Creative Leaps Blog

My Surtex Banners – Specs & Printing

June 7, 2013

I received quite few compliments and questions regarding my Surtex 2013 exhibit banners. I was super pleased with how they looked and even more impressed with how easy they were to set up. This blog is for those of you who wanted the nitty-gritty details…

DISCLAIMER: Please refer to the size specifications provided by Surtex. DO NOT blindly use the size specifications provided below. They worked beautifully for me but things change from year to year. Measure twice cut once as they say. Double and triple check your own measurements against those provided by Surtex.

Here is a reminder of the finished look of my booth at Surtex 2013:

My first time exhibiting at Surtex 2013, Booth #764.

Banner Sizes

After several emails back and forth with Nicole Tamarin and B.J Lance I decided to size my banners using the “Inside Edge” specification provided by Surtex. This made it so my banners fit perfectly just inside the metal edges that separate each panel.

B.J. suggested I bring a metal edge ruler and an X-Acto knife in case I need to trim the edges. I brought both but luckily never needed them.

Specifications from Surtex 2013:


I reserved an 8 x 10 three-side booth. For this, I designed and printed seven “A” banners, two “B” banners and one logo banner for the front of my counter. However, I ended up with a sweet corner booth, which meant I didn’t need two of my A banners, was short one B banner and suddenly needed a D banner. In a MacGyver moment, we cut up the “extra” A banners to create a third B banner for the thin panel that is on the exterior side of the booth (apple motiff) and a D banner for the side of my counter (cow).


Design Files

I designed the banners in Adobe Photoshop, full size, at 300 dpi, CMYK. The files were huge! The largest was 1.75GB and the smallest was 709MB. I saved each file as a full PSD. I created a copy, then flattened each file, which greatly reduced the file size. I saved the ten flattened PSD files to an external hard drive and hand delivered it to my local FedEx Office for printing.

Surtex Banner Printing

I had the banners printed at FedEx Office on “Indoor Gloss Banner” stock.  The 10 banners cost $958.89. To the touch, the stock felt like heavy gloss paper but the rep at FedEx tells me it’s actually a type of vinyl paper. The 10 banners were tightly rolled into a tube for easy travel. Once pulled out of tube they unrolled perfectly flat, no curling whatsoever! This also made them extremely easy to handle and hang. We hung the banners with Command Poster Strips. We used eight packages of Command Poster Strips (I brought 20, lol!): 10 strips per A poster, 8 per B poster, 6 for C, and 4 for D.

It was my first time using Command Poster Strips and I have to say I was totally impressed. They really stick and hold the posters up tightly and nicely.

Setup Time

I allowed three hours to “assemble” the booth. It took half that time (1.5 hrs)! It really was an incredibly easy and quick setup process. Taking the banners down and unsticking the strips was a breeze as well.

Related Articles:

The Cost to Exhibit at Surtex 2013



The Cost to Exhibit at Surtex 2013

June 1, 2013

Let’s face it, exhibiting at Surtex is a significant investment of time, energy and money.

As a marketing communications consultant for the past 30 years, I not only believe in the power of marketing but I’ve seen it generate amazing results over and over again for my clients. You can’t get results however unless you put yourself out there.

My first time exhibiting at Surtex 2013, Booth #764.

Surtex is currently the number one avenue for putting our art out there and reaching manufacturers and retailers who want to buy or license art for their products. This made the decision to exhibit relatively easy – well that and the fact that my current consulting income was ample enough that I could afford to budget and spend the money to exhibit.

For those of you on a more restricted budget, there are other less costly but more time consuming ways to reach manufacturers such researching manufacturers online and cold-calling or obtaining art submission guidelines from their websites. Another well traveled path is to find an agent to represent you.

Natalie Timmons Designs Surtex 2013 Expenses

My Cost to Exhibit at Surtex 2013

If you are pondering exhibiting at Surtex for the first time, I thought it might be helpful to have a “real life” look at one artist’s cost to exhibit. If you are traveling to Surtex from the West Coast or somewhere else in the world, you’ll need to budget more for travel expenses. You can also streamlines expenses by writing your own press kit (I didn’t have time), advertising less, printing fewer materials, etc. However, I don’t recommend that you skimp too much.

So what was the return on my $9,620.14 investment?

I generated 64 leads at the show. Keep in mind that I didn’t sit back and wait for people to come to me, I used some marketing and people skills to attract people to my booth. You can read more about that in Surtex-2013-Rocked!

It’s been 10 days since I returned from Surtex. I’ve entered all the contacts into my database and emailed each of them to thank them for stopping by booth. I am now working on following-up on the individual requests I received for specific types of art and/or mockups. And the truth is, I won’t be able to give you a hard “ROI” (return on investment) number because it’ll probably take months, or even a year or two, to turn enough leads into contracts.

