Surtex: On the Surface

Official Enewsletter VOL 5 Issue #9

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By Liz Crawford, VP Emerald Expositions/SURTEX Director 

Back at ya!  Now that SURTEX is over, I’d like to thank everyone for their support of the show.  I had the pleasure of meeting new customers and seeing some existing ones, too.  The dust has settled a little bit, and I’m sure you are all back at your day jobs doing what you love best. We, too, are back at it, and busily planning next year’s installment.  Mark your calendars for May 15-16-17, 2016. 

I’m thrilled with the feedback and the success of the show this past May.  I’ve heard from many of you, and the response has been very positive!  Looks like most exhibitors were happy with the quality of the attendees, and many report seeing new companies who’ve never been to the show before.

We heard about cool new product manufacturers, among others looking for original art….the reviews are steady, good, and the bloggers out there are very supportive of our efforts.
All I can say now is a big THANK YOU!  Special thanks to our Advisory Board members as well for taking the time to chat with us about ways to enrich the show for both artists and attendees. 
I welcome all feedback and please watch your email for more updates on the exciting things we will be rolling out for 2016.

Meanwhile, enjoy your summer!

It's like Christmas: months of planning, preparation, and projecting success...Then, suddenly, it's SURTEX time!  Three days that put the other 362 to the test.  Three days that set the course for the next 365.  Three days of art, excitement, camaraderie, and professional growth.  Here's how they looked through our camera's eye:

THE JAVITS CENTER DREW CROWDS AT SURTEX, the Premiere Event for Selling and Licensing Original Art and Design.

THE ATELIER SECTION Was a Special Attraction for Design-Seekers Focused on Textiles.

OTHER SHOW-GOERS Also Found A Lot to Be Excited About!

BUSINESS WAS BRISK at Design Works International.  Founder Nancy Fire is Also HGTV's Design Director.

FORETELLING THE FUTURE:  Top Forecasters From Around the World Drew SRO Crowds to the SURTEX Trend Theatre.

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY? NO WAY!  Relaxing at the SURTEX Cocktail Reception:
(from left) Marty Segalbaum, MHS Licensing; Ranae Lokpez, Julie Newman, Jewel Branding & Licensing; Katie Sklenar, Ilana Wilensky, and Beth Franklin.

SURTEX MANAGER LIZ CRAWFORD Welcomes Guests at the Meet-and-Greet.

GREETING PARTY-GOERS: SURTEX Execs John Erich and Michelle Daniels (right).

Ever meet an artist who wasn't inherently interesting?  Neither us!  The aisles at SURTEX 2015 were teeming with talents and back stories too long untold.  How did you become an artist? we asked.  What drives your design?  Your business?  We poked our nose into three designers' booths and here's what we learned.

Scott Power, Crewest Studio Gallery Showcase, Los Angeles --  "Graffiti" is old-speak.  Today, the operative description is "urban contemporary art."  The new brand reflects the art's dynamic place in contemporary culture and commerce, Scott explains. For example, he says, Millennials consider it a natural part of their lifestyle. 

Liberated from inner-city streets -- and championed by the Crewest crowd, including renowned artists like Man One -- urban contemporary art is already intriguing commercial enterprises that range from Broadway's hit musical "Rent" to Madison Avenue and the halls of haute apparel fashion...even, potentially, to 35,000 ft., the cruising altitude for jetliners.  Virgin Air is considering a new, multi-faceted initiative built around the art, Scott reports.

So is the 80-year-old Santa Anita racetrack, tired and dull and in need of an extreme makeover, perhaps to re-emerge as a huge "shrine to art and sport," Scott says.  At SURTEX, The Crewest Studio Gallery Showcase showed urban contemporary art at its dramatic best: the curated installation included live artists at work in real-time". We're here to use art to open minds, raise consciousness, and drive culture," Scott reports.  "That's our narrative." 

Crewest Studio Gallery

A Work of Contemporary Urban Art in Progress at Crewest Studio Gallery Showcase.

Trend Theatre Presenter, Scott Power of Crewest Studio Gallery
Previewed The News for 2016-17.


Jenean Stephen-Sustarsic, Belly Acres Farm Studio, Seville, OH -- Yes, there really is a farm, some seven acres that house two donkeys, a horse, and the Belly Acres Studio where Jenean and husband David turn out "farm-fresh art," including hand-sewn toys and dimensional mini-scenes like the New York Harbor/ Statue of Liberty rendered in fabric.  

