Archive for the ‘The Business Side of Things’ Category

Christy Hess’s thoughts on Surtex 2010


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I can’t tell you how glad I was to see that my palette of artwork and supplies made it to the Javtis Center safe and sound. It was there waiting for me when I arrived to set up on the Friday before the show. I had done a ton of preparation but still was a bit unsure how I was going to hang everything. I had packed a variety of supplies with and I had a few ideas, but knew I wasn’t going to really know until I was there and doing it.  In the end I actually winded up using the T-Pins that I threw into the box at the last minute on a whim. I had a lot elements that needed to be hung and adjusted and I could not have done it with out the help of my two college friends, Christy & Dominick. They were willing to take the time to be with me throughout the entire show, while my husband Jay was taking care of my daughter, Ava Blu and holding down the fort at home.

Being a first-timer I wanted to share with you some of my logistical learnings.

My top 5 logistical learnings:

  • Matt prints work best with the supplied spot lighting- I had printed photographic satin prints and they were catching some big glares from the spot lights. Next year I will definitely be doing matt prints.
  • You can never have enough Tape or T-Pins. Pack more supplies then you think you’ll need.
  • Be friendly with your security guard, but not too friendly, as you don’t want him hovering around your booth during show hours.
  • Bring/drink plenty of water.
  • Shipping freight is a mysterious thing. Make sure you have your Bill of Lading.

I met some amazing people and walked away with solid leads and prospects to follow up on. I had a great experience and left the show feeling energized, excited and a bit tuckered out but ready to work on what’s NEXT.

I’m a firm believer in positive thinking & projecting positive energy so I’m confident that all of my hard work will pay off.

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I’m all packed up and ready to go!!!  For the last 6 months I’ve been intensely prepping for Surtex and I’m shipping everything off tomorrow!!  This will be my first time exhibiting. It’s been a lot of work and has taken some very long night and uninterrupted weekends to get everything together. But it feels great just to get this far that I am brewing with excitement waiting for the actual show to arrive.

Here is a look at some of my pre-show prep work.

inspiration and figuring out my booth layout.

Besides wanting to showcase my work I felt it was really important to also create an emotional feeling and mood. I want people to remember my art, but more then that, I want them to remember how they feel when they view my art. If there is anything I’ve learned from working in retail, it’s that you need to create an emotion association and attachment to the product. So, I wanted to create an environment that would be conducive for folks to easily experience that emotional connection with my artwork.

spacial 3-d mock-up of booth  and wall layout

gluing, mounting, framing

packing up

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Happy Follow Friday! Some of my Favorite Artist Reps that are on Twitter



RichardSolomon RichardSolomon As if an introduction is needed. Illustrators agent and founder of Art On a Grand Scale.

Scotthull Scotthull self-proclaimed “Visual Ambassador” and Artist Rep to some pretty awesome illustrators.

Image Source artists ArtLicensing UK art and illustration agency for stationery & giftsware.

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You should consider carrying out a Comp Shopping Exercise at least once every season. This will give you an idea of what the retail key trends are and who are the key players.

Prior to going Comp Shopping you should decide on what categories & subcategories you are going to focus on. There are so many things to look at and see, that if you don’t have a plan it’s easy to get overwhelmed and sidetracked.

When you walk out of a store you should be able to critique the category and be able to give valid reasons behind your opinion. Here are some of the things to look for when you go Comp Shopping:


  • Trends and Innovation of Assortment New ideas and trends or safer, last years styles?
  • Themes/ Mood/Subjects/Key Items -What they are standing for?
  • Color Palette – For specific category & overall
  • Details– fabrications, materials, embellishments
  • Overall Assortment – Is it all one manufacture or are they “mix & matching” from multiple manufactures?
  • Seasonality of Assortment– Do they have a whole holiday section/area?


  • SKU Counts– How many Sku’s are they dedicating to each category? How many are gender neural, feminine, masculine? (i.e. They are only carrying 3 Happy Birthday Gift Bags, 2 of which are gender neutral and one that’s feminine)
  • Category– How large is it? How many sub-categories? How many manufactures are in a given category?
  • Inventory Levels– Do they have a ton of one item vs. another, Why?

In Store Experience

  • Window Displays – Are their displays innovation and unique, eye-catching? What type of materials and fabrication are they using. Is there some technique you can incorporate into your illustration. (i.e. Anthropology windows are always amazing)
  • Displays/Propping – Are they stuffing in as much product as they can or are they taking the time to actually highlight a “Hero”. Collections that are propped actually sell better. What type of products are they putting on the End Caps (those are always big buys & top sellers)
  • Customer – who is she or he? What is she/he shopping and purchasing? What is her style and taste? What is she wearing?


  • General Pricing– High End, Mid, Low
  • Markdowns, Clearance Area & Strategy– Do they always have a huge area dedicated to clearance? Why are items marked down? (i.e. seasonal) Was it a “bad” design or just good design that they bought too much of?
  • Signage/Communication -Are they using any illustration or design elements and does it tie back to the packaging? (Target does this really well for Holidays)

Some Stores you may want to Comp Shop at:


Barns & Nobles

Bed Bath & Beyond


Carter’s Outlet

Children’s Place

Cost Plus World Market

Forever 21




Kate’s Paperie


Old Navy

Office Max


Party Place

Pottery Barn



Urban Outfitters



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Here is a list I put together of some common Greeting Card Categories for general reference when you are trying to design a line.

Everyday Counter Cards

  • General (gender neutral)
  • Love
  • Friend
  • Age Birthday (13,16,18,21,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100)
  • Juvenile (1-6yrs old)
  • Quote Driven
  • Humor
  • Feminine
  • Masculine
  • Relative Birthday (Mom, Dad, Daughter, Son, Sister, Brother, Grand Partents)


  • Friendship
  • Thank You
  • Feminine
  • Masculine


  • General
  • Spouse

New Baby

  • Gender Neutral
  • Girl
  • Boy
  • Twins


  • Gender Neutral
  • Feminine (girlfriend)
  • Masculine

Get Well

  • Gender Neutral
  • Feminine
  • Masculine


  • Gender Neutral
  • Feminine
  • Masculine


  • General
  • Religious
  • Gender Neutral
  • Feminine
  • Masculine

Gift Wrap, Trim & Bags
Gift Bags

  • Specialty Bags
  • Size: Jumbo, Large, Medium, Small, Bottle Bag

Roll Wrap

  • Specialty Wrap
  • Standard Wrap
  • Bulk Wrap

Toppers & Bows

Boxed & Packaged Cards

Museum Box
Ultra Box Note
Stationery Sets
Juvenile Boxed
Note Cube
Shopping List
Thank You Notes

Social Occasions
Napkins & Napkin Rings
Place Cards
Menu Cards
Treat Bags
Party Favors
Table Runners
Table Cloth

Social Books
Photo Albums
Address Books
Brag Book
Birthday Book

Photo Clips
Decorative Boxes
Scented Candles
Masculine Gifts
Book Marks
Finger Puppets
Home Décor & Wall Hangings
Bath & Body
Toys & Plush

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