My Dad always said, “Dress like the person who holds the position you want.” Licensors like Tara Reed and Paul Brent have been exhibiting 10 years and 25 years respectively, and they’re still going strong. I’m aiming to “dress” like them!


May 27, 2013

My first time exhibiting at Surtex exceeded my expectations!  The initial set up was a breeze and I ended up with a sweet corner booth that had a clear view of the Trend Theater.


Leads, Leads, Leads
Although there were ebbs and flows to the traffic each day, I netted about the same number of leads everyday, a total of  64 new contacts in all! Of course, there are multiple contacts from some companies with multiple lines and a good number of them are real long shots. However, Surtex is all about obtaining leads and gaining insight into the market, trends and which art resonates the most. I was learning so much from talking with manufacturers and retailers that I didn’t attend the 2 workshops I originally signed up for (thank you Rose & Sharon for attending those for me!).

Great Support
I was lucky enough that six other women from my art licensing group came along to walk the show and attend the Surtex seminars. Having these amazing, talented and Über supportive women along made my first Surtex exhibit so much more fun. Special thanks to Sharon Marston for being my main booth buddy and helping me set up and take down. Also thank you to Rose Byrant and Shannon Hays who often took turns covering for me and/or keeping me company. I learned that Rose can talk a bird out of tree! The woman has some serious people skills.

Some of the things I did well for my first launch:

  • I made eye contact and said hello to just about everyone that walked by my booth. I was awfully surprised by how many exhibiting artists had their heads down noodling on their smartphones or tablets. The truth is most us of don’t like “selling.” Me included. So I reframe it as “making new friends” and I begin by just reaching out and saying hello. It’s really quite painless once you get the knack of it.
  • I have an extensive background in marketing communications, so I used one of the tricks of the trade – I raffled off a 7″ tablet. However, I didn’t wait for them to notice the display I had promoting the drawing. Instead, as people walked by I invited them to enter their business card to win a free tablet. Mind you, not everyone was interested but a bunch were. As they were getting out their business card, I used it as an opportunity ask them questions about their needs and their business.
  • If someone was walking by and hesitated even slightly while looking at the art on my booth panels, I asked them, “What type of art are you looking for?” Believe it or not, this question drew in almost as many people as the drawing! And, I didn’t stop there. Once they approached my booth and started looking through my portfolio, I continued to ask a lot of questions. I learned so much not only about their business but what they found appealing about certain collections.
  • I had “marketing stuff” for people to take:
    • Four different postcards with my art. Only two of the postcards are mailable. The other two had art on both sides. So, I had what appeared to be six postcards in all for the price of four.
    • Business cards
    • Press kits (extras)
  • I had a hard copy of my latest collections GBC bound into a booklet and a more extensive portfolio on my ipad

What I’d do differently next time:

  • I’d ship my supplies and “emergency tool kit” items in a rollable suitcase rather than two backpacks. I thought I was quite clever shipping the stuff in backpacks to carry to and front the show. However, we added multiple samples of all the directories and magazines to take home to our art licensing group and the backpacks and tote bags ended up being ridiculously heavy to lug four blocks after three days of exhibiting.
  • Create and have even more seasonal art to display. It seems you can never have enough!

The art and the artists rocked too!
Not only did my first experience exhibiting rock but so did meeting a lot of fantastic artists. I’m such a huge fan of the art created for licensing and it’s a treat to meet the artist in person.

Jodi and Tonja with Working Girls Design – these ladies have the style going on!

My favorite art licensing coach Tara Reed!

My new art buddy Nicole Taramin.

Huge fan of Monica Lee and

So happy artist Cherish Flieder stopped by to say hello. She’s launching!

Elizabeth Olwen is just as adorable in person as she is in her Surtex 2013 video promo.


My peeps from the Art Licensing Group of NH. Shannon Hays, Linda Spear (back), Pat Edsall, me, Rose Bryant (back) and Sharon Marston (missing Michelle Baker).

Set up and all ready to go with my booth buddy Sharon Marston.

The Follow-Up Begins
Now that Surtex 2013 is over the real work begins – all the follow-up. I was shocked to hear from a Surtex representative that almost 75% of the artists that exhibit don’t follow-up on the leads they generated. I don’t know how accurate that is but even if it’s half-true it’s rather shocking. Why go through all the time and expense and not follow-up?

I was sharing my intended follow-up plan with John Chester of Wild Apple Licensing. I had categorized the leads into hot, warm and cool. His advice? Follow-up with ALL them because the “hot” ones often peter out while the one you least expect turns into an exciting deal. I’ll be taking his advice.

