Seven years ago I began researching the licensing industry. I visited SURTEX and the Licensing Show, took a couple of “how to” seminars, and talked to veterans in the industry. The one constant I heard over and over was that one needed to put in five years into SURTEX (and/or the Licensing Show) to establish oneself as a licensing player. I was told to expect only one or two new customers per show for the first four years and that the fifth year should be a breakthrough year. This was my fifth show and I am happy to report that these predictions are exactly right. I got a tremendous response to my work this year and the quality of the new leads are an order of magnitude better than ever before.
My five year goal was to create really cool and interesting work for a market that bought mostly soft, fuzzy and traditional art. I needed to demonstrate that art that is both decorative and witty can work. This year’s successful response from the industry was the culmination of everything that I have learned and created in the past five years: I learned how to produce a better booth design; I learned the licensing industry’s visual language. The buyers at the show saw instantly how my work could relate to their products; and I worked my ass off to produce the best work I was capable of.
The variety of industries that expressed a strong interest to begin licensing programs impressed me. Primarily, I attracted ceramic (table-top), clothing, and stationery companies whose customers are high end retailers who want cool stuff for their customers. There were interesting responses from educational and fund raising companies as well. Not all of these contacts will turn into direct work. But the response alone demonstrated to me that I am now a starter in the Majors. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me following up on contacts, establishing new relationships, and collaborating with exciting new customers to produce my best work. And finally, it is the buying public who will ultimately determine my success; do they really love me?
I am looking for someone in the NY region to help me on Sunday the 21st to assist me in the booth. It will be from 9 to 6 and I always find it cool to meet both the attendees and the other booth people. The inimitable Hal Mayforth will be my able assistant on Monday and Tuesday.