in life) and just in the middle of brainstorming my booth design for Surtex. The booth images are just what I needed too! Thank you very much for the awesome article!


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