Visit Me At Surtex 2013

May 17, 2013

Wow, the culmination of a year and half’s work is finally, unbelievably here. Bright and early tomorrow morning, I’m taking the train to New York City. By late afternoon, I’ll be setting up my booth. Sunday through Tuesday, 8am – 6pm, is show time. I’m looking forward to making new connections and reconnecting with friends. If you are attending and/or exhibiting, stop in and say hello at booth #764 – and I wish you the best of luck!Art-Design-Licensing-Half-Page-Ad-Print

WSJ article on art licensing

April 30, 2013

There is a nifty article in the Wall Street Journal about the art licensing industry, called ” For Artists, a Change of Canvas Can Be Good Business.” You’ll definitely want to check it out.

3 Self-Promo Videos Make the Damn That’s Good List

April 12, 2013

I’m starting a new topical thread called the “Damn That’s Good List.” I could have just as easily called it the “I wished I’d thought of that” list. As an almost 30-year marketing pro, good marketing catches my eye. However, I now find myself to be much like the plumber, I’m keeping everyone else plumbing (i.e. marketing) running smoothly with not as much time as I’d like to take care of my own. And honestly, even if I did have more time, I do realize there’s always going to be somebody out there who’s doing it better or spot on.

Here are three self-promotion videos that have made my Damn That’s Good List. Everybody, me included (I’ll be in booth #764), is getting ready for Surtex 2013. They are updating their sell sheets, press kits, postcards, business cards, booth displays and more. A few Surtex-bound artists have also done some really clever video promos.

Here are a few that I particularly envied …oops I meant to write, “enjoyed” – LOL!

Dari Design Studio Surtex 2013 Campaign

Elizabeth Olwen Design :: Surtex 2013

Art Licensing LA Debuts at Surtex 2013

Kudos to the artists and their producers!

If you have a self-promo video that you’re proud of and want to share with the world, post a link in the comment box or sent me the link and I’ll add it to the post.

My First Feature Story As An Artist

January 31, 2013

Screenshot of Moon From My Attic blog by Alex ColomboYou know how they say “it’s the journey not the destination?” Well, for the first time in my life, I can honestly say I am completely and totally in love with the journey. Every now and then I have to pinch myself because I just feel so dang lucky to be doing the work I love.

The art licensing industry is not an easy industry to get into. The experts tell us it takes 2 to 3 years just to get your foot in the door (I’m in year 1.5). They say not to expect instantaneous rewards because the market has shrunk and there are fewer manufacturers with a lot more artists all vying for the same piece of pie. Any normal person would probably walk the other way.

Instead, I’m running straight for it. I can’t explain it. It’s just something I have to do. I have to see where it takes me. Where will that be? I have no idea. For once, it almost doesn’t matter because I’m having so much fun along the way!

One of the keys to enjoying a journey in which the destination is potentially years away is celebrating the little successes along the way. Today I am celebrating one of those successes – my first feature story as an artist! I can’t possibly convey how excited I am about this. It’s not just any publication. I’m featured in one of my all-time favorite blogs on art licensing called The Moon From My Attic by Alex Colombo. It  features inspiring stories on artists, agents and manufacturers in art licensing. It’s the blog I read first – and now I’m in it! Whoo-hoo me!

Help me celebrate by jumping over to Alex’s blog to read An Art Licensing True Story – A Late Bloomer’s Path and share a little bit about your journey. Let’s enjoy the ride together!

PS: A million thanks to artist extraordinaire, Alex Colombo, for this incredible opportunity. She really lives her mission “Partnering to Make the World a Better Place Through Art!”


Taking the Leap to Surtex 2013

January 26, 2013

Cowboy Christmas Snowman "Sweet" By Natalie TimmonsSometimes I leap spontaneously and other times with great consideration. After a year of weighing pros and cons, I left a full-time job a year and half ago to go back to consulting, part-time this time, so I could use the other half of my time to build a portfolio and launch myself into art licensing.

For me, quitting my full-time job was easier than signing up for Surtex. It’s roughly a $10,000 commitment once you add up the exhibit fees, display materials, advertising, travel and so on. However, I’ve been a businesswoman for 29 years, so the money investment, although considerable, wasn’t the biggest hurdle for me to overcome. The biggest thing for me to overcome was fear. Fear of looking amateur, fear of failing in such a public way, fear of not being good enough, fear of succeeding and keeping up, etc. Facing those fears was like peeling back an onion. I’d expose one, only to reveal another.

How did I overcome those fears? I haven’t. As the saying goes, I “feel the fear and do it anyway.” I also think I’m able to forge ahead because I have another fear that is way bigger than all the others. And, that’s the fear of having regrets. When I’m 95, I don’t want to look back and think, “I wish I had tried that.” I only have one life and I want to wring every ounce of joy and living that I can out of it. For me that means following my heart and passions.