Their SURTEX booth looked farm-fresh, too, with Jenean and David dressed in overalls and gingham to update the famed "American Gothic" couple.  But there was no disguising the city-sharp smarts behind this couple's art.  Both had spent some 36 years at 
American Greetings  -- Jenean, "The Conceptor," as a director of such milestone licenses as Strawberry Shortcake, and David, "The Colorist," as an artist at the iconic firm.

Then, two years ago, came the lay-offs.  "Things can change on a dime," Jenean reminds.  "We panicked a little."  But the proverbial new window opened and Belly Acres Farm Studio was born...some thanks to SURTEX.  "We came last year and I saw that I was not too old.  Not old at all," Jean smiles. "That's what SURTEX did for me!"

And there's more to come, Jenean reports: "We did have a successful show.  We sold a few pieces right at the show, and I have already been in direct contact with four  new clients, preparing projects for all of them."  


Charlotte Miller Russell, Creativity Explored, San Francisco -- It's art for the artists' sake at this 32-year-old studio and gallery.  The artists may be people with developmental disabilities, but you can diss the dis:  there's also a surprising ability to create remarkably original works of art.
The mission of Creativity Explored goes even further: " We provide artists with developmental disabilities the means to create, exhibit, and sell their art in our studios and gallery, and around the world," Charlotte explains.

Which is why the gallery had come to SURTEX 2015, to show off the work of some of the 75 or so artists of all ages who spend their days painting, drawing, weaving, and creating with an eye toward a profitable personal future.  

As Charlotte points out, "A key focus of Creativity Explored's services is to support those individuals with developmental disabilities who wish to become self-employed artists in creating and operating fully viable and profitable businesses."

So we're not talking "outsider art" here.  Voted Best Art Gallery in the Bay Area, the studio sponsors six exhibitions a year, including many abroad.  There's a popular on-site gallery and a thriving on-line business.  Previous licensing partners have included the likes of Comme des Garcons, a leading-edge fashion house, and CB2, known for pillows and rugs.

Charlotte has the last word: "Licensing gives life to the art...And licensing integrates artists into the community."
Nets An Extra $1,000


Never mind that she completely missed the whole thing the first time around --
"I wasn't even born then!" 22-year-old Lucy Harris reminded the judges at the 2015 designext Student Competition.

What the English student lacked in personal experience, she  made up for by diligently researching the '90s youth culture that spawned "Grunge," the down-market, rumpled
look that inspired the 29th annual international student design competition.  The challenge was to come up with a range of six Grunge designs that could be adapted to
products like textiles and wallcoverings.

Lucy's atypical solutions -- playful, bold designs in a darker palette -- wowed the
prestigious panel of judges, all mega-members of the design industry.  They unanimously voted her Grand Prize Winner in this year's competition, so Lucy, a senior at the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, went home to the UK with a $1,000 "souvenir" from her first-ever visit to New York.

Other winners, all of whom got to show off their "Grunge" interpretations in their own
booths during SURTEX, were Daniela Ruiz, Universidad Iberoamericana de Puebla, Mexico; Hannah Wilkinson, Leeds College of Art, UK; and Lucas Woolley, New Brunswick College of Craft and design, Fredericton, Canada.

Judges were Nancy Fire, Founder/Creative Director of Design Works International;
Ronnie Gold, VP Design, Home Accent Fabrics; David Laubach, Director of Design, Avanti Press, Inc.;  Bryan Parker, VP of Design, CHF Industries, and Diane Piemonte, VP Creative Services, Revman International.

designext at SURTEX

 designext judges and winners (from left): Nancy Fire, Lucas Woolley, Lucy Harris, Daniela Ruiz, Bryan Parker, Hannah Wilkinson, Diane Piemonte, Ronnie Gold. 

TURNING GRUNGE INTO GOLD, designext Winners (from left): Lucas Woolley, Canada;Lucy Harris, UK; Daniela Ruiz, Mexico; Hannah Wilkinson, UK. 

AND THE GRAND PRIZE GOES TO.... Lucy Harris of the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.  Presenting the Award: SURTEX Manager Liz Crawford.

FAST-TRACKING INDUSTRY SMARTS -- So you were too busy during SURTEX to sit in on any of the Conference Program sessions?  

Catch up the easy way this summer: Order videotapes of Track I and Track II sessions. At $45 each, it's the best bargain in industry education anywhere.  (Special prices apply if you purchase either complete Track or both Tracks.)

Purchase today.  And in 48 hours or less, you'll receive links and passwords to your higher level of expertise in the surface design industry.
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