I really believe my art, personality and business acumen is a great fit for art licensing. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than see my art on product. I enjoy working with clients on a common goal. I have no qualms about editing or refining my art to meet client expectations. As a marketing consultant, my clients love my responsiveness and passion for helping them succeed. It’s just part of my nature. I think art directors and manufacturers will appreciate these same qualities.

The bottom line in art licensing is creating great art. This is where I focus most of my time and attention  – becoming a better artist and surface designer. And, I’m even excited about that because with each collection I create my art just keeps getting better and better. A great example of this is my new Cowboy Christmas Snowmen Collection.

Besides creating great art, there is much I’ve done to put my best foot forward in the art licensing world, from hiring a coach, participating in blogs, creating a tagline, developing a new logo, and more. I’ll share some my experiences in upcoming blog posts. And please, if you go to Surtex 2013, leap on over and say hello. I’ll be the “contagiously happy lady” in Booth #764 living the dream!

Natalie Timmons Designs' Surtext Banner Ad





How to Create a Killer Sell Sheet for Artists

November 14, 2012

A free eGuide on How to Create Killer Sell Sheets for ArtistsAfter an agent complimented me on the professionalism and quality of my sells sheets, it dawned on me that what I’ve learned about creating sell sheets might be helpful to other artists. In that spirit, I created a free eGuide called, “How to Create a Sell Sheet for Artists.”

I’m not an expert in art licensing. I’m actually new to the industry. However, I do have 28-years experience in marketing communications. I’ve created hundreds of literature items, including brochures, catalogs, direct mail, print ads, and yes, product sell sheets. In addition, I’ve gleaned valuable information through some great coaching by Tara Reed, blog articles by Joan Beiriger and Kate Harper, as well as posts from many artists and agents on the Art of Licensing LinkedIn group.

The eGuide is a compilation of what I’ve learned. Since artists are predominately visual, I tried to keep the guide mostly visual. I anticipate this will be a “living” document and that it will grow and evolve as our industry does.

How is an Artist Sell Sheet Unique from other Sell Sheets?

Creating a sell sheet for a product like printed circuit boards is quite a bit a different than creating a sell sheet for art that goes on products. In both instances, the purpose of the sell sheet is the same – promote the product.

However, the presentation of the two is quite different. With product sells sheets, words and images are used to promote the key benefits of the product. With artist’s sell sheets the presentation is almost 99% imagery.

How do you promote the key benefits of your art to a manufacturer without words?

The answer is breathtakingly simple – you SHOW them! This is why creating mockups and displaying your art in various orientations (horizontal, vertical, square, round, etc.) is so important. It shows manufacturers how irresistible their products will look with your art on it.

There is no cookie-cutter formula for creating sell sheets. You have a lot of flexibility in how you design one. However, there are key elements that every sell sheet should have. Download and read the free How to Create a Sell Sheet for Artists eGuide to learn more – and if you like what you read, feel free to pass the link ( onto a friend or share it on your blog, FaceBook or Twitter feed.

Got a Great Sell Sheet?

Got a great art licensing sell sheet? Email me a JPG or PDF and I’ll post in on my blog with a link back to your website.

How Busy Artists Can Improve Productivity

September 18, 2012

Big Rocks and Important Activities ImageAre you busy? Yes, you say. I’m so busy I feel like a chicken running around with my head caught off! Okay, so you’re busy. But are you making progress on things that really matter?

I first learned of the “Rocks, Pebbles, Sand” philosophy from Stephen Covey.

The theory is that we all have the same size glass jar, which is 24-hours in a day. If we fill our glass jar with pebbles and sand (less important activities) then we won’t have room for the big rocks –or the goals or activities that really matter. To improve productivity and efficacy fill your day or week with the “big rocks” FIRST, and leave the remaining space for less important activities.

 Big Rock examples:

  • Painting or doing your art
  • Business planning
  • Marketing your art
  • Obtaining “X” number of licensing contracts
  • Selling your art online, shows or galleries
  • Teaching or designing a new class
  • Writing a book
  • Learning or honing your skill

Pebble examples

  • Interruptions
  • Email
  • Paperwork
  • Filing
  • Running errands

Sand examples:

  • Playing iPhone or video games
  • Watching too much TV
  • Spending too much time on Pinterest, FaceBook or other social media

What are your big rocks? What can you do today that will help you make progress on your big rocks and hopefully your dreams? Focus your attention there and you will eventually move mountains!

Additional resources:

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand, the Modern Nomad Blog

Big Rocks First: Double Your Productivity This Week by

How to Stop feeling overwhelmed and get things done by Bradley Gautheir

Timeless Truth from Stephen Covey: Put Your Big Rocks in First

Did this article make you see things in a different way? Did you find it helpful? What do you do to stay focused on your goals and dreams? Comment below and let me know!